Thirteen Exercises – Part 1: Don’t Move

Introduction


The other day I received the B&H Newsletter, something I usually ignore – I normally ignore emails from vendors unless I have an order in process – but the first words of the subject line caught my attention: 13 Photo Exercises Guaranteed to Jumpstart Your Creativity… Again, stuff I usually ignore. Not because I don’t think I could use the help, but every time I start reading one of these, they tend to be full of silly advice like ‘wrap your camera in aluminum foil and stick it down your trousers to take a picture of the the nearest building.’ However, I’ve been feeling a bit stuck in a rut: taking photographs of the same flowers, plants and buildings, so I thought ‘why not?’ and started to read.


SIDE NOTE: If you don’t know B&H (B&H Photo, Video & Pro Audio), they’ve been around as a physical store in New York City for ages (AGES!) I remember rummaging around their store on West 17th back in the late 70’s and 80’s. I’m pretty certain that’s where I bought both my first SLR, a Yashica TL-Electro X and my second, the Canon AE-1.

I wonder whatever happened to the Yashica – literally have no idea. I remember rushing out to buy it after seeing a great add in Playboy likening it to an iceberg: the greatest parts are hidden beneath the surface! As for the Canon, I still have one, but not that one – the original was stolen by an old girlfriend’s drug addict neighbour, giving him, I’m sure, minutes of enjoyment).

Wouldn’t you know it, you can find almost anything on Flickr


Digression, digression, digression: sorry!

Anyway, just wanted to say that a year ago, when I started to become interested in photography again, I was happy to find they were still around AND on the Web. I enjoy their site mostly for the links to product reviews, how-to videos and articles. Their prices aren’t any better or worse than other places and, when comparison shopping, I find their prices about the same as Amazon’s so I tend to buy from them out of loyalty to ‘an old friend.’
[SIDE NOTE NOTE: they’re no longer at 17th street, but there is still a brick and mortar store in Manhattan near Penn Station]


The email linked to an article by Todd Vorenkamp and, as I read through his exercises I found myself thinking… ‘well, this might be fun… and this might be fun too!’ I eventually decided that I would go through each of the exercises and bore you all with my attempts.

At the bottom of this post I will put a link to Todd Vorenkamp’s article for anyone interested.

Exercise 1: Two Dozen

The instructions for exercise one were: Pick a location. Stand in one spot and make 24 unique photographs while standing in the same place. You cannot move your feet.

Image 1: From ground level, looking south at picnic tables and trees. Shooting from the ground-level is something I enjoy; it allows me to view the world from a different perspective.

I did this in Bruce Park in a parking space on Wood Road, facing south toward the picnic area. Now, let me tell you how I cheated:

  • three shots in I actually moved my feet to go back to the car and get a second lens, BUT… BUT, I outlined where my feet were and made sure to stand in the exact same location and foot-placement when I got back, and
  • I actually took 32 shots because of subject movement – a cardinal that was hopping picnic tables and a tree (yes, I’m certain it was the tree that moved).

This was fun and slightly challenging. The first few shots were easy, but after a while I found myself thinking hard about what to shoot next (the cardinal’s sudden appearance gave me momentary relief).

I wouldn’t say any of these pictures are particularly creative (or, for that matter, even even particularly interesting), but … eh (🤷🏻‍♂️)! Lucky you, I only picked 10 to show here.

Image 16b: Cardinal on a picnic table. The Cardinal is the mascot of the Greenwich High School sports teams. Had always associated it with St. Louis starting to work here in the late 80’s and eventually moving to town. Honestly, though, I can’t say I remember seeing so many around as I have this year.
Image 17: Looking straight up. Branches over my head.
Image 19: Cobblestone Curb (or kerb, if you prefer). Within the last year they’ve redone the parking area on Wood Road – actually, I should say ‘they added a parking area’ since whatever might have been there was just street. The parking area is differentiated from the street by use of cobblestones (you’ll see this in subsequent images)
Image 3: I always thought you don’t poop bag where you eat. Bruce Park is very dog friendly
Image 4: Morning routines: a woman goes on her daily walk and the trash gets picked up. This shot gives you a better idea of the new parking area at the park. Last year, this street was completely closed for several months and for, some crazy reason, when they opened it again all this cobblestone made me so happy. Still does. I’m a bit of a nut.
Image 7: Picnic Table Legs. One of the reasons I moved to get that other lens was to take this picture (cropped because, since I couldn’t move, there was some extraneous stuff on the left).
Image 18: The lens I replaced on the hood of my car (Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm, because you wanted to know, right?)
Image 15: Dropped lens cap
Somewhere between Image 4 and Image 5: Probably the most creative thing I did all morning. I had four pens in my pocket and I used them to mark the positions of my feet so I could return to the exact spot and foot-placement after getting my other lens. (Who carries four pens in their pocket?)

All pictures taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III with either M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 or Panasonic/LUMIX 45-200mm f/4-5.6 lenses…

Link to Todd Vorenkamp’s 13 exercises: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/tips-and-solutions/13-creative-exercises-for-photographers

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