On 11-11-11, I started yet another daily photo project. The plan this time is to take and post a daily photo for 398 days. Since 2012 is a leap year this should technically be titled “Project 366+32”. But 2008’s project was titled Project 365, so I’m calling this Project 365+33. Plus, I’ve run out of fingers to figure out the correct count.
This project was partially inspired by a new camera purchase, the Canon Powershot Elph 300HS. Great little camera, with a very wide, for such a tiny camera, 24mm lens. I quickly cracked the screen by knocking it off a table (it’s very thin), prompting a second purchase before they were discontinued. Got the second one at an even better deal, so every member of the BackAmp Research team is now fully equipped.
For whatever reason, I’ve decided to do my second Project 365 this year. As of today, that makes 375 pictures posted to photoblog. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things:
- For me, personal is better. The thing I’ve enjoyed the most is looking back at the older photos and remembering the circumstances of each photo.
- If not personal, then a theme of some kind might be cool. I travel often and have been thinking about how to focus on just that.
- Even with personal, perhaps less than artistic shots, your photos don’t necessarily have to suck (like mine 🙂 ). Take some time to clean them up. With today’s multi-mega-giga-pixel cams, you can almost certainly crop to the best part of the photo and have plenty of size left, ESPECIALLY for the web. Learn to use whatever photo editing program you have, be it whatever came with your camera, Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, Photo-Paint, the Gimp (free), or even the excellent (also free) Fast Stone Viewer. Consider learning more about post-processing as part of your project. Taking the pic is only half the job.
- After you crop, at a minimum, learn to adjust things like contrast, dynamic range, color balance, and unsharp masking.
- If you have low light shots taken at night (hey, we work in the day time, right?), consider converting them to B&W. Your image editing program has some simple methods built-in, but there are some advanced techniques you might consider. The concepts on all these links can generally be used in every decent program, although menu names and terminology may differ. Special note for Corel Photo-Paint users prior to version X4, the color mixing controls are pretty lacking. Check out the section called Some Assembly Required near the bottom of dpFWIW‘s page.
- Do something with your finished work. At the very least, set up a screen show on your computer. Better, post them on the web at photoblog, Flickr, Facebook, or any photo sharing site. You might even consider setting up your own web gallery. There’s something about the discipline of posting my shots publicly that keeps me motivated.
- Finally, here’s a tip about that might help you remember to take your daily shot. It’s easy to get caught up in the day’s work and activity and just forget your project. Use your calendar or to-do list to remind you. Personally, I have a daily entry in my Google calendar set to email me at 4pm. If I haven’t had a chance to shot a photo by then, it’s a reminder as I’m winding up the work day. There’s still some daylight left and the project is on my mind on the way home and into the evening.
I never got around to writing much of a summary of last year’s Project 365/366. I did get all 366 photos taken and posted, albeit a few were taken at 11:59 PM. It was an enjoyable project although it turned out a bit different than I might have guessed. I expected to get better technically with my camera, and I did learn a few subtleties. I particularly wanted to improve on approaching strangers about taking their photo, which I barely improved at (although beer helps).
What I did get better at (I think) was finding seemingly mundane things to photograph in an interesting way, at least to me. And the record of the year is amazing, I remember each and every shot and also quite a bit about that particular day that would otherwise become more of a blur.
I did enjoy the project thoroughly and became quite comfortable explaining to friends and coworkers why I was hauling a camera around all of the time. I considered continuing to 2009, but come Jan 1, I was happy to not be scanning for a photo from the time I got up until I had something I liked. It surprised me, but that “looking for a photo” mode just switched off; I had sort of expected to find myself constantly on the lookout and worrying about getting something until I would remember that the project was over.
Consequently, the camera(s) got left home a little more often that they might have been, although I have taken a few. So, one quarter into the year, I’ve decided to resume as “Project 12”, with at least one photo a month posted. I think having a much easier deadline will get me thinking again about regular photography without the commitment of a daily post. Sure, it’s not much, but the three I just posted at Photoblog cover the highlights of Jan, Feb, and March for me.