Field Guide

Day 1

Love affair with tree

  • Find a tree.
  • Turn your phone on airplane mode.
  • Set your timer for 10 minutes.
  • Take 3 slow breaths, clearing your mind of everything but this assignment.
  • Take a few shots of the whole tree.
  • Then get close and photograph all the patterns and textures you see.
  • Keep moving around the tree
  • Don’t stop shooting until your alarm goes off.

Day 2

Your favorite color

  • Choose a color. Let’s say, ‘blue’.
  • Turn your phone on airplane mode.
  • Set your timer for 10 minutes.
  • Take 3 slow breaths, clearing your mind of everything but this assignment.
  • Photograph blue things for ten minutes.
  • Get as close as possible to your subject.
  • Let the ‘blue’ thing fill your whole frame.
  • You can photograph parts or all of your subject.
  • Have fun.

Day 3

Get closer

  • Choose something (not a human) that interests you.
  • Set your timer for 10 minutes.
  • Take 3 slow breaths and clear your mind.
  • Take a photograph of your subject where you find it.
  • Now, move closer and take a few shots, then closer, then closer and keep shooting.
  • Take a moment to be sure your photographs are in focus. You may be too close.
  • If you have time, consider moving it to where the light is better or more interesting.
  • Don’t let your mind wander.

Day 4

What you don’t like

  • Put on your most negative lens and photograph something or things that you don’t like.
  • Once you are at the site where you will shoot, put your phone in airplane mode.
  • Set your timer for 10 minutes.
  • Take 3 slow breaths and as you do, clear your mind.
  • You can spend your entire ten minutes on one thing or wander to photograph as many as you can fit in the time you’ve allotted. Let your subjects fill your frame.
  • Some things are better illustrated in context and if your subject is, move further back.

Day 5

A pile of junk

  • Today’s assignment illustrates you can find beauty wherever you look
  • Find something ugly to photograph. Again, do not choose a person. It can be a pile of junk, an old car, a mess inside or out, ramshackle building, anything
  • Start by photographing the entire scene. Take several shots to be sure you illustrate what an unattractive subject you’ve chosen
  • Now come close and focus in on interesting colors, shapes, patterns and textures, on anything that pleases your eye. Don’t be put off by rust or peeling paint, even debris
  • Shoot verticals and horizontals, slant your camera to the left or right. From time to time, take a moment or two to look at how beautiful your pictures are

Day 6

Beautiful

  • Choose something you find beautiful. It can be of the natural world: a beach, park, flower, or anything alive, other than a human being. You may prefer something man made; perhaps a building or car.
  • Put your phone into airplane mode, set your timer for 10 minutes and take three slow breaths, and empty your mind.
  • Photograph your subject in its entirety and then photograph its parts
  • If it’s movable, move it to a place with a different kind of light.
  • If you have time, try placing it on a different background.

Day 7

People

  • Spend your ten minutes making candid pictures of people. It is best to photograph people you know.
  • Just take out your cell phone and start making pictures. Just a brief explanation if someone asks, “I need to take candids for a class I’m taking. (you are) Just ignore me,” usually works.
  • Get as close as you can. If you have a zoom lens, use it.
  • Photograph people in conversation, concentrating on their work, or just having fun.
  • If you have friends with children, spend your ten minutes photographing them. They too will smile for the camera, take a quick shot and then ask them to ignore you.
  • As with all assignments, turn your phone on airplane mode when you start. Don’t let your mind wander. Don’t wait for a great shot. Just keep shooting. You’ll be surprised at how many good ones you get.

Day 8

A week of gratitude

  • Think of things, not people, you are grateful to have in your life.  Can be as simple as a cold beer waiting for you in your refrigerator at the end of a hot difficult day.
  • Shoot in your home, neighborhood, place of work, anywhere you’d like.
  • As you shoot, clear your head of everything else going on in your life.
  • Focus on the object, what you like about. If you think it is beautiful, say so, not out loud, but in your head.
  • While all assignments can be done in 10 minutes, take as much time as you wish.
  • Get close and try to let your subject fill the frame.
  • Important. As you photograph each object, say thank you. You don’t have to say it out loud.

