Week 2 – Technical: SOOC2017-06-19T13:52:05+10:00

The theme for this week is Technical: Straight out of the camera

This week’s challenge is very prescriptive about how you take the shot.  You are going to take a portrait of someone that’s ‘straight out of the camera’, ie no post processing at all.

That means no filters, definitely no cropping, no fiddling of any kind….

You will need to take your shot in landscape mode.  Ie.  The long edge is at the top, not the side.  If you are using a camera with any zoom you need to have it on the widest setting.  No using the zoom to get close.

Note that it is only post processing that is banned.  If you have the capability you can fiddle with any setting prior to the shot.  If you have a SLR or equivalent it’s time break out of auto mode and at least adjust aperture and/or shutter speed.  I’m happy to help if you need.

You can experiment with as many shots as you like during the week but you can only submit your favourite.

Some things to think about with your shot:

  1. Lighting.  How much of your subjects detail you show will be dependant on the light.  Is it the warm light of the morning?  Bright overhead sunshine?  Shadows from candlelight?  The available light will change the mood of the photo and the overall colour.
  2. The background.  As you are shooting in landscape be conscious of what is behind your subject.  Is it neutral to emphasis the person in focus, or is it something that gives the shot some context?
  3. Your subject connecting with the camera.  Probably the best bit of photography advice I ever got was to line up a shot and then take a step forward.  It fills the frame more and can provoke great reactions from your subject as the distance narrows between you and them.  The war photographer Robert Capa once said “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”.

You can find some general tips on portrait photography here.

Keep your hands off the post edits.  No cheating.

Send your challenge to photos@iyt.org.au.  Remember to include a description which covers the subject and/or the process.

Submission due..


It’s tough not to fiddle with the shot afterward but I reckon they came out pretty damn good.  Having the portrait in landscape gives background and context to the shot.  Plenty of people went with a bit of rule of thirds action as well.


There was a plan to photograph my nephews….but plans with 3 year old twins don’t ever seem to work out as planned.

Alas, I practiced with my boyfriend, the most unwilling of subjects.

Midday at Middle Park beach.


love it when ‘mucking around’ photos turn out to be exactly what you need. My one and only available ‘model’ hates having his pic taken so I sat on the floor and took a few random photos while he was just doing stuff. I didn’t intend these to be my real shots, but as so often can happen a candid shot gets the results. This image is so ‘him’ I know I couldn’t have got this look from a posed shot. He just happened to be sitting where the light was good. So pleased with the result!


I tried twice in last year’s challenge to master bokeh, and failed each time, so I thought I’d try it again…and still didn’t quite get there. Is it because the lowest I can get my apeture is f2.8 do you think? I was also going to try use the flash on my camera, which I’ve never used, but couldn’t work out how to make it pop up.

This was shot on a Sony NexF3 at F2.8 shutter speed 0.4 and ISO 3200 with an automatic white balance to match the light source. I tried at ISO 1600, but even with a tripod, it needed a longer shutter speed than I could successfully use and maintain focus. The most challenging bit was trying to frame in camera while not showing the white sheets on the line in the background.

Looking forward to seeing all the results!


Would have been perfect for a backlit photo this one. This was taken just meters from my shot from last week, but this time on a brisk foggy morning during school drop off with the portrait being of my 7 year old Lila.


his is my grandmother. She now lives in an aged care facility. Her Room is 3 x 3 metres. She often looks out her window to have connection with the outside world. She doesn’t like living there but is confined to a wheelchair and needs high care.
My grandmother enjoyed posing for the photos. This was my first portrait photo session. I decided to turn out all the lights in her room and asked her to sit by the window and talk about life in an aged care facility. The end of the her bed is in the background.
This photo is taken on my iPhone. I wanted contrast in the photo. Technically it’s not the best but I feel her eyes tell her story. If you zoom in you can see a tear as she knows this is her life now


Erin and her babes.

