2017 Photochallenge Week 25 – People We Love

I’m writing this post with a heavy heart. As many of you probably know, Trevor Carpenter – the founder of photochallenge.org – passed away last Wednesday after a long battle with cancer. We want to dedicate this challenge to him, and say a few words about our friend.

“Trevor Setting Up” by Jeremy Brooks

I met Trevor because of our shared interest in photography. He announced that he was going to challenge himself to shoot only in black and white for a month, and I thought he was crazy. At the end of the month, I was blown away by the results. Shortly after that he started challenging others to take their photography to new levels by shooting specific themes which were posted on a web site he started called photochallenge.org. Participating in these challenges really helped me grow as a photographer, and pushed me out of my comfort zone. I will always be grateful to Trevor for that.

After participating in the challenges for a while, I began to assist with writing the posts for the site. In 2009 Trevor had the idea of doing a different challenge every day for a year. Writing a post a day is a lot of work for two people, but we managed to do it, and it was a lot of fun.

Trevor was an inspiring person who touched the lives of many people. I am honored to have counted him as a friend. He will be greatly missed.

— Jeremy Brooks


“Night Photowalk” by Gary Hegenbart


Photography is a hobby for me. It’s something I love, and do just for fun. It’s also what formed a bond between Trevor and me. Trevor was part of my inspiration about 10 years ago when I started participating in photo challenges. I can honestly say that Trevor inspired me to be a better photographer, and pushed me to get out of my comfort zone. We become who we are through our experiences with other people. The part of me that is a photographer was shaped in part by Trevor. That means he’s part of me, and he lives on in the photos I take and share. When Trevor asked me to help reboot PhotoChallenge in 2012, I didn’t hesitate. I found great joy in participating, and like Trevor, wanted to share that with others.

Photochallenge was only a small part of Trevor’s life, but it’s the part that I know. I saw glimpses of the rest of his life through social media. What I saw there was a man devoted to his faith and his family. What I saw there was something I respect and admire. Thank you, Trevor, you will continue to inspire me and challenge me.

—  Gary Hegenbart


So, on to the challenge: People We Love.

“Mom & Dad” by Jeremy Brooks

This week, we would like to challenge you to make a portrait of someone you care about. It could be a family member or a friend. Take a few minutes to think about the people in your life. Do you have someone you are close to, but have not made a portrait of? Now is the time to change that!

“Litre Lunch” by Jeremy Brooks

This challenge is less about technical perfection or technique. This challenge is about getting in the habit of making photos of people you love before it is too late. We would like to think that this challenge would make Trevor smile, and then go out and point his camera at his kids and his many friends.

“The Bride” by Jeremy Brooks


Trevor and I had so many differences in our cultural upbringing and our beliefs, but Law Enforcement and photography brought us together. Our differences were shared with one another with great respect and propelled us into entertaining debates and amazing adventures. The Trevor I knew was just, fair, kindhearted and generous. An intelligent individual with an amazing curiosity for the unknown, constantly evolving and learning. He stood true to his conviction and showed empathy for those in need. Even when thousands of miles separated each other, we never stopped learning from one another. I truly miss you Trevor…

—  Steve Troletti


I first met Trevor when I joined this challenge a few years ago. While I wasn’t fortunate enough to get to know him in person, I’m forever grateful for the PhotoChallenge group that he started. I’m truly amazed that he was able to bring together such a great group of people, from all around the globe, connected by a love of photography. In addition to the fantastic photos created week after week, I love the great camaraderie and warmth of the group. None of this would have happened were it not for Trevor.

— Eric Minbiole


I didn’t know Trevor very well since I joined the Photochallenge after he had gotten sick, but I will always be grateful to him for starting the Photochallenge. The challenge (and by extension Trevor) came into my life when I was desperately seeking something to light my creative spark. I appreciate that he set a tone of exploration and learning for the challenge – something I will do my best to continue in his memory going forward. You’ll be missed Trevor!

— Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero



Our friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge and #photochallenge2017
  • 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 2017 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.




This week’s challenge is to get outside and do some sports photography. Sports photography is the part of photojournalism that’s typically concerned with getting photos of sports – football, cricket, rugby, that kind of thing.

