#DOGWOOD52
In an effort to be more creative and improve our photography skills in 2018, we are doing a year-long photo challenge to stay motivated with ideas and inspiration. Photographer Dale Foshe has put together a new 52 week photography challenge for 2018. Follow along as we post our weekly photos and see what inspires us!
Casa Creatives

Casa Creatives

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James Cassell

James Cassell

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Elan Sablich

Elan Sablich

Photographer

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Week 22: Creative: Door

A symbol of transition, a door or a gate provide a passage way.

James |

Nikon D810, 24mm, f/11, ISO 64, 1.5″

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 14mm, f/10, ISO 100, 1/125

James |  Doorways are indeed a favorite of photographers, as evidenced by this week’s challenge. I’ve actually had my eye on my local library’s entranceway for a while, so when it came time for this particular challenge, I knew where I wanted to go. A doorway, especially one into a library, is the threshold with which learning, creativity, and imagination are crossed on a daily basis. For my photo, I centrally framed myself so as to compliment the architectural symmetry of the building. The light in the windows add a subtle touch of color in contrast to the red brick and stone steps. 

Elan | Full disclosure, not much creativity or thought went into this photo.  This was a shot from a real estate shoot I did this week – I just liked the pop of color the blue door gave this otherwise normal looking brown house. Like a focal point in a photo, a bright door is a focal point of the house, drawing buyers in.   

Week 21: Technical: Product

Imagine your image in a catalog or a magazine. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

James |

Nikon D810, 44mm, f/13, ISO 64, 1/200

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 50mm, f/1.2, ISO 400, 1/125

James |  Even though I’d never done a product shoot before, I was looking forward to this week’s challenge. I totally had more fun with this than I probably should’ve! Using a simple holographic background that I found at a local store, I framed my wife’s sunglasses in a few different angles before settling on this one from above. For a little extra cherry on top, I added Prada’s font-style to the side. Anyone in the mood to buy a pair of sunglasses? 🙂

Elan | I’ve actually done some product photos before – but usually in a makeshift studio with lighting.  I didn’t have access to any of that this time, so I just made do.  I kept the framing simple and intentionally let the highlights blow out to isolate the bottle.  More importantly, the wine was decent. A little smokey.  Definitely a wine to have with food.

Week 20: Composition: From Below

Get down low; below 2 feet, and change your perspective. Look out or look up.

James |

Nikon D810, 44mm, f/22, ISO 220, 1/200

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 14mm, f/6.3, ISO 200, 1/250

James |  I think it’s funny that Elan and I picked similar settings for this week’s photo challenge; our photos could almost be continuations of each other. However, though I didn’t have any cows nearby, I did have a buccolic pasture that I stooped down low into in order to get a shot looking into the field, the sun in the background casting a bifurcating shadow across the tall grass. 

Elan | I’m lucky to live next door to a farm and a cow pasture.  It’s peaceful and quiet and cows love to come to the fence to say hello.  I had to deal with the swarms of flies that accompany the cows, but I stuck my camera through the fence, and using my widest lens, grabbed some shots from low in the grass.  I kept having to pull my camera away because the cows were very interested and wanted to lick the camera.

Week 19: Vision: Edge Cut Sun

Having an edge cut through the sun looks nice, or having the sun rising over a line or diagonal within the photo. Stop down the aperture to create a starburst.

James |

Nikon D810, 44mm, f/22, ISO 220, 1/200

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 50mm, f/16, ISO 640, 1/200

James | Talk about one of the more challenging weeks to date, and all due to the weather! It’s been nothing but cloudy, overcast, and stormy since early May (hard to do a sun-based challenge without, well, the sun). Serendipitously, that massive ball of fire in the center of our universe finally came out yesterday, if only for what seemed like minutes. Luckily, I had my camera handy and was able move quickly to snap a few shots. In order to “slice” the sun a bit, I looked up at the trees overhead and decided to merged the rays with an arrangement of leaves. Spring is finally here! Oh wait, it’s cloudy again today. :/

Elan | I was lucky enough to catch a few minutes of setting sun while killing time before my wife’s play at the Crane Estate in Ipswich.  Walking around the meticulous grounds, I found a new art exhibit called Tunnel Teller, by Alicja Kwade.  It was designed to highlight the natural beauty, and I was able to use its features to frame the sun.  If you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking out this temporary scuplture. 

Week 18: wildcard: photographer’s choice

Capture an image on your terms; who, what, where, when, why, how … it’s all up to you. Caveat: You must tell us your intent.