As the rankest of rank amateurs, I first needed to look up ‘aperture’ and get my exceptionally non-technical brain around the concept of what it all meant. Then I had to look up the manual on how to change the settings as it’s only ever been on auto!

I have a great deal to learn. For me however, the challenge will be actually submitting something each week, so that’s my main focus. I hope to end the year with better understanding and a bit more skill.


Waiting in the cold.

Nikon1 – 18.5mm Nikkor @ f2.8,  1/500, ISO400


This challenge has made me realise how lazy I have been in relying on tweaking in post especially for cropping the shot and changing the white balance.  I had a few candid shots that weren’t quite right and then in desperation took some posed shots and ended with this one where I still managed to over expose it.  Meh.


There were two sales staff; both ladies, one older one younger.

As soon as I said the words, “May I take your photo?” the older lady was both ruling herself out of contention, and dobbing in the younger lady, in an instant!

I’ve tried taking other photos for this week’s challenge but I keep coming back to this one because I like the honesty in her expression (hopefully it’s not just in my memory).

The flush of mild embarrassment at being put on the spot by a colleague. The nervous smile that a stranger pointing a soul-stealing device (my iPhone) at you can provoke. The little thoughts that flicker across your conscience when you have been given no time to prepare for a photo; is my hair ok? Is there spinach in my teeth? Who exactly is going to see this photo of me?

I would have liked to play around a little more but I think I was lucky to get this. They were supposed to be serving customers, after all.


This is Ariana, she’s only 5 and when I told her to give me some attitude for the photo she had no problem…. not sure it’s a good thing lol


Taken with Samsung Phone – captures the mood but lots of techie difficulties – won’t use the phone again, unless I’m desperate.


The photographer, the reluctant subject. Amongst his cameras donated to a local museum.

Taken on Olympus pen lite EPL5


This is my youngest in the shed where he hangs out mostly.
Taken on iPhone 6
No filters


Taken on Friday evening on my iPhone … perhaps more a snapshot than a portrait but I love the expression on my great-nephews face ?


Last day being 13


Mucky Fingers – On a holiday of a lifetime to the Rocky Mountains with our little fella Finley. A great place to eat his favourite thing…ice cream.
Bad planning on my behalf meant I couldn’t use any photos I took on my DSLR as my SD card doesn’t fit my Surface I have with us!! So I had to frantically try and get a snap on my iPhone and this one although technically not great..It made me smile to see Finley tucking in and enjoying has Haagen-Dazs ice cream (while mummy and daddy shared a cheaper one between them) in a beautiful spot.
Ps – it also has a bit of the hire car in to remind me of the great time touring.


Having a plan but actually effecting it is one of the tricky parts of this challenge so plan B, C and sometimes D are necessary. They say never work with children and animals, so this week its plan E  and my portrait in landscape has both. Nothing more to be said – both Tom and Maya said “no photos” but I snapped it and this was the best I could do.


Whale watching Shelley Beach Sydney
Not very technical but I did have to take quite a few before the horizon was straight!  It captures a reflective moment

Straight out the phone


I read the brief, without enough attention to read that the shot should be taken in landscape. This meant I couldn’t use my original shot and ended up with a hasty shot taken on my phone. I preset it to ‘Moody’. I hadn’t known I could preset an effect.

That makes two lessons learned.

I wanted to capture the shy, enigmatic nature of the subject.


This week I took my own hint and went for the natural light portrait of my daughter Sarah. This is how I achieved the SOOC challenge:
I set the camera to capture JPG, rather than RAW, in Monochrome (b+w) to maximise the on-camera processing. Then I spot-metered for the highlights (nose or rhs of forehead), focused, composed, took the shot. The background is a piece of foam core.

Nikon D810, Nikon 24-70 lens at 70mm, f2.8
No retouching.


This is my gorgeous mum. She has been through a very tough 6 months but today she was with our large extended family celebrating some birthdays. I never thought that would happen!