I set myself quite a few photographic challenges in 2017. The 63-2017 Challenge occupied the final two months but prior to that I’d embarked on audio-visual, video and drone photography and was I felt making some good progress in all areas.
6.30am on a cold October morning saw me in the car heading out to shoot the video diary for that month. I’d planned to shoot a sunrise and combine the shoot with a video of me talking through what I was doing and why, sharing my thoughts about the composition, the technical considerations and even perhaps some personal thoughts on what the hobby means to me.
What actually happened was that I arrived at the location well before the sun was due to rise to find myself in wall to wall greyness. I’d planned to photograph the rising sun glancing of the rocks and grasses along the edges and had even pre-planned some compositions earlier in the week (see above) were the sun should have been rising in the top left quadrant of the frame, illuminating everything else in front of the camera.
Watch on to see what actually happened!
Whilst I downloaded the files immediately upon my return home, old habits etcetera, I did not actually view the images or start compiling the video itself until well into December, by which time I was quite ill and the whole process took a lot longer than it might have done. Plus I’d forgotten most of what I’d recorded by way of narration and could not quickly visualise what video footage I had captured. Even after I completed the post-production it was several weeks before I uploaded it to YouTube where it currently resides as an unlisted video!
And so we come to the final six images of the 63-2017 Challenge. Without the focus of the Challenge I doubt I would have taken more than a couple of pictures during the whole of December. Five of the final six were taken no more than a foot from either the front or back door and one of those was indoors. Just one, 61, was taken away from the home and it was taken just a few yards from the bus stop as I waited in the snow to catch the bus home after a hospital visit. Friday 29th December was probably the most frustrating day of the Challenge as it snowed heavily and I have several images in my head from all my recent trips to the moors etcetera which were just waiting for that magical ingredient – snow!
63-2017-58 I think this represents the lowest point of the Challenge. I took it within half an hour of getting up on Boxing Day, never a good day for me as it was my late mothers birthday, and I looked at the window and realised that was how I felt. I took one image and didn’t touch a camera again that day.
63-2017-59View from the Door
63-2017-60 View from the Gate
Do you sense a little frustration in images 59 and 60? The former taken late in day as the blue hour was arriving and the latter at the start of the day. I knew I wasn’t going to get out so over the two days chose to try and capture the best of the light in the street outside.
63-2017-61View from a Bridge. I couldn’t resist a third consecutive “View from …” but this one is three miles from home!! It is also the same location as number 16.
I also shot a time-lapse, albeit from the bedroom window, on the Friday as well as a few seconds of video footage. Probably my most productive day in December!
63-2017-62Stark. After having got home yesterday wheezing and short of breath I knew I’d be confined to the house for the rest of the year. Saturday was cold and stark and in my head I knew I wanted something to match that feeling. The bare branches of the tree in the front yard against the cold blue of the sky was the perfect counterpoint. Had I not been under strict instructions to stay indoors I’m sure I’d have spent more time getting the “perfect” angle but as it was I had to sneak this shot when the Boss went upstairs to the loo!
63-2017-63.View from the Other Door. And so we arrive at Day 63 of the Photo-A-Day-for-63-Day Challenge. I wanted to end with a little bit of a flourish but was also cognisant of my current house arrest. The answer was a five-frame panorama, shot from the back yard just as it had got light whilst the family slept. I’m quite pleased with it and with how I’ve managed to complete the Challenge despite some pretty unhelpful odds at times. The only down note is that I will start 365-2018 with the constraints that have marked around a third of the 63-2017 Challenge still in place.
I have enjoyed the Challenge of a picture a day. It has got me into the 365-routine to some degree and given the personal constraints at times it has shown that I can be resourceful when required and that being confined to bed or under house arrest need not prevent the capture of the daily image. Over the next month or so I should be able to reclaim some of the space in the house for things such as my water-drop equipment so days when I’m confined to barracks will be a little easier as there will be something with which to amuse myself.
And I am very proud not to have photographed my lunch!
