I’m going to start by freely admitting this. I’ve tried the Photo a Day project twice in the past. I’ve never finished either one.
It’s not an easy process to get behind the lens and produce a photo every single day. That’s compounded by the fact I work nights and sleep during the day… in other words, I’m missing out on most of the good outdoor light. Combine that with the regular stress of trying to cram everything else lie demands of you in the tiny slivers of the day when your schedule overlaps with the rest of the world, and the camera starts to look intimidating.
But as of today, I’ve managed 28 straight days of photographs. It hasn’t been easy… I’d barely consider today’s photo a snapshot. But it’s just about a twelfth of the way through the project. Have I learned anything?
As a matter of fact, I have. Conveniently enough, if you read the title of this blog post, here are five takeaways from the first month of this project.
- The iPhone camera is surprisingly versatile if you start to learn it. I’m not about to sell my DSLR or anything, but I’m starting to learn the iPhone can pull off decent enough photos if the situation calls for it. I’d much rather have my D7100 or the Panasonic GF3 with me, but I’m starting to allow myself to use the iPhone camera more. Will it ever feel like more than snapshots? Well… maybe. There are plenty of settings to learn, but I think it’s just as capable of producing decent images if something catches me eye and I don’t have the regular gear around.
- You learn interesting things by accident. While it wasn’t one of my actual Photo a Day posts, I stumbled into some interesting looking photos by making a mistake. I’d just gone outside to shoot the leaf in the rain image you see in this week’s gallery, and when I came back in our manx Jackson was being cute(this is a regular occurrence). So I snapped off a few pictures… and completely forgot I’d set the ISO at 100. I almost wrote off the images until I started playing with them. Some of them were fun in a really silly way, like the “Christopher Lee Homage” shot below that I tried to process to match the look of the old Hammer Horror films. Others, like the image on the right, are ones I’m actually pretty pleased with. You never know what might work out well for you.
- I’m still not as well versed in my tools as I should be. The D7100 is a really nice camera, one that I’ve taken with me to Walt Disney World and out on the Pacific Ocean. At least once a week, I’m learning about a new setting to play with or way to approach an image that I wish I’d known during those earlier trips. I’ve already started to see subtle improvements in my work because I’ve gotten a better handle on the camera’s capabilities. Similarly, now that I’m taking the time to better understand Lightroom and Photoshop, I’m seeing improvements in my work even from week to week.
- Varying composition needs to be more of a focus for me. I’ve developed a decent eye, or at least I like to think so, but I’ve also noticed that a lot of my composition tends to look similar. When you’re staring at the same angle of a pet photo a few times a week, you learn how you need to change it up. Something as simple as using a different lens or changing my position has resulted in some changes, but it’s still a work in progress. This will be a particular challenge to tackle on my next trip to the Oklahoma City Zoo.
- My pets are patient angels… mostly. The best part about having pets is that you have access to compelling subjects on a regular basis. The problem is that they can get really tired of it in a hurry. Their reactions to the camera are different as well… Jackson, our manx, loves it. Celeste, our formal feral rescue tortie, is fairly indifferent. And Sapphire, our poor sweet rescue pup, seems a little scared. But that’s been good practice to learn how to work with all three of them. And, as a pet owner, it was really gratifying yesterday to have taken the camera into the living room and seen Sapphire not only stay in the room, but actually wag her tail. And yes, treats were involved.
There’s still a lot to learn, and I hope life doesn’t conspire to interrupt this project. Someone I follow on Twitter actually watched Mortal Kombat Annihilation every day for a year. If he can do that, I can certainly get behind the lens every day.