Friday, August 26, 2011

Photography Challenge!

So, I've decided to go out on a limb and do something new and different.  I'm going to start out by inviting more people to read my blog, which is enough to make me nervous already.  The main reason I've made this decision is that I'm going to start challenging myself with a photography assignment, and I think it will be LOTS more fun with more people participating than just myself.

A few years ago, I splurged on a new digital camera for myself since I was tired of getting crappy pictures of my kids.  I bought a Canon S3 IS.  I had some little Nikon somethinerother that I'm pretty sure I got in high school before that, and it just wasn't living up to my expectations of the quality of photos I wanted.  It seemed like the only good pictures I could get were taken outside with the sun just right, when I would stand only on my left foot and the right one was 4.5 inches off the ground and I was wearing my I <3 BEER tshirt (which earned me a few stares at school functions).

Enter, new camera.  I think I was expecting the new camera to come out of the shipping box and take pictures that would make me instantly look 30 pounds lighter.  No such luck.  But it was a huge step up from the old Nikon, and now I could wear my Old Chicago beer tour tshirts instead of the redneck one. 

I was so excited to have this camera.  My first impression was that it was a little bulky and would be hard to take to Matchbox 20 and Little Big Town concerts, but it had so many features and better megapixels (whatever those were) and so surely I'd get AWESOME pictures of the kiddos.  So I set my camera to "Auto" and began shooting pictures.  I put that huge manual away in a drawer and would learn all about the other settings some other time.  Auto was my friend, and he took much better pictures than Nikon, so I was pleased.  I took lots of pictures with Auto.  They were cute, got me through a few years of scrapbooking and sharing moments on Facebook, and I was happy.  My pictures from hockey games and dance recitals still left something to be desired, but according to my big brother, it's very hard to take good pictures in both of those places, because the lighting is crap.  So I left it at that and went along my merry way.

Fast forward to about a year ago, when I started really reading blogs online.  Like good, popular blogs, that were full of amazing photographs, so clear and crisp and artistic, and I wondered if this camera that I had splurged on could give me something remotely close to those beauties.  I decided that I would dig out that manual and get to know some other friends other than Auto.  So I spent a few days reading and reading and reading, but what was the most disappointing to me was that sure, I learned where my power button was, and how to turn the little dial to the Av, Tv, and M settings, but my manual really didn't give me the guts of what I was looking for.  What do all of those foreign settings mean and what do they do?  When should I use them?  I thought about taking a local photography class, but didn't have $700 laying around, so I started searching the internet for free tutorials that would help me get my feet wet.  HOLY COW was it overwhelming!  There is so much to learn!  I ended up getting the majority of my information from this very cool blog; My Three Boybarians which had a 31 day instructional section.  I would get frustrated when I'd think about all the stuff I had to learn, but this site broke it down so I wasn't thinking about just how to take awesome pictures, I was learning it piece by piece, and just a little bit each day.  There are cool little assignments in there too, so you can go practice the stuff that she's teaching with each post.  I am so thankful I'm learning this stuff in the age of digital photography and not back in the day where you had to pay $8 for a roll of film that you could get 24 pictures out of, and would have to pay another $10 to have them processed and printed out for you.  I cannot imagine!  I love that I can go take 500 pictures and come home and delete 495 of them.  I've learned very quickly that photography is like anything else you want to be good at - you have to practice.

So anyways, two of my other favorite blogs are The Pioneer Woman and Quiet Life, where I have gotten countless tips on photography and many, many other things.  Those are two very talented ladies!  I suggest you check them out when you have time.

If you are still with me, and I haven't bored you to death yet, I'm sure you are wondering where the challenge that I mentioned in the post title comes into play!  Here goes:

In order to challenge myself and keep my photography subjects new and interesting, I'm starting a bi-weekly photography challenge.  Every other Friday I will post an assignment to be completed within the next two weeks.  It may be a certain subject (clouds), or a certain style (cheerful), or a certain processing type (black & white), or any other idea I come up with along the way.

I've created a group on Flickr, so you would need a Flickr account, and you would upload photos right to the group page.  For now, you can submit as many or as few as you'd like, and I'll post some of them here at the end of the two weeks.  You don't need to sign up for the challenge, and you don't need to participate in every one of them.  I just thought it would be fun to take pictures while focusing on an assignment, and then share them with others, and hopefully see what other people do with the assignment too.  There won't be any cool prizes (I'm not rich like The Pioneer Woman) except what you can learn, and of course the great photos you will hopefully end up with.

I really hope you'll join me for at least a few of these, I think it will be so much more fun with a bunch of people!  My photography still has a long way to go to get where I want it.  I don't have the high end equipment that allow me to get those crystal clear pictures , but I am a little closer than I was a year ago, and hopefully this will push me forward even more.

Soooo, who's in?



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