2015 Challenge, Week 10: NUMBERS – 50mm

In many ways photography boils down to numbers. The F-stop, shutter speed, ISO, and focal length all determine the technical aspects of a shot. This week your challenge is to use a single focal length: 50mm. The subject is wide open. Shoot anything you want, but shoot it at a 50mm focal length. If you have prime 50mm lens, use that. If you only have a zoom lens, set the zoom as close to 50 as you can get it.

(Edit) If you have no control over your zoom, here’s an alternate challenge: Shoot any number that’s a multiple of 50.

“Pastel (

Helios 77M-4 50mm f1.8 m42)” by Sorin Mutu With the proliferation of zoom lenses and camera kits, it’s easy to experiment with framing by simply changing your zoom. Using a single focal length forces you to move to try different compositions. When you move, you see things differently and may come up with a better shot. Spending a week with a single focal length will change your perspective on framing.

“Canon EF 50mm F1.4 Testshot” by 55Laney69

Before zoom lenses became the norm, 50mm was a standard lens. Every photographer had a 50mm lens, for good reason. 50mm allows you to shoot a wide range of subjects. It may be the most versatile focal length there is.

“50mm Chicago” by Brian Koprowski

You can everything shoot from landscapes to portraits with a 50mm. They also perform well in all lighting conditions.

“Dibs the Cat” by Derrick Story

If you don’t own 50mm prime lens, I highly recommend getting one. Prime lenses are generally sharper than zoom lenses. I have a 50mm prime lens that is my first choice. It’s tack sharp and goes down to F1.4. But if you don’t have one, use what you have. All DSLR kits come with a zoom that will allow you to shoot at (or near) 50mm.

“Bubble Nose” by Bill Bumgarner

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org or #photochallenge2015.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2015 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2015 Challenge, Week 6: NUMBERS – Prime Numbers

This week your challenge is to shoot a specific type of number – a prime number. For those that need a refresher on prime numbers:

A prime number (or a prime) is a natural number greater than 1 that has no positive divisors other than 1 and itself.

That’s the definition of a prime number from Google, and you’re probably familiar with the first few: 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, etc. I expect we’ll see a lot of shots with those numbers, but if you what to really challenge yourself, here’s a list of prime numbers to 1000: http://primes.utm.edu/lists/small/1000.txt

For this challenge shoot actual numbers, not a group objects. This challenge is about the actual numbers.

“7” by Martin Gommel

You can shoot the prime alone, or in a group of other numbers. You might even get lucky and get multiple primes in the same shot, like the one below.

“[8/52] 47 45 43 41e” by tomekmusicv

Remember to think about the technical aspects of the shot, not just the number. The shot below uses depth of field to focus attention on a specific number. Also notice the lighting. It’s natural light, but comes from behind so the frost stands out.

“29, 83, 6″ by Franz Jachim

The shot below uses repetition and lines, as well as depth of field. Also note that the numbers are not the subject, they are just an accent that breaks up the color.

“Seats ready for people_Design Museum Copenhagen” by Rob Deutscher

If you like math, shooting prime numbers should add some enjoyment to the challenge. Maybe we’ll even see some creative shots based on mathematics. I just like prime numbers. They feel natural to me, and I tend to notice them more than other numbers.

“13” by Alexander Makarov

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) per theme shot during the week of the challenge to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org or #photochallenge2015.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2015 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2015 Challenge, Week 2: NUMBERS – 10 and Under

The first week of 2015 flew by, now it’s time to introduce the second theme for the year – Numbers. This year I’ll posting themes that have to do with numbers. In many ways numbers define our lives. We count our age (north of 40), size of our family (5 in my house), our weight (for good or bad), anniversaries (married 22 years), employment history (6 jobs) – just about everything can be described in some way by numbers.

Even photography is defined by numbers: shutter speed, F-stop, focal length, ISO,  memory card, sensor megapixels, and, well, you get the idea.

For this week we’ll keep it basic – take a photo of a number 10 or under. There is one constraint: no addresses. Every home and business has a street address so those are easy. Your challenge is to find a number, then make an interesting shot. You can take a picture of a single number, or a group of numbers, as long as the number(s) are 10 or lower.

“Numbers..” by Søren Rajczyk

As you frame your shoot, think about the technical aspects of your composition. The shot above frames a repeating pattern with a strong leading line. The use of black and white enhances the lines and emphasizes the tones. You can imagine the numbers continuing forever.

“Numbers in the orange” by Leonid Mamchenkov

This shot also uses repetition with lines, but contrasts the brightly colored seats with the small, black circles holding the numbers.

“25 / 52 Numbers” by Sergio García Moratilla

You can also use depth of field to focus attention on a specific part of the frame.

Numbers sound like simple subjects, and they are. The challenge isn’t in the number – it’s in taking something that is commonplace and looking at it in a new way. With the subject determined, your challenge is in the composition. Don’t just snap a picture of the first number you find. Get creative and focus on the composition. We all will use the same numbers, but each of us will create a different photo.

“4 Plane” by AlwaysBreaking

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org or #photochallenge2015.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2015 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2014 Challenge, Week 50: STILL LIFE – GROUPS

2014 has been an awesome year for PhotoChallenge.org. I’ve enjoyed putting together the Still Life challenges and seeing your shots. The collective creativity of this community is amazing. Thanks for making it a great year!

This will be your last Still Life assignment for the year, and to honor the idea of community and groups, the theme is GROUP. Find a group of objects that relate to each other and compose a shot.

