The marathon is over and I’ve just about managed to stagger over the finish line and collapse. Phew, what a year.
I started the ‘one photo a day’ project on a bit of a whim. I thought to myself that 2008 would be a pretty significant year, mainly because my first child was going to be born in May, and I reckoned project366 would be an interesting way of recording her birth and first seven months. In many respects I wish I’d given it a bit more thought, specifically with regard to choosing a theme or mini-projects. Part of the problem was that I’d assumed that taking just one photo a day would be so easy.
As things turned out, it was really tough and going into the third quarter I really hit ‘the wall’ and nearly quit. Now that I’ve finished, however, I’m really glad I persevered and got to the end.
I was really keen to increase my technical camera skills this year, particularly by getting the most out of my camera. Prior to 2008 I still mainly used the ‘auto’ settings on my 20D, which I’m a little embarrassed about. What finally got me out of this rut was reading the book ‘Understanding Exposure’ by Bryan Peterson. This book cleverly never mentions any specific camera or lens and therefore doesn’t really date. What it does do, however, is very simply explain how to get creative exposures, how and when to use minimal or maximum apertures and other ‘tricks’. I’ve really tried to have ago at many of these and it’s been really fun trying them out.
A big goal was to start shooting in fully manual mode, however, this has not quite happened. The reality is that I almost exclusively shoot with ‘aperture priority’, choosing ISO and aperture for each shot but leaving the camera to pick the shutter speed. Having to set up shutter speed in addition to aperture I’ve found takes that tiny bit longer and has put me off. I may have to roll-over this goal to 2009.
It’s notable that I only got one new lens this year, the classic EF 50mm f1.8. I’ve tried to concentrate on making the most of the equipment I’ve got before I get any more.
Variety of shots
Alongside the task of weaning myself off of ‘auto’ mode was the aim of taking a bigger variety of pictures and branching into new areas. When I first bought a DSLR camera in 2005 my sole interest was landscape photography. I got so blinkered for a while that I got a bit upset if any people at all were in my pictures.
In 2007 inspired by stuff I’d seen on Flickr I started to take more pictures of London and my local area. Project365 only increased this trend, particularly as a lot of the opportunities for photos in daylight would be on my way to or from my work in the City (for the record I do not work for a bank).
One of the new types of photography that I’m really interested in now is street photography. Carrying a camera with me nearly all the time has meant I’ve been able to take those improvised street shots when I see something interesting or unusual.
I’ve also been keen to increase my portrait skills and over the year I’ve been making an effort to get better at this. Something that really helped inspire me in this was going on a short lighting course. I’ve since been able to practice some of the techniques that I learnt and I’ve largely been happy with the results so far. This is an area I want to continue to develop in the future.
What have I learnt?
I have a much better understanding of the technicalities of photography, though this is far from complete. I’ve grown my ‘photographers eye’ into lots of new areas and I ‘see’ a greater number of shots than I did a year ago.
Whilst I feel that my lighting skills have come a long way it is a subject that I really hope to develop over time.
One thing I won’t be continuing next year is a ‘one photo a day’ project. I’ve found it rewarding, but also quite exhausting so I’ll be easing up a bit.
Also, other than generally hoping to improve my photography skills still further I have a few specific aims and goals.
Firstly, I’d like to upgrade my equipment slightly and get a full frame camera such as a Canon 5D. I feel that this will add some versatility and to an extent quality to my photography. I’ve no immediate plans to get an more lenses.
I’ve felt for a while that the ‘one photo a day’ project has held back a number of smaller projects that I’ve been thinking of doing and now I’ll be able to do them at my leisure. For one, I want to document my local area in greater depth. Secondly, as I have a bit of a fascination with cafes, I might do a small photo diary of the ones in my bit of London. I have a few more ideas sketched out, but we’ll see about them.
I may have given up doing a daily photo, but I won’t give up a daily activity. I’m going to try to emulate, in a less ambitious way, an annual report in the spirit of that of Nick Felton. I heard an interview with him on the Boagworld podcast and it inspired me. If I manage to pull it off it should be an interesting, though slightly dweeby, insight into some aspects of my life.
This project has been hard work and a great chunk of commitment over the past year and at times I might have gladly given it up. I am, however, really glad that i’ve stuck to it and I feel that this has been a huge achievement that I’m really proud of. Pleasingly, thirteen of the pictures from this project were added to the ‘Explore‘ section of Flickr, something that shouldn’t matter but kind of does.
I’d really recommend this project to anyone wanting some motivation to do more photography but I would also warn anyone that this is a huge commitment.
It’s been an interesting and wonderful journey. It’s been emotional.