Project 365: Half-way there!!

by DaniGirl on July 22, 2009 · 7 comments

in 5 things, Photo of the Day

Wow, can you believe I’ve made it to Day 183 of my Project 365? One photo every day for half a year!

(Oh my sweet lord, you mean I’m only half way done? I have to come up with ANOTHER 182 photos in the next six months? Yikes!)

Seriously, I am quite proud of myself. I can honestly say I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this project on January 20 of this year. I think it’s pretty safe to say I’ve fulfilled my early goals of “flex[ing] my creative muscles and to learn[ing] to see the world in new ways.” I haven’t missed a single day yet, although there have been a few when I was a day or so late posting them. And I really had no idea when I started that I wouldn’t simply be taking “a” picture each day — in fact, I’m sure I average ten to a dozen for each one that gets posted. Thank goodness for large hard drives!

This project has been one of the most validating, one of the most intriguing, and one of the most irritating things I’ve ever done. There have been more than a few times that I’ve rued the day I set out on such an ill-conceived voyage, and many days when I’ve been delighted that I did. There’s no question my photographic skills have improved, and I think I’ve even learned a thing or two along the way. *grin*

170:365 The Puddle

Here’s five things I’ve learned so far about Project 365, about photography, and about myself:

1. No matter how good or how terrible the picture of the day, there’s another one due in 24 hours. You know those days when you’ve written what you know is a really good blog post, and you just sit on it and admire it a while, letting it enjoy it’s spot of honour at the top of the page for a couple of days? With the 365 project, no matter how outstanding the picture is, you’ve got to replace it the very next day. And, almost without fail, the picture you take the next day is nowhere near as worthy. Inspiration runs in fits and starts. (Corollary: no matter how uninspired you feel, no matter how lackluster your effort, no matter how embarrassingly hackneyed the image, tomorrow is another day and a fresh start. Shake it off and take another picture!)

half way one

2. Amazing pictures lurk in the most mundane places. Some of my favourite images have been of things that I would never have thought to even photograph if I weren’t trolling the universe for photo opportunities every moment of every day. (Yes, it is that bad. I have lost the ability to turn off my photo-seeking radar!) But the constant picture-seeking has led me to put the camera to my face in situations where it would have never occured to me to do, and I’ve become a better photographer for it. Corollary: take your camera EVERYWHERE. You just never know when, you know, your van might catch on fire or something.

half way two

3. Post-processing is your friend. When I started out, I was a purist and a snob. I thought “photoshopped” images were somehow less ‘true’ or worthy than straight out of the camera (SOOC) images. Ah, how foolish and naive I was. More than half of the images I post have at least a touch of post-processing, whether to bring out the colours, adjust the exposure, or erase the dust marks from a dirty lens. It’s fun to play with things like sepia tones and b&w as well. I now believe that Photoshop and other post-processing programs are just another in the arsenal of tools a photographer uses to achieve the image you set out to create. On the other hand, I’m a believer in a light touch. I think you should have the skills to do the lion’s share of the work with the camera, and I’m not fond of the idea of using post-processing to do stuff like slenderize people or remove objects entirely from the frame.

half way three

4. Admire the picture you took, not the picture you missed.
This is something I learned from reading the books of Canadian photographer Freeman Patterson, and I think it’s one of the more valuable lessons I’ve learned. You know how you see a good photo opportunity and you take a few shots, but they just don’t come out like you’d planned? I’m slowly learning to evaluate and assess the image on its own merit, and not in comparison to the shot I imagined but didn’t get. When I’m looking at my pictures at the end of the day (an arduous process worth a blog post of its own some day!) I’m often surprised that the shot that I thought at the time was a throw-away turned out to be my favourite of the day — or sometimes one of my all-time faves.

half way four

5. When you’re taking a photo each day, you can’t help but see — really see — the world around you. I think this is one of the most unexpected, and best, benefits of doing the 365 project. I’m no longer oblivious to the world around me. I am amazed by how the light changes by time of day and by season. I see contrasts, shadows and tones everywhere. I see the fine details in architecture, in flowers, in smiles. I crane my neck looking for new angles, new perspectives, new ways to see things — even when I don’t have my camera around my neck.

half way five

It’s kind of ironic, really, that I set out to expand my photographic repertoire beyond simply taking pictures of my family, and yet of all things I’m most pleased about, it’s that I can take better pictures of the boys! The landscapes and the creative shots and the other stuff is fun, but in 30 years, these are the pictures that will really matter.

137:365 Sand and water table

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amy @ Muddy Boots July 22, 2009 at 10:37 am

I’m SUPER impressed that you’ve stuck it out this whole time without missing a day! Looking forward to hearing you on the radio today (hopefully it’s the station here in Gatineau, don’t know why it wouldn’t be).

(P.S. I can make myself. um, I mean you can make people more slender in PS??)

2 Amy @ Muddy Boots July 22, 2009 at 10:57 am

P.P.S. How do you make the flickr collages??

3 Lynn July 22, 2009 at 10:58 am

You’ve taken some really beautiful and creative shots this year…every time you post one I’m amazed at how great it is and how quickly you’ve turned into a professional-quality photographer. I really think a little Etsy shop of your prints could be really successful. At the least you’ve inspired me to try taking more photos and think about composition more…maybe someday (in five years or so?) I’ll be doing my own Project 365!

4 Amber July 22, 2009 at 11:08 am

You have some really great photos. It’s apparent to me that you’re learning a lot. And that you have a great commitment to this project. I can’t wait to see the next 182 photos! 🙂

5 Chantal July 22, 2009 at 12:48 pm

I can’t even imagine the work that is involved. A labour of love for sure. I am tuning in at 3 🙂

6 DaniGirl July 22, 2009 at 7:47 pm

You’re all so sweet – thank you! Amy, I make my mosaics at from my flickr photostream. Super-easy! And I’m not sure how the PS slenderizing works, but i’ve read about it. 😉

Lynn, I’m seriously thinking about that Etsy idea now! But sadly, danigirl, postcards and mothership are all taken, and postcards from the mothership is too long. Pondering it, though… 🙂

7 Ari July 22, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Congrats on being halfway there, as someone told me when I hit 183 – it’s only downhill from now on!

Your pictures are just amazing, I know I’ve said this a million times but it needs to be said a million more. You do such amazing work and the colors and images you capture are just inspiring.

That being said… I’ve edited out whole objects in my pictures before. But usually if I was going for that magical, textured, story-telling self-portrait. Haven’t done one in a while actually…

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