The first kind of sports photo (and the one I’m pushing as what you should be after in this challenge) is the action shot. This should ideally tell some sort of story about what’s happening in the match. For instance, in the running photo, it appears that the runner is racing some motorbikes – this is interesting. The first football photo shows a diving header getting past the keeper to score a goal. If it wasn’t a goal it would still be an interesting photograph, but it would lose some gravitas as a result. The second is showing a defender just screaming his head off as he flies in towards an attacker. In this game, the yellow team got very aggressive and physical, and this photo encapsulates that perfectly.
With this kind of photograph, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, you should have a relevant face in the photo. Sports photos lose a lot of impact when there’s no easily identifiable person. Second, if you’re shooting a sport with a ball (or some other equipment), the ball should be in the photo.

Racing motorbikes. Photo © Michael Welsh (Dr yomcat shoots)


Andy Bevin heads home for Miramar.


Kevin Maitran shows the AS Magenta tactic as the game wore on.

The second kind of sports photo is the celebration shot. After a goal has been scored, or a penalty saved, or the game won, players often react exuberantly. I’ve included a couple of examples of this kind of shot. With good positioning (say near the bench), these kind of photos are some that are possible without decent gear.



The third kind of sports photo is the reaction shot. This is much like the celebration shot, but it often a negative reaction. The first one shows a striker reflecting after missing an open goal. The second shows the player in orange asking for a penalty after an alleged foul on #16, and the ref saying no.


Mikaela Boxall reacts after missing an open goal.


Referee Sean Coon does not give a penalty, despite Briar Palmer’s appeal.

There are many other kinds of sports photos – panning, portraits, and a whole lot of funny faces for starters, but these three should give you an idea.

On the technical side, I set the camera to use back-button auto-focus with only the centre focus point, AI Servo mode, shoot in high-speed mode, use Tv mode (with Auto ISO) to set the shutter speed upwards from 1/1000 sec (whatever you need to get the lens wide open).
I use long lenses (a 70-200 and 400), but it is still possible to get decent sports photos with a wide lens, you just need to get closer and wait for the action.

In terms of post production, I shoot JPG (I shoot about 1400 frames a match), and all I do is crop (actually a fair bit as I shoot wider than needed) and straighten, with maybe a little sharpening thrown in for good measure.

So, your challenge this week:
* Shoot a sports photo, preferably an action shot.
* Add a little caption explaining the photo. This is a photojournalism challenge, after all.

Michael “Dr yomcat” Welsh is a hobbyist photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand, with a particular interest in shooting football. You can check out his photos on Facebook (facebook.com/yomcatshoots) or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/dr_yomcat/).


2017 Photochallenge, week 23: Once upon a time…

Fairy tales are among the oldest stories we tell each other, and they offer a host of opportunities for us photographers. Enchanted forests full of strange creatures, hidden witch cottages, splendid castles that are inhabited by kings and queens…this week’s challenge is about the (re)creating the magic of fairy tales!

Little Red Riding Hood – Andre Heidemann

Some practical guidelines

  • Take one photo
  • In color or black & white
  • That depicts a scene from a fairy tale
  • Use post-processing to give your image a touch of magic
  • For those who like to play around with photoshop: this is your chance to add the occasional fairy, goblin or dragon. Image manipulation is encouraged!
  • When you post your image, please write a few lines, mentioning which fairy tale inspired your image, and anything else you’d like to share.

In the first part of this challenge, we’ll look at possible topics and how to find a suitable topic when you’re short on time. In the second part, I’ll explain a bit about techniques that can help you to create a magical atmosphere in your images.

Cinderella – Laura Zalenga


So…what exactly shoud I shoot?

This can be anything, as long as it relates to a fairy tale, legend, folk tale or myth: go outside looking for that perfect woods where you might just bump into seven dwarfs or Granny’s cottage. Or create a still life of the moments just after Snow White took a bite of the poisoned apple. And if you’re lucky to have children around, why not dress them up, and let them re-enact a scene from the Pied Piper!

Follow the pied piper – GraphicNovelleLife


Here’s some suggested approaches:

A fairy tale landscape: our folk tales are full of enchanted forests, castles and ruins, yellow brick roads and bread crumb trails. A fairly easy way to do this challenge is to go out and look for fairy tale scenes in nature. In this case, the golden hour at the end of the day is your friend; it gives your images a natural magic touch. Also, look for interplay of light and dark: a sun beam breaking through a dense canopy of leaves, or the fog rolling in: it all adds to the fairy-like quality of your image.

