Project 365

From the 1st January through to the 31st December 2013 I undertook my biggest photography challenge to date.  

One photo a day, every day, for a year.

When I started, I'd only been taking photography seriously for about 18 months - I wanted something to kickstart my creativity. I wanted to set myself a challenge that would help me to grow my skills and improve my photography.  I wanted to keep the quality as high as I possibly could, push myself to photograph things I normally wouldn't and in ways I previously couldn't.  Realistically I couldn't do this every day but I wanted to try.  The other goal I set myself was to publish the results - good or bad - on the internet and to try to join more photographic communities.

It was easily the most challenging and most rewarding photography project I've completed.  I can definitely recommend doing a project like this if you are looking something to spark your inspiration and drive your photography.

In no particular order, I've collected together my favourite 50 images below.  Some have a story, some are just nice to look at.  I hope you enjoy them.

Vertical - the highlight of 2013 and probably the best photo I've ever taken.  Continues to be bled dry as I submit it to photographic exhibitions.  When I saw it I knew it was a good shot but the response continues to surprise me!

Il Vino Italiano - my first attempt at high-speed photography, I used off-camera flash to freeze the action as the water splashed.  Very pleased with it!

Except I got the colours of the Italian flag the wrong way around...

Bits & Pieces - there's a sculpture near the Gherkin office made up of a huge number & variety of metal objects welded together.  It's fascinating & very cool!  I found it on a photowalk around the City of London.

This is technically three images HDR blended together to boost the dynamic range and converted to monochrome.  It's easy to spend time wandering around the image picking out details and if you look closely you can see my reflection!

Suffocated - I bought this gas mask from a Russian army surplus store.  I had a plan to try my hand at "Urbex" (urban exploration) and to shoot an atmospheric scene with this as a prop.  I didn't get round to the Urbex part but still wanted to use the gas mask.  As the project was nearing its end it was getting harder and harder to find inspiration for an image.  Suffocation seemed an apt name for this self portrait by that stage!

Poinsettia - just a simple colour & pattern image I liked.  I used a syringe to place a single water droplet on the hydrophobic red leaf of a poinsettia plant then shot it using my 100mm macro lens.

Bokeh Rocket - I'd seen some really clever & inventive bokeh photos online and had tried to plan out some versions of my own.  I took advantage of our Christmas tree and a photography prop I'm sure we all own!  I sellotaped the rocket to the ceiling to get the perspective I needed then photoshopped the tape out afterwards.

Little Planet London - "little planet", or polar projection, photos are nothing new but I'd never seen a really good one of London before.  This was my take on it, shot from atop Monument.

I don't even remember the title for this shot but thought it was cute and it turned out better than I thought it would.  Days like this were my favourite, when I had no plan or idea what to photograph and yet the results turned out nice.

Bruges - I was surprised this came out so well, shot from a moving plane on a trip to Europe.  I like how the clouds are lit up, like seeing light pollution in reverse.

I am Iron Dave - and I am a nerd.  HUD photos post-Iron Man were popular but my take on it introduced a ton of photography Easter eggs... See how many you can spot!

The Scoop - a popular location on the banks of the Thames in London, this is part of the More London area.  It's normally packed with people but the long exposure at this time of night means that most of the office workers & commuters are just ghosts.

Just a simple shot of a fibre optic lamp.  Works well as a wallpaper on your phone!

Bayeaux Cathedral - from a short road-trip around France.  The colours were unbelievably vivid!

To Wonderland - another from my trip to France, shot in the grounds of an old chateaux.  The weather was pretty crappy but these trees were so photogenic and felt like they were leading off to a fantasy world.  Some quick tweaks to the colour balance and this is the result.

Pilgrimage - I was reading a book, "The Years of Rice & Salt", which imagines a world if the 99% of the population of Europe died during the Plague.  As a result, it covers lots about the history & culture of the surviving nations & people, from Islam, to the far East.  After scenes set in Mecca & the Kaaba I googled to learn more - the images I found, of thousands of pilgrims praying in concentric circles, were fascinating.  This was my attempt at an homage using a magnetic and iron filings.

Leaf Skeleton - clearing out the house during renovations I found a leaf that had decayed leaving only the "veins"

Pick a Pepper - my first image to ever be sold!  I didn't see a penny of the sale, it's still in Getty's accounts, but technically it's an earner!  :)

The Sedlec Ossuary in Prague is built from the skeletons of 30,000 plague victims.  A bit of a morbid idea but a fascinating place to visit.  Quite spectacular!

