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04-02-2012, 06:12 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Daily Exercises

Some of y'all may recall my LOTD (lens of the day) strategy. I have a zillion lenses. Rather than stick to my favorites and neglect the rest, I play LOTD. I'll stick some lens (maybe chosen at random) on the camera and use only that one lens for a day or ten. This allows|forces me to see from specific viewpoints, within specific limitations. And some of the LOTD glass become favorites, whilst others head for the sell pile.

Sometimes I take it even further. I've wandered around for a couple days with just an M42 300/5.6 lens mounted on a no-infinity-focus M42-PK adapter. That forces me to look for subjects in a 6-degree field of view, at distances between 2-150m. I truly see stuff that I just wouldn't notice otherwise, because I *must* look in that narrow range.

But more possibilities exist. I'm not limited to lenses. Here are some 'daily' exercises:

* Aperture of the day (AOTD): Whatever lens(es) you use, stay at f/4 or f/22 or wherever. Control DOF by proper placement of camera, subject, surroundings.

* Shutter of the day (SOTD): Set the dial to Tv and pick one speed and stay there. Control exposure with only aperture and ISO adjustments, and lighting.

* Mode of the day (MOTD): Try lesser-used dial settings -- Green, TAv, M, whatever. B can be fun. So can X, which locks you into a 1/180 second SOTD.

* Distance of the day (DOTD): Fix the focus at some point and leave it there. Move to get interesting shots. I do this with enlarger lenses on macro tubes.

* Filter of the day (FOTD): Shoot B&W with a digital set or an optical filter mounted. Use only Magenta or Green or Cyan or Red or Blue or 'IR' or whatever.

Working within limitations fosters craft and creativity, allows|forces us to see in different ways, exercises the muscles betwixt our ears. Maybe keep a P&S in your pocket for shots you stumble upon and don't want to miss; otherwise, work within these limitations. You'll be glad you did.

04-02-2012, 06:33 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I subscribe to the "Excuse of the Day(EOTD)" exercise. It's never my fault after all, unless it works out, and there are so many excuses to use I want to get better with each one, not simply rely on my favorites.

Last edited by kenafein; 04-02-2012 at 08:01 PM.
04-02-2012, 07:41 PM   #3
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I've only had my K-5 a couple of months, so every day is something new. But my current spur of the moment fun is to grab the extension tubes of whatever length, pick a lens (from my small collection) at random, head out front and see what is moving slow enough to be captured via handheld. Mostly it is an exercise in trying to remember to push the green button (which to my annoyance does not work if you are in a magnified live view, at least not with my current settings). It is also an exercise in learning to shoot mostly non-keepers, at least at this stage. And it is an excuse just to get a little sun away from my day job.

Getting into the theme, I'll call it RFOTD (Random Focus of The Day) since I have no idea what will or won't be in focus.

Last edited by MSL; 04-02-2012 at 07:49 PM.
04-02-2012, 07:46 PM   #4
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OOTD? orientation of the day, portrait or landscape. I like where you are going with this

04-02-2012, 08:00 PM   #5
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great idea op!
04-02-2012, 09:05 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by ebahle Quote
OOTD? orientation of the day, portrait or landscape. I like where you are going with this
Good idea! And how about tilted frames? TFOTD, right. Stay at 45 degrees.

QuoteOriginally posted by slackercruster Quote
great idea op!
Thanks! (Thumbs-ups are always appreciated, heh heh.) Some other tricks:

* Color of the day (COTD): Only shoot red, or blue, or yellow stuff, etc.
* Vantage of the day (VOTD): Only shoot straight up, or straight down, etc.
* Body of the day (BOTD): Only shoot one person's body. Maybe not your own.

