Lately I’ve been a little short on inspiration and ideas for doing any shooting. I was starting to lose the excitement of just going out with the camera and looking for interesting subjects to photograph. Instead, I was all caught up in the trap of trying to get the “perfect” shot, and getting all hung up on the technical details of F-stops and exposure metering and depth of field. I just wasn’t having fun with it any more.
I’m a subscriber to the AdoramaTV channel on YouTube. They post some excellent instructional videos for photographers, both amateur and professional. The guy who presents the videos, Mark Wallace, works here in the Valley, so it’s kind of cool to see the places here in the Phoenix area where he’s filming his videos. Not only are the photography tips great, but I get free location tips just by watching where he’s shooting.
Last week, Mark posted a video about his “60 Minute Photo Challenge“. He talked about the importance of just getting out there and shooting in order to develop your skills, and he recommended giving yourself some sort of general subject (he used “round” and “red”), and then give yourself 60 minutes to shoot everything you see that fits that subject. No time to worry about tripods, lighting, props….just take the camera and shoot.
I thought that was a great idea, and I actually made a list of subjects that I plan to use in the coming months when I need a kick in the pants.
Now Mark is posting a weekly challenge on Fridays (just follow his Twitter feed at @jmarkwallace to join in!), and this weekend’s challenge was “Shadows and Reflections”. Since we got an early release from work today for the Memorial Day weekend, I picked up my camera with my 50mm prime lens, and headed to downtown Glendale to see what I could capture.
I had a blast! I set my watch to make sure I stayed within the 60-minute time frame, and then I just started walking down the sidewalk, looking for shadows and reflections that looked interesting. It was about 3PM when I got started, and normally that’s a horrible time of day to shoot here in Arizona because of the harsh shadows cast by the glaring sun. But given the subject of today’s challenge, it was a perfect fit.
I haven’t used the 50mm prime very much, but I really enjoyed playing with it today. I did put a polarizer on the lens to give me a little more flexibility with shutter speeds (it was REALLY bright out there), but I didn’t fiddle with it very much.
I got some great reflections on the shop windows around the square. I like the one above with the antiques in the shop window, and the traffic from the street being reflected on top of it. Kind of a juxtaposition of old and new that I thought was cool.
I found lots of shadows from the mid-afternoon sun, and the ones cast by the park benches and the overhead gazebo by the police station were among my favorites:
When I returned to the parking garage, I noticed all the cool reflections in the windows of the building next-door. I climbed the stairs on the outside of the parking garage and got shots from several different angles. This one became a self-portrait, and I think it looks even better in black-and-white:
I took about 75 photos in the 60 minutes I was out there, and of course there were quite a few duds. I didn’t spend a huge amount of time processing any of them, but I did find nine (including the three above) that I wound up submitting to the challenge. You can see the entire set on my Flickr page–the set is named “Shadows and Reflections – 60MinPhotoChallenge“. I used Paint Shop Photo Pro X3, along with Topaz Adjust, for all my processing.
So, in only one hour (plus processing time), I got a little of my mojo back–and it feels great. Can’t wait for the next challenge!
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