Gravity Lapse I - the first in a planned serious of images that seemingly defy gravity!  No clues on how I shot this :)

Three's a Crowd - rooftop pigeon relationship drama!

The little toy, Danbo, is something of an internet phenomena and this was my first shot with the little guy!  It's also the first image I had get picked up by Flickr's Explore.  Which does make me question the merits of Explore...

Tower Bridge - it's hard to take a new and interesting angle of this landmark but here's my first take on the subject.  I wanted to combined the ancient solidity of the bridge with the frenzy of modern life around it.

Cellular - an unexpected abstract image I found when firing a flashgun underneath drinking straws.  It's now on my wall having earned the highest accolade, approval from my wife :)

Red Gerbera - straight up flower photos are, for me, a bit boring and clichéd.  I do keep trying my hand at them but can't see the attraction.  This was an attempt to shoot a flower but in an unusual fashion.

Finishline in Sight!  After nearly treading on this guy on my doorstep decided to treat him to a portrait!

These Hands

ight 

Light & Dark.  A composite of several image, this image needed a lot of trial & error to realise the vision.  I only finished shooting at 23:59, just technically inside the limit!

Spark!  The cooker hob ignition spark shot with a macro lens and extension tubes to get super close!

Nobody wanted to pose for me for portraits so I invented something called the "Selfie" - short for self-portrait.

I can't see the term catching on.

Storm in a Teacup - still life wasn't something I was familiar with or skilled in.  This was a still-life scene that I liked designing & shooting where the results matched my vision!

I can't bake cakes... quite evident from this picture!  An odd self portrait I know but it was an entry into a competition themed around "Celebration".  The whipped cream took three washes to get the smell out of my hair...

Since getting a macro lens I've been chasing bees & insects around the garden.  This time, armed with a flash to freeze the action, I managed to get one in flight.  Just a shame the background is a bit murky.

I read an article about a photographer, whose name now escapes me, who shot portraits of black, white & coloured people in South Africa in UV light.  The effect pretty much negates the original skin tone and shows up skin blemishes and images.  This is my version, albeit photoshopped to get the same effect and not shot under UV.

One London Bridge, an iconic building on my commute.  This is an HDR image to bring out the impact of the mirrored windows.  Surprisingly the skies are clear in London!

Cardiff Bay, another one of those days where I had nothing planned & no luck during the day.  This was a surprise out of the blue when visiting a friend in Cardiff.

Lavender Dawn - after waking up at 4am & driving to the location I sneaked over the fence into the field of the lavender farm.  I thought I was being very brave and doing whatever it took to get the shot!  Only to find another photographer with the exact same idea!

This is the first landscape photo I took that I really like.  The gorgeous natural light helped!

I used a homemade ND10 filter to freeze London's Millenium Eye.  With the greenish colour cast it reminded me of an old film look, even though this is essentially straight out of camera.

Red Squirrels are endangered in the UK and very rare except for certain locations in Scotland.  I also did a project on them as a child so seeing one in the wild for the first time in 15 years was pretty awesome.

My first - and so far only - attempt at focus stacking in super-macro photography.

It's cheesy and simple but I like it :)

Even looking at this shot of "The Lonely Mountain" years after I took it I get a niggling feeling of dissatisfaction - the weather sucked, the lighting sucked and when the conditions began to improve I was miles from where I wanted to be!  One day I'll go back and nail this scene, until then this is a reminder to go back and do it.

un & Vines

Sun & Vines.  I won a competition to go to a vineyard in the UK (yes, we do have them) to compete for a new camera.  No photoshop, no trickery - this was the best I could get.  It didn't win, but I thoroughly enjoyed my day.

Another long exposure shot, this is a 7 minute expose of an entirely man-made loch in Scotland!  Another scene to go back and revisit at some stage.

With time running out I reached for the macro lens, grabbed something from the garden and taped random gels onto my flashes.  The result was one of my most popular photos of the year.

This I like - it looks like posts in flowing water but is in fact a super-shallow DOF of the tips of a fork.

It's not exactly a spectacular portrait but it's important to me as my first model shoot where I felt like I learned a lot and enjoyed it.  Hoping to do a lot more in future!

Magnetic Levitation.

6.40 to Brighton.  A familiar sight, these train lines were what took me to work every day.

You can see the whole proejct over on my Flickr album.