Launching “Project 52”

A brand new year, a brand new website and a brand new blog post!

This year I’ve decided to tackle a 52-week project to keep myself shooting even (or especially) when not technically “on the job”. Each week I’ll be taking and posting a new picture following a new theme or challenge.

Over on Reddit there’s a great little community at /r/picturechallenge, where every week the winner of a previous competition dreams up a new theme and everyone submits their best interpretation of that theme. I’ve decided to use those challenges as my guide for this year’s Project 52. To give myself more work to do, I’ve also decided to blog a little about the process behind getting the image I submitted. I imagine some will be a bit more straightforward than others, and so will involve a little less analysis/description, but there’ll be a post about each entry regardless.

So, without further ado, on to week one!

#202 - abstract light-1

This week’s challenge was simply “abstract light” – vague and open, to say the least.

My first thought was to figure out which light source(s) I was going to use to create the abstract. Initially (because today was one of the first really nice, sunny days we’ve had in a while, I thought of trying to shoot at the sun through the branches of some trees in our yard, but when I got bundled up and actually out there, the result wasn’t really what I had in mind. One idea scrapped.

As I was setting my camera back on my computer desk, I noticed a stack of blank DVDs, which gave me the thought to shoot through the DVDs themselves and see what happened. Now all I needed was a new light source. Enter our wood furnace in the basement.

So, before I really knew it, I found myself pointing my tripod-mounted camera at the fire box, holding three blank DVDs. Shooting through the DVDs didn’t produce the results I wanted, though there may be some experimenting still to be done on that front, and waving the DVDs across the frame gave me some cool but not-really-what-I-wanted streaks of psychedelic colour, but something interesting happened when I used a couple of discs as reflectors to cast the firelight across the lens back and forth.

After more test shots than I care to admit I took, I found the shutter speed I wanted, and adjusted everything accordingly to make the rest of image fit, and then all there was left to do was to hit the button and start waving DVDs around like a lunatic. Alone. In my basement furnace room.

Photography is weird.

Technical details:

Gear: Nikon d800e + Nikkor 35mm 1.8 lens + tripod.

Shot: f/6.3 | 10 sec | ISO 500

Just for fun, here’s this week’s “runner-up”, where I followed pretty much the same process as with the actual image, but I held the DVD up against the lens and moved it around for a second or two to shoot through it right at the end of the exposure. None of the blur or colour weirdness in either shot was added in Photoshop or anything else – just using physical effects, as it were. In the end I didn’t think the psychedelia really added anything, so I opted for the less colourful choice.

#202 - abstract light-2

Thanks for reading, and see you next week!

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