Stuck Inside? Try these photo Challenges!

At this time, people across the globe are practicing social distancing. No parties, no outdoor adventures, no coffee dates. Everyone is hunkering down indoors, making photographic opportunities very scarce.

During this time, I really wanted to do something during this time to help people. Focusing on photography, I asked myself: What is something photographers could do from home? How can I help inspire others who might be bored, lonely, or stressed? So I decided to combine two of my favorite things and share them: Photography and Lists. I decided to make photo inspiration sheets for those who want to keep taking pictures, and help them during this time of isolation.

I encourage you to pick one of these areas to focus on, and keep it in mind the whole time you are participating in the challenge:

  1. Stock Photography: Take pictures with the intent of uploading it to one of the stock photography sites. If you chose this route, keep asking yourself what would make this photo good to sell? How could someone use this in their product or business? With stock photography, you want to make sure there is not a lot of extra elements, or noise, in the image. You will want to avoid including any logos or brands in these images as well. The advantage of shooting for stock – you may be able to make a little extra money while stuck inside! 🙂
  2. Technical Improvement: This is good for those who want to work with their camera settings. This is a good time to get really familiar with a variety of settings on your camera. For beginners, work with your shutter speed, aperture, and focus. For intermediates, work with white balance, color saturation, and any of the other settings you can find. There is a whole world to explore with your camera settings!
  3. Technique: Try stepping outside your normal shooting method. I tend to favor macro shots, so I would try backing up and getting a bigger picture of my shots. Try different angles, lighting, and subjects.
  4. Abstract: Try taking the photo prompts, and give them a new twist. One of the challenges is “Abstract Ideas,” so that might be a good one to start with. For the portrait challenge? Try taking a picture of a shadow in a portrait position. The sky is the limit! And if you have a really good lens, you can go beyond that. 🙂
  5. Documentation: For this, the goal of the photos would be to document this time in your life as it is. Capture what the world is like right now, during the pandemic. It could be valuable historical documentation for future generations.

After you decide where you want to focus, find the photo sheets down below. There are 7 altogether, enough for a full week of photo fun.

Stay healthy and happy everyone! I hope you enjoy partaking in these challenges as much as I did making them. 🙂

-Amanda

Shooting the Moment: Red Robin

On a recent hike, I had taken along my camera in hopes of finding some photogenic animals or scenes. I was in luck, because there was a pretty red robin that was willing to pose for me. I saw him at the end of our hike, perched in some brush. I immediately pulled out my camera and started shooting. The bird seemed to know what I was doing, because he ever so nicely kept changing his position so I could get a better shot. Fortunately my camera specializes in zooming, so I did not need to change any lens for these shots.

Where the bird first was, there was a small twig cutting across the frame. It created an unwanted distraction across the body, separating the head from the body. However, the bird kept hoping down the bush, moving out of the way of unwanted branches. This also added the bonus of changing the background for the shot, which added variety to the many images I was taking.

He also was a curious guy, and kept looking our way. I was able to get a couple of head-on shots which was nice. I enjoyed getting the chance to photography him, and several of the shots I took were accepted to Shutterstock. This adds a nice bonus to the day.

Hope everyone has a great week!

-Amanda

Shooting the Moment: Pond Shore

Today I went to the park with my little one and dad. While they had fun playing on the playground, I explored the shores of the nearby pond. This was the same pond that was frozen over a month ago, and had been the resting ground for a variety of ducks. Now the pond has completely thawed. Most of the ducks had flown away, leaving only a handful of feathered friends behind.

The thawing made the shoreline visible once again. I circled the entire pond to see what I could find. It is amazing what you can see turning your gaze from the gleaming surface of the water to the ripping, tiny waves of the shore. There were feathers, insects, and discarded trash. Below is a gallery of some of the images I took

I shot most of these on auto mode. I did get some images on manual mode, but was having a hard time adjusting my settings. Shooting on auto mode seemed to be doing the trick though, so I went with it. I am submitting these images to Shutterstock – hopefully some of them will be approved!

