Photo Challenge Recap

by Amy, Erin, & Carly on September 16, 2013, no comments

Remember when we told you we were going to attempt a photo challenge for the month of August? Well, if you don’t, let me refresh your memory. Every day in August we challenged ourselves to take a picture. This may not seem very hard to some of you, but we intended it to stretch our artistic/creative abilities. We wanted interesting pictures with various perspectives, focusing, and subjects. Since the month of August is over, so is the challenge. With our second collaborative post we wanted to share our experience and favorite picture with all of you. If you want to see all the pictures we took go here.

Amy Says:

My main goal for this photography challenge was to get better at using my DSLR camera. I have recently started to learn how shutter speed and aperture and all that work together, but I hadn’t really taken the time to practice it much. I feel like a lot of the pictures I take on my phone are doctored up with filters and such, and I wanted to see if I could get pictures that looked good the old fashioned way.

Favorite photo:


This is a picture of the eagle on top of our flagpole. We had been watching a morning glory vine climb up the flagpole all summer, and this picture was taken the day it finally reached the top. I think I’m proud of this photo mainly because a lot of work went into it. I had to switch out our regular lens for the zoom lens and stand across the street in just the right spot to get the blue sky in the background. If I moved a little to either side you would have seen trees or rooftops ruining the shot. I also spent a lot of time adjusting the settings on the camera until I got a nice glow in the light and had the white balance right so the colors were true to life.

What I learned:

  1. There’s a reason I use my camera phone with filters most of the time. I found it difficult to get out the DSLR camera each day and it always took time to get the settings right. I was often disappointed with the color or light in those photos. I’m sure I just need more practice, but it’s a lot easier to get vibrant colors with my iPhone and a good filter.

  2. It’s hard to get clear pictures of wiggly babies and puppies. I guess I already knew this, but I was surprised at the number of blurry photos I had by the end of this challenge.

  3. There really is a golden hour. And it definitely doesn’t last an hour. There were several times when the whole family would be playing outside in the evening and I would suddenly realize that the light was perfect. I would rush inside to get the camera and start snapping. But usually by the time I had played around with the settings enough, the light would change. I think I got better at this by the end of the month, but I have yet to capture some truly golden light.

  4. It’s fun to challenge my creativity, but it’s hard to keep up with! I definitely admire those people who make creativity a discipline and practice it every day.


Erin Says:

My main goal for this challenge was to summon up enough self-discipline to actually produce an image for each day in August. I’ve mentioned before that completing tasks is not my strong suit, so I thought this challenge would be helpful in training my mind to form habits more easily. Since I enjoy photography as a pastime (albeit crummy iPhone photography), I hoped it would be easy to bridge the gap between irregular hobby and daily habit.

My Favorite Photo:


This was taken from a 9th floor hotel room in a suburb outside of Chicago. We arrived just at the right time to get a great view of the sunset. It’s not the clearest image because it was taken with my phone and was actually cropped from a much larger frame. But I chose this as my favorite because I really like the composition. It had just stormed outside so there were dark, dramatic clouds overhead, and the bottom half of the image is a dark forest area.  With the top and bottom of the picture bordered with darkness, the eye is drawn toward the middle of the image where the sunset outlines a single building standing above the trees. Besides the cropping, I really can’t take much credit for this photo, we were just lucky to have this view from the room.

What I learned:

  1. Don’t depend on a filter. All of my pictures were taken with my phone, and I used filters on most of them. However, whenever I took a lackluster picture with the intention of digitally altering it to greatness, it really only changed from “average picture” to “filtered average picture” and no “great picture” was ever born. I realized that when I actually took the time to try to find better light or adjust the white balance as best I could, I was able to make a good photo look great with just a few tweaks.

  2.  Some days are more inspiring  than others. There were a few days during our challenge when I went outside to get my one shot of the day and came back in with 10 great photos to choose from. Then there were a few days when I was busy and tired all day and eventually found myself laying in bed at night thinking, “Oh! I forgot to take a picture today!”  And of course, I sat up and just snapped a quick pic of whatever was nearest to me. I guess some days just don’t inspire great images, but when there is good lighting outside and all kinds of plants growing and animals crawling around, it’s nice to forego 30 minutes of tv in order to get some great shots.

  3. Interesting compositions are everywhere, you just have to find them. Even if it’s a dreary day, nothing interesting is going on, and no inspiration falls into your lap- if you have the time and energy to put into exploring you can find all kinds of neat shapes, textures, and color combinations in every day objects. I love taking close-ups of fabric, furniture, food, and other household items. It’s amazing how much angles and lighting can change how you view an object.

Carly Says:

My main goal for this challenge was just to find interesting ways to document my life. I don’t take enough pictures in my day to day life, although I’ve always wished I would have been more into it. I guess it’s good that I’m so invested in the moment that I don’t think about stopping and recording it memories sake, but still, I love looking back at the pictures I do have and reliving moments.

My Fave Photo:


This picture is of my dog Eujane. It’s hard getting any picture of her that doesn’t look like a tan ghost of a dog, so this is a rare instance of stillness. I like the weird cropping and angle of it, because it reflects my dog’s playfulness. However, the green and blue hues and soft lighting give it a peaceful quality.

What I learned:

  1. It’s hard to start a new habit. For the first week I was fine remembering, then I started forgetting until the last minute. A couple times I forgot completely. I guess that’s what reminders on phones are for.

  2. Getting good quality pictures on an iphone can be next to impossible. Granted, my iphone is old and so is the camera, but it was the most difficult part of the challenge for me. I appreciate real, only-takes-pictures cameras a lot more now that I know how hard it is to take quality photos without one.

  3. Photography challenges you to see things differently. While looking through a lens you see how things line up and the detail that can be enhanced. When framing something you see how the shape or angles of an object fit within that frame and it forces you to adjust your perspective or angle, which wouldn’t happen if looking at it normally.

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