By Kerry Drager
You don't have to venture far in order to give your creative vision a nice workout. Around home or around town, a self-assignment helps keep you in visual shape between visits to grand landscapes or inspiring cityscapes. Personal projects are just the thing to keep your eye sharp and your camera skills polished.
These can be specific subjects - local park, city street scenes, your own back yard, old cars, or whatever. Or you could choose a general theme; for ideas, check out the past themes of BetterPhoto's monthly free photo contest. Many of my own ongoing projects involve small subjects (tight compositions with regular lenses) and macro scenes (produced with my 105mm macro lens and/or extension tubes). Natural subjects like flowers or pond reflections are a "natural", of course, but so are non-nature objects that are full of colors, textures, and patterns.
Below is an example of a scene near my country home. The overall view shows what I saw in the uninspiring sunlight of midday. Returning in the glowing warm light of late day, I captured "Detour Close-up". A telephoto zoom lens (80-200) helped me zero in on the best parts, thus keeping out the surrounding distractions.
I used a tripod for three good reasons: 1) to achieve the best in image quality; 2) to have maximum creative control (i.e., using a small aperture for more Depth of Field, even though it means a slower shutter speed); and 3) to fine-tune the composition.
Oh yes, there's one more benefit to these close-at-hand photo "adventures": They're fun too!
- Check out my online photo courses here at BetterPhoto.com: Creative Close-ups and Creative Light and Composition.
- See BetterPhoto.com's online photography school
- BetterPhoto also offers many excellent Photo sharing options.
Detour Close-up: Junk Yard Still Life at Sunset ... (c) Kerry Drager
f14, 1/20th sec., 80-200 shot at 185mm, ISO 100, tripod & cable release; 100 ISO, Nikon D2X
Before - Overview image
shot in mid-afternoon with 50mm lens