One Room, Fifty Photographs (II)

Back in February 2018, I tried a one room fifty photographs challenge for the first time.

It’s a simple concept – lock yourself in one room until you’ve taken fifty photographs.

This doesn’t just mean set your camera to some continuous or burst mode and hold your finger on the shutter button for a minute.

The aim is to make the best fifty photographs you can, within the limitations of the surroundings and of your equipment.

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In the previous experiment, it was a beautiful sunny morning, so our south facing living room was full of crisp winter light and interesting shapes and shadows.

Today, with some time on my hands and the wet and windy weather being very uninviting for outdoor photography or cycling, the odds were stacked higher.

With low light, even with wide apertures, the shutter speeds were going to be long. 

I attached my oldest lens – a late 50s Asahi Auto-Takumar 55/2 – to my Panasonic Lumix GF1, chose my usual dynamic monochrome set up and began the fifty photograph challenge.

It quickly came apparent that I wasn’t going to get bitingly sharp images. 

With the lack of light, using ISO400 and the lens’s max f/2, my shutter speeds were still in single figures, down to around 1/2s at times. Given that the Takumar isn’t at its optimum at f/2 either further conspired against any kind of sharpness.

But that suited me just fine. I’m no stranger to either blurred or abstract images, so embraced the opportunity, sometimes even deliberately accentuating the motion blur in images.

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The images in this post are my favourite three from the experiment.

Any lessons learned? 

Well, yes.

1. Sharpness isn’t everything. By removing this from the equation it encourages you to look more for broader shapes and patterns and textures and tones. Similar in a way to shooting in b/w compared with colour.

2. There’s always something to photograph. You just have to look harder, closer and from different angles than when you’re somewhere surrounded by more obvious photographic opportunities.

3. You don’t have to wait for perfect conditions to photograph. You don’t even have to go outside. Whilst I’m a huge advocate of walking in the countryside making photographs, it doesn’t mean you should only go out when the sun is shining and the light is perfect. Especially if you live in England. Go out in the rain or the snow (this little Canon was great in wet conditions). Or just stay inside and look at your everyday surroundings with a new curiosity.

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I’m sure I’ll try this experiment again.

Even though it doesn’t necessarily deliver stunning images, for the reasons above and more, it’s very worthwhile.

Have you ever tried a similar experiment? What limitations do you apply to your photography to stretch and challenge yourself? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what I’m into right now.

22 thoughts on “One Room, Fifty Photographs (II)”

  1. I’ve done something similar a number of times, shooting a whole roll of film, in one day, in one small area of our building, but with one big exception to your approach. I always use a tripod. I develop my negatives to maximize the acutance of the grain in the picture and the effect is pretty much lost if at least part of the picture is not in sharp focus. Otherwise, your observations about having plenty of subjects and not worrying about weather conditions are exactly in line with my thinking.

    1. Hi Doug, great to hear you’ve tried similar experiments.

      Do you move the tripod, or just point the camera in different directions? Just thinking the latter might extend the challenge even further!

      1. I move the tripod around, but within limits because it is almost always a tabletop tripod. Your thought of keeping the tripod stationary and pointing it in different directions has me thinking about possibly trying an indoor panorama – I’ve shot a couple outdoors and stitched them with Affinity Photo with good results.

        1. Yeh that would be interesting. I’ve had cameras that are good enough at those kind of shots (ie you pan around, without stitching multiple images together afterwards), but what I’ve always found afterwards is that the image viewed even on a decent computer screen is too small if you have it so you can see the full width on screen at once. Then if you zoom in, you lose the effect and drama of the sweeping panorama. I think these kind of shots probably come into there as prints perhaps a foot high and four or five feet wide… Have you made many/any prints of panoramic shots?

          1. I haven’t made any proper panoramic prints but I have printed and framed several sets of panoramic images to be displayed as diptychs or triptychs. I’ve yet to try a quad.

          2. Oh yes I hadn’t really thought about that. But you’ve reminded me, I have tried a few with an Olympus Pen half frame camera I had, which was fun. It was when I had a scanner, so I just took two or three photos consecutively, then scanned the sequence as one image, rather than individually.

    1. Glad you like it Rob, come back after and let us know how it went.

      (PS/ The link in your avatar isn’t working, it says the site is unavailable and the author deleted the site?)

        1. If you click on your little avatar in the top right of the WordPress bar, then on the drop down menu choose Account Settings. Under Web Address, see what’s entered there and amend if necessary. Below that box it says “Shown publicly when you comment on blogs” so I’m assuming if you change that to https://berrie.photography/ it’ll fix the issue. : )

    1. Excellent, and the good thing is yes it changes the link wherever your avatar is, even in past comments.

      Hope you enjoy trying the one room fifty photographs experiments Rob.

      1. Oh it doesn’t change the link in past comments, but it does make the previous link disappear. So from now on you’ll just have the correct link working. : )

      2. Hey,

        I tried out the one room fifty photographs today. Would love for you to have a look at the blog I did for it and let me know what you think

        berrie.photography/2018/12/16/one-kitchen-fifty-photos/

          1. Yes indeed.

            There are infinite variations too, depending on how much you want to limit yourself, for example fixing focus or aperture.

            Also I once did a kind of alphabet series of photos, trying to go round the house and picture something that looked like various (but not all!) letters of the alphabet. Letters like O, C, T are pretty easy with some close cropped compositions. Other letters are far more challenging!

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