Day 9

One important thing

  • Put your phone in airplane mode and set timer for 10 minutes
  • Choose  one important thing and spend your entire session photographing it.
  • It can be something lighthearted or something deeply meaningful to you, something from day 8 or something entirely different.
  • Photograph the whole object wherever you find it.
  • Shoot it from straight on and then from different angles
  • If it’s small enough to move around, move to a place with a better background and/or light.
  • Move your camera closer and photograph its parts.
  • As you work, stay focused.
  • Say, thank you

Day 10

Something you treasure

  • Today, as you photograph something you treasure, try to work in a quiet place where you can be alone and fully focused.
  • As you work, think about why you treasure it, perhaps of the person who gave it to you, or how it came to be yours, the moment it was first in your possession.
  • Your subject can be a ‘thing,’ a pet, or something in nature. It should be something so meaningful to you that would be painful to lose or never see again.
  • Be thoughtful about the background. Keep it as simple as possible. If it’s something small, consider creating a ‘sweep’ as a background with a solid colored piece of fabric, a blanket, or sweater, anything without apparent seams or patterns.
  • Move close, closer and closer again.
  • If it is an animal, be patient. Take as many shots as you can, of the whole animal and of parts.
  • Remember you can use the cropping tool on your camera when you are done and just create a headshot

Day 11

Your Favorite places

  • Go to a favorite place and photograph it.
  • Begin with 3 slow long breaths and empty your mind of everything, but what you like about this place. While there are likely to be distractions, commit ten minutes to be fully engaged in your assignment. Try not to talk to people while you are working.
  • It can be in a park, shore, your home, work, a place you hang out with your friends, even a house of prayer.
  • Take photographs of as much of the room or place as you can get into your frame.
  • Don’t worry if you can’t get all of it. It’s very hard to do without a wide angle lens.
  • Make a lot of pictures from many different angles.
  • Shoot from as far away as you can get and then come closer and shoot sections.
  • Zoom into things you like about it, the furniture, the view, the way light comes through a window or if it is outside, through the trees.
  • Make shots of what you like most about it.
  • And as you work and when you are through, say thank you.

Day 12

People you are grateful to know

  • Today, photograph people you are grateful to know.
  • These can be ‘smile for the camera’ shots or quick candids
  • Your subjects can be people you are close to, or just people you like. Choose colleagues  at work, family members, neighbors, classmates or friends.  You don’t have to have a relationship. It can be a friendly barista in the coffee shop or a neighbor you often pass.
  • It’s always a good idea to ask people if you can take their picture. You will know when it is not necessary.
  • Get as close as you can get to the people you have chosen to photograph.
  • Do not post or publish shots you have not asked permission to use.
  • Before and after you take someone’s picture, thank them.
  • When you look over your shots, say thank you for the pleasure of having people you like in your life and your growing ability to capture what you like about them with your camera.

Day 13

Candids

  • Today, shoot candid shots of one person or a few you are grateful to have in your life.
  • Ask your subjects for ten minutes. Ask them to ignore you and allow you to photograph them while they are going about what they would normally be doing.
  • Take as many pictures as your subject will allow. The human face changes so quickly, you think you are capturing the perfect expression and painfully often, you are not.  Shoot a lot. Digital images are free.
  • Your subjects are likely to be self- conscious at first, but as you shoot, they will relax.  The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable they will be as well.
  • When you photograph people, assure them you will send them the good shots and you will not post their picture unless you ask them first.
  • Don’t make yourself crazy trying to get the “perfect shot,” just relax and have a good time.
  • When you are finished shooting. Play with the different editing tools on your camera. There should be one that desaturates: converts the photograph from color to black and white. Another crops, and gets you closer.
  • Most importantly, don’t forget to say, Thank you.

Day 14

Someone you treasure

  • Someone you treasure
  • Choose one important person in your life and shoot his or her portrait. What matters most in your choice is how positively you feel about the person. Your portrait will show it.
  • A portrait is a photograph of a person comfortably looking at the camera or away from it. It can be extremely informal or not. Your subject can be laughing, smiling, serious or just looking at the camera.
  • Try to find a setting with good light and an interesting or simple background.
  • As you work, keep at the front of your mind the qualities you admire, love, or treasure, but don’t worry about making your photographs illustrate those qualities.
  • Move around your subject and ask them to look at you or look away.
  • Look down at your photos to be sure you are getting enough light on their faces and that you like the compositon of the shot.   Keep in mind that you can crop your photos with the editing tool, but try to frame the shot the way you would like it to look.
  • Remind yourself the time your subject spends with you is a gift. Say thank you.

