Always Starting Something New

I have started so many projects. I’m not great on follow-through. Here we are at the start of a new year. 2023. And so many ideas are bubbling in my head, I’m not sure which one to grasp onto.

I took a break from 53frames just before Thanksgiving last year. I’ve been following the challenges and posts on their Facebook page. Toying with the idea of starting up again.

On December 31, 2022, I hesitantly set myself a challenge. The voice in the back of my head kept saying, “And how long will you make it with this one?” Still, with an attitude of something is better than nothing, I decided to give it a go.

A picture a day. To give the photos a consistent feel, I would limit my options in this way: Square format. Taken with phone. Edited with Snapseed. Frame: -30. And… I would make a strong attempt to create my picture with one click. I would wait until something caught my eye and make that my subject. (Except today, when I decided to do a Selfie in my foul weather gear.)

Here are my first three for the year.

An amazing shift in perception has occurred. Strangely, by limiting my “allowed” photographs for the day, I have become much more observant, especially after I have taken the day’s picture. Quoting (or maybe paraphrasing) Dorthea Lange, “A camera is an instrument that teaches you how to see without a camera.”

After snapping my selfie this morning, I delighted in scenes exhibiting texture, color, contrast, leading lines, and many other photographic prompts I have seen in various challenges over the years.

I’m not good at follow-through. But so far, this challenge is appealing to me. And if any of my photos happen to match the 52frames weekly challenge, perhaps I’ll upload. Oh look, this week is “self portrait.”

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Portrait

The challenge for the week ending May 23, 2021 was Portrait, with extra credit for “Rembrandt Lighting.”

I’ve taken other photography classes before and “portrait” is always scary for me. (1) I don’t like having my picture taken, so therefore (2) I don’t feel comfortable asking others to pose for me. So… out of my comfort zone I went. And that’s where all the learning is: outside of the comfort zone.

I picked up technical tricks for both my phone and my DSLR cameras – how to use the timers! The tutorials on how to take a selfie were brilliant, too. I tried some of the techniques I learned in those. I tried both color and black & white treatments on all the shots and in the end liked the B&W best.

As of this writing, I’m not sure which portrait I’ll submit.

Red

Last week’s challenge was: Red. Extra credit if you used a red flash gel.

It was a hectic week for me. Early in the week, I made salad to go with dinner and snapped this quick image. I knew I would have time for nothing else, so I posted it! Streak unbroken! (I didn’t do the extra credit this time, though.)

Salad

ISO 100

I joined an online group that gives a prompt every week. This week, the content is up to us, but the camera setting is to be ISO 100. For extra credit, we can put our cameras on full manual mode. Which I did. Because I’m an over-achiever and must get the extra credit if I can.

ISO 100 is well-suited to bright sunny days. Sadly, we aren’t going to get any this week, and the rule is, the submitted photo must be shot during the designated week.

This challenge isn’t due until Sunday, so there is time to keep shooting. Here is what I have so far:

A Seven-Day Challenge

I’ve been invited to participate in various challenges over the years. A 365 where you take and post one picture every day of the year. A 52-week “workshop” where you are given a prompt for the week and you post as you wish. 365. 52. Both of those numbers are very large and intimidating.

But 7. I figured I could do 7. I admit that I got to day 6 and forgot and had to do 2 pictures on the final day.

The challenge was one black and white photo every day. No explanation. Seven Days. Nominate another person to play along.

1. I clicked this one while laying bed, just before turning off the lights.
2. Drinking coffee in the living room the next morning. (uh oh… feet… a theme?)
3. My Work From Home Office
4. The damn puzzle that took us a month to complete.
(We eventually found the last 3 pieces on the floor.)
5. Cocktail Hour
6. A Forest Meander
7. Forget-me-Nots (and Hiking boots)

I limited myself to cellphone pictures edited with Snapseed. It was a good challenge. I nominated a different person each day. Most of them picked up the challenge and are posting their own black and white photos.

It was fun. What should my next challenge be?

Willow

Willow IMG_1351

It’s been a while since I took my “big” camera for a walk. I wasn’t sure I remembered how to use it and how to edit the photos after. But it comes back to you.

Week 11 – Faces

Prompt:

Lucy offers “faces” as a theme for this week. Bearing in mind the contemplative theme of our group, be looking for what’s beneath the surface of each face you photograph.

I don’t often take pictures of faces as a photography exercise. In fact I tend to avoid people photography as much as possible. So I challenged myself to take one and only one selfie with my phone. Here it is after much editing in Snapseed:

Face

Week 10 – Hidden Gems

Prompt:

When Nancy was walking at Brookgreen Gardens, she had some ideas about photography topics for our group. This week we’re picking up one that’s perfect for the beauties of mid-autumn (or mid-spring Down Under): hidden gems.

IMG_0977 Poison Sumac and Winterberry Holly.jpg

I have walked by this mixture of plants hundreds, perhaps thousands of times in the last 20+ years. I never noticed the Poison Sumac intermixed with Winterberry Holly.

Week 9: Vulnerability

Prompt:

Susan Sontag poignantly observed that “To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”

What vulnerability do you see this week in which you and your camera can participate?

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I walked my friend’s dog along back roads. Fall is trying to come. There is some color, but there is still a lot of green.

There was a frost the night before. The Sensitive Fern, and some other species of ferns, too, succumbed. They are the first to be ready to let go and let fall and winter come.

Week 8: Confusion

Prompt:

This week we have an intriguing suggestion from Debbie D.: “How about confusion as a prompt. This could be a facial expression or through metaphor. For example a conglomeration of intertwined computer wires, or anything that looks chaotic.”

So often it is confusion and chaos that pulls us away from contemplation. This week gives you an opportunity, then, to put confusion at the center of your contemplative focus, more fully integrating what is an inescapable part of life.

The moment I read the prompt, I remembered two photographs from a few years ago.

Emulating Vivian Maier

September 2015. Jamestown, NY.

I called that one “Emulating Vivian Maier.” Take a look at her self portraits at http://www.vivianmaier.com/gallery/self-portraits/#slide-1.

And another I took on the same day, captivated by reflections in storefronts:

Store Front Reflection

September 2015. Jamestown, NY.

It was a busy week with few opportunities for a contemplative walk with my camera. but I was captivated by this image; I can’t even say why…

IMG_0943 Pine Needles.jpg

White Pine Needles, Lakewood, NY. October 2019.