2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 7: Minimalsim – Monotone Landscape

Howdy y’all! Many of you don’t know me, and I think that’s kinda cool. If you check out my Author page, you can read up on how this all came to be, back when I started PhotoChallenge.org. It’s a fun story that pivots off my own love affair with photography.

If you head over and read up, don’t forget to return here, to actually read about my first challenge for 2017.

This year I’m going to use the mega theme of Minimalism. Each time it’s my turn to challenge you, I’ll give you a more detailed sub-theme to focus on, pun intended.

I’ll start with a simple definition of Minimalism, as it pertains to art and photography. I’ve begun to accept that photography is not as much of an art form but a craft that we must practice, expand our skill set, and work towards, if we seek to achieve an improvement on our product. The end result has the potential to be art, but we must become students of the craft, growing and changing in order to become master craftsmen and craftswomen. ūüôā

The British Dictionary defines

Minimalism

Design or style in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect.

I found several articles that help us get some additional clarity on the use of minimalism, with in the larger context of the art community. Rather than regurgitate that good information, please read them separately, to increase your understanding.

You may notice an overarching idea, the lack of personal expression. I take this to the next level, and encourage you to remove even the documentarian nature of photography. There will always be an inclination to be “documenting” something with your photography, you cannot effectively remove it completely. Photo journalism is the epitome of this, and I cherish photography’s contribution in that capacity. But for the sake of this challenge, we’ll be looking to harness a different approach. That’s the traditional artist’s approach to Minimalism. Yet, as you keep reading, you’ll notice a call to personal creativity, taking one more step from traditional art, into our world, the world of photography. Keep in mind that I may refer back to this introductory post on Minimalism, for future sub-themes, to keep us focused…

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This week’s sub-theme is Monotone Landscapes. What the heck is that? The landscape part is easy. Get outside. Shoot wide. Use a tripod. Use a smaller aperture, to capture depth in your scene, like over f/8 at least.

What about Monotone? Well, start thinking black and white, but then take a creative step back and think, single tone. So any single tone, and white…sorta. I think I’m making it more confusing. Just look at the sample images I’m including, you’ll have your answer.

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Summer Haze, by Grant MacDonald
Now, quit this idea of planning one time to go out and shoot, and shoot all dadgum week! As our rules encourage you below, Don’t leave home without your camera. I know many of you use your smartphone as your camera for these challenges. THat’s fine, but only shooting one image to process and submit isn’t going to cut it anymore. My challenges will be quite simple all year long, but that does’t mean I’m going to settle for you not doing your darnedest to create the best possible submission you can. It’s time to step up your game!

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Dune, by Nat Wilson
Now don’t get scared off. We are all working at different levels. The whole point of PhotoChallenge.org is that we push each other to do better. The Facebook group especially has grown tremendously in our collective ability to give and take creative criticism. Be ready to be pushed. Push each other. Be willing to take advice, and maybe even reprocess an image and submit it again within the comments of your submission on Facebook, to show you are learning.

Now go make yourself something beautiful!

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Treescape, by Ray Wewerka 
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‚Äôs image.
  • Don‚Äôt leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.
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2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 47: PORTRAITS – GROUP

With the holidays coming up many of us will be taking group photos of family and friends. Some will  be formal, others will be informal. This week for the challenge you get to practice taking group portraits. For those in the United States, the Thanksgiving holiday provides a perfect opportunity to grab a shot for this challenge.
group//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

For this challenge a group is at least two people, aside from that the size and setting are up to you. Just make sure it is a portrait, not just a picture of a group of people. In a portrait the people pose for the shot, so make sure your group knows you are taking their photo. The shot below is informal, but still a portrait. It came from the US National Archives. It was taken on the street, but the group of kids posed specifically for the shot.

