My Personal Challenge





The challenges I have announced and asked for you to participate in over the last few weeks have all been about expanding ones vision, see beyond the obvious and capture photographs in a different way than you usually do. To be able grow as a photographer (or any artist for that matter), it’s important to thrust oneself beyond the comfort zone, every so often.

I have my own little project where I keep pushing myself beyond my usual approach to photography. Subject wise it’s something I would normally never photograph. That’s one challenge right there. In addition, I try to shoot the subject differently every time. One day I might only allow myself to use a 400 mm lens, another day only a 16 mm wide angle. Sometimes I shoot handheld with long exposure time, sometimes I move while capturing the subject. And so on and so forth. That’s a second way to push myself beyond the usual. Finally, the subject is very limited in space and options. That’s definitely challenging in a third way.

Some of you may have seen some of the results in previous posts over the years. I have posted about this personal work in posts such as The World from the Backyard, Instagram my Backyard, Out of Comfort Zone and Challenge and Expand. Some of the titles already disclose what the project is all about. Yes, I am photographing my backyard. And I know that for many of you subject wise it doesn’t sound like much of a challenge, but for me it definitely is. I would never have photographed my backyard had I not decided to make it into a challenging project.

The photos here are some of the last ones captured at the end of summer and the beginning of the autumn.





62 thoughts on “My Personal Challenge

  1. Wonderful photographs… It is so nice to see your challenge dear Otto. You see, you look and then you touch with your camera… This is something I can express… Exciting. Thank you, love, nia

  2. I have followed your challenges with great interest Otto and have really enjoyed the results. Perhaps next time I will be brave enough to submit something of my own! I love the photos of your backyard – they are so natural. My favourite is the last one.

  3. Once, I got some really interesting images, when I was constrained by lack of options(lenses).

    I had my simple but sharp Canon 50mm 1.8F and I really enjoyed the day.

    Now, I also started following the philosophy you have shared here 🙂

    Thank you so much for this post…

  4. A friend once set herself the challenge of taking a photograph from her back door at the same time, every day, for a year. It was amazing to see how many people became caught up in the process and followed her, clicking in every day to see what subtle new difference might have arisen. One day there was a bird. Another, day, the garden hose hadn’t been coiled. A flock of geese in the sky, the first snow — there always was something new.

    And that’s the lesson I keep reminding myself of: even the ordinary can be interesting, and somtimes the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Each of these photos is interesting, and the last? I think it’s extraordinary how the arrangement of the chairs evokes a sense of movement and travel, as though they’re part of an invisible train.

    1. I actually thin think the ordinary can be the most interesting, subject wise, simple because it can touch the viewer with something that they can personally related to. The exotic is exciting, but only to a certain point. As to the project of your friend, I think it shows exactly this – and why so many people would follow it from day to day. It’s simply a great, everyday project. Thanks for sharing this, Linda.

  5. Looking at something we see day in, and day out in a new way is challenging. But you have captured the small beauties in your own backyard so well.

  6. My favorite is the table. So simple but tells such a story of the loss of summer and the promise of fall.

    I have spent much time in my back yard taking photos. Once I even took a small point and shoot with me while I mowed the grass (we have a lot of grass) and found that when I was looking there were quite a few beautiful things hidden out there. I enjoyed your backyard!

  7. The photos are great and they virtually transported me to your backyard 🙂 I’ve been trying to give myself challenges and projects but I am a bit all over the place as a person, so I need a little bit of more discipline. How do you decide on a specific challenges over others that come to mind?

    1. That’s a difficult question to answer. But sometimes I start a project without much thinking about it.It sort of grows on me. Sometimes I have an idea, but I never get around to even start it. And then for ideas I deliberately pick and start working on, I think what is most important is that it feels right, that I can wrap my heart around it – and it creates some kind of excitement in me. I really think the most important is to go with the heart. 🙂 I am not sure if this is of much help for you, but it’s the best I can consciously think of as it’s often an intuitive approach.

  8. I really like the wabi-sabi feel of this collection, Otto. It’s beautiful. You’ve made me think about how I photograph my backyard. I’ve been doing it for so long that it might be becoming stale. Perhaps it’s time to either look at things in a different way, and/or find something to challenge me.

  9. Oh Otto, you KNOW i’m all over THIS ONE…. i’m contemplating my back yard as we speak…. i love the shots you took!!!!! and i love the challenge!!!! but you probably knew that i would…. the things that sound like not much of a challenge are often the HUGEST challenge of all…. like me with my blur, my goodness it’s an exercise in TERROR for me, hahaha. BUT i know those things are good. I used to only do things i was great at, like physics and computer science, etc… then when i lost those things to mini strokes i realized that true strength comes from doing all those things I ignored because I thought they didn’t define me. BUT what you bury, you bury alive 🙂

    1. You have many good points here, Elaine.And yes, it’s often what seems easy that is the most difficult. Good to practice to be able to handle terror. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience – and go for the backyard!

  10. I love your garden images Otto! It just shows that you don’t have to travel to make really interesting engaging images. I think I will take up the backyard challenge myself and see how I go. It does require a different approach. As you know I’m all about the grand vistas and this really will be a challenge for me but I think it will be a very rewarding one in encouraging me to ‘see’ in a different way.

  11. Such lovely subjects caught so beautifully, perfect perspective and lighting, you are a true master of your art, Otto! thank you.

  12. These images are stunning. The technique of focusing on one section of a subject draws me in and makes me want to see or imagine more. In my imagination I can picture a whole scene for each shot and they are not always the same. Any photo that can stimulate a viewer like that is a success.

  13. These are such excellent shots Otto ~ each one telling a different story. It is clear to see that thought went into every level of composing & exposing…and experimenting is such a great way to find and learn how great photos are created.

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