2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 30: Wheel of Photography ;-)

Trying to make everyone happy while creating a PhotoChallenge is a hard thing. Fortunately for me, I found a new approach that will make life much easier by potentially making you all responsible for your own PhotoChallenge themes. It may not make you HAPPY, it may make you MISERABLE, but lady luck will be the one to decide 🙂

Here’s what I did, I’ve created TWO WHEELS for you to spin. WHEEL #1 contains 15 Photography Genres, including a WILD CARD. The WILD CARD gives you full freedom to choose a photography genre, but it must include an element spun in WHEEL #2. If for some reason you truly cannot complete the Challenge as spun, you get to spin a second time. Please be honest and challenge yourself by following the WHEEL’S making of your faith.

Once you’ve spun the first wheel, you will know what Photography Genre you will be applying to your PhotoChallenge. You then have to spin WHEEL #2 to figure out what element must be present in your image. This means you’re not getting through this challenge the easy way.

As an example I spun LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY on wheel #1 as a genre and STRAIGHT LINE on wheel #2 as an element of my image. Therefore I need to create a landscape image that contains a straight line. The image below would illustrate a LANDSCAPE with a STRAIGHT LINE at the horizon at the base of the trees.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: NATURE & LANDSCAPES &emdash;
Everyone will end up with a different challenge. The hard part comes in where you have to Challenge Yourself. Seek out the perfect subject, wait for the best light or create it while applying the best composition you can.

So you’re probably wondering where to spin the wheels. Due security limitations on WordPress I’m hosting the wheels on my site. Just click on the wheel below and you will be redirected to the following URL: http://www.trolettiphoto.com/the-photochallenge-wheel-of-fortune

To complete your challenge you will have to create an IMAGE containing the genre from WHEEL #1 you spun and an element within the image from WHEEL #2.

When posting your image please share with us the results of your WHEEL SPIN. You will have entire creative freedom in interpreting your PhotoChallenge.


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 29: Abstract Images in Nature

Wikipedia describes Abstract Photography as follows: Abstract photography, sometimes called non-objective, experimental, conceptual or concrete photography, is a means of depicting a visual image that does not have an immediate association with the object world and that has been created through the use of photographic equipment, processes or materials. An abstract photograph may isolate a fragment of a natural scene in order to remove its inherent context from the viewer, it may be purposely staged to create a seemingly unreal appearance from real objects, or it may involve the use of color, light, shadow, texture, shape and/or form to convey a feeling, sensation or impression. The image may be produced using traditional photographic equipment like a camera, darkroom or computer, or it may be created without using a camera by directly manipulating film, paper or other photographic media, including digital presentations.

This week we’ll concentrate on obtaining our Abstract Photography subjects in nature. If you watch enough nature based documentaries, you’ll quickly realize that man hasn’t really invented all that much, we often mimic what’s found in nature and then improve upon it…

There are no real clear rules and definitions for abstract photography, but there are some guidelines that will help us maximize our potential as we seek out the perfect abstract from nature.

Standing Trees

Like in any image, lines are the core foundation of our photographic imagery. The most obvious would be straight lines as in these vertical lines created by these dense bare trees. Although these are repetitive and vertical, they can be horizontal and even more powerful, diagonal. They can also be curved and they can even intersect each other.

Green nature abstract

Defined shapes are known to bring out an emotional feeling from your image. Squares, triangles and circles are the most obvious but spirals are also an acceptable shape that brings out a sense of energy from natural life cycle.

forms in nature

Texture is also a great component of abstract photography in nature. The most common source of texture in nature is by far the bark of a tree.


Our shapes can easily turn into patterns revealing some of nature’s most intricate secrets. The core of a flower in a close-up can be magical. We’re also adding amazing and striking colors while creating abstracts from flowers.

43|365 Caleidoscope.

Spider webs are also a great example of shapes and lines creating a pattern. There are thousands of varieties of spiders and thus thousands of intricate web designs. Some have subtle differences from one to the other while many others are just a miracle of creation.

I could look at this spiders web all day. It's almost hypnotic. #nature #foggylondon #morning #autumn #autumn_london #spidersweb #spider #macro #closeup #london @london #londonpop #londoners #londonlife #londontown #london_only #london_only_members #igers

Long exposures with the camera remaining still or adding in some camera movement are just a few simple more ways to extract abstract images from nature.

Secret Falls | NorCal

This waterfall is a good example of using a long exposure to create an abstract looking image. The closer you get into the subject, the more abstract the look when using the right composition.

la foresta blu

Taking advantage of vertical, horizontal or even a little twist will completely change your scene bringing your abstracts to a new level. Some argue that it’s not a true abstract if you can recognize the subject in abstract photography. This is very common with nature abstracts and with this technique you’re one step closer to making it unrecognizable.

