On Assignment: Listening to an Audiobook

by | May 31, 2024 | Assignments | 0 comments

Have you ever tried to portray, in a photograph, the idea of someone listening to something? I never had! So that made this assignment a unique one for me. To begin with, I had one idea for how to photograph someone “listening to an audiobook”, so I started with that . . . and then it was amazing to see how other ideas popped up from there!

While I was taking the photos for this assignment, I wasn’t feeling like my photos were going to be very good. I wasn’t really feeling creative, nor getting multiple angles. But as I was sorting through everything afterward, I realized that was ok this time since I had literally photographed three different scenarios. As long as I had at least one good photo from each scenario, it would be ok. That’s all that I was shooting for!

Let's see if I got at least one good photo from each of the three scenarios . . .

Scenario 1

Here’s one of my first photos from the kitchen.

240525_James Staddon_5542 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 70 mm, 1-160 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400

Good background blur, uncluttered yet still in a realistic setting, a good enough composition. But look at the dust on that screen!

I quickly wiped it away before Julianna came to pour the drinks.

240525_James Staddon_5555 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 70 mm, 1-160 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400

Much better! And it’s even better when you can see the orange Julius actually pouring!

240525_James Staddon_5556 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 70 mm, 1-160 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400-2

This photo was good enough for Photoshoping in a screenshot from Cross Current.

240525_James Staddon_5556 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 70 mm, 1-160 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400

Below are some other shots from the kitchen.

240525_James Staddon_5537 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 55 mm, 1-160 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400

240525_James Staddon_5538 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 51 mm, 1-160 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400

For having felt like I was only getting one photo in this first scenario, I’m surprised at how many different variations I actually walked away with. I guess there are a lot of factors that make one photo look different from another than the simple placement of the main subject.

Scenario 2

Stepping outside, scenario two unfolded fairly easily. I don’t know if the concept of the photo is very good. Like, do you really listen to audiobooks while you’re working on a construction project? But, maybe some people do. Smile  It was very simple to set up. I was in and out quickly. And I hope I wasn’t too much of an interruption from David’s work project.

I really like the one photo I was able to get here!

240524_James Staddon_5493 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 24 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 100

Scenario 3

When I walked past David’s car, I was reminded of the new stereo he had installed a couple months ago! So, just before dinner, I asked him if he wouldn’t mind posing for me again, this time in his car.

We hustled outside and headed down the driveway. Since I didn’t have a very wide angle lens, I was not able to get the angles I was envisioning while I was inside the car. So, we stopped the car, and I took a few shots from outside looking in. 240524_James Staddon_5502 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 24 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 100-2 This meant that there was no motion blur in the scenery outside of the car. With no visual indication that the car was moving, the photo feels a little static. So, I fixed that in Photoshop!

240524_James Staddon_5502 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 24 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 100

I created the same effect for each photo that I took in this setting with the car.

240524_James Staddon_5506 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 24 mm, 1-125 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400-2

240524_James Staddon_5506 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 24 mm, 1-125 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400

Isn’t it incredible the difference it makes?

240524_James Staddon_5509 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 24 mm, 1-125 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400-2

240524_James Staddon_5509 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 24 mm, 1-125 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400

Learning from the past, I’ve discovered that the best way to create this type of motion blur in Photoshop is to follow these steps, in this order:

  1. Duplicate the background layer
  2. On that 2nd layer, select the area you want to blur
  3. Create a mask from the selection
  4. Duplicate the 2nd layer (so the 3rd layer has the exact same mask as the 2nd one)
  5. Hide the 3rd layer and apply the mask to the 2nd layer
  6. Add the desired motion blur to the 2nd layer
  7. Drag the mask from the 3rd layer onto the 2nd layer
  8. Delete the 3rd layer

How Photoshop background blur

Doing it this way will eliminate any haloing around the edges of the blurred areas which would result from adding the motion blur before creating the mask!

Now It’s Your Turn

It doesn’t happen every time, but I think I got at least one good shot from each of the three scenarios I ran into that day. But now it’s your turn to shoot this assignment! After making sure you are familiar with all the details, go see what photos you can come up for Listening to an Audiobook!

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