James |

Nikon D810, 24mm, f/11, ISO 90, 1/200

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 14mm, f/10, ISO 200, 1/80

James | Unlike Elan, I have not been traveling across the country to trek across beautiful canyons and breathtaking mountain vistas (though I totally wish I could’ve been!). However, for this week, I took it upon myself to partake in finding beauty near my local surroundings. This particular scene is just off of Route 128 heading towards Gloucester. It’s a landscape I’ve seen countless times as I used to drive into Gloucester, but I could never find the time to stop and take a photo. For this week, I decided to capture the rising sun and hues of the early sky that complimented the rocky jetty and reflective water. In the distance a dock for diving into the water reminds me that summer is right around the corner.

Elan | For those of you keeping track, yes, we missed week 17.  We’ve both been busy travelling and dropped the ball on last week’s photo.  Luckily this week was photographer’s choice, since I was hiking in Zion I was able to shoot whatever I wanted.  I captured this image of Anne crossing a bridge on one of the trails through the canyon, and I wanted to showcase the scale and grandure of the canyons, so I used my wide lens to really highlight the red walls looming over us.

Week 16: Technical: Portrait Lighting

Whether Butterfly, Rembrandt, Split, or Loop Lighting, choose the technique which best flatters your subject.

shannon |

Canon 5DmkII, Canon 24-104 L, f/8, ISO 400

James |

Nikon D810, 35mm, f/2, ISO 64, 1/400

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 50mm, f/2, ISO 100, 1/1000

New for this week – featuring guest photograper Shannon Bell of The Visual Bloc. Shannon is a portrait, street art, and fashion photographer based in Georgia who creates stunning potraits. Follow him on Facebook or check out his Instagram HERE

Shannon | This was part of a graduation shoot I recently did.  This was shot in natural light – I prefer shooting in natural light especially when using an older camera model like the 5DmkII.  For portraits like these, natural light is your friend.  (Not every shoot needs fancy lighting or lots of set up time – sometimes working with simple natural lighting is the best) 

James | Out of all the lighting techniques that photographers use, I’ve always been partial to the Rembrandt Triangle. Pioneered by Dutch artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Rembrandt lighting is typically identified by the triangle of light on the cheek that is furthest from the light source. The shadow of the nose and cheek meet which creates the small little triangle of light in the middle. For my photo this week, I once again asked my wife Abby to be my model and placed her next to a window in our apartment that faced the setting sun. Adjusting for the angle of light streaming in (and white balance too), I took several photos before finally landing on what you see above.

Elan | To be honest, I don’t know the names of lighting techniques.  This shot was pretty simple – it’s natural light, shot in the shade.  Light was coming through the trees to the right of the subject, resulting in blotchy lighting on his face, so I used a big circular white translucent reflector disc.  This allowed the light that filtered through to soften and diffuse, resulting in nice even coverage on the face.

Week 15: Composition: Rule of Space

Your subject should be facing the frame, walking into the frame, this keeps your subject “in” the frame and engaging with it. Give your subject room to move.

James |

Nikon D810, 24mm, f/2.8, ISO 64, 1/600

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 50mm, f/4, ISO 400, 1/400

James | Even though most of us have cars and commute on highways pretty much everyday, stopping at an overpass and watching a seemingly endless amount of cars drive by is strangely thought provoking. Where are all these people going, and where did they come from? For this week, I decided to interpret the challenge with cars, and while these cars aren’t necessarily “walking” into the frame with room to grow, there’s plenty of open highway to move about. Lastly, I used the chainlink fence along the sidewalk to help frame the photo in a different way.

Elan | Rule of Space is another one of those photo techniques we do often without even thinking about it.  (Check out some of our blog posts from the Gran Prix of Beverly to see rule of space).  I took a bunch of potential rule of space photos on a recent hiking trip, include a few of hawks circling above us – but I liked this one the best.  It features Anne (and her silly gloves) making their way up the trail in front of me.

Week 14: Vision: Diptych or Triptych

Connect 2 or 3 images together, creating one image, to provoke a thought or tell a story.

James |

Nikon D810, 24mm, f/11, ISO 2000, 15″

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 50mm, f/2, ISO 640, 1/1600

James | Night photography can be tricky, especially when dealing with unexpected weather and cloudy skies. I decided to take a foreground photo of a hilly path and a separate starry sky, combining the two to create a sense of mystery as to the path leading up to what’s over the horizon.

Elan | Over the weekend we went to see Play Time at the Peabody Essex Museum.  It’s a contemporary art exhibit that explores how play is changing out lives – and invites interaction that you normally wouldn’t expreience at an art museum.  The work pictured here is a room filled with balloons – upon entering it immediately induces smiles and childlike behavior.

