July 11, 2014

A Personal Photo Challenge - Portraits

It’s time for A Personal Photo Challenge! “Portraits” is the theme this month.

A Personal Photo Challenge

If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you have long since figured out that portrait photography is not my thing. Absolutely, positively. I’d rather have a root canal. I don’t like to be photographed, and I automatically apply those feelings to others. And since we don’t have children or grandchildren, there are not a lot of willing victims subjects for portraits. Give me a landscape, critter, or building, and I am in photo heaven. People are those pesky creatures that I yell at to move out of my frame or later clone out in the digital darkroom.

Ah, enough about my quirky preferences and on to the challenge. My chosen subject was my sweet baboo, Mr. Jim, and I have three photos to share today. The first two images would be classified as environmental portraits. Such portraits are taken in settings that communicate more about the subject and their life. So background and surrounding details are important, and greater depth of field is used to achieve the desired effect. The third image I took is a formal portrait with a shallow depth of field. The setup was very informal, and Photoshop magic was used to make it look like it was done in a studio.

During Mr. Jim’s chemotherapy treatments the past few months, we were fortunate enough to receive a couple of visits from therapy dogs. Such visits were quite a treat and helped to break up the long days spent at the Cancer Institute. Here Mr. Jim is spending some quality time with Ady, an adorable Burmese Mountain dog. I took the image with my amazing little iPhone and edited it with various apps on my iPad. I previously shared it on Instagram. This really falls into a snapshot category, but it is a warm-hearted portrait that tells a story.

The next photo I took while we were enjoying an afternoon rest on the magnificent porch of Charleston’s Two Meeting Street Inn. The rocking chairs offered us a perfect spot for drinking ice tea and watching the world go by. Even though it was the Christmas season during our visit, the manicured grounds were lush and beautiful. A portion of the mansion across the street can be seen beyond the porch in the background. I used a wide-angle lens setting to capture the scene’s expanse, but the subject was clearly Mr. Jim. The image was captured with a Nikon D7100/18-200 mm lens, post-processed in Photoshop CC, and cropped to an 8x10 frame.

Mr. Jim graciously accepted my request for a photo shoot this past weekend on our screened-in back porch. The background wasn’t ideal, but the soft, natural lighting was perfect, negating the need for a reflector or artificial lighting. I had the idea to use a prop, and three cheers to Mr. Jim for being agreeable to a wacky approach. I used a shallow depth-of-field, and in hindsight, I wished I had increased the depth. (Ah, but the blurry bits are also part of the charm!) I used my Nikon D7100 and a lovely 105 mm macro lens.

I planned in advance to convert the image into black and white, and I was delighted to find that a high-key (overexposed) approach in Photoshop CC was the way to go. The background was originally an out-of-focus mottled green with a slight hint of screen mesh. (Ick.) I transformed it into a white background with a few editing tricks. The end result makes me laugh and giggle. And, if this doesn’t tickle your funny bone, then you don’t have one!

I hope you enjoyed my photos and descriptions. Please visit A Personal Photo Challenge blog and check out the creative efforts of other participants too!

P.S. Got home from the hospital a few hours ago. Had umbilical hernia surgery yesterday. Stayed overnight because of breathing difficulties in recovery. Doing okay now. Will visit participants as best as I can this weekend. Sitting up in my computer chair isn't comfortable right now. So visits will probably be done via the iPad and comments may be abbreviated.


  1. oh, glad to know you got through it!

    love the porch photo in charleston. and the cute 'inspector' photo, too.

  2. Wow I love your portraits and commentary. They each tell such a story, as you say. The middle one is priceless, maybe because I've walked past there so many times. And the last one …. just amazing. Hope you get to feeling better … you have so much going on. Thanks again for hosting and challenging us in the midst of it all.

  3. Your sweet baboo is very photogenic indeed! And look at that last photo! It should be for an ad or commercial. I'm trying to think of a funny caption! You chose a very handsome man for this challenge...how can we not love photos of him! Take care of yourself and get lots of rest. Thanks for the challenge. It was not my favorite....surprised you, didn't I? heehee! Sweet gentle hugs, Diane

  4. Jim was a good sport for your challenge effort and the last one is a hoot! With all you're both dealing with, you had to had hernia surgery too? Best wishes for a speedy recovery Donna, and I hope your iPad doesn't change words on your screen like mine does.

  5. What a fabulous post and hats off to Mr Jim for gallantly accepting your challenge!
    The last photo is so clever - you're incredible Donna - I think you're an exceptional portrait photographer!

