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.
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.
The images in this post are my favourite three from the experiment.
Any lessons learned?
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.
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?
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