Friday, May 31, 2013

Reflection (Other than Water)

Assignment #3: Photograph a reflection on something other than water.

It's not that photographing a reflection on water is necessarily easy; it just might be the first place the imagination goes when thinking about reflections.  So for this assignment, find a reflection somewhere else:  a mirror or window, some polished wood, someone's eye, whatever you find.

Leaning towards abstract but really just a car near Bloomington, Indiana

Mirror, Mirror
Taken with a point-and-shoot camera from a tour boat on the Chicago River in Chicago, Illinois

Friday, May 24, 2013

Isolate via Depth of Field

Assignment #2: Take a photo with a depth of field shallow enough to thoroughly blur your background, so that your subject does not have to compete for the viewer's attention.

Because we have DSLRs and we can, that's why.

Open Soon
Variegated tulip in Fishers, Indiana

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Turkey Run State Park, near Marshall, Indiana

Friday, May 17, 2013

Rule of Thirds

Let's just get this one out of the way.

Assignment #1:  Make a photograph that adheres to the Rule of Thirds.

The only difficulty about the Rule of Thirds is deciding what it means.  Some folks interpret it rather loosely, suggesting that it really means "keep your subject out of the exact center of the frame."  Others are a bit more strict, talking about dividing your frame into ninths with a tic-tac-toe board and putting your point of interest in one of the four intersections.

One explanation that I particularly like - I'm paraphrasing and I wish I remember where it came from - is that if you center your subject, you risk creating a boring image but if you put your subject too close to the edge, you risk creating an awkward image.

Anyway, take your pick.  Then take your pic.

Surveying His Domain
Mount Evans, Colorado

And a Cardinal in a Pear Tree
Fishers, Indiana

Pumpkin Filigree
FUMC Pumpkin Patch, Fishers, Indiana

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Target Audience

So who do I hope might find this blog?  Do I really think anyone will take these assignments to heart?

Good questions - that absolutely nobody asked.  Truth is, I'm doing this because I'm positive it will make me a better photographer.  I said earlier that I hoped to illustrate each assignment with examples of my own work.  I don't have all the necessary photos to do that yet.  I'll have to concentrate on some of these ideas in order to keep up with my proposed publishing schedule.  I'll have to get out and shoot.

On the other hand, I'd be thrilled if someone else finds some value here.  I'm perfectly aware that this is not a groundbreaking idea, but I know from firsthand experience that "Hey, why don't you go try [some obvious thing]" is, once in a while, exactly the push I need.

Mission Statement

I suppose I became a "serious" amateur photographer in May 2012 when I took some classes at the urging of my wife. I wasn't sure what to expect but I found that I was kind of excited to be assigned homework at the first class. When I went camping the next weekend, my photography seemed more focused (pardon the unavoidable pun) because I was actively looking for leading lines and symmetry around me rather than just something interesting to take a picture of.

In the year since then, I haven't lost my enthusiasm for having an assignment. I've learned a lot from watching videos and reading blogs, articles, books, and e-books. But I think I've retained the information better when I've made a conscious decision to immediately apply it - that is, to go out and deliberately try to use a specific composition method or certain camera settings. Eventually, I started keeping a list of these "assignments". At this moment, it has 41 items on it.

My intention here is to gradually put this list out in the open, along with examples of my own work. I'll publish one assignment each week and illustrate the post with, say, one to three of my photos, with a goal of being more inspirational than educational.  I anticipate stopping with a list of 50 (a nice round number) or 52 (once a week for a year) assignments.

At least that's the plan.