  6. These are really wonderful photos of your Mr. Jim. I like the first two for the meaning behind them and the third one is just plain fun. He's got his eye on you I think. ;) Praying for healing strength for you as you recover from your surgery. Don't overdo it! Hugs, Pam PS I'll not be participating this month.

  7. So sorry to hear about your surgery, Donna...glad you are home and recuperating! Love the photos of your hubby...and that they have therapy dogs at chemo!

  8. LOVE these! I can't even choose a favorite, they're all so good!

    So glad to know you're home, and hopefully you'll mend well.

    Tell Mr Jim I think he's a handsome dude!

    Love to both of you.

  9. Oh my goodness. You certainly tickled my funny bone...you and Mr. Jim, that is! Fabulous!!

    I love the sweetness of your first photo. I am sure that the therapy dogs bring cheer and needed distraction to those who find themselves in such places.

    And the charm of the second photo draws me in. That is such an inviting porch, and Mr. Jim looks pensive as he relaxes there, camera at the ready.

    For someone who was challenged by her own challenge, you have certainly presented us with three wonderful portraits! Please take care this weekend..rest, relax, restore!

  10. Love the cute doggie and the porch shot is excellent.. I wish you a speedy recovery from your surgery! Take care and have a happy weekend!

  11. Those photos are so powerful. They speak to the heart.

  12. Each one tells a story and you'll be happy to know that I have a funny bone as I laughed out loud by the time I got to the third. The second photo is wonderful as one sees that Mr. Jim is himself a serious photographer, yet he is resting and thinking, almost a meditative vibe going on. And the first is a great composition of Jim, the wonderful dog, and the dog owner. One could look at each face for some time. Glad that you are safely home and abbreviate away.

  13. SO glad you made it through surgery!! Those breathing problems can be risky!
    And what can I say...Hahahaaa...Jim is SUCH a good sport! And a handsome fellow to boot! You are so blessed Donna!
    LOVE LOVE all the photos!!
    Prayers to you both!

  14. You did a pretty good job for someone who doesn't like portrait photos! Of course, you had a great subject!!!

  15. Happy to hear you are doing ok after your surgery. Praying for a speedy recovery for you
    These shots are all great. The last one does make me laugh. A very clever idea and well done.

  16. good to hear you are feeling o.k., take it easy. Love your shots of Mr. Jim. the last especially.

  17. Glad to hear you survived surgery, my daughter in law just had the same thing about a week ago...Great shots of Mr Jim. Love, love, love, the last one! Excellent shots!


  18. Sending prayers for your rest and recovery -- I know you need to heal quickly as your duties as caregiver are often needed.

    The photos of your husband are wonderful- I'm glad he's doing well right now:)


  19. Amo as histórias que você conta com suas fotos! Amo como você ensina a todos nós com a descrição de pequenos detalhes. Amo o seu amor pelo Sr.Jim e amo o bom humor!
    Fico muito feliz por você estar em casa se recuperando bem! Continue firme!
    Saúde e um abraço! Cumprimente o Sr. Jim, parece que ele conquistou todas nós! :)))

    I love the stories you tell with your photos! Love how you teach us all with the description of small details. Love your love for Sr.Jim love and good humor!
    I'm very glad you're home recovering well! Carry on!
    Health and a hug! Greet Mr. Jim, it seems that he captured all of us! :)))

  20. All gorgeous photos, as usual, bu that last one! What a winner! Love the way Mr. Jim's eye is so sharply focused. Just wonderful! Best wishes for a comfortable and speedy recovery.

  21. Oh that last one is fantastic! nice shots!

  22. So glad that surgery is over. I hope your recovery is speedy. Hooray for Mr. Jim! Great photos, all of them. But the last one takes the prize out of all the photos I've seen for the challenge. Wacky and fun!

  23. Glad to hear you are home and beginning to recover. I LOVE your photos of Jim - especially the quirky one! Good work, dear friend. Take care of yourself and get well.

  24. Hi Donna...I am just trying to get caught up on some posts while I was gone last week. I was really bummed that I wasn't able to get in the challenge this month but will be gearing for the next....did I see it was pets?? That should be fun! The photos of your Mr. Jim are precious and he must be a really good sport! I don't think I have ever seen a pic of him but it is certainly nice to have a face with a name...especially when you pray from someone! That b&w portrait of him was great!!

  25. I just wanted to call by and thankyou for running the Personal Photo Challenge and for leaving a comment on my entry. So pleased I found you and am now following. :)


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