Minority Youngsters Who Gathered To Have Their Picture Taken On Chicago's South Side During A Community Talent Show, 08/1973//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

You can also go with a more traditional portrait.
Javan Family Portrait 321//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Wallace Family Portraits 2009 (10 of 10)//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

You can also mix in other portrait themes we’ve had this year, like environmental or portraits in nature.
Scott's Run, West Virginia. Johnson family - father unemployed, March 1937//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Gather some friends and family for the shot, and enjoy the company as you work. When you’re done you may end up with a great photo you can give as a gift to those in the shot.

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 #photochallenge2016.
  • The shot should be a¬†new shot you took¬†for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else‚Äôs image.
  • The posted image should not be a Video.
  • Don‚Äôt leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 45: B&W ‚Äď TYPEFACE

When we look at words we don’t usually think about the use of typeface. We generally focus on the meaning the words are trying to convey. Whether it’s printed on a page, displayed on a screen, or on a sign the meaning of the words typically holds the most value. For visual designers the style of the words is as important as the words themselves. The visual message conveys as much meaning as the literal text. The challenge this week is to shoot examples of typefaces in signs or other public displays.¬†The key to this challenge is public use of typeface, so books, magazines and other materials around the house shouldn’t be used. You’ll need to get out in public to shoot this challenge.
Drake's Dealership//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Typeface is a particular design of type – most often we think of this as the font. Many signs use a combination unique fonts. This challenge is similar to the sign challenge we had last year, but this challenge specifically deals with typeface. By using black and white, the shape of the typeface becomes more important since there are no colors to make the words stands out. Words on signs that stand out in color may not stand out is black and white.

zone 30//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

You do have to be limited to signs. You can shoot any typeface in public. Graffiti is fine as long as it isn’t handwritten.
NYC #5//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Motel Trailer Park, Plate 2//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Just Married, Plate 2//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Love...//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Like many of the black and white challenges, shape and contrast will be the key to this challenge. Look for something unique and think about the choices the designer made when creating the sign.

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.org or #photochallenge2016.
  • The shot should be a¬†new shot you took¬†for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else‚Äôs image.
  • The posted image should be an Animated GIF or a Video.
  • Don‚Äôt leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 41: B&W ‚Äď WEALTH

Money makes the world go ’round. Well, that’s a matter of perspective, but there’s no doubt that wealth and money are woven into the fabric of society and influence our culture. That influence can be¬†positive – we’ve seen many wealthy people donate huge sums of money to help others¬†–¬†or the influence of money can¬†expose the worst of humanity,¬†we don’t have to look much farther than the current US election cycle to see that. The challenge this week is to capture your interpretation of Wealth in black and white.

The interpretation of “wealth” is up to you, and it doesn’t have to be something dealing with money. It’s a wide open theme, just shoot it in black and white.

Austin Healey 3000MkIII//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

So Cannes #9 - Like master, like dog...//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Pawn Shop//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

The Gucci Store//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

millionaires//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Mansion in Mississauga//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

 

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.org or #photochallenge2016.
  • The shot should be a¬†new shot you took¬†for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else‚Äôs image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don‚Äôt leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 37: B&W ‚Äď SHAPE

One of the key elements of black and white photography is SHAPE. Using shapes effectively leads to strong compositions that draw in the eye of the viewer. Our world is filled with shapes that humans have created like the great pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge, or the quilted patterns of farmland you see from planes. But nature also provides shapes Рthink of the gentle curve of rolling hills, the triangles formed by tall conifers, or the shadows cast by rock formations. Your challenge this week is focus on the shapes within your images.

Convergence//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Shapes can be well formed with clear geometry, or you can emphasize more natural shapes that blend into complex patterns. As with all black and white photography, tones and textures can emphasize different aspects of the shot. One thing to pay particular attention to this is the negative space, or blank space, in the shot. Empty spaces in a shot can help emphasize shapes.
We Remember Tomorrow//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Dark side//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

The Zig-Zag//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Power//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

arcs//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

 

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.org or #photochallenge2016.
  • The shot should be a¬†new shot you took¬†for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else‚Äôs image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don‚Äôt leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 33: B&W ‚Äď HUMAN BODY

Sometimes the best photography subjects are right in front of us – something or someone you see everyday, but don’t think about as a subject. We see and interact with people everyday, but may not think of¬†the human body as subject of our photography. The challenge this week is the Human Body shot in black and white.

