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11-04-2009, 07:08 AM   #31
YJD
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Thank you for those replies.
I have made myself a calendar and each month I have to shoot at a different focal lens and also focus on a specific color or style of photography.
Once I'll get home, I will post my calendar. For this month I'm shooting at 28mm (on my lens not the 35mm value) and I have to focus on dark or low light environment.
I think all I need is a goal to help me achieve better pictures!

11-05-2009, 01:59 PM   #32
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If your goal really is to develop as a photographer, avoid the yawn stuff: avoid macro, avoid kids, avoid sunsets, avoid "graphics", avoid "abstractions".


Photograph tough stuff: your neighbors, especially if they're unattractive or dull-looking. If you don't know them, meet them. Or, do the yawn stuff and call it a day.
11-05-2009, 09:29 PM   #33
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QuoteOriginally posted by janosh Quote
If your goal really is to develop as a photographer, avoid the yawn stuff: avoid macro, avoid kids, avoid sunsets, avoid "graphics", avoid "abstractions".


Photograph tough stuff: your neighbors, especially if they're unattractive or dull-looking. If you don't know them, meet them. Or, do the yawn stuff and call it a day.
What is a "yawn" to you might be exciting to others.
11-05-2009, 10:10 PM   #34
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Your idea definitely sounds like a good one!

I do the 365 days of self-portraits - in fact I've done it for two entire years and now I'm 126 days into my third year.

My first year, my goal was to learn my camera and my equipment, because I started the project about one month after getting my K100D, which was my first DSLR. Somewhere in there, I decided to try to make every photo be better than the last one.

My second year, I decided to relax a bit; so long as I took one photo a week I was proud of, then I would consider the week a success.

This third year, I decided to add a "matching" shot for each day. For instance, I would take a photo of me wearing a scarf with a wide-angle lens then do a macro of the scarf fibers. Or perhaps I'd process the photo of myself to match a photo of a flower I took the same day. This has been MUCH more trying than the other projects, but by now I know that good photos will come - sometimes when I least expect them, so long as I'm prepared.

There are a few reasons I like this project:
a) It's made me a MUCH better portraitist. I'm now insanely cognizant of an unflattering angle or misplaced hair in a shot.
b) My eyes are constantly open to possibilities for tomorrow's portrait - and I see a lot more stuff along the way.
c) I have learned to deal with my creative blocks, which happen frequently and without warning. This has been probably the most difficult thing about the project. But so long as I take a shot - any shot - that day, then that means I didn't give up, and I can try harder the next day.
d) In a bid to keep it interesting, I've found myself using lenses I thought I would shun (the fisheye, the DA* 200, etc) and realized what kinds of rewards I can reap from those lenses.
e) I can now shoot with my left hand, with the camera upside-down, and with my pinky.

I know you said you specifically did not want to do this project, but I thought there might be something in there from my experience that you could take to your project. I wish you the best of luck. The hardest part BY FAR of any photo project is just sticking with it!

11-09-2009, 11:51 AM   #35
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"What is a "yawn" to you might be exciting to others."

Sorry to frighten you :-)

If it's easy, which is the same as emphasizing tools/techniques and yawn subjects, YTD's photo project won't accomplish much.

It'll just be more of the same. Flickr is full of it. If you want to get BETTER, as YTD does, you have to risk failure and hardly anybody dealing with the usual trite subjects risks failure. The yawns are easy.

YTD said : " For this month I'm shooting at 28mm (on my lens not the 35mm value) and I have to focus on dark or low light environment.
I think all I need is a goal to help me achieve better pictures!"



He wants to do exactly what he said he wanted to do...make better pictures: BETTER is not related to "more of the same". It's a matter of developing one's own way of looking at the world, which means giving onself a difficult challenge, giving oneself the opportunity to fail. Since the technical part is easy, "skills" are less important than developing that way of seeing things: Develop your own style.


Working in dark environments teaches a lot...the technical part is easy with today's tech, it's the dark image itself that's difficult because you have to envision something, actually use your mind and eyes. More than just working in dark environments, making extremely dark images is the important opportunity...and they should be shown to other people, not just privately viewed: it's a challenge to interest people other than oneself. You might fail quite a bit before you're happy with your results. That's the beauty of it. Leave the bugs, birds, sunsets to happy snappers who put no demands on themselves.


Switching to 28mm (and sticking with it for a long time) is a GREAT idea, much better than fooling with zooms. 35mm is great too...as would be 50mm. Long lenses and zoom mostly serve to box photographers into trite subjects.

Last edited by janosh; 11-09-2009 at 12:09 PM.
11-09-2009, 11:26 PM   #36
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Shooting my home town

I was in a similar place last winter. My solution was to just go out and take at least 25 shots every day. Bracketed shots didn't count. That was 25 different subjects or angles. So many days I came back with a card full of junk. Some days it was hard to get my count, others something seemed to click. (no pun intended). However, I found that working on the self-imposed deadline got me taking photos and I literally shot my way out of my slump.

After a couple of month of this I found a theme that interested me. That came about the same time as I ran into the 365 project. I was too late to start at the first of the year but have been blogging a photo a day of my town and surrounding area since July. The deadline still pushes me. Some days I despair of finding anything worth photographing. Some days I'm amazed by the number of interesting subjects that seem to magically turn up.

Whatever tricks you use, just spending time taking photos should push you to the next thing.

