10,000/365 Days 16 and 17: Backlighting and Sidelighting

Today felt like Groundhog Day, in the sense that the sun would periodically peek out from the clouds, see its own shadow, and then skitter off again, leaving the day nearly as overcast as most of the past week has been. However intermittent, I’ll take it over no sun at all. Here’s the result of squeezing yesterday and today’s assignments in between bouts of shadowboxing with old Sol.

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

Day 16

10,000/365 Day 15: Reflections

I don’t like shooting in the rain (well, that’s not entirely true; I just don’t like my camera being exposed to the elements when it’s crappy out). But since that’s all we’ve had for the majority of this week, I found myself a good doorway and made the best of what I had. If you’ve got the right rain gear for your camera, shooting in the rain — especially at night — opens up some interesting possibilities.

With all that said, it’d be nice if the weather cooperates for Day 16, which will be side lighting.

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)Day 15

10,000/365 Day 14: Shadows

I rather like shadows. They’re useful; after all, they emphasize texture, create a mood or sense of mystery… and it’s really hard to create silouhettes without them. Every once in a while, you can even get a shadow that’s more evocative than the thing that’s casting it. Don’t be afraid of contrasty, shadowy photos; embrace the dark side!

Postscript: Cheated slightly on this one; it was shot on the last sunny day we had here. While I got a couple of shots in earlier today, overcast lighting really isn’t the best thing if you’re chasing shadows.

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

Day 14

10,000/365 Days 12 and 13: Texture and Light

This weekend’s subjects between them could easily inspire several blog posts (and some time soon, they will). I’ve put them — along with tomorrow’s subject, shadow, together because each relies on the other to a large degree. Used correctly, light can emphasize — or obliterate — nearly any aspect in a photo, whether it’s shape, texture, color, or quite a bit else. Texture, on the other hand, can be used to give your photos a sense of dimensionality, and can even be used as a subject unto itself if you’re in that sort of mood.

More to follow.

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

Day 13

10,000/365 Day 11: Color

Today was a dull, overcast day — which is great for catching color, generally, but it was also raining, which tends to put a damper on photography when you’re used to shooting outdoors to change things up. Today’s photo is an object lesson in why you should always have your camera (since I snuck this photo under the noses of the people in the local supermarket).

It’s also about color.

Color has always been a factor in photography, even before color photography (it was common to hand-color prints in the days before color processes became common). And it’s no wonder. Not only do we see in color, but color also has different cultural, artistic, and even emotional associations that can add layers of resonance to a photo when it’s used properly.

That’s a post for another day. To whet your appetite in the meantime, there’s a very good explanation of color theory and its use in photography here: http://www.framedreality.com/color-in-photography-color-theory

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

Apple to Oranges
Apple to Oranges

10,000/365 Day 10: Shape

If we want to strip photography down to its barest essentials, it’s all about two things: lines, shapes, and light. Think about it a second: everything else can either be stripped away (take out the color and you’ve still got a black-and-white) or related back to one of those things. Depending on your personal preference and style, there are different ways you might choose to deploy those things, or visually “accessorize” them, but those are the essentials in your toolkit.

So today, it’s all about shape.

Sometimes your shape is your subject. For instance, you may find yourself wanting to emphasize the shape of something if that’s the most striking thing about your subject. Luckily for you, there are several ways to do this:

  • Backlighting can help to wipe out some of the surface details of something by portraying it in silouhette
  • Backdrops can be useful for subjects that can be moved or posed
  • Black and white is a good remedy if the shape of something works but the color in the image draws more attention than the shape (as in the two photos of the meters below)

At other times, the shape of something might be incidental to a larger subject, but still serve a compositional purpose. It’s also useful to remember that shapes are themselves collections of lines; because of that, shapes are capable of serving the same compositional purpose that lines do in terms of drawing attention to or through a particular part of the photo. And don’t be afraid of asymmetry, since asymmetrical shapes, besides having a certain visual appeal, also do a better job of leading the eye through a photo.

It’s not just photographers who are concerned with this sort of thing. Picasso’s cubist work, and abstracts by the likes of Joan Miro and Piet Mondrian (artists’ names link to representative works) throw realistic depiction out the window and reduce the visual plane to a series of shapes, although in Picasso’s case, the shapes are still — albeit loosely — deployed in the service of something vaguely figurative. We’ll be delving into abstraction later on, but for now, pay attention to shape in the arts and crafts, as well as in the world beyond your door.

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

Meters 1Meters 2

10,000/365 Day 8: Lines

I’m a day behind on writing, but still on time with the shooting… which, I suppose, is better than the other way ’round. Anyway, today — by which I mean yesterday — it’s all about lines.

Power Lines
Power Lines

Strong lines in a photo serve a few purposes, but one of the most important is to lead your eye through the photo, or to emphasize a certain portion of it. Paying attention to the kinds of lines you have in your photo, and where they lead the eye, leads to stronger compositions.

Too many lines (as in the shot of the power lines) just create confusion and disorientation. The sidewalk shot that’s featured here, while it’s visually “busy,” features the strong curve of the bricks against the straighter linear jumble of the concrete (and the color contrast also helps). So pay attention to how the lines “work,” or don’t, in your photos. We’ll get to the color, and quite a bit else, in the days ahead.

