Experimental Backyard

Those of you who have followed me for a while, may know or remember that I have this little backyard project of mine. Every so often I go out and spend some time in the yard and try to capture pictures I would not normally do. It’s my little playground where I can have fun and experiment as much as I want to.

My backyard project is a very unpretentious project. That is the whole point. No requirements and thus no performance anxiety related to whatever I do in the backyard. On the contrary, I let myself loose, I try out new approaches or techniques and I don’t care if it all turns out bad or boring. I go out in the yard and shoot deliberately with settings that would normally be regarded as mistakes, I break every rule the book, I shoot contrary to standard beliefs, all in order to have a place where nobody can tell me what to do, where nobody is hanging over my shoulder—not even myself.

Part of it is just to have fun without any pressure; part of it is a way to expand my visual language and my photographic voice. And I really enjoy every time I go out there. I don’t always get photos that is really worth the time spend shooting in the backyard, but I don’t care. It’s just lovely to not have any goals or requirements once every so often. Those approaches I try out in my backyard, I won’t dare to do on an assignment or at an important shooting. But back there it doesn’t matter. What more is, sometimes the trials come up with results that amaze me because they are so different from anything I could consciously have conceived or produced. Moreover, some of these «techniques» actually end up being part of my regular repertoire.

This time, for the pictures you see here, I deliberately went out and over-exposed the images with two stops. In addition, I selected a shutter speed of around one second. Sometimes I tried to hold the camera still, sometimes I intentionally moved it during the exposure. Long time ago I actually did this as a mistake during an assignment and I was taken by some of these images, that I hadn’t intended to make. They turned out quite interesting (of course it was nevertheless a catastrophe for the assignment). Now, in the backyard, was the time to try it out a little more purposefully. Since there is no way to actually have control of the final expression when I was shooting, I wanted to see how many photos I needed to take before one came out that could be worth saving.

The result is interesting. I am actually quite please with a few images. You may think they are boring daubs, and that’s quite OK. I think I like them for the resemblance with the expression of some of the impressionists from around the previous turn of the century.

For other posts with pictures from my backyard project, you may look up this entries: My Photographic Retreat, My Backyard Project, My Personal Challenge, The World from the Backyard, Instagram my Backyard, Out of Comfort Zone and Challenge and Expand.

60 thoughts on “Experimental Backyard

  1. I really like the first and the third picture, the “blurred” look and the colours are well combined giving an impressionist look to your photos. Yes, sometimes it’s very liberating just taking photo in a “wrong” way without any goal. Should we call it free wheel photography?

  2. It’s interesting to me how the photos induce a sense of vertigo. Looking at them, I keep trying to bring things into focus, but of course they won’t focus. At that point, I have to look away, to ease a rising feeling that’s almost nausea. That’s not so much a judgment on the images as it is a testament to their power. Our senses are connected to one another, and affecting one necessarily affects the others to a greater or lesser degree.

    1. That is a good observation. If we can trigger more than one sense in our creative work, then we should be very satisfied – even when the response may be negative. 🙂

  3. I like these. Pushing the limits can make some very interesting photos. It’s good to step away from the regular sometimes.

  4. These look to me like a storm is in progress – perhaps even a tornado, with wild winds tossing things in all directions. Your backyard project continues to yield fun results, Otto.

  5. I went back to your previous links and found them quite beautiful and interesting, I saw that I had been there before. I think this is a perfect plan to relax and have a little fun and who knows it might result in something very spectacular. Thank you Otto.

  6. I really like these, especially the last one. The movement felt is a breath of fresh air! I just found an old one of mine that was accidental when someone bumped into me as I snapped the shutter, so the movement gave the photo an abstract look.

  7. I think they came out great! I like all of them. I think once you dropped the pressure to get some thing then you basically opens up the door for creativity to emerge out.

  8. Love the 4th shot. I actually like many images with intentional movement. They’re great fun to experiment with (and also to see what other photographers do with the concept).

  9. I love them. The first three especially. Intentional camera movement is fun – I keep trying it, and often the results are dismal, but it’s still interesting to do. I like the way the processing and framing complement the images – perfect. Expanding your visual language and your photographic voice, while having fun – what could be better? OK, making an income helps, but like you said, these experiments can lead the way to expanding that, too.

  10. Not noting at all. On the contrary I think these are quite interesting and show an unusual perspective. What a fun project Otto.

  11. Diving deeply into one’s own space over time is a very rewarding enterprise, Otto – certainly in evidence in your shots. I never stop being amazed at my garden; I am inspired by your words to try and capture it in some new ways. As always, your posts are full of insight and creative advice.

  12. Every so often I make an accidental image, usually when twisting the camera from landscape to portrait alignment, and the shutter snaps…. and wow, I love the swirl of abstract that rewards me later when viewing them in the computer! Thanks for remindiing us that it’s ok to go a little awol and take photos for the joy of experimenting!

  13. I quite like these. They remind me of a dream sequence.
    Your project seems to be comparable to finding a secluded space and having a primal scream. No judgement but a terrific release.

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