Spine 3

This Cactus abstract gives us lines, shapes and patterns to create a wonderful Nature Abstract Image.

Tips and Tricks

  • You don’t have to look too far, most of what you’ll need is probably right at your fingertips or within arms reach. Being a nature theme, we’ll keep man-made objects out of the picture but plants and flowers of horticulture origin are OK. Being Nature, I expect everything to be done outdoors in a nature or an urban nature setting.
  • Use a tripod. The closer you get, the narrower your depth of field. A tripod will keep things stable as you photograph with less light due to increased depth of field. Set your aperture to maximize your depth of field and keep your subject in sharp focus throughout the image. Try and photograph dead on to keep most of your subject at an even distance from the lens.
  • Play with light and shadows. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of backlighting on subjects such as flowers, leaves or anything with a certain level of translucency. Use a flash, even better off camera flash or lighting to enhance contrasts and add definition to textures.
  • Experimenting with different angles, camera tilts and movement will contribute to your image. Thinking out of the box will be your friend.
  • Remember to integrate all the great techniques and basic photography skills to create well-balanced image as far as composition and exposure.


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 28: Unusual Perspectives

This week’s challenge is to photograph something from a unique, fun, or interesting perspective. The goal is to take an otherwise normal subject, and photograph it in an unusual way, helping make your photos much more interesting and memorable. This week’s challenge isn’t about technical rules or requirements; instead, it’s purely about being creative, and having fun with your composition.

Here are a few examples of photographs with interesting, unusual perspectives:

portrait_smChin-Up – Josh Puetz

baby_smWaking up – fensterbme

Portraits are normally taken at eye level. Instead, the above two portraits show the subject from directly below or directly above, making them much more interesting and memorable.

Macro shots are also a great way to show unusual perspectives:

dill_smSunny Dill – Susan Roy Nelson

This is a tiny dill stalk, shot from below. I love this shot, as it shows us what the world might look like to a small bug, walking in the grass. This is a view that we never get to experience in real life, making for a great, memorable photo.

You can also experiment with size, making big things look small, or small things look big:

tiny_planet_smTiny Planet – Eric Minbiole

spider_smJumping Spider – Eric Minbiole

The first shot, from a previous “Tiny Planet” challenge, makes an entire planet look small. Conversely, the second photo allows us to see eye to eye with a tiny spider that would normally be too small to see.

As before, this week is all about finding fun and creative ways to photograph your subject. The subject itself can be very ordinary, but the way that it’s photographed should be extraodinary and memorable. Get your camera, be creative, and enjoy!


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 27: High Key

This week’s challenge is to capture a high key photo. Technically “high key” means that the majority of the tonal range of the image is in the light tones. Please note that high key is not simply an over-exposed image! Just as with low key images, it takes some thought and planning to capture an effective high key image. For this challenge, I want you to set up and capture a high key image in your camera, not create one from a “normal” photo in post-processing.

Great Blue Herons - High Key “Great Blue Herons – High Key” by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

High key photography is all about the lighting. It’s challenging because it requires you to overexpose the background while keeping the subject properly exposed. Interestingly, the lighting is somewhat similar to that of silhouette photos: the background needs to be much brighter than the subject. The goal is to open up (i.e. lighten) the shadow tones of the subject without blowing out the highlight detail AND have a white background behind the subject. While you might be tempted to use a subject that is white or light colored to create your high key photo, you will find it easier to capture a white background if your subject is darker.

If you have a drab cloudy sky or fog or even snow, you may be able to capture a high key wildlife image. Have you ever tried taking a photo of a bird against a cloudy sky? If your camera is set to Auto, it usually turns the bird into a silhouette, right? But if you up the exposure compensation by 2-3 stops, you will find that the sky turns pure white and the bird looks properly exposed. A similar thing happens in snow or fog. So if you are lucky enough to have inclement weather this week, it might be the ideal time to try a high key wildlife shot.

Dice “Dice” by Eric Minbiole

High key photos have an upbeat, happy feel to them. That’s why you often see them in product and stock photography. In fact, take a look at all of the product photos on Amazon – they are all “high key” photos! If you sell things online, this is a really good skill to have in your photographic toolkit.

Anne-Charlotte - High Key “Anne-Charlotte – High Key” by Antoine Robiez

High key portraits are also extremely popular. Most high key portraits are created in a studio with 4-5 light sources – two are used to light the background and 2-3 are used to light the subject. However, it is entirely possible to create a high key portrait using natural light. You can either have your subject in the shade with the background in full sun or you can position your subject with the sun behind them. Check out the links below for more details if you want to try this.

Wheat field “Wheat field” by Sarah Horrigan

High key landscape photos can be tough to find and capture in the camera, but they are very effective when you do. Again if you have snow or fog or overcast skies in your weather forecast this week, you might get lucky. This is probably the most difficult subject for the challenge this week because it is so dependent on the right lighting conditions. Remember, I don’t want you creating a high key effect in post processing – I want you to capture it in the camera as best you can.