Strong verticals and diagonals (among other things) lead your eyes upward.
Strong verticals and diagonals (among other things) lead your eyes upward.

Stepping away from photography for a minute, let me give you an example. Think for a minute about church architecture. If you stop to think about it, regardless of what they might share in common in terms of iconography, church buildings all share one feature in common, whether the rest of the building looks like a saltbox or Saint Patrick’s Cathedral: for the most part — inside and out — they feature strong diagonals and other architectural features (like buttresses) that, in addition to any architectural functionality they have, serve to lead your eyes up.

We can do the same thing with our photos; lines are one way of delineating the geometry of a photo, but they also act like railroad tracks, or steeples: done right, they lead our eyes through the photo, adding emphasis to some parts and de-emphasizing others. Just the same as we try to avoid extraneous “stuff” in our photos (like telephone poles sticking out of people’s heads), extraneous lines — too many of ’em, or in the wrong places — can undermine an otherwise good photographic composition.

 

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

10000365 08 Lines

10,000/365 Day 7: One Photo Per Hour

Probably not for the last time this year, I’ve fallen short on my own project, which was to shoot one photo per hour today. The point of this exercise — which I’ve actually done at other times, and will likely revisit at some point soon — is to get you in the habit of shooting. Nothing more, nothing less. On Day 8, we’ll start getting a bit more specific about elements of photography. Stay tuned!

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

10000-365-07

10,000/365 Day 6: “Before”

Today’s assignment is to find something in transition, or that will soon be in transition, and to photograph it. You’ll come back to it later this year for an “after,” though you may also want to revisit it periodically at other times of year to chart its progress. I’ll confess that I’m using a photo from November for my Before in this instance; it’s from the boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ, and reflects what a part of it looked after Hurricane Sandy.

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

Day 06 PPB Boardwalk_mini

10,000/365 Day 5: Shoot Something Terrible

It’s easy for us to convince ourselves that our photography’s just plain awful. There are times — at least on a picture-by-picture basis — that this is true; after all, none of us, no matter how much we wish it were otherwise, does our best work 100% of the time. The point to today’s exercise was to shoot something awful on purpose. It’s a reminder that being truly terrible takes hard work, and that as long as you’re always improving in your craft, there’s no reason to be down on yourself or your photography.

A Bit of Inspiration:
Sometimes we need a reminder to Tame Your Inner Critic. If someone else appoaches you about their work, on the other hand, try to Be the Right Kind of Critic.

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

DSC_8371

10,000/365 Day 4: Free Shoot

Happy Saturday. I’m a bit late posting today’s assignment, having spent an evening shooting. That’s okay; today’s assignment is/was an easy one… you can photograph any old thing you want. Now enjoy your weekend (don’t forget to come back for tomorrow’s assignment) and get out there and shoot!

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

Nabisco

10,000/365 Day 3: The View From Your Window Checkpoint

No matter how much you love photography — and I like it quite a bit — there are days when you really don’t want to leave the house. Maybe it’s snow, rain, 90-degree heat, or it’s just not a fit night out for man nor beast. The challenge on days like that can be finding something, anything, to shoot. So try the view from your window, and see where going nowhere takes you.

A Little Inspiration:

The inspiration behind this comes from Andrew Sullivan’s The View From Your Window, which has been an on-again/off again column-ish contest thingy that he’s done on and off since his time at The Atlantic. You can have a peek at the current incarnation here (there’s also a link to the book by the same name): http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/04/the-view-from-your-window-contest-2.html

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

Fire Escape
Day 3: The View From Your Window

10,000/365: JANUARY: A Few Fundamentals

Today starts the first month of the First 10,000’s 2013 365 Day Project. Since that’s a bit of a mouthful, from now on I’ll be referring to it as 10,000/365.

Last year’s project was a bit of a mess. I had the bright idea of starting off mid-year, which didn’t work too well; the fact that the project itself had no logical order probably didn’t help matters much, either. So this time out, I’m starting on January 1, and also organizing things in a way that will hopefully be a bit easier to follow. The first month’s projects will be geared toward photographers who are just getting started, or toward photographers who’d like to brush up on their fundamentals. Each exercise will give you a fragment of your camera’s capabilities to work with, so that by the time the month is out, you should be pretty comfortable with it, and how it works. When next month starts, we’ll be delving into some fundamentals of composition and finding your own visual “voice” and style.

But for now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Below this post, you’ll find the first day’s assignment. If you’d like to see what’s ahead, you can head to the project page. If you’d like to share with others who are doing the project, head to our Flickr group page. And if you have questions or suggestions, contact us. Meantime, let’s get shooting!

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

10,000/365 Day One: Landmark Checkpoint

Let’s get started. On the first day of the project, I’d like you to choose a landmark and make its picture. Choose carefully, because you’re going to be shooting the same place on the first of each month for the next year. Sound intimidating? Don’t worry; see this — and each of the next 364 days’ projects — as a challenge, or better still as an invitation to stretch out. How many angles, times of day, and details might you be able to wring out of a single subject? Well, you’re about to find out.

