My Own Assignment

In Inspiration
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I’ve been so wrapped up in my teaching gig this school year that I haven’t really been using my camera that much (see my post from November, which laments the same theme). Most of the time when I do get my camera out it’s to quickly create a sample image for a project that I’m assigning to my students. For someone who spent multiple years in a row shooting everyday, it’s quite a change. It’s not that I don’t want to be shooting everyday, it’s just that I’ve been letting the small excuses drown out that desire: “My battery needs charging. I don’t have any ideas. I have an idea, but it’s going to take too long. I’m tired. I haven’t sorted out my Lightroom catalog.” I have so many excuses. I’ll bet you have them, too. And my students DEFINITELY have them. I heard myself tell a classroom full of high schoolers last week that there’s always going to be a reason to procrastinate. It felt like advice I was trying to give to myself.

So today, thinking of that advice, I decided to give myself the assignment that I recently gave to my Digital 1 class: photograph the same thing in 50 different ways. I will spare you lovely readers all 50 of the shots that I took, and instead, I’ll show and tell a few of my favorites.

I started out just taking normal shots. But that got old in a hurry.

Then, I tried playing around with exposure compensation to purposely overexpose and underexpose my flower.

That got me through a few more shots, but I was nowhere close to the 50 that I had assigned myself. I decided to switch my lens. I pulled out my 50mm compact macro lens. It’s the lens that Canon doesn’t make anymore and I’m frustrated because mine is having intermittent connection issues. It will cost about the same to have it repaired as it would to buy a comparable 50mm, however, I’ll lose the macro feature. It’s my 2nd favorite lens, so for now, I’ll keep using it for fun even if it’s not dependable enough to take on client shoots. I didn’t run into the connection issue today, so here are the ones I got while photographing up close.

I was a little over halfway through my assignment and I was already beginning to run out of ideas. I started to wonder if I could pull it off. I mean, 50 unique images? (Not just pushing the shutter button 50 times, mind you….) So, I decided to take a new approach. Instead of moving around my fixed subject, I decided to move the subject. I took the flower out of the vase and held it upside down. Then I took it over to the lights above our cooktop for a little backlight action. After that, I laid it back down on the table and watched as the petals collapsed onto each other.

About this time, I thought I was out of ideas until suddenly, I remembered my new flash! I hustled over to my camera back and grabbed it, along with the owners manual, and got back to work. The first few shots weren’t much different than what I had already captured so I flipped through the pages in the book until I stumbled upon the instructions for using the flash in stroboscopic mode. Basically, it’s having the flash go off multiple times during a long exposure. In addition to making my shutter speed longer (2 seconds), I increased my aperture to around F22 and lowered my ISO all the way to 100 to compensate for the light of the flash. I played around with moving the flower during the exposure and wasn’t impressed. Focus was an issue, so I tried moving the camera instead and ended up with much better results.

I made a few attempts and quickly realized that I could play around with this technique for hours! But, time was ticking and I had a blog post to write. I had already exceeded my goal of 50 images so it was time to call it a day. Maybe my next assignment will be to play more with my flash…

Giving myself assignments again – Angie

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