Lake Bled – Ales Krivec


Enchanted forrest – Maaike Groenewege

People or objects from a fairy tale: rather than focussing on the scenery, you could also select one of the main characters as your subject. And with so many symbolism, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find some objects for a still life: apples, glass shoes, a mirror or a queen of hearts…your imagination is the only limit. And don’t forget the animals! Horses, deer, Cheshire cats , toads, and even dragons and unicorns if you’re into photoshopping.

Pinocchio – Tommy Liddell
Poisoned apple – Ashley3216

A complete fairy tale scene: this is going to take some planning upfront, because you need to go location scouting, arrange your models and their costumes, and might require quite some time to get everything just right. But if you manage to shoot an entire fairy tale scene, the results can be amazing! For those of you that like to edit and manipulate your images: feel free to re-create a fairy tale in Photoshop or any other editor-of-choice.

No Seat for You – Yamihoshi123

Some techniques (and a secret weapon) for making your images magical

Although post-processing should, in my view, never substitute careful composition, exposure and shutter speed, in this case, it can really help you to achieve that magical touch that we associate with fairy tales. Take this example of a eucalyptus forest in La Gomera. The fog and the criss-crossed trees already give this image a bit of a haunted atmosphere.

La Gomera original – Maaike Groenewege


After post-processing, it looks like this:

Into the Woods – Maaike Groenewege

I used a very basic free editor called Snapseed. It’s available for both Android and iOS. If you work on a desktop or laptop, https://pixlr.com/express/ has some basic layering and editing functionality that gives you the same functionality.

What I did:

  • Cropping: I want the focus to be on the path of leaves, and wanted to get rid of most of the trunk in the front.
  • Apply vignetting: to emphasize the path, I applied a dark vignette. This makes the outer corners of the image darker, and the center brighter.
  • Dodge and burn: although these terms sound very technical, they’re really just about subtly darkening and lightening specific areas in you image. In this case, I burnt the path to make it light up, and dodged some of the light areas between the trees to make them less distracting. Also, I burnt some of the spaces between the trees, to make them stand out more.
  • And the secret weapon: Glamour Glow! This is a Snapseed-specific tool that basically adjusts the color temperature, softens the image and cranks up the saturation. The result: instant dreaminess!

Take it one step further: layering

If you feel you can take on some more this week, why not try your hand at layering. With layers, you can apply various effects to your pictures, like texture, gradual filters, and all kinds of great color effects. My favorite layering app by far is Stackables, but there’s plenty of comparable apps and software around. To give an impression of what layering can do:

Scotland Castle – Maaike Groenewege
Rapunzel’s tower – Maake Groenewege


And for the die-hards: full blown image manipulation

I can imagine that it’s not that easy to find a fairy or seven dwarfs that have enough spare time to model for your shoot. Lucky for us, there’s many people who like to dress up and make their images available as free stock photos on sites like www.deviantart.com. They even make sure that the background of their image is very even, so that you can easily get rid of it when you merge two pictures.


With apps like Union or Photoshop Mix, you can add these to your existing images really, really easily: you simply select a background picture (in this case the toadstool), the foreground image (the fairy girl), and the app lets you cut away the parts you don’t need, scale the fairy so that she fits on top, et voila!

Thumbelina – Maaike Groenewege

Have fun shooting!












The challenge this week is to capture a silhouette in the camera. In silhouettes, the subject is black with little to no detail and the rest of the photo is normally exposed. (This is almost the exact opposite of our previous low key photo challenge where the subject was dramatically lit and the background was mostly dark.) Because the subject has no detail in a silhouette photo, it’s important that the subject itself be recognizable and maybe even tell a story.

Rocky Mountain Dawn
Rocky Mountain Dawn by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

The trick to getting a good silhouette is that the subject needs to be backlit (with the front in shadow) and the background needs to be lighter than the subject. You’ve probably run into this situation when trying to take photos of a tree or a bird against a cloudy sky. Often times the sky turns out light gray or even white and the subject remains black with almost no detail. This week we are trying to achieve this effect on purpose! If you have a nice sunrise or sunset, that can add some beautiful color to your silhouette photo.

