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2016 PhotoChallenge Week 1: B&W – MINIMALISM

Welcome to the the 2016 PhotoChallenge! Like last year, Trevor, Steve, and I will each stick to a theme throughout the year. My theme for the year goes back to the roots of photography: black and white. The subject matter will change and will vary widely, but will be designed to emphasize aspects of black and white photography.

I took a photography class many, many years ago in high school and fell in love with black and white. That was before digital photography, so I spent a lot of hours in the dark room, and seeing my images appear on paper hooked me. Now my daughter is taking photography in high school and got a Pentax K-1000 film camera for Christmas. I guess she was the inspiration for my 2016 theme. Seeing her film photos brought me back to the darkroom. I plan on going back to my roots this year and building a dark room out in the garage, so might even use film for some of the challenges.

We’ll get 2016 started with MINIMALISM. For minimalism you want to keep the shot as simple as possible. Minimalism in photography follows the same general principles of minimalist art by focusing on color, lines, shapes, and geometry to convey meaning. Since this is a black and white challenge, color won’t be something you can use. Your goal is to reduce the number of elements and keep the photo as simple as possible while focusing on the composition.
on the deck

Minimalism in photography often means isolating a subject from the surroundings, or picking subjects is stark or simple environments. In the example above, the photographer isolated a single leaf, but there were likely many more leaves on the deck. Isolation can be a key to minimalism, but this shot also employs strong compositional elements and contrast to convey a since of isolation. The deck lines divide the frame into three parts (rule of odds) and the placement of the leaf follows the rule of thirds.

All You Need is Money and Nerves of Steel

Lines and contrast are often used in minimalist photography. Lines lead your eye through a frame while contrast can be used to strengthen those lines. The shot above uses leading lines to convey a sense of the infinite. The shot below also uses lines and contrast, but conveys an entirely different feeling.

There's Love If You Want It

Minimalism often focuses on shapes, and shadows emphasize shapes. The shot below uses the repetitive shadows of a fence, but disrupts that repetition with a solitary bird.
rail fence
Minimalism, like all photography and art, means something different to each person. You can choose to find a subject, like the leaf, or focus on lines and shapes.

An open door

For me, minimalism is about removing distractions and focusing on one thing. With minimalism less is more – the simpler, the better. Keep your eye out for shapes and strong lines, then frame the shot to emphasize a single element.

If you need more inspiration for minimalism, here are a few links:

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org and #photochallenge2016.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.


2015 CHALLENGE, WEEK 23 OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY – PhotoSpheres & 360 Degree Panoramas

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Here’s what we call a photosphere. Although more popular with Android Phone users, I believe the concept was initially pushed forward by real-estate photographers who captured a scene with 4 images from an 8mm lens mounted to a full frame DSLR. Some pros even use computer controlled motorized panoramic heads. It would all be stitched in a professional software solution like KOLOR. The ability to create photospheres is now hitting mainstream thanks to Google. It has also expanded to IOS devices (IOS APP) and a variety of other devices. Small cameras like the Ricoh Theta are specifically designed to capture full spherical images.


The images in their rectangular form are called equirectangular images. To be viewed in their spherical form most photographers upload them to Google +, Google Views and/or share them on the Theta360 web site using the Ricoh application. If your equirectangular image was created with a DSLR instead of an Android phone, iPhone or an other compatible device, you will need to add XMP metadata information to your image before it can correctly be interpreted by Google Maps or the Ricoh Theta application. To do so google provides you with the tools on this web site : http://photo-sphere.appspot.com/

Once the correct information is entered and the XMP metadate updated, you can upload your equirectangular images to google maps and it will display as a photosphere with location information. You can also upload your images to Google+ and the Google+ API will take care of displaying your photosphere correctly.

There’s also your 360 degree panoramic images. They’re at times called a Cylindrical Panorama. Basically it’s a 360 degree view around you without the view of what is above you or below you. These are easier to create with a DSLR or any other camera. They can be merged and processed easily in Photoshop or with an application similar to Microsoft’s Image Composite Editor (ICE). Again the easiest way is to use a mobile phone. The android camera app has it built-in. I created the above 360 panorama with my Google Nexus 4. When I create them with my DSLR I like using a 50mm lens.

Here are a few resources for you:

  1. Al Tompkins has an article on PhotoSpheres : http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/visuals/280433/photo-sphere-a-free-and-simple-tool-gives-interactivity-and-depth-to-stories/
  2. Google has a reference page for creating PhotoSpheres and 360 Panoramic images on Google Views : https://support.google.com/maps/answer/3203091?hl=en
  3. KOLOR has some tutorials for shooting handheld and with mechanical assistance : http://www.kolor.com/panoramas/#start



Since this is Outdoor Photography, we’re looking for this week’s challenge to be completed in an outdoor location. Due to the complexity this challenge may present you are free to choose an urban or natural setting.

Do some research, plan and choose your objective. Will you be creating a Photosphere or 360 degree panorama? A few searches on the internet like “photosphere with camera ***” and “how to create a photosphere with camera ***” should lead you in the right direction.

If you find technical resources that you wish to share that can help your fellow PhotoChallenge members, please feel free to share those links on the PhotoChallenge page @ https://www.facebook.com/photochallenge.org

Since Facebook and Flickr do not support spherical images, you only need to post the flat image of your 360 panorama or the equirectangular image. If you have a link to the animated spherical or cylindrical view on Google, Ricoh Theta 360 or other supported site, please include the link for all to enjoy.

I hope you’re all up to this Challenge. Don’t get discouraged. My first ever 360 panorama was not a great success, but I still like it.

I like to create and use Photospheres for my blog. I find it to be a rich multimedia tool that helps immerse my audience in ways that you just can’t accomplish with video and still images. I hope you enjoy the experience of creating Photospheres and 360 Degree Panoramas as much as I do.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org or #photochallenge2015.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2015 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2013 Challenge, Week 12: Technology

Keeping in mind that the personal computer started creeping into our homes in the 1980s, technology has been evolving at an astronomical rate. Our daily lives in modern society are now entirely intertwined with technology.

Audio and video tapes are an alien concept to a younger generation who’s grown accustomed to CDs, DVDs and downloadable digital media.

For week 12 of the 2013 PhotoChallenge lets document how technology has become part of our daily lives at home, at work and even in our cars.


Paper maps and navigation tools are pretty much a thing of the past. GPS technology adapted from the military has made it to our dashboards and and even our smartphones.


Keeping in touch with loved ones while on travel is now easier than ever with video conferencing. Once an expensive proposition video conferencing is now relatively free.

Radar detector going crazy.

With the use of radar and laser detectors, technology can save us a few dollars should we inadvertently speed down the freeway headed for a state trooper with a radar gun.

lasik 030

With advances in medical laser technology an Ophthalmologist can now give you back 20/20 vision with a Lasik surgery procedure.

Formigli Raquel Stock Carbon bicycle frame

Advances in manufacturing technologies and materials even help the good old fashion bicycle become lighter, stronger and faster than ever before.

There’s a million and one ways how technology has changed our lives. Technology is now evolving on a daily basis so you shouldn’t run out of subjects and ideas for this photo challenge. Show us the impact technology has on your life.

Participating in the 2013 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the PhotoChallenge Community on  Google+, Facebook,or Flickr.