Week 13: Creative | Leading Lines

Back by popular demand, use lines to lead the viewer to your subject.

James |

Nikon D810, 35mm, f/2.0, ISO 900, 1/125

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 50mm, f/10, ISO 2000, 1/2000

James | When looking at a piano, most of us tend to focus on the exterior curves and the black and white keys. I decided to mix it up and capture the inner sound board, with many a leading line made up by strings and the like. The lines lead the viewer to parts of the piano not normally seen or noticed, with Easter flowers and a stand for music in the background.

Elan | I actually took a better version of this photo during the winter, when the snow made the fence more pronounced and seemingly endless, emphasizing the leading lines.  Usually this field is full of friendly cows, but it must be too early in the season for them to be out.

Week 12: technical | macro

Life is in the details. Get in close and show us the details we usually miss. You don’t need a macro lens to shoot a macro shot.

James |

Nikon D810, 70mm, f/3.5, ISO 64, 1/300

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 50mm, f/10, ISO 2000, 1/2000

James | Snow in New England -especially this winter- is nothing new. For the past few months, we were hit with storm after storm, sometimes multiple times in one week. Schools and businesses were being closed due to snow left and right. However, being a California boy born and raised, I still haven’t tired of seeing the snow. My macro shot is a view into the finer parts of snow and a leaf I came upon, having fallen during one of the storms, entrenched in snow and ice. und the corner.

Elan | This is photo of an old Haverhill zoning map we found in our house when we moved in.  It’s ripped and creased, but we framed it and hung it because the textures and drawings are really interesting.  Since I don’t actually have a macro lens, I read online that you could cheat it by flipping your lens around and just holding it over the front of the camera.  You lose all aperature and focus control, and the field of focus was so random and narrow it ended up just being a fun experiment. You can see a sample photo using this method HERE

Week 11: Composition | Negative Space

Minimize the composition to isolate your subject. The composition should be simple, thereby drawing your viewer to the subject.

James |

Nikon D810, 70mm, f/5, ISO 100, 1/400

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 50mm, f/1.6, ISO 1600, 1/320

James | For this week, I used the minimalism of the ocean to frame a rocky penninsula, a family of mallards, and slight hints of waves quietly crashing. Even though it’s been a bitter cold and snowy winter here in New England, the endless blue hues of the ocean are always a friendly reminder that spring and summer are right around the corner.

Elan | Negative space is one of those things a lot of us photographers do natually without even thinking about it.  I know that James and I use it a lot when photographing the details on a wedding day – it’s a great way to establish the mood and tell a story using simple framing.  It’s become second nature at this point that I was actaully overthinking this weeks theme.  I snapped this shot of my niece, who kept looking into this (empty) box.

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Week 10: vision | Selective Color

I know, I know. Yuck. Selective color can be cringe worthy, however, when done right, it brings compelling focus to the subject.

James |

Nikon D810, 35mm, f/2, ISO 640, 1/200

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 50mm, f/9, ISO 100, 1/160

James | I decided to take a little interpretive freedom with the challenge this week. I originally intended to only emphasize a certain color and make the rest of the photo black and white, but seeing as Jasper the dog is already black and white, I went the other direction and saturated the background a bit more to emphasize his coat. He isn’t mine, but he sure is a swell dog!

Elan | If it ever stops snowing, I’ll stop taking pictures in the snow. Until then…the snow really helped isolate this historic house – making this week’s theme relatively easy.  It only required dodging downed tree and power lines to drive to this location I had in mind.  This is actually the second photo I took last week to fit the theme – you can see the other one HERE!

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Week 9: Creative | Forsaken

Abandoned and Forgotten were favorites in the past. Let’s revisit the idea the idea this year with forsaken.

James |

Nikon D810, 24mm, f/11, ISO 64, 1/50

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 50mm

James | When Elan and I were discussing this week’s challenge, we thought it’d be fun to photograph the same subject and location. Even with similar creative perspectives, it’s interesting to see how we individually decided to frame and edit our shots in order to capture the essence of Plum Island’s ‘Pink House’ as it’s fondly known. If you don’t know the fascinating story behind the house, it’s definitely worth a read

Elan | I got lucky and raced to the Pink House one night just in time for sunset. My shot is actually a compilation of 45 photos, stitched together in Photoshop.  The final photo is 9 compositions, each made up of 5 bracketed shots merged together.  The resulting file size exceeded the Photoshop 4GB saving limit and is a whopping 13,333 x 7,616 px. I had to crop it to fit on this blog, but you can see the full resolution HERE!

Week 8: Technical | Zoom Burst

By changing the focal length during long exposure you can add movement to your frame, producing leading lines within your frame.

