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Adventures in Chalk

Lately Alexis and I have been on a sidewalk chalk kick. We've been outside almost nightly creating huge scenes all along our driveway, one of which led to this:

28 mm, f/5.0, 0.008 sec, ISO 100Once Alexis saw that photo on my computer, she started concocting dozens of ideas for scenes she wants to be in. I'm sure I'll be posting the results as we go. From the experiences, I have figured out some tips for creating Adventures in Chalk Photos:

1. You will need a ladder, a car, a deck, a helicopter, or something to get up high enough to take the photo. Plan for it because short people get twitchy if you try to make them lay on the ground too long.

2. The scale of your scene needs to fit into your shot, so check how high up you're going to be able to get before you start drawing. I know this sounds obvious, but I didn't think about it the first few times.

For example, the balloon photo isn't composed the way I would like. Ideally, I would like to have all of the balloons fully in the pic and have some empty space to the bottom left to help give the illusion that Alexis is flying. It's easier to crop your photo than it is to find a 50 ft tall step ladder, so plan accordingly.

3. If you have a slope somewhere in your driveway or sidewalk, use that to your advantage. In the balloon photo, Alexis is lying on a slight slope in our driveway. It tilted everything towards me just a little bit, making it easier for me to make it seem like I was over top of the scene.

28 mm, f/4.0, 0.017 sec, ISO 100See how she has 7 chins in the 2nd photo? It was because I didn't use the slope and couldn't get the entire scene in the photo without moving my ladder back fairly far. That meant she had to basically look down to make eye contact with the camera.

4. Use a higher aperture than you normally might for portraits. You aren't going to be able to get directly over top of the scene, so you're image won't be "flat." A higher aperture will help you keep everything in focus.

5. Look for odd things on the driveway or sidewalk that will show up in the photo. For example, the spot of mud above the "U"--I should have cleaned it up before shooting (it started raining as we finished coloring the heart, so while I had noticed it by the time I went to take the photo, I didn't have time to deal with it). (I regret not making the time.)

If you create some Adventures in Chalk photos, make sure to leave a link in comments so I can check them out!

Reader Comments (7)

These are awesome!

I'd of never noticed the spot of mud if you hadn't mentioned it...I do not find it distracting but a part of life and the out doors especially with all the rain we've been having in western, Pa

May 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterleslie

What fun! And I love that she is concocting the plans!

May 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCrista

@leslie--That one was supposed to be for her grandpa's birthday gift. Printed and enlarged, the spot is pretty distracting. I managed to edit it out with PhotoShop, but that's an hour of my life I would like back since it would have taken 2 seconds to sweep the spot up.

I absolutely LOVE these pics, she says, as her mind begins to whirl with possibilities, as if I needed any help, clogging stuff up in there, anyway, thanks!

May 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

@liz--I told Alexis to draw pictures of everything she wanted to try to do on paper. That occupied her for a few evenings when it was rainy. Plus, it let me figure out which ones were going to be the easiest so I could focus on trying them first. She has one that is a crazy good idea but complicated, so it needs saved for a day when we have a LOT of time.

All of that is to say, it might be easier to sketch a few ideas out on paper first.

I love your photography. And your sidewalk art. :)

May 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrebelliousflaw

I love this! may have to try it out. I wonder if we have any sidewalk chalk!

May 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMolly
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