Zenfolio | Dave Skinner Photography | July 2014 Challenge - Celebrations, Selfie, Hot-Hot-Hot, Water

July 2014 Challenge - Celebrations, Selfie, Hot-Hot-Hot, Water

August 02, 2014  •  Leave a Comment


There was little trouble finding subject material for July's challenge themes, especially the one for 'Hot, Hot, Hot.'   'Water' also played a big role in trying to stay cool when it was swelteringly blazing. Hey, it's August 1 and still over 100 degrees today where I live.   The monsoonal moisture added some humidity and sprinkles to the mix - and great sunrises and sunsets for us 'photo pholk' (another moniker for lovers of beauty in nature who also happen to own cameras).  It was a wonderful month.


This challenge blog was started a few years ago with the hope that it would encourage everyone to get out and shoot the world around them - make some great memories - and learn more about their camera gear and technique.   It has a counterpart on Facebook: Holding Your Breath.  I've started this new Facebook group to give everyone an opportunity to post their photos at any time.  There are no challenge themes to deal with;  just add any picture you want to share.  Very simple, easy and hassle-free. 




I also enter challenges posed by the local newspaper, the Stockton Record.  It's a fun way to stay 'in shape' thinking and planning what, where and when you're going to shoot.  The last one was 'The Golden Hour' - pictures taken either right after sunrise or right before sunset.  Since I really like taking sunrise photos, I headed out one morning to 'Celebrate' (July Theme) another sunrise at Cosumnes River Wildlife Preserve, which hosts a number of sentinel oaks dotting the landscape along the grazing fields by the river.  This photo isn't the one the editor/photographer, Clifford Oto, chose to print and comment on, but this one below gives you the feeling of that morning's light as the clouds were forming and moving to the east.   I had to laugh after reading the two paragraph comment about my early morning trek and camera gear and then seeing no picture on the page.   I got top billing in the story that featured five or six photographers, but the layout editor must have goofed (or Oto never sent them the file).   I'm the old kid on the block for these challenges and don't mind the youngsters getting published ahead of me, though.  Humility is better than pride.


Clifford has a blog, as well, that replicates what's printed in the paper.  The photo is in his blog, anyway.  Not my best choice of shots from that morning - I like this one a lot more!  Okay, statistics:  Nikon D90, 12-24mm lens, ISO 200, 3 bracketed exposures married in Photoshop to bring out the grass and keep the sky dark.  Hints:  Sunrise and sunset sky colors, clouds and drama change quickly.   Be patient, but don't miss the best light, either.  Sunrays (and shadows) are fleeting:  grab them when you can.   You can see the whole series here




My 'Selfie' for the month was also taken here at the Preserve.  This viewing area overlooks a backwater area that usually entertains a number of birds.  There are mostly herons and egrets here, but the tide must have been out (yes, the tide affects the rivers even this far inland), along with the birds the morning I was there.  This old oak is huge and gnarly, housing squirrels, big ants and local fowl.  A nice, quiet place to sit and remove all of the stickers from your socks.





Before going to the theater downtown last Saturday to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (how irrevocably stupid was that!), we walked along the waterfront promenade to get pictures of The Sherman, a 20's vintage boat that has been a restaurant in different locations over the years. Now, it's in Stockton being refurbished (it's a mess right now).  They have it moored in front of the Stockton Arena at the end of the Channel across from Weber Point.  It was excruciatingly 'Hot, Hot, Hot,'  so I had fun taking pictures on Weber Point of the young people playing in the water fountain that displays a number of different scenarios for your cooling pleasure.   This kid was really getting down to business as he briskly walked by.  The water display is about 25' x 25'.  I used the telephoto for these shots, so I could stand back and not get wet.  Nikon D5100, ISO 400, f16, 1/1000. 





My last shot highlights the 'Water' theme at the same fountain, but on the other side.  Mr. Brawney had just walked through the water and turned around, waiting for the mood to strike to return, I guess.  Thankfully, he stood there long enough for me to grab this shot.  Most of the pictures taken were 'wait and see' photos.  Everyone was moving so quickly, it was hard to compose and get thoughtful shots.  I converted from color to black and white for a minimalist, high contrast look.  Nikon d5100, ISO 800, f22, 1/1000.  Series here.







John is a water lover and you can find him surfing and frolicking in the wild and wonderful Pacific Ocean when his adoring wife lets him go.  Here are a few shots he took while 'Celebrating' in Santa Cruz recently.  'Water' and 'Selfie' captures are added to the mix as well. 


Cooper is looking for the next big wave, while John bites his tongue.  Is that how you trip the shutter on a GoPro camera?  Very cool shot. 




 Scary GoPro selfie:  this is what the sharks see. Be careful out there, boys.





 And the question is:  Where is the sandy beach? 





Addie and Pops -  nice color here, John.   Hey, where can I get a t-shirt like that?   Thanks for sharing your adventure with us.  It's like we were there in the freezing water with you, wondering 'when can we get out and find that warm, cozy restaurant for dinner?'







Our month's submissions include those of Mr. Don, who thankfully added the 4th of July 'Celebration' to his photo repertoire.  He's used two pictures here to really bump up the theme value.  Like, 'Wow!'  You're having way too much fun on that computer, buddy. 





More celebrating going on here at a July wedding.  And more computer fun to boot.  Nice composition here, using the oak tree theme in the background to tell a story within a story.  Nothing like a wedding to bring out the smiles and the cameras.  Hey, have you photogs ever shot a wedding?  As the number one photographer?  It is a huge undertaking, not to be entered into without courage, physical fitness, a long list of shots, patience, camera knowledge, a good flash unit, and willingness to NOT get to eat a piece of cake (you're too busy shooting).  Ask a lot of money for your photos - they're worth every penny and more!  If you love stress, you'll love shooting weddings.





Now, on the lighter side, Don has captured a nice little water drop for our 'Water' theme.   As an aside, he has calculated the water usage of a drip system and says,  "A little trivia:  26,000 acres of vineyards, with 1/2 gph emitters, will use approximately 15,730,000 gallons of water in 1 hour."   I'll let you argue the finer points with him.  Photo spec note:  How fast a shutter speed do you think Don used to record this single drop in focus?  Yes, you're right! 1/250th of a second, ISO 500, f11 at 70mm. 






Water and more water from the pump.  Don says, "I wish my water pump was actually hooked up to a well. I'd be watering my yards with it......free."  Don, you couldn't afford the well drilling.  Some San Joaquin Valley wells are over 3500' deep.  Groundwater levels are the big problem right now.  The Central Valley farmers usually pump about 40% of their usage from groundwater each year. This year it will be 65% or more.  Can't keep this up.  Oh, nice picture, by the way.





And speaking of 'Hot, Hot, Hot', it gets really hot in Paso Robles, in spite of it being only 20 miles from the foggy Central Coast.   But Don is tricking us on this on, saying, "For the "hot" theme, I put the heat to the old thermometer in Photoshop Elements 11. Hot enough for you?"


Naughty, naughty, Mr. Dahl!





Don's last photo is a selfie.  I'll let you decide for yourself what kind of comments should accompany his picture. Wow! When does the TV series start?







July was a great month for picture taking, and I'm pretty sure August will be the same.   We're all looking forward to some eye-pleasing submissions and stories about them.  Theme choices will be:

- "A" for August -  Let us see something that begins with the letter, "A."  

- Reminds Me of Childhood -   Toys, vintage photos, places, faces, etc.

- Something Blue -  I think we've done this before, but let's do it again.

- On the Wall -  Have fun shooting outside or inside. Just make sure your subject is on a wall.

Happy shooting and enjoy the adventure.




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