Winter Photo Projects 2021

Each year there is a lull in action as winter rolls around. People take their bikes indoors, put them on trainers or head outside for winter sports. To keep the camera in hand,  produce photos and content over the winter months, I came up with some projects I wanted to tackle. Some are just photo techniques I attempted last year, others were completely new. But the point of this winter period was to experiment and learn new things that I can take into the 2022 season.

The first project I wanted to work on was a portrait technique which I have already written about in another blog post. Personally, I thought this went really well. It was a really fun technique to play with, both in the timing and lighting. At some point I would like to attempt this again with models, a proper studio and lighting.

After the portrait project, I wanted to do some small product photos and play with some tools in Photoshop that I hadn't used before. With the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, I wanted to try and add speed to the photo to enhance the aerodynamic nature of the computer. I had seen some product shots Sean Hardy (a very inspirational photographer) done for Roval and Specialized that had these light trails crossing/winding around the wheels and shoes. I'm still not 100% sure if they were done in post or done practically, but either way it looks amazing and gave the images the feeling of speed.

Using this tutorialas a basis, I created light streaks that wove around the first image and the second made it appear as air splitting over the Elemnt Bolt. After that I used some motion blur and free transformation to extenuate the feeling of movement even more. Results turned out pretty well. 

The next few projects were just brushing up on techniques I had learned last year. Lighting bikes and shoes, layering the photos, masking, etc. These were things I hadn't done in months but I was amazed at how quickly it came back to me. I revisited one tutorial by Workphlo I had followed last year, which has been amazingly helpful, and it sped up the process once I got the photos on to the computer. The resulting images turned out more refined that what I had done previously. I'm glad that I went back to this because I learned a little bit more and know how to photograph the whole process more efficiently now.

The last project or technique I wanted to revisit and practice was photographing sunglasses and reflections. I had done two sunglasses photos last year but only one had semi-decent reflections in the lens. This time I wanted to improve the reflections in the lens for that clean commercial look, but also try getting a reflection of the frames on the shooting surface.

I bought a 12"x12" black acrylic sheet that I placed the Oakley sunglasses on to get a nice reflection of the frames in a sea of black. This time I made sure to focus on getting reflections in the lens. To do this I had two large, white posterboard rolled up into tube and placed on either side of the lens. The softbox was then placed just a few inches above the glasses to give a super soft wrap around the frame. The resulting reflections were pretty much what I was going for.

Some challenges I had was the environment I was shooting in as well as the acrylic sheet. My "studio" was the kitchen counter and spilled into the living room, where my partner was working. In a perfect work, a dark studio with a seamless black backdrop would help eliminate and stray reflections. It would also allow for larger bounce boards to be placed in to get better reflections on the glasses. The acrylic sheet was also tricky since it showed every single detail. Dust, a strand of hair, lint, anything, registered on that reflective surface. Even with an airblower and a lens pen, there were still small flecks remaining that needed to be cloned out in Photoshop.

Aside from the small challenges of that shoot, I thought it was hugely successful in teaching me more about photographing reflections. Below is the resulting image.

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