[spoiler alert] Well, I did it! An image a day for 63 days to ease me out of 2017 and into 2018 and my first attempt at a “365”.
The last three and a bit weeks have been tough due to a rather debilitating chest infection (three doctors appointments, hospital, X-Rays, blood tests, bed-rest, won’t bore you with details!) which has meant I’ve barely been outdoors in December. It has certainly made me look hard at what is in my own back yard that’ for sure!
It also means there’s a lot in this final update (17 images) as I’ve not had the inclination to update anything recently. Thankfully I made it to the end of the challenge!
I look at this lift shaft atop the flats across the street every day as I open or close the bedroom curtains and always note how the sun interacts especially as it catches the setting sun this time of the year. To me it’s a good example of how a photographer “sees” as whenever I point it out to one of the family they always say “oh yes” and clearly hadn’t noticed the light. My wife does see it, she’s spent too much time with me no doubt, and will often point it out to me. This was taken from the back doorstep with a 300mm lens. The place from which the final two weeks of images were shot is going to be important because of the opening comments regarding my health.
63-2017-48A Touch of Pink – Fading Glory Found growing in a plant pot just outside the front door.
63-2017-49Green and Flourishing Forsythia bush just outside the front door. Have you guessed yet that the last two days have been two of the “bed-rest” days I mentioned above?
63-2017-50. And so we hit the fiftieth image in the series, taken in the back garden as I returned from a doctors appointment, my first trip outside the house for over a week.
63-2017-51/52 are both taken from the patio immediately outside the back door. They are broadly the same composition but the first was a stunning sunrise (oh how I wished I could’ve been up on the moors) and the second the result of experimenting with a 15-stop neutral density filter.
63-2017-53. It started as a walk to the cafe for breakfast with Ted but I got 200 yards and realised I wasn’t going to make it there and back without considerable shortage of breath, wheezing and coughing. Ted and Amanda enjoyed their cooked breakfasts whilst I returned home for a bowl of muesli. At least the ever-present X100t was with me and I managed something different for the fifty-third image.
63-2017-56 Christmas Eve
63-2017-57 Christmas Day
63-2017-54/5/6/7. Strictly confined to the house. 54 is taken from a bedroom window, 55 is me playing with perspective and DOF and 56 was all I could think of to recognise Christmas Eve. Not my finest hour but I stuck to my self-appointed task. Some thought did go into 57, Christmas Day, even if the execution wasn’t to my usual standard I created broadly what I set out to do.
The final six images will follow in the second part of this post shortly.
The full 63-2017 album can be found on Flickr HERE
Well, it’s been a bit of a challenge keeping this project alive through various family members illnesses, the hospitalisation of one daughter through meningitis and my own near-hospitalisation with a very nasty chest infection which needed steroids to help me breath properly. There have been times in the last ten days when I thought the project would founder, not least when I was ordered to bed for two days and have so far been subjected to five days confined to the house. But as you will see we have not yet failed!
63-2017-38 was taken a day or two before my own illness knocked me over. Amanda and I popped out for an hour to relax with a nice meal and a couple of lemonades (yes, really) away from hospitals and the noise of our very busy home.
The Fuji X100T is proving to be a big component in the 63-2017 challenge with over a third of the images to date having been produced with this little machine.
Being a former analyst I still enjoy playing with statistics and numbers generally so it won’t surprise those that know me to learn I have a spreadsheet that not only records all the daily images but categorises them by genre, camera used and whether colour or monochrome. What will surprise many is that only around 20% of the entries to date are in black & white which is totally opposite to my usual output when not looking for an image-a-day. Perhaps my “normal” life is lived in colour and my “serious-photographer” life is a black and white experience?
63-2017-39 is one of those rare mono images. I have shot a couple of images from this location earlier in the project emphasising the colour but as the warm autumnal days are giving way to cold, wet winter days I felt that mono was a better way to show the mood.
