Guidelines: Hopefully you’ve spent some time looking through images in the tutorials. One interesting additional exercise would be to see how the images in the first tutorial fit into the guidelines covered in the second tutorial. Although I’d bet none of them were thinking about guidelines, just using their intuitive instinct for composition…
And that ability isn’t something that happens overnight, it mostly comes with the experience that comes from shooting lots of pictures; good, bad or indifferent, and it’s probably the mistakes that are remembered. The errors everyone makes when starting out, like the pole growing out of someone’s head.
So now it’s time to exercise your mind and eyes. And the best, and only, way to do that is by shooting. So here’s a fun exercise, and like most exercises, the restrictions and repetitions have a raison d’être behind it.
- You are allowed to shoot one set of 20 exposures in each session and NO more. Not 20 plus some deleted pictures. A bit like in the old analogue days with a single roll of film had just 20 exposures.
- You should work completely alone.
- Do this three times over the next week, taking your time and trying not to skip a session.
- Use one of the following genres for each session: rural landscape or park, townscapes, and abstract patterns. But whatever you choose, select a location that is limited in size and looks unpromising, so you really have to use your eyes and imagination.
- Over the course of the week, look through each set of twenty images. Whether you think they’re great or not so, select the image you think is best from each set of twenty and place it in a folder called “Self assignment”
(a) Ignore pre-conceived ideas and be open to anything.
(b) Ignore all of the obvious shots, like those you’ve seen or tried before.
(c) Think before you push the shutter button, exposures are limited, so if you don’t really want a picture, don’t take it.
(d) Think about the light, because it’s the quality of this that can make the difference between the mundane and the magical.
(e) Don’t forget your own backyard, because the old phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” can lead to ignored possibilities.
(f) Spend time with the images, study them and look carefully at each and every picture to narrow the selection slowly.
(g) Remember, you’re not looking for the prettiest or most technically perfect, but the one that you find interesting to look at for the longest time.
(h) Don’t get any help or outside feedback because you’re not looking for an image with someone else’s opinions in mind, or one that will impress everyone in the community.