Don’t Lose Focus: Just a drop of color


Kai Ford

Aloha, readers! Welcome to the safe space that is my piece of Bearing News. My name is Kai Ford, and I am a photographer for Southside Media.
My mom likes to say I got my love for photography from my grandfather. He was a sailor in the Navy and spent much of his young adult life traveling, experiencing people and cultures of many different backgrounds, ethnicities, creeds and locations. At every stop, he took out his camera and, based on what I found in his photo albums, held the shutter release. Although many photos featured goofy moments of my grandfather and his crewmates, I was more interested in the photos that told the stories of a foreign place or forced me to engineer the narrative behind why my grandfather was drinking soju in a bar full of Koreans. I assume these photos are why I continued to pursue photography and why I am here.
In this blog, I will be challenging myself to take new, creative shots. Twice a month, I’ll be taking on a task from Expert Photography’s 30 Day Challenge. Whether I fail or not, you will get to follow along as I make a fool of myself and, occasionally, capture some fun, unique shots.
First up is the Colorful Water Droplet challenge. The ultimate goal for this challenge was to create an image similar to this.
I started by sourcing the materials for the shot:

  • 2 boxes of M&Ms (You can use less, but I knew I would get hungry.)
  • A large mug
  • A pane of glass from a nearby picture frame (Sorry, Stover.)
  • Pipettes/Eye droppers from your medicine cabinet or science department
  • Random assortment of box-like objects (You’ll see why.)

The shot utilizes water droplets as small magnifying glasses, reflecting the M&Ms into each sphere and creating bright globes of color. The biggest challenge of this shot is to focus on the water droplets and also fill them with the view of the M&Ms below. In order to focus solely on the drops, I used manual focus, not only changing the larger, overall focal length, but making finite adjustments to the lense and the distance at which I held the camera. From there, it was a matter of perseverance. I took a page out of former Southside Media staff member Joanna Yu’s book and popped on some tunes (A little Girl’s Generation to pump up the party) and started snapping shots. I ended up choosing these images to proceed onto post-production. [/vc_column_inner][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner]Here are a few images that had potential, but the shake of my hands or failure to tune into the right focus caused significant blur.[/vc_column_inner][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner]I had many of these during the process,so if you attempt this, do not be downtrodden by any mishaps or blurriness.[/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner]For the editing phase, I opened Adobe Photoshop.  I cropped the image to include the best colors and water droplets. Increasing exposure and reducing shadows/black lightened up the colors within the frame and reduced any dark lines surrounding the M&Ms. I bumped up the vibrancy just a tad to get more exciting colors out of the water droplets and to make up for the lack of diversity within each individual one. After all the changes, I ended up with these.[/vc_column_inner][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner]If I was to do this again, I’d increase the light of the room in which I shot. I would pay extra attention to placing light on the M&Ms in order to reduce the amount of light I have to add during editing. This would assist with reducing grain and sharpening the image overall. I would also orient the camera to implement more colors within each drop, getting an effect similar to that of my second blur image, but with crisp detail to improve the image.
Thank you all for joining me this week on Don’t Lose Focus. Throughout this year, I aim to release new challenges twice a month, successful or not, right here on Bearing News. I hope to welcome you back again for more trials and tribulations. Don’t forget to try new things!