Hope this provides some inspiration the next time you are walking around a pond shore! Have a great weekend,

-Amanda

Shooting the Moment: Ducks on a Frozen Pond

The little one and I went down to the park this weekend. This particular park has a moderate pond, which is usually home to about a dozen ducks or so. However, on this day when we went, the pond was filled with close to 100 water fowl! There were a variety of creatures: Canadian Geese, Mallards, white geese, etc. After the LO and I got done playing on the playground, we headed over to the lake to get a better view.

It was amazing to see so many ducks in one spot. I was half tempted to go home and come back with my DSLR camera ( I really should start taking it with me more places). Even with just my phone, I was able to get quite a few shots I was happy with. 🙂

A group of ducks on a partially frozen pond
Closeup of the Mallards on the ice
Panoramic view of the pond and ducks

Photo Ideas

  • A shot of a duck diving underwater, with its tail stuck up in the air
  • A duck with it’s wings spread out wide
  • A shot of just the details of the feet
  • Try to get a feel for how many waterfowl are there. It could be just a couple, or 200!
  • Get a shot that showcases not only the ducks, but the season. Ice and snow for winter, flowers for spring, etc.

Have a great week!

-Amanda

Can I document an event with just pictures of feet?

Interesting challenge: What do you do when you are at a photo-worthy event and no one wants to be in any Facebook photos? One option is to just not post any photos. Another is to take one good photo with no one in it and just use that photo.

Or you can be like me and document what your feet are doing. A group of friends and myself were at a local fun park for a bachelorette party. I started out by taking just one of my feet, and liked how it turned out. So I decided to keep on taking pictures of my clodhoppers.

Pros: My feet don’t complain about getting their picture taken. Also, it is a whole new perspective on the event. I enjoyed taking this creative approach and trying something new. I feel like I would try this again, and see if I could take better photos.

Downside: You get a lot of strange looks from the other members of your group when you keep pointing your camera at your own toes. Plus, holding up a game of mini golf so you can pose on the course doesn’t go over well. 🙂

My feet inside the Go-Carts

My feet playing mini-golf.

My feet waiting to play a game of laser tag.

Hope everyone has a wonderful and creative week!

-Amanda

Shooting the moment: Sunset

This evening I peeked out the window and saw a breathtaking sunset. Knowing there were only moments before the colors faded, I grabbed my phone and started shooting. It took a couple of tries to get a shot I really liked. The first shot had power lines in it, so I adjusted my position. When I did that I had a big, beautiful tree in my frame that looked great silhouetted against the magnificent colors of the sky. Unfortunately I didn’t have a tripod with me, which caused the image to be slightly out of focus.

This is the image that I liked the best. One of my resolutions for 2020 is to learn how to work my DSLR camera better. Once I have learned the functions for my Fujifilm, I am going to be using it every chance I get. I can’t wait to see what an image like this would look like through the lens of my DSLR.

Hope everyone has a good weekend!

-Amanda

Special Moments: Coffee for Two

This weekend, my husband I got the chance to get coffee together. We found ourselves in a quaint little coffee shop. The walls were filled with local art for sale, the tables were crowded with chattering guests, and the store smelled of the sweet aroma of coffee. I was going to order a white chocolate mocha, but the barista suggested the Candy Cane Mocha instead. I decided to try it, and it was delicious.

If you happen to have your own special coffee moment, try some of these shot ideas.

Photo Tips

  • Try getting shots of your coffee from all angles
  • If the barista writes your name on the cups, get a shot of the names close together
  • A picture of hands wrapped around the cup. Try getting a shot with mitten hands

Have a wonderful week!

-Amanda

Welcome 2020!

It is hard to believe a new year is already upon us! 2019 is all wrapped up, and now it is time for a new decade. A new decade means new goals and welcoming a unknown future. I hope you are getting a chance to think about your own goals and aspirations, both photography and other. 🙂 I have come up with goals for this blog and my photography. For the first time, I created a “vision board” for my new year’s goals. It was a lot of fun to make it, and I will hang it in a place where I can see it daily.

My board contains the 52 week challenge I am going to try, some of my old photos, my goals, and motivational quotes. I also included some butterfly stickers for my blog name. Below is an image of my finalized vision board. I have a couple of specific goals for this year, along with some vague ones.

