Thursday, January 03, 2008

looking for suggestions


I know a few people read this blog. I don't usually get many comments though. So a plea for some input on this one. If you read it and have an idea or a favourite exercise - please post it. Don't worry about it being original or concerned that I've heard of it before - I want to know what you yourself have enjoyed or find helpful. I'll do the filtering later. A common brainstorming exercise is to just get it out there and worry about how useful it is later - so let us try that - please comment. I'm going to allow anonymous and non-signed in comments for this post - so you don't even need a blogger account. I may use any suggestions you provide, though, so don't comment if you are concerned about that.
If even half of the people who read this blog provides one idea, I'll be swamped with suggestions and that would be great. So with that said, I'm looking for the self-assignments or mini-projects that you've found valuable to get you out into the field and shooting. I'd like to hear what your favourite creativity exercises have been, what worked, what sparked your imagination. I don't need much, just a couple of lines explaining the exercise - I'll do the rest. Something like 'shoot your favourite colour' has worked well for me in the past and provided a good focus for a couple of hours of shooting. You don't have to go in to much more detail than that, if you don't want to. Or if you have a favourite exercise that's more involved, feel free to describe it in as much detail as you like. As an incentive - a free, signed copy of the book (when & if I get it finished) to the person who submits my favourite new exercise. If you submit an anonymous entry I won't be able to tell who you are though, so only those with some way to contact them will be eligible for this. If you don't want to post a comment or suggestion publicly, you can also email it to me at


smilebig4me1x said...

In every store I go into I always make a pass throught he clearence section. I look for things that have unusual shapes,unique,funny, just plain colorful, or that I could possably use as a prop for portraits of my woody collection. Find your muse first then go from there...usually creativity strikes as soon as you see the "perfect" thing.

wyojim said...

Try taking 36 DIFFERENT exposures of something like a mailbox. The first 8 or 10 are pretty easy, (front,back,top,bottom,etc.)then the going gets tough. Things like from inside the mailbox, a shot with lawn sprinkler for rain, mailman delivering mail,etc is where the creative process starts!

JohnF said...

I used to spend some time on long night time exposures of the sky, and experimenting with lighting of forground objects, or starting soon after dusk so there was still enough residual light to light up a mountain well over 1-hour exposure. Haven't done it so much since switching to digital.

Spaz said...

Some thoughts:

Turn the " shoot what you love" idea on its head and shoot something you hate or fear like your least favorite color. It forces you out of your "comfort zone" and challenges you to engage it.

I also like Freeman Patterson's Hula Hoop exercise where you go somewhere unremarkable and throw a hula hoop and either shoot standing inside it, or only shoot what's inside it.

A similar technique involves restricting your POV to something other than eye-level. Shoot only from atop a stepladder or, alternately laying on the ground. Maybe lie on your back and look up. Try to get rooftop access to a fairly tall building and shoot from there.

Another idea is to restrict your equipment. Use only a single prime lens. Shoot only wide open. Shoot only at f16. Shoot only hand held and with a very slow shutter speed, say 1/4 sec or longer. Shoot without turning your image review on.

Matt said...

One of the projects I liked was Symbols of Texas. Well, it started off like that. The basic idea was shooting photos of things/people that symbolized what Texas was to me. That kind of morphed into the project of Signs of Texas. I have noticed over the years that there are a lot of different signs that contain the word Texas and some even contain an outline drawing of the state itself. The one thing I wanted to do was limit it to 40-50 signs without duplicating a sign. Another fun idea is to limit your lens type to say a prime lens (for me it's the nifty fifty)

The end result, at least for me, would be a collage of all the signs on one print.

Don and Sheryl said...

We have a large park that is in the middle of a village and forms a traffic circle. I like to go there at different seasons and stand in the middle and do 360 degree shots.

wblj said...

I am thinking of doing something like "study under a tree" or something similar. Plant a chair under an interesting tree and sit there for a couple of hours shooting interesting angles visible from that point. In my yard I see deer all the time as well as rabbits and squirrels so those would be fair game too, as long as they are associated with the tree or near it.

puzzled said...

My favorite creativity exercise is simply getting into the car and finding a small country road that I have not driven on before. I try to do this at a time when the light is good and when I'm not pressured for time. Might seem like an insignificant exercise, but nearly every time I've been in a creative slump, just driving around (with my camera and gear) in a relaxed way like this has given me tons of inspiration.

TJ Avery said...

Multiples - collections of multiple similiar items that appear together spontaneously or because of a special event. Try to get away from the frequent sights of densly packed cars on a freeway or street, pile of dead leaves, or a pile of plastic bottles in a recycling bin.

Here are some thoughts (based on what I've seen before and thought would be interesting to shoot): That pile of broken car parts that always accumulates off to the side of a busy intersection from the numerous wrecks that happen there. A pack of the all-too-familiar ubiquitous 3-axle dump trucks at a construction site early in the morning. Multiple police cars parked at a do-nut shop. That huge cage of inflatable plastic balls at Wal-Mart. A walk-in freezer full of dead animals at a local taxidermist/processor.

I do like the idea of a short-term project, or "exercise" :-) I'll have to try it. I've got a few long-term projects going at the moment.

Good luck!

spamalope said...

One I use is things you can't see with the naked eye. Motion blur for slow objects; stop motion for fast ones; stacked images for impossible depth of field or layers of images with parts from different times of the day.

Holly said...

Ok, here are a few:

-leading lines
-rule of thirds
-vanishing point
-negative space
-contrasting colours
-rainy days
-low perspective
-long exposure

Hope that helps Gordon!

Cheers, Holly

Anonymous said...

Trying to learn how to take good flight shots by going out to Hornsby Bend every weekend. It's winter, there are lots of birds wintering there, so you've got lots of targets. You just need a 300 or 400mm lens and lots of CF capacity.

it worked for me, at least.

Rob said...

One I plan to do is pick a mundane journey - going to/from work, shopping or some other normal everyday thing (no cheating and pick of a trip to Zion or something :-) and document that in - say - a dozen images so that the viewer understands.

nicole said...

Most the time I take pictures of children, so I am always looking out for bold colors e.g. playground equipment. last time it was at the ikea store the big signs - bold colors, extra large shape.