Of course no exposure related challenge would be complete without taking a look at the histograms of high key photos. Notice how they are all heavily weighted to the right? In fact, a couple of them are stacked up against the right side. This indicates that the highlights are blown-out, which is exactly what we want in this case because it ensures that our background is pure white. (Note that landscape photos with no obvious distinction between subject and background won’t have blown-out highlights but the majority of the histogram still in the right half of the tonal range.)


Another thing to notice is that all of these histograms extend pretty far to the left. That shows that the images have high contrast. (Not all high key images are high contrast, but a large percentage are.) Thus, you can use the histogram on your camera to tell you whether you’ve captured a high key image. You might also find it useful to turn on “highlight alerts” in your camera’s menu if you have that option. This will tell you when you have successfully blown-out the background, but will also warn you if you’ve gone too far and have blown-out the highlight detail of your the subject as well.

This week’s challenge:

  • Capture a high key photo in the camera.
  • Do not simply over-expose a normal scene and call it high key. I want you to find or create the lighting necessary to capture a well-exposed, high key image in the camera.
  • 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 mostly in the right half of the histogram and likely even stacked up against the right side.
  • Please post the histogram in the comments under your photo.

For more information on how to take high key photos, I found the following links particularly helpful while doing research for this challenge:

How High Key Photography Works: 3 Must Know Tips
Understanding Histograms – Low-Key And High-Key Images
High-Key Nature Photography
High Key, Low Key
4 Tips for a Perfect White Background in High Key Photography (including a video that explains how to position lights for portraits in a studio setting)

If you want to try taking high key portraits in natural light, I found the following two videos helpful:

Natural light photography tips – High key portraits under a tree canopy
Outdoor GOLDEN HOUR Portrait Photography Tips – Using Natural Light

Don’t worry if you don’t have any studio lights or flash units. I did a little experimenting in front of a window and came up with a setup that should work for anyone with a small subject such as a product, figurine or flower. (You could even use this setup for a portrait if you used a larger piece of fabric.) I taped some white fabric (it would be better to press the wrinkles out or you could also use white paper) to a window with the sun shining through and placed my subject (a silk flower) in front of it. The sun made the white fabric very bright and in turn, the fabric acted as a shade for the flower so that it was much darker than the fabric behind it – the perfect setup to blow-out the background! I also used a reflector to bounce some light onto the front of the flower to fill in the dark shadows. (You could use another piece of white paper or cardstock instead of a reflector.)

I’ve included a photo of my setup below along with the resulting high key photo of a silk rose. I was very happy to discover that it required almost no post-processing, so this setup should work for just about everyone assuming you have sun – and if you don’t, then use the cloudy sky as your background. It should produce a similar result.


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 26 – Shooting through glass and other barriers

Shooting through textured glass or plastic is nothing new. In fact I found articles and archives dating back to 1956 and I’m sure they hadn’t invented anything new. Google Books has a 1992 article online from Popular Photography.


In fact Photoshop type techniques have been used in the darkroom to expose images on paper through a piece of translucent material. However we’re going to focus on using a textured filter in front of the lens for this challenge. So NO Post Processing Textures. However you can use focus stacking to create a single image from multiple images. Example take one image soft-focused on your texture and one focused through the texture onto your subject. For simplicity purposes most of us will probably be shooting through a translucent or transparent object.

As I was creating this PhotoChallenge in my head a few weeks ago, I started playing with different ideas. The above image on the left was taken in my office at the cottage through bubble wrap. The second one on the right is a little different as I’m using a textured fence for my illusion. These were just tests and instead of only shooting through textured plastic or glass I wanted to expand the reach of this challenge to encompass a wide range of creative endeavors.

Technically the trick is to photograph a scene, object, portrait, landscape, etc. through glass or plastic or some other texture to create an artistic and interesting effect to an otherwise normal-looking image. The above example is a great baseline illustrating what we’re looking to accomplish.


You can also use your translucent object as part of the composition itself revealing some magic in your image.


  • I would use a tripod to hold the camera and make things easier to manage
  • You may also need an assistant to help you hold things in place
  • Gaffer tape can be good, it’s easily removed without leaving glue behind. I use it but I also use duct-tape and electrical tape.
  • A reflector or sunshade to keep the light from hitting your DIY filter. (Optional but can be useful in some cases.)
  • Look around the house for plastic, glass, prisms, crystals and/or anything you can take a picture through. (be careful with sharp glass, use tape to protect the edges)


Claire Lane Photography – 2013 CM Blog Circle {April} Shooting through glass

PetaPixel – Using a Prism for Creative Photo Effects

Raindrops shoot

Naturally there’s always the quintessential raindrops on the glass….


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 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/).