2012 was my 2nd year of attempting to complete some self-imposed photography challenges. There were 34 of them in total, ranging in difficulty from the very easy (make 4 zoo trips) to the impossible (create an iOS app!)
So how did I do throughout the year? Not too bad, in the end. The Beyond The Camera section was the least successful, but also offered some of the most rewarding outcomes. I’m evidently not a Night Photographer either. However, the Additional Days, Animal Photography, and Street Photography sections were completed relatively quickly.
All in all I completed 24 of the 34 Challenges entirely, and made progress in a further 3, leaving only 7 Challenges completely untouched. I’d class that as a success. It also means that there’s room for improvement.
Here’s the Photography Challenge 2012 Gallery, it includes a small set of photographs taken purely in order to complete some of the challenges listed at the bottom of this post:
Here is the complete listing of the 2012 Challenges, and the results:
I’ve always been interested in long exposures and night photography, I think it really has a different quality. I had (and still have) aspirations for getting into this kind of photography, but 2012 obviously wasn’t the year for it. Aside from taking pictures of the moon, that is.
- 3 Moon Shots (Easy) – DONE
- 2 Light Trails (Medium) – 0
- 5 Star Trails (Hard) – 0
Beyond The Camera
Photography, for me, is more than just taking pictures, it’s about the world of photography and getting immersed in its many facets. That’s what the Beyond The Camera section was for, to turn my hand to things other than taking pictures. I didn’t do very well with this one either unfortunately. I produced a few books, but that was easy (thanks in large part to www.blurb.com) . Some of the other aspects within this category really were beyond me, creating an iOS app for example – whilst I have the tools available to do this, I don’t have the time, skills, or inclination to actually code my own app. Who knows, perhaps I’ll get there one year, but not in 2012. As for the other elements of this category, I probably should have done much better… printing photos is easy, but I didn’t do it. Creating a calendar is also easy, although I left it to the very last minute in order to complete it (something that I should try to avoid in future). Competitions, though, I have mixed feelings about… they can be good, they can be bad, they can be a real foot in the door – but… I don’t know, I’m just not sure if I am really a competitive photographer?
- 2 New Photobooks (Easy) – DONE
- 3 Large Prints (Easy) – 0
- 2013 Calendar (Easy) – DONE
- 5 copies of eBook – 0
- 3 Photo Competitions – 0
- Create an App – 0
Now this category is something that I knew I would enjoy. Action photography is fast, fun, and can be a real challenge. I didn’t find an extreme sport to cover, but that’s only because I didn’t look hard enough, there are plenty of them out there. The UK Half Ironman (70.3) provided me with most of my sports shots this year. The day started off dull and gloomy, but then miraculously turned bright and sunny by the time the athletes were hitting the finishing line. Perfect conditions. Animal action shots turned out to be easier than I was expecting, too. One trip to the International Centre for Birds of Prey and I was done. Those birds really know how to fly.
- 5 Sports Shots – DONE
- 3 Animal Action Shots – DONE
- Cover An Extreme Sport – Not Done
This is perhaps my favourite category as it offered the most creative opportunities. As much as I like shooting in black and white I found it surprisingly difficult to shoot that way for a whole day. Seeing the world through a 50mm lens provides a unique and interesting perspective on things, and one that I enjoyed – the shallow depth of field from my 50mm 1.8 lens added an extra layer of creativity. The hardest of the challenges in this category was the Creative Self Portrait – as much as I enjoy taking photographs, I really don’t enjoy appearing in them, which lead to me taking a “selfie” in the rear view mirror of my car, using my Canon EOS 7D to cover up my whole face!
- B/W Only Day – DONE
- 50mm Only Day – DONE
- iPhone Only Day – DONE
- One Lens, One Day – DONE
- House Bound – DONE
- Straight Out of Camera – DONE
- Creative Self Portrait – DONE
Animal photography is probably my favourite subject type, and so this category was a breeze. Visiting zoos is a passion of mine, and whilst I know they can stir up mixed views from people I honestly believe that a good zoo is an asset to the world (saving animals from extinction has to be a good thing. After all, extinction really is forever). I had thought that the wild animal shots were going to be more of a challenge, but I struck it lucky with a couple of swan shots early in the year, and a chipmunk or two in America when I was there. The “new” Zoo I visited was Chester – one of the largest Zoos in the world, and a great place to shoot animals. They even have dinosaurs there.
- Make 4 Zoo Trips – DONE
- Visit A New Zoo – DONE
- 3 Wild Animal Shots – DONE
I am not really a “people” photographer, and I originally thought that I would struggle with this category. Photographying someone famous, come on?! But I managed it quite easily, it was actually the portrait class challenge that caught me out. The three portraits I had to capture came from when I was in America, for some reason I found it easier to snap members of the public whilst out and about in California than when I’m back here in England. I’m not sure why that should be? I actually ended up with several “famous” people, from the professional triathletes at Wimbleball to my tour guide in America (who was also an actor).
- Capture 3 Portraits – DONE
- Take A Portrait Class – Not Done
- Photography Someone “Famous” – DONE
Landscape photography is as easy as pointing your camera at the countryside and clicking the shutter, right? Wrong, so very wrong. Good landscape photography is very difficult. Not least because the best landscapes in the world have all been discovered and shot a million times already, or so it seems. Trying to find something new, a new perspective on a well trodden path is the real skill here. I am not a particularly good landscape photographer, but I do try my best. Capturing 10 shots of a local landmark was easy, Burrow Mump is my “go to” place for photography, and provided me with the necessary inspiration to complete that particular challenge. Capturing a non-UK landscape happened as part of my trip to America in May – of all the landscapes I shot whilst over there, I think the Grand Canyon will be the one I remember most. I only managed to visit 2 countries (other than England) this year, America and Wales. I had hoped to complete this challenge with a trip to Scotland in November but unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse and most of the places I wanted to visit (as well as most of the roads I would’ve needed to travel on) were flooded.
- 10 Local Landmark Shots – DONE
- Capture A Non-UK Landscape – DONE
- Visit 3 Different Countries – 2 out of 3
Now this category surprised me the most. I would not consider myself to be a street photographer by any means. I am, though, street photography-curious. I can’t quite believe I actually managed to complete all of the challenges in this category. The small city that I explored was San Francisco (about 600 square km), and what a city it is! I certainly did leave my heart there, and even as I type this I am drawing up plans to return. The large city was LA (at about 1300 square km). Los Angeles is a bizarre place, but one that I am thankful to have visited. The strangers on the street all came from Santa Monica, I photographed a band whilst they performed on the Santa Monica pier.
- Explore a small city – DONE
- Explore a large city – DONE
- 3 Strangers on the street – DONE
Capturing images of very small details in close up is what macro photography is really all about and it’s something that I am very interested in. That’s why this category is probably my biggest disappointment – I should’ve put more effort into it.
- 10 Flower Shots – 4
- 10 Insect Shots – 3
- 10 Splash Shots – 0