Archive for the ‘365’ Category

Project 365 – 2011 in Review

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Well, I wasn’t really sure if I could pull it off but I managed to actually take at least one photo every single day for 2011.  If nothing else, I certainly picked an eventful year to document.  2011 covered my second trip to China, this time to meet Danni’s family, my engagement, a move, a trip back to Canada, the passing of my father, my wedding, honeymoon, many, many photo shoots and loads more.  All of which I get to remember as if it was yesterday just by looking at the calendar.

For the most part I really enjoyed the project but there were certainly days when I just wanted to pack it all in and not look at a camera for a few weeks.  It wasn’t the process of taking the photos that I struggled with, but coming up with a unique (ish) idea every day for 365 days in a row gets to be mentally draining.

I feel I got quite a lot out of the project in terms of my photographic abilities, especially in regards to lighting, but also with my post processing.  There’s nothing like taking a frantic photo just before going to bed and then trying to make it even remotely interesting in Photoshop five days later because it’s the only image you have from that day.

Did I ever cheat?  Well, yes and no.  When I initially wrote the code that would extract the images from my gallery and display them on my 365 page, I did it all based on the images individual EXIF data.  What this means for you non-photo types is that each image stores the date and time it was captured in the image itself and I used that information to display the photo for a given day.  This meant that I couldn’t just name an image Day 77 and expect it to show up on the calendar for that day, I had to actually take a photo that would include a timestamp for March 18th, 2011.

There were a couple of nights where midnight had come and gone before I realized I hadn’t taken an image that day so I rolled the time in my camera back to 11:30ish and took my photos.  There was exactly 1 day where I’d forgotten to take an image all together so I took 2 photos the next day and fiddled with the timestamp and there was also another day where I’d taken an image but then formatted my card and couldn’t recover my photo.  Fortunately, my cousin was here for my wedding and had taken a similar image with her camera, so I took that image and used it as my own.

So, out of 365 images I’d say that 360 of them exactly fell within the initial guidelines I’d set out to fulfill.  A couple bent the rules slightly, one image was lost and psudo-recovered, and one day where I failed completely to take a photo.  All in all, not too bad.

Favourite Images

One of the main things I’ve noticed about the images I like best over the past year is that they almost all contain people.  I did waaaay more self portraits than I thought I would have (roughly 66, depending on how you define a self portrait) and it’s really helped me to decide how I want to pursue and further my photography.

Initially I wanted to include a favourite image from each month in this wrap-up post but that seems a bit excessive so here is a selection of 5 of my favourite images from this project:

Day 41

Day 80

Day 170

Day 300

Day 354

Along with the highs, there are also some truly dismal images that made their way online.  I’m chalking these up to bad weeks, time constraints and general lack of motivation.  Also, I started playing a new online game part way through the year and it tended to compete with the time I should have been allotting to this project.

Tips for your own Photo-A-Day project

If you’re planning on pursuing a project like this yourself, here are some helpful tips.

1. Tell a lot of people about your project.  This may seem a bit self-serving but I did this mainly to motivate myself into continuing.  The last thing I wanted to have was people asking me ‘what happened’ or ‘why did you quit’.  Especially from my parents.

2. Buy a macro lens.  Seriously, this saved me on many an evening where I had no ideas, no motivation and just needed a photo of something.  A macro lens in the right hands can be an amazing tool, but it can also be a life saver when it’s 11:48pm and you’ve been staring at your TV remote control for the past 15 minutes wondering how you could make a decent photo out of it.

3. Carry a camera with you everywhere.  I picked up this rule from other 365’ers before starting and it really is helpful.  Unfortunately for me, I take public transport everywhere so tossing my camera and a couple of lenses in the car isn’t an option.  And since my camera alone weighs 2 pounds before adding a lens to it, not to mention being rather bulky, carrying that with me every day wasn’t an option either.  The solution for me was to buy a small point & shoot camera that would fit in my pocket, or barring that my phone has a camera I could fall back on as well.

4. Focus only on taking a photo every day.  What I mean by this is don’t get too hung up on worrying about shooting, processing & posting a photo each day.  Generally speaking I would take photos all week long and then upload them in batches on the weekend when I had some more free time.  If I had set out to post a photo every day, I likely would have thrown in the towel very early on.

5. Start the project with friends.  This is actually an extension of #1, but I found that posting photos of my project with a group of other folks who were doing the same thing really helped to motivate me (in addition to being a good source of inspiration for those slow days).  Ideally, this would be something you could do with some real life photo centric friends, but I couldn’t convince any of mine that it was a good idea so it’s likely you’ll need to fall back on something like the flickr groups or similar.

Technical Breakdown

This part you can likely skip over if you’re not at all interested in the technical side of photography (camera settings, lenses, etc).

I wrote a little script that went through all of my images for the project and tallied up all of the technical details.  It’s a little insight into my most used settings which is probably only interesting to me but I’m going to include them here.  I’ve cleaned up the scripts output so it’s easier to read.