A little inspiration:

Claude Monet painted a famous sequence of paintings of the Cathedral at Rouen, France. You can read more about that, and him, here. Photographers have also revisited the same landmark from time to time throughout their careers, as Lewis W. Hine did during the construction of the Empire State Building. The George Eastman House holds much of Hine’s work, and has made it accessible online here.

Keep up with the project, share your progress, feedback and questions:
Project page (where you’ll also find a FAQ and other goodies)
The entries day-by-day (the blog entries)
10,000/365 Flickr Group (to share and discuss your shots)

2013 365 Day Photo Project: A Preview (Part 3)

Two days’ worth of options for photographic projects and you STILL can’t find something to shoot? Sheesh. Slackers. Here are some even shorter photo projects (which, incidentally, you can throw into your 365-day, 31-day or 52-week projects to break things up if you’d like).

7 Day Photo Project: Give yourself one week to find your theme, gather your gear, shoot, edit, and display/share your work. Document the process.

I know, I know. You work five days a week, and you set aside your weekends for cooking, laundry, competitive Scrabble, or antisocial behavior. Set aside one day per month to get out there and shoot something. You may even find yourself liking this photography thing (again), and wanting to graduate to a more frequent shooting schedule. Here are some prompts for a once-a-month shooting schedule:

  • Once-a-Month Photo Project:
  • 12 Holidays
  • 12 Guys’/Girls’ Nights Out
  • 12 Group Shoots
  • 12 Buddy Shoots
  • 12 State or National Parks
  • 12 Landmarks/Historical Sites

Maybe the thought of even something as simple as shooting ONE DAY A MONTH has you curled up in the fetal position, sobbing quietly. Just for you, a special project:

One Day Photo Project:

SHOOT SOMETHING, GODDAMMIT! (Repeat daily)

If you have ideas, thoughts, or suggestions, feel free to comment below, or to email thefirst10000@gmail.com. More projects will be coming in the next couple of days, and the “Official” 10,000/365 will launch on January 1. Stay tuned!

2013 365 Day Photo Project: A Preview (Part 2)

Yesterday, in addition to announcing the impending re-launch of the 10,000/365 project, I listed a series of prompts to create your own unique project. I understand that a 365-day-long project might not work for you, for one reason or another. Maybe you like a little structure, but you’ve got something going on in March or thereabouts. No long-term commitments for you! Okay, here are a few projects you can undertake on a month-long basis:

31-Day Photo Projects:

  • 31 Flowers
  • 31 Animals
  • 31 Nights
  • 31 Rainy Days
  • 31 Days of Awful Lighting
  • 31 Mundane Days
  • 31 Abstracts
  • 31 Characters
  • 31 Artists
  • 31 Signs
  • 31 Day Chance Project
  • 31 Crappy Weather Projects

On the other hand, maybe you’ve been shooting for a while — or maybe you’re still new at this — but you’d like to put your skills to a more in-depth test. Try these on for size.

52-Week Photo Projects:

  • 52 Photo Essays
  • 52 Neighborhoods
  • 52 Cities
  • 52 Photo Pub Crawl (drink — and shoot — responsibly)
  • 52 Color Studies
  • 52 Stations (h/t: Robyn Hitchcock)
  • 52 Friends

If you have ideas, thoughts, or suggestions, feel free to comment below, or to email thefirst10000@gmail.com. More projects will be coming in the next couple of days, and the “Official” 10,000/365 will launch on January 1. Stay tuned!

2013 365 Day Photo Project: A Preview (Part 1)

The New Year is coming. You’re ready. You’ve just gotten, or are about to get, your first (or fifth, or sixteenth) camera, and you want to shoot one of everything (just not necessarily in that order). You can take on the challenge that is the upcoming The First 10,000 365-Day Project (aka. 10,000/365), but if that doesn’t send you/float your boat/butter your biscuits, here are a series of prompts to help make your next 365 Day Project a success:

  • 365 Movies: Use movie titles or scenes as prompts for your project.
  • 365 Quotes
  • 365 Books
  • 365 Foods
  • 365 Lyrics
  • 365 Poems
  • 365 Places
  • 365 Questions: Your photos can pose, or answer, the questions. It’s up to you.
  • 365 Things
  • 365 Windows
  • 365 Doors
  • 365 Strangers
  • 365 Cigarettes
  • 365 Prop Project: I came across someone at El Morro in Puerto Rico who was carrying a stuffed hedgehog, and getting his (it was a he; I asked) photo at various places she visited. Try something similar.
  • 365 Vehicles
  • 365 Feet: Shoes, boots, pumps, pumped up kicks, bare feet, you name it.
  • 365 Abstracts
  • 365 Flat: Similar to Flat Stanley, print someone out — even yourself, if you’d like — and put them in your photos.
  • 365 Revisited: Go back to things shot on a previous 365 and see how you’d do them differently this time around.

If you have ideas, thoughts, or suggestions, feel free to comment below, or to email thefirst10000@gmail.com. More projects will be coming in the next couple of days, and the “Official” 10,000/365 will launch on January 1. Stay tuned!