Day 15

Your morning

  • When you get up, push that overwhelming list of what you have to do today into a ‘later’ file and commit to taking the next 10 minutes to enjoy photographing what you see when you wake up.
  • Go straight into your photographer mode. Give yourself 10 minutes or as long as you want to take.
  • Photograph your bed, the folds of the blankets and sheets, the hollowed-out place where you laid your head. Shoot your bedmates if it’s ok. Try not to wake them up.
  • Photograph what the light coming through the windows illuminate.
  • Walk into the bathroom and look in the mirror above the sink. Take a picture. Photograph what you keep on your counter and sink
  • When you dress, take pictures of the inside of your closet and drawers.
  • Take pictures of the steam rising as you brew and your morning cup, your breakfast, and the people and creatures you see. Look out the window and shoot the view. Shoot the way you get your morning news.
  • Before you leave, photograph the way you left the rooms in your home. If you carry a bag or purse to work, photograph the inside

Day 16

A walk through town

  • Shoot any time of the day. If you like start where you left off yesterday, going to work or school.
  • Look around you and photograph anything that catches your eye.
  • Photograph buildings, street views, buses, trains, doors, windows, flower boxes, signs.
  • Get in close and spend some time on things you never notice. Shoot street lights, sewer covers, painted surfaces, fences, rusty old locks, bikes, parts of cars, Everything and anything.
  • Photograph shapes, circles, squares, and patterns, colors too.
  • Anything you see is a possible subject. Trains, cars, bicycles and parts of each.  Get in close to things. Sometimes I can look down and spend ten minutes just on what I see on the ground around me.
  • Have a good time.

Day 17

Your lens

  • What you don’t like
  • Today is the first of two assignments designed to illustrate that we all have control over the way we see the world.
  • Choose a room in a public place you frequent often or in your home, work, or a friend’s.
  • Spend your ten minutes photographing anything in that room that displeases you.
  • Come in close to a messy tabletop, dishes left in the sink, furniture, objects or anything in disarray.
  • If you dislike the entire room, photograph as much of its entirety as you can fit into your frame, be sure to have prominent in your picture the worst of what is there.

Day 18

Rose colored glasses

  • Today, put on your most positive lens. Focus only on what you like.
  • If you dislike the room, zero in on only what you like. Zero in on a bouquet of flowers, a piece of furniture, anything that pleases your eye.
  • Take the liberty to clear trash, rearrange things on tables, even move furniture to get a shot of something or a section you like.
  • Work with the light. Open window shades to bring in more if that helps.
  • If you like the entire room, try to make the best photos you can of the whole room. Get as far away as possible to get the widest shot. Some people have a panorama feature on their phones. If you do, try it.

Day 19

Something’s going to happen

  • Today make photographs that illustrate that something is going to happen or that something already has
  • Perhaps there’s a storm is brewing, Christmas decorations have begun to appear, going out of business sign, a pregnant woman obviously ready to give birth. . Make photos that tell what’s coming. A stoplight changing to yellow, flower buds appearing on the trees, children going back to school, a building being demolished. Go for a walk and look around you.
  • Have a good time

Day 20

Things we don’t see

  • Do this assignment in a room in your home or place of work. Close your eyes and take three slow breaths as you empty your mind of everything going on in your life. When you open your eyes, try to look at the things in the room as if you’re seeing them for the first time.
  • Move in close and photograph the objects and make photographs of their parts. Photograph colors, patterns, shapes, and textures. When you come in close, everything looks interesting.  Let your objects or parts of them fill your whole frame. Work quickly. As you look closely at things you will become aware of thousands of hours of design and engineering time have gone into objects you never think about.

Day 21

Curves

  • Spend ten minutes today looking for curves and photographing them, curves found in nature and those man-made.
  • You can do this assignment inside, but it more likely you will find more to photograph in a ten minute walk outside.  You will see curves everywhere you go.  Get as close as you can to your subjects and shoot from different angles.
  • There are curves everywhere. Cars are particularly interesting to shoot for this assignment. Not only are they designed to be curvy and appealing, but they reflect everything around them which will give you countless opportunities to create beautiful images.
  • Think about your composition and lighting as you work. Look for pleasing colors and interesting textures.