Camera Usage

I was mainly interested to see just how often I resorted to using my point & shoot camera over the year.  It was used on days when I was generally feeling lazy, but every now and then there were images made with it because I saw something I wanted to take a photo of and it was what I had on hand.

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV: 309
Casio EX-FC150: 40
HTC Desire HD: 6
Canon G9: 4
Canon PowerShot ELPH 100: 1
Unknown: 5

The unknown shots are likely images where I did something in the processing stage to remove the camera information, and the ELPH image was the previously mentioned photo from my cousin’s camera.


I’ve cleaned up some of the ‘weird’ aperture settings that were likely reported by my point & shoot camera or my phone.

f/1.2: 12
f/1.4: 16
f/1.6: 6
f/1.8: 9
f/2.0: 35
f/2.2: 3
f/2.5: 1
f/2.8: 31
f/3.2: 6
f/3.5: 40
f/4.0: 34
f/4.5: 8
f/5.0: 7
f/5.6: 50
f/6.3: 7
f/7.1: 10
f/8.0: 56
f/9.0: 5
f/10.0: 6
f/11.0: 8
f/14.0: 1
f/16.0: 1
f/22.0: 1
N/A: 12

Using f4.0 as my own personal definition of ‘wide open’, I took 192 images (53%) at the open end of the spectrum and 159 images (44%) ‘stopped down’.   This actually surprised me as generally I assumed most of my images were taken at f-stops wider than f4.  I suspect this is down to the number of self portraits I did as well as the amount of images taken with flash (both of which tend to work better with higher f-stops I’ve found).

Focal Lengths

I’ve actually edited this to just list the lens used instead of the actual focal length.  I find that’s more useful to me when looking at the year as a whole.

16-35mm: 26
24mm: 82
24-70mm: 2
50mm: 44
70-200mm: 13
85mm: 78
100mm: 56
135mm: 6
P&S: 58

It’s very likely that there would have been more photos from the 24-70 as it’s a great lens, but I sold it fairly early on in the year (March 25th to be exact).  Beyond that, I think it’s safe to say that my shooting is mainly dominated by prime lenses which isn’t any big surprise.

Exposure Times

Again, I’ve just simplified this into short, medium and long exposures.  For the purposes of this project, short is anything faster than 1/250th of a second (outside of my camera’s flash sync speed), medium is 1/250th down to 1/30th and anything under 1/30th of a second is what I’m considering a long exposure.

Faster than 1/250th: 37
1/30th to 1/250th: 224
Slower than 1/30th: 73
N/A: 33

Nothing too exciting here.  The bulk of the shots were taken at normal speeds, probably more so due to shutter speed limitations when using flash.  I was a bit surprised that there were so few high shutter speed shots, but I think that comes down to the fact that so many shots were done inside, plus the general lack of bright light (aka: the sun) here in the UK.


I was going to leave this chart out, but I suppose for completions sake I’ll add it in.

50: 23
80: 1
100: 82
125: 5
160: 3
200: 71
250: 1
320: 3
400: 65
500: 1
640: 2
800: 50
1000: 1
1250: 2
1600: 34
2000: 1
2500: 1
3200: 5
6400: 2
N/A: 12

About all this really tells me is that I generally use full stop ISO increments (232 times vs. 20).  I should probably change my camera settings to full stop switching instead of 1/3, but I’m so used to the action now that I’d rather not have to retrain myself.


I’m afraid I don’t really ever shoot with on camera flash, so even when I am using flash (via radio triggers) they aren’t recorded in the EXIF data.  At a guess, maybe 2 or 3 images/week were done with some sort of flash or another?

Wrapping it all up

While I did have quite a bit of fun with this project, I’m not certain I’d ever do it again.  It provided me with the opportunity to get a lot of fun images, but the days when I was without an idea were simply too frustrating and I’d end up unhappy with whatever I ended up posting online.  It’s possible I’ll do something like a photo-a-week project in the future, or possibly a 365 for our first wee one whenever that happens.

I had a lot of support from my girlfriend/fiancé/wife (to be fair, she was all three this year) who was happy to be my model every now and then.  She was also kind enough to let me leave most of my lighting gear set up in the living room which meant I used it more often.

I also had a lot of moral support from my family, mainly my mom who would make sure to email me to ask why I’d quit if I was more than 3 or 4 days behind in uploading images.  My good friends over at POTN were also helpful for motivation and ideas.  There’s also a group of folks there who are dedicated to doing 365 projects in 2012, so it’s not a bad place to check out if you’re thinking of starting your own project.

What next?  Well, I have several months worth of images that need to go online and accompanying blog posts to be written so that should keep me busy for the better part of January.  Then I suppose it’s back to my usual routine of a few shoots each month but I’m definitely going to try to do more organized outings with specific themes and goals.  And if my favourite images from the year have any influence on me at all, expect a lot more portrait photography in 2012.