Blackbird Silhouette
Blackbird Silhouette by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

City skylines, interesting architecture, amusement parks, trees, etc. can all be great subjects silhouetted against the sky. If you don’t have a beautiful sky to work with, you can create dramatic black and white silhouette photos instead. If you are taking photos outside with human subjects, I recommend that you find a good composition first and then place your subject in the frame. Positioning the camera low to the ground (or your subject(s) up on a hill or on a wall or table) will ensure that your subject doesn’t have a horizon line running through them in the resulting photo.

Untitled by Khánh Hmoong

In addition to using the sky as your background, you can use sunlight reflected on water. Notice that the children in the following photo are below the horizon line and silhouetted against the water. You could also use boats, birds, docks, bridges, etc. as subjects silhouetted against water.

... silhouettes
… silhouettes by Carlo Scherer

Street photography is another possibility. The trick here is that you need to find a wall that is in bright light while the subject is in shade in order to capture a silhouette in the camera.

[ broken symmetry ]
[ broken symmetry ] by Riccardo Romano
If you aren’t able to get outside this week, think about composing a silhouette photo in a window or open doorway. Remember the exposure issues in our Windows Looking Out photochallenge earlier this year? Use that to your advantage this week! Expose for the outside light and anything on the inside will fall into deep shadow (as long as the subject doesn’t have any inside light shining on it.)

Waiting at the window
Waiting at the window by Lovro67

How do you know when you’ve captured a well-exposed silhouette photo? The histogram! For silhouettes you want the black clipping, i.e. stacked up against the left side of the histogram. Unlike low key photos though, it is your subject that is being clipped and the rest of the image can fall anywhere in the full range of the histogram. Even though the histogram shapes of the example photos are widely different, there are two things in common to note among the histograms:

  • they are all stacked against the left side which indicates a nice black silhouette with little to no detail, and
  • they extend the full range of the histogram indicating good contrast and exposure.


This week’s challenge:

  • Capture a silhouette photo in the camera. This means finding or creating the correct lighting conditions with the light behind the subject. (You do NOT need to shoot directly into the sun, but if you do please protect your eyes!)
  • You can tweak the exposure in post-processing (in fact, you pretty much have to if you shoot RAW), but I want you to focus on capturing the correct exposure in the camera which means the histogram should be stacked up against the left side and extend across the entire range of the histogram for good contrast.
  • Please post the histogram in the comments under your photo. They will be wide ranging this week and it will give us practice “seeing” what they tell us.

For more information on how to take silhouette photos, I found the following links helpful:

How to Photograph Silhouettes in 8 Easy Steps
14 Tips for Shooting Stunning Silhouettes
Silhouette Photo Tutorial: 7 Tips for Success (video – outdoor silhouette portraits using an iPhone)
“5 Tips for Amazing Silhouettes” with Erika Thornes (video – outdoor silhouette portraits)
One Light Silhouette: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey (video – indoor studio setup and process)

Our friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge and #photochallenge2017
  • 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 2017 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 21: Leading Lines

This week, we’ll focus on a classic composition technique: Leading Lines. Using leading lines is a fantastic way to help highlight the subject of your photo, and help direct the viewer to the areas of the photo that you think are most interesting or important.

launchpad_smjsc2007e050763 – NASA/Bill Ingalls

In the image above, the railroad tracks lead towards a launch pad, used for the International Space Station. What I love most about this photo is that the launch pad comprises a very small portion of the overall picture– it’s just a tiny bit in the background. However, the train tracks pull your eyes into the photo, and lead them directly towards the subject. Without the leading lines, you might not even notice the launch pad.

Leading lines can also add additional interest to a photo:

dock_smLeading Lines – Eadie Minbiole

Just like with the train tracks in the first photo, the railings on the dock help lead you to the subject of the photo. In addition, the leading lines add additional interest to the photo: Had this just been a pic of someone standing in the middle of the frame, it might not have been particularly interesting. However, the leading lines of the railings not only help lead the viewer to the subject, they also provide great framing for the subject. (Remember Week 10!) As such, the leading lines help provide a much more interesting, memorable photo.