63-2017-40 The ubiquitous X100T was with me as I walked back from the newsagents
this cold but bright morning and was therefore at hand to capture the play of light and shadow caused by the sun slowly rising over the town centre. This dingy alleyway between an abandoned factory and the local chip shop backs onto the rear of Dobsons sweet factory so it is often filled with an enticing aroma of boiled sweets and Yorkshire Mixture that belies the grubby and undeniably unpleasant visual experience of being in the alleyway.
63-2017-41. This blackbird appears in our front yard every day at the moment often spending time perched on the wall or gate when not scavenging for food on the ground. This image marks the start of me not being able to get out and about everyday although is four days before I was confined to bed. I just like the colours and the warmth so whilst it may not be the best natural history shot ever, and it was taken from my front room looking through the double-glazed window whilst shooting into the low winter sun, it is still a pleasing addition to the project.
63-2017-42 well, Christmas is just around the corner, and the tree did go up today so I couldn’t resist a cheeky snowman shot with some pleasingly out-of-focus tree lights in the background. Sometimes you’ve just got to do these things!
63-2017-43 brings us to one of my regular child-minding days and we’ve seen Ted previously in this project. I like the simplicity of this which is virtually SOOC with just a small amount of additional clarity around the eyes to help them pop in the final image.
63-2017-44 Yes, the blackbird is back again! Still looking away from me out towards the road but I did manage a little bit of light on his eye. This was taken earlier in the day than number 41 so the light is to our left rather than directly in the line of sight.
63-2017-45 / 63-2017-46. So we come to the two days when I was confined to bed and sternly warned not to do anything. I did sneak down both days and captured a suitably “festive” take on each day.
So, a slightly longer update than previously with nine days worth of images captured. I loaded this up to the Flickr album in two batches during that period and I have noticed that I have rarely posted my images to Flickr daily over the course of the project. Something to think about as I get ever closer to 365-2018 I think!
63-2017-32. Golden Selfie. I think this is both the first selfie I’ve used in the challenge and also the first time I’ve thought to use the selfie option.
These leaves are alongside the busy Elland-Riorges link road that leads in and out of Elland. We have had a rather hectic round of hospitals, doctors and ill health this week. Daughter with meningitis requiring a few days in hospital, wife with viral labyrinthitis and a chest infection for me together with my routine blood tests which have coincided to leave little “quality” time for photography. I thought I’d fail this week but touch wood I’ve kept at it and still managed to make a picture a day without resorting to photographing my evening cocoa!
63-2017-33. I couldn’t resist calling this Potty! It was only after I’d published the image to the Flickr album that I noticed the out of focus telegraph wires but I was committed by then so left it as it is. I was attracted by the warm light on the chimney pots and brickwork as well as the shadows caused by other chimney pots on the terrace.
63-2017-34. Saturday was spent mainly in the car, a round trip of over 400 miles to deliver Christmas presents to relatives in the South. I had a camera in the boot of the car but was seriously concerned about the opportunities, especially as I felt pretty crappy and was definitely not up to wandering about looking for an opportunity. I needn’t have worried though, 45 miles from home and the M6 ground to a halt. Time to stretch my legs in the outside lane without fear of being mown down and an opportunity to try and capture how it all felt in a single frame.
63-2017-35 If the forecasters are to be believed colder and wetter weather is on its way. I saw this leaf lingering on the doorstep and thought it would be a good test of the close-shooting capabilities of the X100t. Autumn Lingers but for how long?
63-2017-36 Aside from trips to doctors and hospitals and that rather lengthy day trip down South our opportunities for getting out and about, with or without a camera, have been very limited this week. I saw this silver shape streaking across the bright blue sky and really wished that we were up, up and away to somewhere warmer and sunnier. Not something I’m prone to wish for so as it was an unusual event it needed commemorating in the 63-2017 project.
63-2017-37 and so we come to today’s image which sees me pushing the ISO to 6400. I’m always looking to push the little X100t to see what I can get from it. The camera was steadied against a fence post for the 1/4 sec exposure. I have not applied any noise reduction to this upload but it could probably do with some being applied. An acceptable result although a better choice would have been to put camera on tripod and lower the ISO.