Happy New Year!

365 in Review, March

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

I’m still really enjoying my project, but it’s getting tricky to find the time every day for photos and I feel that March shows this more than the previous months.  There are several dull photos that were done just to fill the days requirements, but I’m blaming my move and engagement for taking up a lot of my free time.

I’m actually afraid to miss a day at this point because I’m worried that I’ll think ‘well, I’ve missed one day so one more won’t make a difference’.  I do the same thing when it comes to eating unhealthy food (well, I’ve had one cookie so I may as well finish off the bag), so it’s something I’m doing my best to avoid.

My goals for April are to shoot a few more portraits of my close friends here in London.  It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and this project gives me an easily explainable excuse so my friends don’t just think I’m being (even more) odd.

The overview page for the project is here, in case you’ve missed the progress so far.

365 in Review, February

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

2 down, 10 more to go!  I wish I could say it’s been easy just firing off a few shots each day and then picking the best of the bunch, but I tend to spend most of my day trying to think of just what to shoot.

I haven’t missed a day yet though and I’m really hoping to keep that up throughout the year.  There have already been one or two days when I’ve realized at 11:00PM I haven’t taken my shot for the day and had to rush to meet my deadline.  Close yes, but still on track!

February was a good month for practicing my off camera flash techniques, something I’m really happy with and will continue to do going forward.  March will be a busy month for a number of reasons; I’m due to move in the next week or so which will consume a lot of my free time (and all of my patience).  There may be more snap-shot style images for that reason so don’t be surprised to see more of the Casio in the EXIF details.

You can view my most recently posted image here, or if you’d like to view the year thus far you can see the calendar here.

365 in Review, January

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Well, it’s been a whole month since I started my Photo a day for a year project (or Projekt 365 as the cool kids are callin it).  I’ve managed the first month of this endeavor without too much trouble.  It has to be said that it’s easier to take a photo a day when you’re on holiday and for me at least, January was about 60% holiday.

The past few days I’ve actually struggled a bit for photo ideas so I’ve begun trolling other peoples projects to steal ideas for inspiration and writing down some concepts.  I’m good for the next couple of weeks at this point.

Here are just a few of my favourite images from January.  I don’t know if I’ll make a monthly post every month as it may just wind up getting annoying, we’ll see.

To see the whole month at a glance click here or to view the latest image here.  I’m also working on an RSS feed for that project which should be up shortly.

Edit: The RSS feed is now up and running here.


Thursday, December 30th, 2010

It’s that time of the year again and I’ve just realized I never got around to making a Christmas post last year.  I may have to add that in retroactively once I’m finished with this one.

Having gone home and experienced Canadian winters last year, I was more than happy to stay in London where the thermometer rarely dips below 0°C.  Also, it was to be my first official Christmas with Danni so taking off and leaving her on her own didn’t seem like the thing to do for the festive season.

We spent Christmas eve together eating way too much and watching several Christmas movies (you can’t go wrong with Elf).  Sleep came easily after a few pints, a trick I’m willing to bet my mom would have paid good money to learn when I was an over-excitable child waiting for Santa.  There’s probably something to be said about giving children beer, but I’m sure there’s a balance to be struck there.

Christmas eve with our tree and table of snacks.

Danni was up shortly before 6am Christmas morning, but I made her sleep for another hour and she was content to open her stocking (sound familiar mom?) while I collapsed back into a coma.

After the gifts were opened (the winning gift being my new kindle!) it was time to get our Christmas dinner rolling.  We’d done a bit of prep work the day before but I’d never made a turkey myself so it was all a bit overwhelming.  Undaunted, and with the support of a few trips to youtube, some emails and phone calls home I was on my way.

Our turkey, ready for the oven.

Nothing says Christmas like a bacon wrapped turkey!  While it was in the oven doing it’s thing, we took the time to set up a mini photography studio in the living room to do some holiday portraits.  I love playing with the lights, but Danni tends to get impatient so it was just a simple 2 light setup on either side of the camera.  Large shoot through on camera right as the main light, small silver bounced umbrella on the far left.

Danni and I doing our Christmas portrait.

After the portraits, I spent an hour or so getting the side dishes ready and did quite well getting everything out in time.  We used the fancy upstairs dinning table for the first time since moving into this flat (as well as the dumbwaiter, which every flat should have) and it all turned out really nicely.

Our Christmas feast!

There are quite a few more photos in the gallery.

I thought I’d also make a quick mention of the project I’m going to attempt in 2011.  A photo a day for the entire year.  I’ve set up a separate website specifically for this endeavor, but the photos will be posted in the usual gallery and can also be accessed here.  I’ll likely post a monthly round-up at the end of each month with my favourite images from the previous few weeks here, just as a little reminder more than anything.

Wish me luck!