Colorado Part 2: Subjects of Opportunity

I rarely find myself making plans for a photo shoot. In fact, the only times I really have were for magazine article and cover shoots for the BYU Universe, my own engagement photos and illustration reference shoots. Otherwise I’m usually taking photos of opportunity. I like to have my camera with me, and if I see something I like I can stop and get it. That of course is what all my photos from my Colorado cabin vacation were. I actually had some half baked plans about visiting certain places when the light was just right. However, I didn’t do any of those things. But I did carry my camera and shot what I liked.Night photo of the Milky Way among trees. By Jameson Gardner

I’ve been wanting to get some star photos for awhile now. But living in a light dome, as most of us do, It meant driving 3 or 4 hours to make it worth it. I hadn’t gotten to it when vacation time rolled around. So, my first subject of opportunity, once we got out of the light pollution and up to 10,000 feet, was the stars. My methods may have been a little unconventional, but then if you get the image you want, is there a right way?

I didn’t want to be maxing out my ISO and getting noisy or having my shutter open too long and have the stars turning into little lines. So I used my fastest lens and also used it on the lowest stop to get the most light. I think I ended up doing f1.8 with a 10 or 15 second exposure. That meant less noise and faster exposure, but also that my foreground elements wouldn’t be as sharp, and my field of view was limited. I did a bunch of expirementing, including using other lenses etc. Once I knew the view I wanted, I did two parallel columns of 4 shots and stitched them together manually (photoshop just doesn’t get it quite the way I want). This solved both the field of view problem and also when viewing the full image, the depth of field issue with the trees isn’t really an issue at all.

View of valley up Hall's Gulch, Colorado. By Jameson Gardner

This one (above) was also a panoramic stitch. We came across this view while on our way up Halls Gulch. I wanted better resolution on the details and less distortion than my 18-55mm was offering. so I went for the 50 again. I’m not real big on going crazy with processing. If you’ve read my other posts you know that I sometimes feel that editing way beyond what was really there can be dishonest and detract from the actual beauty of that scene or person as well as from the truly amazing moments that don’t require you to drag a bunch of sliders etc.

I do like to make sure that the values and colors are at least as good as they looked to my eye, though. It is amazing how the human eye can automatically adjust when focusing on a slightly different areas of what you are looking at. A camera can only output a single exposure (though, raw data is great because it records more and lets you be flexible in post) and that is often the culprit when you look at something and say “wow that looks great”, then take a picture and think “at least it did in real life” (composition is the other half of that coin). These clouds are a great example. In my image above, they look pretty much like they did when my eyes focused on them at the time. However, if I had exposed for that, the landscape would have been way off. So I got my best all-around exposure and then made adjustments after stitching.

The Artists Father by Jameson Gardner

Next up, my Father. I shot this while he was relaxing on the cabin porch. There isn’t a  whole lot to tell other than that the lighting was good, and my mom thinks he needs a new hat. But, the men out there know that it isn’t so easy to replace a good hat.

Alpine Outcropping by Jameson Gardner

This outcropping is another example of what I was saying before. I saw it and thought, “wow that is perfect.” but it didn’t come off quite the same until I was able to make some adjustments.

Elk Skull at Ruins of Miners Cabin. By Jameson Gardner

And finally, this skull. We found this near the crumbling ruins of an old cabin while hiking. I believe it belonged to an elk. Like my father this one didn’t take much. I just bent over took a photo and it came out nice 🙂 I hope this, like the others, really just captures a moment and a feeling. Stay tuned for my final installment of Colorado vacation photos, in which I will be sharing some artifacts.

One Week of Inktober

I decided to participate in Inktober this year. The whole thing was started by awesome artist Jake Parker a few years back, and the gist is to create an ink drawing each day during the month of October. Of course, it helps motivate you not to slack if you are sharing those daily on social media. I’ve shared each of my drawings on Instagram, but I thought it would be fun to include the first week’s worth together in a post.

Inktober drawing of girl with hair blowing. painted with acrylic washes. By Jameson Gardner Art.

My first Inktober drawing was this portrait of a girl with her hair blowing a little. I try not to judge my success (it’s hard) by how many people are following me, or how many likes an image gets. There is always that 18 year old who’s drawings look like mine did when I was 10 (literally, I don’t mean a fine artist who is intentionally simplifying or exaggerating forms—I am just talking plain old amateur), yet who has thousands of followers. That can get me down if I’m not careful. Anyway, despite that, I do pay attention to the response. This first one had, by far, the biggest response on Instagram. Maybe it was because it was the first day and people were pumped to look at the first round of Inktober drawings, or maybe people just liked it. A few days later I went ahead and painted some acrylic washes onto it to see how some color would look.

Inktober Girl 1 Drawing

Inktober 2

For my second drawing, I imagined up a scene of a soldier in battle who is surprised by a goblin leaping through the air. I didn’t love the composition on my sketchbook page, so I broke it down and tried to create a sort of fractured comic frame. I don’t really do comics or graphic novels—but it was worth a shot. The response on this one was significantly lower. It has still reached what I’d call the medium range. I think I posted this one later in the evening which may matter too.

Inktober drawing with fairy. By Jameson Gardner Art. Inktober drawing with damaged spaceship. By Jameson Gardner Art.

My third drawing was a fairy. Response to her was low. I spent quite a bit of time on her and I thought she turned out pretty nice. I wonder if displayed small on instagram, she didn’t have the bold blacks to attract attention. Some of the nice details of the drawing may just have been missed at that scale. Don’t hesitate to click and view her larger to see if you agree with me.

The damaged space ship was next. I admit it was a quickie. It got only slightly better response than the fairy.

Inktober drawing with frigate heeling in the wind. By Jameson Gardner Art.

This frigate was next. I worried a little while drawing it that people wouldn’t understand the angle of the masts and spars. the wind is supposed to be coming from the right. So the spars are angled to allow the square sails to still catch some power. That is also why it is heeling to port—all the pressure pushing the masts that direction. Anyway, I guess my fears were unfounded. This one did second best for likes. I don’t know if it was the drawing or if people just love ships.

Inktober drawing portrait of girl. By Jameson Gardner Art.

Inktober drawing with dragon skull. By Jameson Gardner Art.

So, this other girl portrait wasn’t my favorite. It is just as simple as the first one, but not as elegant. I guess it is just a little dull. The response wasn’t great either. It’s tied with the damaged spaceship for likes. I’m not surprised.

Last drawing of the week was the dragon skull. I tried to combine features from dog skulls with antelope skulls. You are probably wondering why I didn’t just look at lizard or dinosaur skulls…. well, because I didn’t. 🙂 The Dragon Skull scored in the mid-range. It was a later evening post too, so that might have affected it.

Hope you enjoy these. Inktober isn’t over. There is more to come. Check out my progress on Instagram @jamesonart