One of the more memorable photography assignments from my college years involved photographing the exact same location 10 or more times on different days and at different times of day. I remember the professor advised us to pick a location that we could easily get to on a regular basis during the duration of the assignment. I’ll be honest, when the assignment was first announced, I groaned inside. How could photographing the same location over and over be anything but boring busywork?
I chose to photograph the KID 590 AM radio station transmitter building in rural Idaho Falls. This little cinderblock building is part of the broadcast history of our city and it was also situated along the 30 mile commute I made everyday to Rexburg, Idaho to attend classes at BYU-Idaho. I thought it would be a convenient subject for the assignment as I could stop either on way or the way home from school and grab a shot.
All I could afford at the time in the way of a camera was a point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot SD600. The camera shot decent digital photos for the time but I was limited to JPG only and no manual settings. (The PowerShot is still a great line of point-and-shoot cameras, I recommend the Canon PowerShot Elph 130.)
Despite my initial cynicism, after I had stopped and photographed this old building a couple of times, I started to see what the point of the assignment was. It was pretty amazing how different the same location can look depending on the location of the sun and the current weather. It was fall in Idaho which meant just about any weather condition was possible. Sure enough, I even shot the building during an early snowstorm.
Things I Learned
1. The direction of light can change dramatically over the course of a few min, but it also changes more subtly over the course of several weeks as the seasons change and days get longer or shorter. One side of the building would be illuminated by the rising sun when I first started the assignment but not towards the end of the assignment several weeks later. I realized that the way the building looked in some of my photos would only be possible to capture during certain weeks of the year.
2. The color of light is always changing. Weather, atmospheric conditions, clouds, smoke, wind, dust, all play a part in the color of natural light.
3. Light defines shape and texture. I quickly realized that the quality and direction of light is what defines and exposes shape and texture to our eye. On an overcast day when the light was flat, the images I created of the building were also flat. I much preferred how the building looked during early morning or late afternoon when the sun’s light was illuminating the building from the side. This made all the detail and texture in the surface of the bricks pop out. Even the grass was more interesting in these lighting conditions.
I challenge you dear reader to see what you can learn about photography by photographing the same subject/location at least 10 different times between now and September 1st, 2014.
- Pick a location and stick with it! Most series look more interesting if you keep the composition and position of the camera the same for every shot.
- Outdoor and naturally lit locations usually work best, but be creative.
- To display your series, arrange your final photographs in a grid or collage in photoshop and save it out as a final image.
- Share your image on the Camera Stupid Photo Sharing Facebook Group!
I will review all of the images from the challenge and pick a winner by September 10th, 2014.