James |

Nikon D810, 70mm, f/5, ISO 64, 15″

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 50mm, f/2.8, ISO 1000, .8sec

James | Sometimes we walk by familiar visages and paths everyday, largely missing the potential a scene has to offer. For this week’s zoom challenge, I decided to take in a new perspective along a riverwalk nearby. My first several attempts (trying to photograph light bulbs) didn’t yield what I had in mind; I eventually turned around and saw the colors emanating from the balconies of nearby buildings. I set my tripod up and snapped the shot, zooming every so slightly to get the desired effect.

Elan | Confession – I cheated this week.  This is actually a photo I took last autumn, and I mimicked the Zoom Burst effect in Photoshop.  All my camera lenses are ‘prime’ lenses, meaning they are a fixed focal length with no zoom capabilities.  The only zoom I have is my own two feet.

Week 7: Composition | Fill the Frame

Fill the frame with your subject, no background. You will need to get up close and personal, or use a good zoom lens.

James |

Nikon D810, 35mm, f/10, ISO 64, 1/100

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 50mm, f/1.6, ISO 59, 1/1000

James | This week’s challenge was to get up close and personal. Walking around downtown Gloucester with my wife and in-laws, I saw a color wheel in front of a toy store being spun by the nearby ocean wind. Even with my zoom lens, I decided to walk right up to the vibrant circle and remove as much of the background as possible. I felt a little funny as a passerby gave me a look, but for art, some sacrifices have to be made.

Elan | Since I mostly shoot with a 50mm which has a pretty large minimum focus distance, I had to find a big enough subject to fill the frame.  I took a lot of photos of my cats and assorted things around my house, but I’ll spare you from seeing those.  I ended up getting my photo of this fence on the beach, the day after a snow storm.

Week 6: Vision | Alternating Rhythm

Alternate patterns of light to bring depth and rhythm to the photograph.

James |

Google Pixel 2 XL

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 50mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/2500

James | Like Elan, my photo this week was a challenge to take – I actually didn’t even use my Nikon camera! Instead, I used my phone to take this photo of a set of organ pipes that were reflecting light after an evening of practice. Sometimes light is where you least expect it.

Elan | I like that we both went for black and white photos this week without even discussing it ahead of time.  This week was hard for me, because I think the theme was geared toward an abstract photo.  I’m not much of an abstract photographer, but it certainly made me aware of the light and had me thinking all week how I could capture the light in interesting ways.

Week 5: Wildcard | Challenge: Photographers choice

Capture an image on your terms; who, what, where, when, why, how … it’s all up to you. Caveat: Tell the intent

James |

Nikon D810, 70mm, f/3.5, ISO 64, 1/200

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 50mm, f/16, ISO 50, 1/60

James | My photo this week is a double exposure shot of my wife who has been my trusty -and effortlessly beautiful- model for various projects of mine on many an occasion. One again she stood in front of my camera this past Sunday afternoon and listened to my directions for a pose, trying to keep her eye rolling to a minimum☺. My intention was to capture her essence, of who and what she is to me. I combined my photo of her and a photo I took a few years back, of flowers on a warm, sunny day in Rockport that we had spent walking around Bear Skin Neck together, talking and laughing about our lives while eating delicious local ice cream.

Elan | This week was anything goes – I had thought about doing a self portrait or something experiemental, but the sunset driving home one night looked promising so I made a detour to find a spot in Lawrence that had an unobstructed view of the mills.  After one failed attempt, I finally made it to a spot right at the river’s edge, just as the sun was setting out of view.  I was cold and windy, and I having just left work I wasn’t dressed to be outside for a long time, so I snapped a few shots and was on my way.  I’m making it a point to go back to this spot and to try and find a view that included more of the surrounding mills as well. Fun fact: I used to work in that clock-tower building.

Week 4: Creative | Challenge: Quiet Moment

Peace. Serenity. Tranquility. Convey a quiet moment.

James |

Nikon D810, 24mm, f/10, ISO 64, 25 seconds

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 50mm, f/1.2, ISO 200, 1/100

It’s week four and…

James | My quiet moment this week actually came a few days before. The weather had just turned warmed after a spell of storms and the snow was melting fast. There was mist everywhere and as I was driving around, I came across a farmland where the wind was blowing the mist across an open field. As I leaped over a stone wall, I took a moment to pause and savor my peaceful surroundings before snapping the shot. 

Elan | For the past few days I was travelling in Texas to surprise my dad for his 70th birthday.  When family and friends who haven’t seen each other for a while get together, finding a quiet moment can be tricky.  We were travelling with our niece who, during the weekend, watched Boss Baby no less than 200 times. This particular morning while everyone was  getting ready and our niece was just sitting in the living room by herself, eating her morning bagel, and watching Boss Baby for the 157th time.