Day 22

Seeing the light

  • Look for and photograph every kind of light you can find.
  • As you take your three breaths to quiet your constantly chattering mind, think about the gift of your sight and what life would be without it.
  • Look around you and make photos of the light sources you see and the way those lights illuminate what is around them
  • Think about the quality of the light, if it is soft or harsh, if it casts dark shadows or lights evenly.
  • Try turning off all the lights in a room and closing the shades.
  • Turn on one light source at a time, making photographs of the lights themselves and the area or objects they illuminate. Study the differences of those lights.

Day 23

One light source

  • Today work with one man-made light source to light and photograph one interesting or beautiful object. Use a lamp with or without a shade, a fluorescent desk lamp, candles, a fire, even a strong beamed flashlight.
  • Turn off all the lights in the room where you’ve chosen to work.  Pull down shades. If you have extra time, create a photographers’ sweep as a background for your object.  Point your light at your subject and move the light around your subject in small increments, making photographs with every move. You can also keep your light in one place and move your subject around the light, whatever works most easily.

Day 24

Here comes the sun

  • Photograph the sunlight. Today make pictures that illustrate the way the sun lights the world.
  • It will be easiest and most productive for you to do this assignment at the time of the day photographers call the golden hours, in the morning during the hours shortly after the sun rises or at the end of the day when the sun is about to set.
  • You may work inside, photographing the patterns of sunlight coming through your windows. As it illuminates things in your home or the place you choose to shoot. As you look around you, you will see the shape of the light patterns, and the way the rays of light flatter objects it illuminates throughout the room.

Day 25

Shooting the night

  • Spend ten minutes after dark, shooting what lights the night. Night shooting is easiest in the busiest parts of town.
  • Look for dramatic pictures: illuminated buildings, doors and windows, lights on cars moving through traffic, streetlights. Shoot through the windows of restaurants and stores.
  • To avoid your camera’s programming which is designed to make everything look equally exposed, turning the night into day, use the exposure tool on your camera. Compose your photo and then touch the brightest spot in your picture with your fingertip. The exposure tool (mine has a sun) will come onto the screen. Your camera will expose for the spot you have chosen and let the rest of the photo go dark.
  • Have fun doing this. Be sure to hold your camera as steady as you can.

Day 26

Silhouettes

  • Today, expose for the light behind your subject instead of the subject itself. If you haven’t intentionally shot silhouettes before, start with something easy like trees or a friend with the bright sky in the background.  Instead of exposing for your subject as you would usually do, expose for the sky behind it. Play with the exposure tool that is on most cameras. Use that trick of putting your finger on the lightest part of the screen, the sky rather than the tree or person in the foreground. You will direct your camera’s light meter to expose for the light in the background. Your subject will be black or at the least quite dark and the background, perfectly exposed.
  • If when you are finished shooting, you still see details on your silhouettes you would prefer illuminating play with the editing tool on your camera.
  • picture and be mindful of the beauty around it.

Day 27

Window light

  • Today, find a willing subject. Settle your subject as comfortably as possible standing, leaning or sitting next to a window, or on the windowsill itself. Make photos of your subject in that flattering window light.
  • The quality of your portrait will depend mostly on your ability to see and capture what you like about your subject. That requires you to be totally comfortable with your camera and, as importantly, yourself when you are shooting.
  • Before you begin this window portrait session, go to the window where you plan to shoot, turn on your camera, and frame a shot without your model in place. You’ll feel much more confident when you begin.
  • Bring your subject to the window and position them comfortably. Begin by taking a few test shots to see if you like the quality of the light.  As you work, ask your subjects to turn into or away from the light, even to face it directly. Note the way those subtle changes in light can enhance your photos.
  • Take as many photos as your subject will allow. You will be surprised how different your portraits are taken only microseconds apart.

Day 28

Sunrise, sunset

  • Go to the best place to see the sun rising or setting and try to stretch out your ten minutes for as long as you can.
  • Begin taking pictures as soon as the colors start to change. Don’t stop until the magic stops.  Keep shooting, being careful to keeping your horizons parallel. Hold your camera firmly in your hands to avoid movement and blur.
  • Use your exposure tool, touching your fingertip to the place not on the sun itself, but on a bright place next to it to set your exposure.
  • Experiment. Try different compositions, some just sky and others that include the ground or water below. Shoot silhouettes if you have time,
  • Although you are on an assignment, allow the deepest part of you to enjoy the beauty you’re privileged to witness. Say thank you, again and again and again.