I'm sure y'all can come up with other possibilities. As I said, an xOTD can last more than one day. But the point of these limitations is to force some new visions, different ways of seeing and thinking and approaching the world. The color-vantage-body exercises, well, y'all could cheat a little, eh? But sticking with one lens or one setting is self-enforcing. You WILL think creatively! Or else.
04-15-2012, 09:45 AM   #7
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This is an excellent idea.
Sometimes, when out shooting with nothing particular in mind, it seems there are too many aspects to consider. But when you start to narrow it down within specific parameters it does help to get the creative juices flowing.
04-15-2012, 03:36 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by chuck_c Quote
...when you start to narrow it down within specific parameters it does help to get the creative juices flowing.
And that's exactly the point. (That, and becoming familiar with gear and practices we might otherwise neglect.) Too much capability isn't always good. Too often, if we have the tools to do anything we want, we end up doing nothing worthwhile. That's why I sometimes overgeneralize that an AF zoom is good for taking pictures whilst an MF prime is good for making pictures. Just that little limitation is enough to force concentration.

04-15-2012, 04:38 PM   #9
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Unless there are pictures posted, all these suggested exercises are pointless theory.
04-15-2012, 06:37 PM - 2 Likes   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
Unless there are pictures posted, all these suggested exercises are pointless theory.
I really don't understand where this comment is coming from. As I see RioRico's original post, the idea is to stretch your mind creatively, but limiting some aspect of your photographic equipment. In practice this happens all the time whenever we select one particular lens to work with at a given moment, but in reality there is a lot more we can limit and thus learn. Good science is done by limiting variables from one experiment to the next and understanding how the system changes as a result.

To give you a specific example, I've spend a lot of my recent shooting time using a SuperTak 55/2 attached to either one or two sets of extension tubes, doing handheld macro without a flash. How many keepers am I getting? Maybe 1 in 100. Can I shoot a passing squirrel, bird or child with this set up - no. But do I understand macro a lot better, and how limited a depth of field you get, and how you need to think about not just the focal distance but the focal plane because you have such a thin DOF - absolutely. Am I going to post a bunch of out of focus images to prove my point?
04-20-2012, 06:59 PM   #11
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Good thread!

The more toys I collect (lens filters etc etc) the more I'm convinced I only need a f2 50mm :P

I'm at a point where its annoying to use any other focal length, and as a hobby that's ok. But if you have the toys and the inclination to learn, fixing a lens and leaving the rest of the kit at home is good fun :P

Last edited by tromboads; 04-20-2012 at 07:14 PM.
04-20-2012, 10:59 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
Unless there are pictures posted, all these suggested exercises are pointless theory.

Don't worry about it. Everything is pointless anyhow.
04-21-2012, 12:37 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by John Poirier Quote
Don't worry about it. Everything is pointless anyhow.
Except my head. It is very pointy.


<8-)


But I digress. The point of any exercise is to flex one's muscles, physical and mental and probably spiritual if we last long enough. Ever learnt a musical instrument? Ever played scales endlessly? Why bother with that tedious theoretical exercise? It leads nowhere -- except to knowing where notes are, and playing arpeggios, and eventually Rogers and Hammerstein write the DO RE ME song, etc.

All these photographic exercises do is (hopefully) help one think & see & photograph in different ways. But why impose such limitations? So we can learn to be escape artists, to tear down our (mental) walls. Suppose you have a 4-string violin. Is Bach's AIR ON A G-STRING too limiting? Suppose you're surf guitarist Dick Dale. Is playing MISIRLOU on just the A-string too limiting? Limits make us work.

I could argue that great music is no longer created because musicians have too many tools that can do almost anything. So instead of thinking up (creating) new ways to make strings (for example) evoke our emotions sonically, we need merely plug in a desired digital sample. I'll even suggest that in-camera effects give photographers too many tools for manipulating images without working at it.

Enough for now. Time to stick my head back into the point-sharpener.

Last edited by RioRico; 04-21-2012 at 12:57 AM.
04-21-2012, 08:36 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
* Body of the day (BOTD): Only shoot one person's body. Maybe not your own.
Did that in Vegas back in '94... and it shall not be mentioned within earshot of wife.
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