My 2020 Vision board!

52 Week Challenge

In 2019 I tried doing monthly photo challenges, which involved taking a photo every day. This time around, I wanted to do a weekly photo challenge. I am hoping if I have a whole week to complete the challenge, then I will be able to get a better shot. I looked at Pinterest for several challenges, and I liked this one the best. It is by Everyday Eye Candy, and their Pinterest account can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/lashawnwiltz/. I am hoping to use this as a “Photo Friday,” and post weekly updates on my Facebook page. It is a goal I am really looking forward to!

Make $35 on Shutterstock

This might seem like an odd goal. Mainly I want to sell more of my images on Shutterstock, and having a monetary goal will help. $35 is the minimum payout amount for Shutterstock, so I figured that would be a good goal to start with. For the 6 months I have been a contributor, I have had one imaged downloaded for $1.88. I know this means I have a long way to go, but I am looking forward to the challenge.

Holidays, Meaningful Moments, Special Times

This year, I am adding a little more structure to my posts. I am going to have three main categories: Special Moments, Capturing the Day, and Shooting the Day. Special moments will be those events and gatherings that are planned out. For these I will be able to do some pre-planning and be able to take better shots. Capturing the Day is going to be holidays and multi-parted events. There are a lot of “wacky” holidays that would be fun to try and capture. These events will most likely have multiple parts to them. Shooting the Day is those unexpected moments: Weather phenomena, running into a car show, things like that. These are ones that I do not have any pre-planning for, so I will have to do some creative thinking on the spot.

I hope that you will join me on this journey of mine! I also hope that 2020 will be your decade. 🙂

-Amanda

Special Moments: Star Wars 9 Showing

It is the end of a saga that began over 40 years ago. The last of the 9 canon Star Wars movies premiered December 20th of this year: Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker. My husband and I got to see it on the 21st, which is only one day after the premier. My husband had gotten plot spoilers for the last two movies, so we wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again! We went to a local, one screen theater to see the movie. There were several people outside the theater dressed as movie characters, which is such a fun addition! There were three altogether: Darth Vader, Ray, and a Jedi. They were waving at cars driving by, and the cars would honk and wave back. Groups of people came up and would get selfies with Darth Vader.

The costumes were great. These were not off-the-Walmart-shelf outfits, but carefully constructed cosplay costumes. The actors were in great form. Darth Vader kept asking people if they wanted to come over to the Dark Side. 🙂

Ray standing on the sidewalk waving to passing cars. I really wish I had captured the whole shadow for this shot. Something to remember for next time.

As they drew crowds to the theater, a line began to form. I was able to get a couple of quick shots of the actors waving to the people. However, I did not get a good group shot of them. In the new year, I want to be less shy about asking people for their pictures – especially in situations like this one. I found out after we left that there had been a costume contest after the showing. I wish I would have stayed for it to see even more cosplaying greatness. Cosplay photography is something that has peaked my interest for a few years. I am sad I didn’t have more time to get more shots. I was also relegated to using my phone because I didn’t think to bring with my good camera for this event.

Getting a shot of the movie poster
I wish this shot was clearer. I was trying to go for an old school feel,

In other news: The movie was good! It was definitely the best movie of the new three ones. Adam Driver really brought home his character. If you get the chance to go see it, I would highly recommend it. 🙂

-Amanda

Shooting the Moment: Fog

A week or so ago there was a fog system that moved into the area. While fog is not that uncommon, it was unusual for it to last so long into the day. I was excited at the chance to shoot some fog photos, because I had never gotten a good chance to do so before. I didn’t have time to get my good camera, so I was once again relegated to using the camera on my phone.

The fog descending into the background

I was able to get a couple shots of the fog that I really liked. I then edited a few of them with the settings on my phone. Some of the special settings/filters on the phone helped accentuate the fog. Plus, it gave the photos an other-worldly feel to them.

Fog on the Street

As we go into the week, I will leave you with this fog pun: I tried to catch some fog, but I mist. 🙂

-Amanda