We’ve had portrait challenges all year, so you should be accustomed to asking people to be subjects. This challenge differs significantly from portraits, however. ¬†Portraits tell us a story about a person, or capture some¬†essence¬†of personality – we learn something about the subject in a portrait. This challenge is about form of the human body, not the person. ¬†There is grace and beauty in every human body. Your challenge is to capture that in black and white.
Zen//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
The examples for this challenge don’t have any faces, but that doesn’t mean you can’t include a face in your shot. Any part of the human body can be used, but part of the challenge is to get you thinking about more than just faces. ¬†Faces are fine, as long as you don’t create a portrait.
Twice the Power//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
For this challenge you will need to focus on the principles of black and white photography: contrast, shape, tonality, texture, lines. Lighting can play a key role in this challenge. The shot above uses a simple black background to make the arms stand out. The shot is also a good example of contrast, in both the technical aspects of the shot and the subjects. Also notice the depth of field. The adult arm at the back is slightly out of focus. Depth of field and lighting are also the key elements of the shot below.
.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
The shot below uses contrast, texture and tonality with strong composition to create a dramatic mood. The same shot in color might convey something completely different.
x//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

You also need to make decisions about how much of the body to include in the shot, and how much to leave out. The examples all show a limited view of the human body. The first shot above uses perspective and depth of field to limit how much of the body you see, but the other examples use composition to focus on specific areas of the body.
Hands Fidgeting From Boredom

You can choose to show the entire body, or one aspect or body part. How you frame the shot is entirely up to you, just be sure to focus on the form of the body. That can also include abstract representations of the human body.
Untitled

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsA word of caution – Flickr is a great place to find examples, but be aware that searching for “human body” will return nude photography. There are many stunning black and white nudes on Flickr that show¬†the natural beauty and form of our bodies, but there also photos that some people may find offensive. Flickr does have a safe search feature to filter out nude¬†images for those of you that don’t want to see nude photography.

Also, nude photography is fine for this challenge, but be aware of the guidelines for the sites where you share your photos. Facebook generally doesn’t allow nude photos.

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.org or #photochallenge2016.
  • The shot should be a¬†new shot you took¬†for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else‚Äôs image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don‚Äôt leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 29: B&W ‚Äď CONTRAST

This week we’ll explore another key aspect of Black and White photography – Contrast. For this challenge you’re looking for shots with a dramatic difference between the lightest part of the image and the darkest part of the image. Many photos have contrast that ranges from black to white, but you are looking for shots where that contrast is one of the defining elements of the shot.
Diffrent Bridge//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
You could just up the contrast in your image editing software, but that’s really not the point of the challenge. The challenge is in finding a shot that naturally has a lot of contrast. You don’t need to find something with absolute black and absolute white, just something with a stark contrast between the light and dark areas.
Sylvie//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
For this challenge you really need to try to view the subject in black and white. As you move through the spectrum of visible light, each color translates into gray scale differently. Reds tend to be darker than blues. You’ll need to experiment and figure out how what¬†you see in color translates to¬†the most contrast in black and white.
Black and white church Iceland//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Some scenes and subjects will make obvious shots for this challenge, but you may need to get creative and make your own shot. Adjusting contrast in software is fine, as long as you start with a shot that already has a lot of contrast.
Light Box Body - Hand//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Pictureline has excellent blog post on principles of black and white photography with a section on contrast. It’s well worth the read, not just for this challenge, but for all black and white photography.
Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.org or #photochallenge2016.
  • The shot should be a¬†new shot you took¬†for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else‚Äôs image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don‚Äôt leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.