One of the things I want to do this year (and every year) is improve my photography, which is kind of like asking myself to measure a piece of string. It is, as I’m sure is the case with any craft, a skill that you can keep on learning about forever and still never feel like you know everything.
That’s the beauty of it.
So saying that I want to improve is not so much setting a goal as taking an endless voyage of continuous learning.
One of the things I can do to learn, aside from actually going out and making photographs, is to take some courses in areas that I want to do better in. I’ve signed up to many of them, and always seem to start and never finish them. I find it difficult to stay motivated when the whole course is delivered online and there’s little, if any, interaction with the instructor, and no assignments to hand in. Some of them have online groups you can post your work in but there is still very little accountability and no one chases you up if you don’t. However, I suppose this is the difference between a short online course for a few hundred dollars and, say, a uni degree or diploma for several thousand dollars, which I seemed to have no lack of motivation to finish.
Anyway, my lack of follow-through aside, one of the courses I have been working through (slowly) is called The Compelling Frame by the Canadian photographer David duChemin. David describes the course as being “designed to help you better understand visual design and composition, specifically how we use those to create more captivating, more powerful, photographs”.
I’ve been working though the lessons (there are 19) this year, and have just completed lesson 9. (Did I mention I was working very slowly?)
This lesson is about contrast, and one of the exercises is to go out and make photographs of ten contrasts. This could be obvious things like colour contrast, dark/light or size, or more “conceptual” such as new/old and natural/man made.
The brief didn’t say they had to be great photographs or even photographs that were trying to say something, so I tried to let that additional pressure go and just look for contrast. I took my 24mm lens, which I haven’t used for ages. I was talking about it with a friend the other day and thinking how once upon a time, before I got my 50 mm lens, this had been my favourite lens and how it might be fun to take it out for a while. So I did.
Here are some of the images I came back with. I did some quick edits on them and cropped most of them to 8×10 to try something different. I don’t think there’s anything earth shatteringly brilliant here but what I found interesting was the more I looked for contrast, the more I found it everywhere.
I also found that in some of the images, there was more than one type of contrast, which I mostly didn’t notice until I got back home and started looking at them.