Naturally, the leading lines don’t need to be straight lines; They can be curved, wavy, or more abstract.

stairs_smBelleveue Staircase – Eric Minbiole

In the sample above, the curved handrail leads towards the desk in the bottom center. (Perhaps not the best example, as the desk itself isn’t terribly interesting; the photo might have been better had there been someone sitting at the desk.)

manhattan_smLeading to Manhattan – ashokboghani

For this week’s challenge, I want everyone to take a photo that features leading lines. Ideally, your leading lines lead the viewer towards a prominent or interesting part of the photo. As above, the lines can be obvious, subtle, straight, curved, landscape, or macro– it’s all up to you, and what you find interesting. As always, be as creative as you like!

As with all my challenges, I’m happy to help offer any assistance or suggestions– feel free to ask. Get your camera, and have fun!

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge and #photochallenge2017
  • 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 2017 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

2017 Photochallenge, week 20: Stack’Em Up – Traffic Pile-up

We’ve all seen startrails, they’re basically a series of semi-long exposures of the stars assembled into one image. The technique used is stacking. By stacking multiple images together, the differences in each image appear as one. For a long time stacking was the work of expensive editing software. I personally call that a composite image although some purists will argue. It’s quite obvious that we aren’t going to be making star trails with a title like “Traffic Pile-up”. However the technique is very similar to our week 52 challenge from December 2016. We’re just going to be presenting it in an incremental video instead of a single image.

The little video above is what I’m talking about, we’re going to be stacking traffic, although I used cars, the stereotypical definition of traffic pile-ups, you have creative freedom over the definition, allowing you to add your own personal touch to this process.

What I did is fairly simple : 

  • I setup my camera (RICOH THETA S) to do interval shooting of one picture every 10 seconds for 10 minutes.
  • I stacked the first six images representing the first minute.
  • I then added 6 more images that represent one additional minute of stacking.
  • I continued adding increments of 6 images until I reached the total shooting time of ten minutes, producing ten images where traffic incrementally piled-up.
  • I put together my ten images in a short video in the style of a time lapse.

I did this quickly in photoshop, but I wanted to bring this to the 2017 PhotChallenge in a way that everyone can participate on a budget whether you’re using state of the art camera gear or your smartphone camera.

I found a little piece of freeware designed for startrails that works on MAC, PC and Linux. It’s called StarStax and it does a wonderful job of stacking JPEG images into a single composite image. Here’s the link : http://www.markus-enzweiler.de/StarStaX/StarStaX.html#download

There’s even a Flickr group to inspire you : https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephaniesaccoccio/31637339573/in/pool-starstax/


To complete your challenge:

  • Remember it has to be a TRAFFIC PILE-UP or a reasonable interpretation of…
  • You final submission will be in the form of a time-lapse illustrating the gradual pile-up through composite images.
  • You do not have to follow my timing, however it is an easy formula to follow.


The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge and #photochallenge2017
  • 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 2017 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

2017 Photochallenge, week 19: Throwback Challenge

For those of you still working on your panning time lapse you’ll be able to post throughout this week as well.

For this special edition throwback challenge, I’m taking you back to a 2009 Challenge, Day 364: NOODLES

Remember in the old days of the photochallenge, we only had a day to shoot. Since we have an entire week, we have plenty of time to plan our shoot and use all the exposure, framing and other photography techniques we’ve covered so far this year.

Don’t be afraid to play with spherical images, animated GIFs or even a creative noodle time lapse. It’s all about taking this 8-year-old challenge and pushing the limits of creativity.


Today is Wednesday, December 30, 2009. Today’s theme for the 2009 Challenge is NOODLES.

Spaghetti by monteregina
“Spaghetti” by monteregina

What kind of noodles do you like? Macaroni and cheese? Spaghetti? Chow mein or chow fun? Or maybe some delicious Vietnamese noodle soup? Let’s see your favorite noodle in your shot for the day!

Fried Egg on Instant Noodles by su-lin
“Fried Egg on Instant Noodles” by su-lin

Once you’re ready to submit your work to Flickr, you’ve got to do two important things. First, make sure you tag your photos correctly; “2009challenge″ and “2009challenge364“. Also, if you haven’t already, join the PhotoChallenge group on Flickr. Then, submit each day’s photo to the group’s pool.

zucchini noodles by massdistraction
“zucchini noodles” by massdistraction



The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge and #photochallenge2017
  • 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 2017 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.