“Saatchi Still Life 2013″ by Misha Dontsov

Fruits and vegetables are classic still life subjects. You can group a bunch one kind of fruit, like the shot below, or create a group using other creative staging techniques like the cut subjects above.

“still life” by Judy van der Velden

Finding a bunch of the same type of object might be easy, but staging them could be the challenge. How you arrange your group matters. And pay attention to the lighting. The brushes below have a straight forward presentation with even lighting that allows you to see the individuals that make up the group.

“still life with brushes” by Jos van Wunnik

Or you can group based on color. The shot below uses the color red to connect a lot of otherwise disconnected objects. Note the arrangement, angle of the shot, and depth of field – contrast that with the shot of the brushes above. Similar arrangements, but different photographic techniques.

“everyday reds” by FraserElliot

Taking common subjects, isolating them, and playing with the depth of field is a common still life strategy, but one that works well. The leaves below are nothing special, the photographer turned them into a still life. You see sharp focus and detail, but it’s limited by the depth of field. The lighting also creates contrast. To me that is the essence of still life – the technique of the photographer makes the shot compelling, regardless of the subject.

“Walnuts” by – Guigui-Lille -

Take a close look around, find a group, and compose a creative shot. Thanks again for the great year! I can’t wait for 2015.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2014 Challenge, Week 46: STILL LIFE – MACRO

Do you remember last week’s challenge, macro? I hope so, because this week you get to combine macro and still life to make a shot. This is not the same challenge as last week, it’s a still life using the macro technique. Still life photography is about creating a shot, not finding a shot. You set up the subject and control all technical aspects – lighting, placement, composition, aperture, etc.

Macro is one of my favorite photography genres and I’ve been saving this until after Jeremy posted the macro challenge to make sure everyone had a chance to practice. Combining macro and still life takes some work.

“Kiwi” by Sergiu Bacioiu

Lighting may be the most critical aspect of still life photography. The shot above uses a light behind the subject to add contrast and expose details while adding a halo effect. Lighting is also key to the shot below.

“trail of an intention gone haywire” by Jonathon Cohen

You may have realized that depth of field plays a huge part in macro photography, and you have to pay close attention to your aperture. The shot below uses a small aperture to ensure that most of the coffee beans are in focus.

“Coffee Beans” by Smudge 9000

Details are also important in macro photography. The bee below is sharp, showing a lot detail. The lighting allows you to see detail, but is controlled so there is no glare in the bee or the reflection.

“bzzzzzz” by Jonathan Cohen

As you compose your shot, don’t forget the background. The shot above uses a pitch black background that makes the bee almost float in the frame. The shot of the walnuts below takes the opposite approach. The light background brings out contrast in the subject, while allowing the shadows to add depth.

“Walnuts” by Roger

Take a close look around, find a subject, and compose a creative shot. The examples I’ve selected are fairly pedestrian objects, but the photographers created compelling shots. Now it’s your turn.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2014 Challenge, Week 42: STILL LIFE – MUSIC

This weeks still life challenge is Music.  It can be the instruments used to create music, how you listen to music, or anything that relates to music as long as it is a still life shot.

“passion” by Luigi Orru

Instruments are an obvious choice for this challenge. Many instruments have shapes and lines that you can use in your shot. The photo above only shows part of the instrument to create a symmetrical composition. Likewise, the shot below reveals only part of an instrument and uses a shallow depth of field.

“Stringless Guitar” by Nicholas Erwin

“harps” by DorkyMum

Many of us aren’t musical, but enjoy listening to music. You can show off your favorite way to enjoy your favorite band.

“Headphones” by Pascal

A lot of technology goes into creating, recording, distributing music, and sharing music. It’s hard to get a shot of an MP3, but maybe you can turn to older technology.

“Heavy Metal: TDK MA-R90 Cassette Tape (overhead view)” by Scott Schiller

One reminder: still life photography deals with objects, not people. Try to avoid shots of musicians and concert photography. Other than that, if something has a connection to music use it to create your photo for this week.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.

2014 Challenge, Week 38: STILL LIFE- Black & White

This week we go back to the Still Life genre, but the subject is up to you, just make it a black and white shot. Creating black and white shots isn’t as simple as converting any image to black and white. What you see in the camera while you’re shooting could look very different in black and white.

“Pomegranate” by Dan Pupius

Black and white photography emphasizes composition and lighting. The shot above uses a bright, white background and a flash to create strong contrast while placing the subject on the right side of the frame.

This image below uses a black background to make the subject standout. Imagine these two shots with the backgrounds switched. With black and white you need to consider how the color of the subject will convert to gray – will be it dark or light? Will it standout enough from your background?

“Still Life, 2003″ by Matt Artz

The image below also uses a dark background, but adds texture. A single flash provides contrast and brings out the texture of the onions.

“Three Onions, Study I – Still Life in Studio” byPhil Pankov

You can also apply what you learned in last week’s challenge – patterns and lines. Compositions with strong lines generally make good black and white shots.

“The Puzzle” by Wolfman-K

Still life can be technically challenging, especially in black and white. You can choose a single subject on a solid background, or compose a shot in a setting you choose. The shot below uses natural light from a window. The shells are main subject, but the textures and lines of the wood add depth.

“Sudek 2″ by Wes Peck

And don’t forget, you can have fun with still life photography. Kristina Alexanderson has a wonderful series of Stormtrooper photos that mimic real-life situations. It’s worth taking the time to browse through her shots and see the creative, and sometimes heartwarming, stories she tells.

“Make Teddy mine” byKristina Alexanderson

The rules are pretty simple:

Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+, Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.