Only six in this update because I snuck a couple of extra ones in last weeks review. It has been a challenging week and is making me think about how I can perhaps plan for future occasions when ill health will confine me to the house or otherwise curtail my opportunities. I am hopeful that my daughter will have moved all her belongings out of the spare room by Christmas which will give me the space to set my water drop kit up again but I cannot expect to keep it set up all year and I certainly don’t want to fall back on the same thing every time I struggle to get out properly with the camera.
The first little wobble this week in my “sixty-three images, one-a-day in what’s left of 2017” project, also known as the warm up for the picture-a-day challenge in 2018. There is one image here that I am simply very unhappy about, it doesn’t meet my own perceptions of image quality and because it was the best of four poor images, the only ones I actually took that day, it had to entered for the 63-2017. More of that later. On the whole though I am pleased to say I have stayed on track and also pleased to say I haven’t resorted to a phone snap or a last minute random shot of my supper!
63-2017-23 The first of two night-time images from Dean Clough in Halifax, a pre-planned location with the passer-by adding a serendipitous touch to the final image.
63-2017-24 No title, just wandering about in Huddersfield town centre whist the wife was shopping looking for shapes and anything that took my eye really. No pre-planning, no fixed agenda, just me and the camera (Fuji X100t, what else) and a pleasant mosey around keeping my eyes open.
63-2017-25 and back to Dean Clough for another night time shot. My wife was woking a late shift hence my nightly presence in this part of Halifax this week. I took images every evening but have chosen to only use two for the project to avoid it getting “samey”. This was in part prompted by a video I’d watched earlier in the week but in part too because I’ve shot this kind of image at this location many times in the past.
63-2017-26 Friday came all too slowly but it did finally arrive and we escaped in the car for a couple of nights in a favourite B&B in the Forest of Bowland. Only fifty-five miles away from home but a world away from domestic chores and the ever-present kids and grandkids. Neither of us felt 100% so we pottered and I shot a few snaps from the roadside or at least within easy reach of the warmth of the car.
63-2017-27 and still in Lancashire, our first taste of snow this autumn/winter. The snow-scattered scene was spotted as we drove down the hill and the first place I could safely pull over was alongside a high hedge, growing on a bank four feet above the road. I scrambled up the bank, perched precariously on the narrow strip of flattish earth at the top and found the hedge was two foot wide but undeterred I found a way to get the camera and my head through into position to take the image. I did consider live view, but using live view on a Nikon DSLR with a 300mm lens and no tripod support was not something I considered as a very stable platform for photography.
63-2017-28 the final image as we headed away from Lancashire on Sunday morning. We knew that there would be limited time to take photographs as we were heading to Bradford to see number two daughter who’d been admitted on the Friday as we were settling down to our evening meal. With instructions to not break short our weekend break we compromised by coming home early on the Sunday. I saw this view as I crested the hill but before I could safely pull over the best of the light had gone. I still managed a half-decent shot though with the venerable Fuji X-T1 and as it turned out this was my only opportunity for a “proper” photograph so I’m glad I made the effort, something I probably wouldn’t have done without the 63-2017 to motivate me.
63-2017-29 and so we come to “that” photograph.
Poorly framed, poorly exposed and a poor choice of aperture – I’m not going to beat myself up but this is hardly likely to feature in my Top Sixty-two images, let alone a Top Ten!
Enough said, I am moving on.
63-2017-30. I was going to stop at image 29 for this weekly round up but couldn’t bring myself to end on such a low note.
63-2017-31 Determined to end this update on a high, here is an early morning image from the back streets of Halifax.
All in all a challenging week. I stuck to my guns though and despite a couple of below-par efforts (I’m not overly keen on #30 either) it started well and ended on a good note for me.
I’ve developed a heavy cold in the last 24 hours and with below zero temperatures outside I’m not overly keen to charge about outdoors but I have a few ideas for a brief jaunt outside to capture the thirty-second image … will the challenge survive “man-flu”?