Wandering Around Out There With A Canoe On My Head

365 – Top 10 So Far

stuffed animal in a fake crime scene

by Preston
April 1, 2013

If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Twitter, you already know that I’ve been participating in a photography challenge called The 365. For those of you who have never heard of this, it’s an exercise where you take one picture a day, and usually post it up on Flikr. I learned about this from a friend who used to be a talented photographer, but now is an amazing photographer which she credits to her participation in this project. What she didn’t yet realize but came to really appreciate is that it’s not only a fun hobby or challenge, it’s a fantastic learning experience.

So here are the rules: You have to take one picture every day for a year (hence “365”). You can take as many photos as you like, and even post them all, but you have to take at least one, and you can only choose one for the project (in my case, adding one to the 365 group). Oh, and that photo had to be taken on that day. This is actually the toughest part, for two reasons. First, obviously you have to take a picture every day. This can itself be a hell of a challenge. It seems like a simple thing to do – click button, upload picture – once a day, but it’s strange how often your life gets in your way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve raced around looking for some kind of subject at 11:45PM. Second, and much more difficult is that you have to choose (only) one. Maybe you got into a groove and took a bunch of great ones today. Super, pick one and go again tomorrow. The point of the exercise is to practice. Practice practice practice. And then there are some days, the perfectionist in you starts to set in, and as your standards begin to rise (for me usually in a more delusional kind of way), you might have to choose some lesser-of-the-evils photo. Oh well. Post one, learn and move on.

If you want to do it right join a group. What starts as a gang of people with which to share pictures, seek advise and of course commiserate, turns very quickly into a community. The compliments, comments and support is unreal. They start to get to know each other’s styles, preferences, personalities – in both photography and sense of humour. I’m not sure you need to be a member to read this article, but it’s worth a read. (The friend I mentioned is “The Black and White Queen”.) It explains it all when it comes to the 365, including the culture. (As for me, I’m kind of a fringe member. If the group was a grade school dance, I’d be the new kid, hanging around the punch bowl. I’m there, I’m doing it, taking it all in, but without the social fortitude to really get in on the conversations. This is my thing though. Don’t do that. They’re all nice, gracious and very welcoming.)

For me, I really want the practice (and can use it), and really appreciate the feedback and advice I get on my photos. I really think it’ll make all my photos of trips much better. I’m trying to focus on outdoor subjects, but I can’t always do that. Once tripping season starts I think this is going to get a lot easier for me. No shortage of subjects there.

So, since I’m 1/4 of the way through, I thought I’d show off a couple of my personal favourite pictures from my 365Project. These aren’t necessarily the most popular (these two are: Light Trails on Trees, Birds are Jerks), but rather ones that are more meaningful to me, either because of how I got the picture, the subject or, more often, what I learned taking the picture. (Each of the pictures is linked to Flickr. Clicking on them will let you read more about the photo or the adventure I had while taking it.)


Sore Paw
One really big challenge for me is not to have 365 pictures of Nancy. I try really hard not to do that. (I already know how to take her picture.) In fact, I’ve started a completely different set of pictures that I take of her during my attempts to take 365 photos called “3NanSixty5“. This one I found a way to really bring out her eyes. Totally intended and not incidental at all.


Bureaucrats and Ferns
This one’s neither a landscape nor outdoors, but I took some advice and tried a different style for a change – growth moment – and so I’m pretty proud of how it turned out.


Believe it or not
The first real snowstorm of the year I took the opportunity to try some action shots. Of course Nancy would be my subject and she was prefect. It’s hard because of her colours to take a good photo of her in the snow but after getting some advice on how to do that I’m happy with how this turned out.


What did you say about Birds?
This is kind of a longer story, but I’ve been trying to capture birds quite a bit. After failing several times, this guy just flew up within meters of me, like he wanted his picture taken.


Bayfront At Night
This photo was taken on a bit of a learning session my friend took me on. I learned so much that night. Can’t wait to get some low-light water photos on some back-country lakes this year. I think I’ve gotten a little cocky with my night shots since, as none have been as good as this one (in my opinion).


Crime Scene
Also not an outdoor shot, I guess I was feeling a little silly when I walked by this “murdered” stuffed animal, so I went with it.


Skyway Bridge
I really like this picture. It’s very clear and has a lot to it. I’m surprised I took it, quite frankly. I also broke into government facility to take it (though I didn’t know that at the time). I’m also pretty proud of the description I wrote for this one. Click on the picture to read it. (You may need a few minutes though.)


Winter Falls
One technique I want to practice more is that style where the water is all smooth flowing. (Like what this guy does and is awesome at it. I’m a big fan of his stuff.) That said, I prefer the ragged impression of clear falling water, and I thought for this shot it was more appropriate.


Grand Ice
I froze my butt off getting this picture. It was taken on the Grand River on a ridiculously cold day with an angry, painful wind. As proof to my commitment, I stayed out there until I took enough pictures, and took the time to take them as good as possible. On the ride home I began to question my enthusiasm, until I got home and checked the photos I took. (Then again, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have got the same shots on a warmer day.)


Twilight Bridge
I drove all around Brantford on this particular night, trying to find somewhere near water but with a bit of light. I found this bridge looking at a map on my phone just before I was about to give up on the idea. This was another cold night which made things challenging, and I had an over-full belly stuffed with Chinese food. (You try taking pictures under those conditions!)


So far this has been a lot of fun, but also a really big challenge. If you do Flickr, feel free to keep track of my progress, or even send me some feedback. I always love constructive criticism, and especially like gratuitous compliments.

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