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11-13-2009, 02:22 PM   #37
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Thank you for all the comments.
Shooting in the dark or low light isn't easy, but I got some good ones at sunset. I'll post them when this month will be over.

There is a book with 50 photography projects, don't know if it is any good, but looks nice.

Hopefully, one evening I'll be able to put up my calendar... right now I'm fixing my house every night .
11-23-2009, 01:17 PM   #38
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"Shooting in the dark or low light isn't easy"....yes, exactly the reason to do it.

Why do the yawns? Explore potential with 1 second hand-held, or 1/30th, or full aperture, or intentional camera movement blurs or zooming during several second exposure etc etc. Portraits by single candle. Portrait with long exposure by single moving candle. Your house at night from the outside with lights on inside. Your house lit by car headlights. Portraits by car headlights. Moving car at night with slow exposure...with flash of person in foreground. Kids like pumpkins...cheeks lit by flashlights stuck in mouths? Portraits by flashlight. Self portrait, head under water, camera held above water. Glug.

11-23-2009, 01:53 PM   #39
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I didn't manage to shoot a lot of dark photos, though I'm going to do that tomorrow night.
Anyway, if I don't succeed in dark, I'll work on it later on... hey, I'm still learning.
12-01-2009, 06:51 PM   #40
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Thank you for all of your comments, I really appreciate Janosh true and honest comments on what I need to do. I don't think I'll get there right away, but with time I'll make it.

Anyway, I promise to you all my little calendar, so here it is:

November 09: Dark, low light @ 28mm
December 09: Color red @ 135mm
January 10: Color white @ 17mm
February 10: Color purple/pink @ 50mm
March 10: Color brown @ 70mm
April 10: Portrait @ 250mm
May 10: Color blue @ 100mm
June 10: Animals/insects @ 300mm
July 10: Color green @ 150mm
August 10: Macro
September 10: Color yellow @ 175mm
October 10: Color black @ 100mm

If you see anything that I have missed or need to change, let me know.

Also, go check on my site to see the samples for November 09.

I haven't done that much in dark and low light. Some of the reason was I wasn't as prepared as I would have wanted to. Some example, forgot to bring warm cloth went taking pictures at night or taking the tripod but forgetting the plate that goes with it. I also didn't try to create a scene but rather use what was if front of me... which is something I need to change too.

As I said, I'm learning so I'm ok with that but I just need to remember my mistake!
12-02-2009, 01:30 AM   #41
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The instructions are:
"What you need to do after printing them on a sheet of paper is to cut all the coupons and separate them into 3 piles one for the "Themes & Subjects", the other for "Lens/Focal Length and the last pile you put the "Time of the Day/Lighting" coupons, now mix them on a separate bag or box.

Now you start by grabbing one from the "Themes & Subjects" pile one coupon and that would be your Theme or Subject for the shoot, then you just have to make the same procedure for each one of the other piles."
You seem to live pretty close to some interesting things: Great Sand Dunes National Park, Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Rio Grande National Forest, Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, San Luis Lakes State Park and our famous hot springs

Thank you
Russell
12-02-2009, 06:28 AM   #42
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Famularity brings on indifference or becomes boring but put it before some one else and it becomes interesting. Example, I live within a few blocks of the Mississippi River and see it many times during the day, kinda mundane to me but in reality most of the world has never saw the beauty of it. However a ride in one of the tour boats and it becomes a new photography subject for me. Another, aqt 65 mph. on an Interstate there is nothing you see to photo. but at 20 mph. on a dirt road along that interstate rhere is all kinds of photo ops.
Slow down and see more.....jim
12-02-2009, 07:20 AM   #43
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Thanks Russell, that's a great idea. I'll stick to my calendar but when it is done, I'll probably go to your solution.

When you said
QuoteQuote:
our famous hot springs
, does it mean you're from the San Luis Valley?
12-02-2009, 08:04 AM   #44
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QuoteOriginally posted by YJD Quote
does it mean you're from the San Luis Valley?
No just the wording used on the site I copied the links from. My mother grew up in Durango. My grandparents lived in Canon City in their late years, until my Grandfather died. My Grandmother's brother and sister live in Canon City. My mother and her side of the family have now gravitated to Loveland with my sisters. My mother and her sisters take my Grandmother to Durango via Canon City about four times a year. My Grandmother was a school teacher, so anyone over fifty that grow up in Durango knows her. She is 96 this year and still going strong.

Thank you
Russell
12-02-2009, 11:55 AM   #45
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THere are a lot of responses here, and they all are good to an extent (and I'll even use some for my own learning).

However, one thing I noticed in some earlier responses by YJD is this resignation that his local environment is boring or dull.

One thing I've noticed in my own boring little area of the world is that when you go out and decide to try and make the most of it, you'll be surprised at what you can do with a camera.

On a vacation I recently took in the mountains, I started to realize that my landscape shots were getting boring. I was looking at the big picture, the pine trees, etc. and took it upon my self to look for less typical shots. When I am in the forest, I look close rather than afar. Sure there may be a lit of fir trees, but it can be the weeds on the forest floor, the moss on a rock, etc that can make an interesting shot. Getting on your hands and knees and shooting a different perspective on what you see as the mundane can be fantastic.

Challenge yourself to take the boring and make it interesting. Take photos of the farming world in the winter. It is different and more interesting than what everyone is used to.

I think the biggest challenge is stepping outside yourself and learning to see from different perspectives, literally and figuratively.

A lot of the composition books suggested out there are really great for that.
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