Week 3: Technical   |   Challenge: Full manual

While the camera often determines shutter speed and aperture for the photographer, it doesn’t know your creative intent. This week, challenge your self to assume creative control over the camera by using full manual mode.

James |

Nikon D810, 24mm, f/10, ISO 64, 25 seconds

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 14mm, f/3.2, ISO 200, 1/2000

It’s week three and we’re starting to have a little more fun. This week’s challenge was somewhat open-ended which allowed some creative interpretation on both our parts.

James | Cameras in 2018 have gotten so good both from the optical and sensor aspect. While certain events call for using modes such as aperture or shutter priority, it’s always refreshing when we as photographers get to use manual mode. For this week, I took a stroll towards a bridge in Ipswich with camera and tripod in hand. Coming upon the fast moving water, I knew this would allow me to utilize manual mode in my camera to good effect. After I framed my shot, I attached an ND filter to my lens and adjusted my aperture, ISO, and shutter settings accordingly, taking the long exposure shot you see above. 

Elan | This week I knew I would shooting some photos for a fat bike race in my town (you can see the full set of photos HERE) so I made the effort to plan ahead for this week’s challenge.  I wanted to get a low angle of the riders popping over this little hill, so I set my camera on a gorillapod in the snow with the 14mm lens.  The riders only had a small gap to ride through, so I focused there (the 14mm is wide and forgiving if the focus is slighly off) and set my exposure.  Using my phone, I was able to stand back and remotely trigger the shot as the riders came through.

Week 2: Composition   |   Challenge: color harmony

Get out your color wheel. Do opposites attract? Can there be harmony with opposite colors? Does the Hulk wear purple pants? Mix warm and cool colors.

James |

Nikon D810, 24mm, f/6.3, ISO 64, 1/500

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 50mm, f/4, ISO 200, 1/200

It’s only week two, and it’s evident that this challenge is going to force us to get creative. More importantly, it’s going to force us to make time during the week to take more photos.

James | Unlike Elan as you’ll read below, this week’s challenge definitely stretched me a bit. In the visual arts, color theory undeniably plays a huge role in how we see the world, of finding and mixing complimentary colors in an appealing way both according to the artist and viewer. My surroundings right now, however, are anything but colorful; it’s nothing but cold, wet, and gray outside. I did have a certain image in mind but I simply had too many things going on. Instead, I had to walk out in the cold and gray world to try and find something colorful. I eventually came across an industrial park and an interesting green utility box on top of a concrete block with some metal sheeting behind to provide texture. I shifted my camera to provide a different angle and snapped the shot. Sometimes, rules are made to be broken. Green hulk pants, anyone? 

Elan | I’ll admit it, this shot isn’t totally out-of-the-box for me.  I work in property management and take a lot of real estate photos (and my wife is addicted to looking at homes on Zillow) so I’m always looking at home and building design.  For this week’s theme of color harmony, I actually had other lofty photo ideas in mind, but the week sort of got away from me and I happened to be out on this new construction site.  This building uses some interesting accent colors and materials and I enjoyed how the bucket-lift broke up the shot.  Obviously a lot of thought goes into the design of homes and how the colors compliment each other, so all I had to do was frame the shot and take the picture.

WEEK 1: VISION   |   CHALLENGE: LOOK AHEAD

New Year. New Beginnings. New You. Look Ahead. Interpret as you wish.

James |

Nikon D810, 24mm, f/6.3, ISO 64, 1/500

Elan |

Canon 5dmkIV, 14mm, f/11, ISO 250, 1/400

This week’s theme offered a lot of room for interpretation.

James | For me, every new year brings the feeling of new beginnings: a clean slate of sorts that allows me the chance to ponder what might happen in the next 365 days. The weather this year also brought in a fresh coat of snow just after January 1st, something I always see as a natural equalizer where everyhing is clean and made anew. My photo is a combination of those things, of the fresh snow punctured only by a set of footsteps leading into the unknown but exciting future. What photos will I take? What places will I visit? What new things will I experience? Whatever happens in 2018,  I know I’ll be ready to capture it, camera (and hot beverage, because it’s really cold right now!) in hand.

Elan | I choose to focus on the looking ahead.  Lots of the creative process happens right here, at this desk with a nice cup of coffee (or beer) at hand while I edit.  Often I’ll ask my wife to look over my shoulder and give me her honest opinion.  I imagine countless hours will be spent at this desk over the coming year as I work on various projects.

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