Give me photography challenges!

So, I’ve just bought a new camera - a Sony RX100 - and I’m eager to put it through its paces. You, the Teeming Millions, can help! Tell me what to shoot, and I’ll go shoot it. Preferably in DC. And then I’ll post it online for your viewing edutainment. We’ll have fun!

I hope you get some good answers, but you might want to also check out some of the sites out there that specialize in this kind of thing, like DPChallenge or Digital Photography School.

I wish the SDMB had a forum that allowed inline images. Without that, it’s very hard to get a photo critique thread going. Having to link off-site to other pages just to see the photos makes it tough to maintain a thread like this.

One specific suggestion: Don’t go looking for big, public things to photograph. There are a million pictures of the Washington Monument and the Vietnam Memorial and such sites. Instead, try to focus on the small - the little things that make the city unique, street shots showing people doing something interesting, unusual geometry or image framing that shows something we haven’t seen before.

If you want a photography challenge, how about picking a theme instead of an object? Tell yourself that today you’re going to go out and shoot ‘motion’. All your pictures have to some way relate to motion, or travel, or something like that. Or, choose ‘sadness’. You could photograph a cemetary, or a person sitting on a sidewalk, or a cold blue lit empty street, or whatever. Force yourself to think and be creative.

If you can, try to get out in the hour immediately after dawn or before dusk when the light is warm and hitting everything at oblique angles. Shooting in the middle of the day generally results in bland images with washed out details.

If you’re going out in the morning/evening, plan your photo shoot so that the light is facing what you want to take a picture of. It doesn’t do you any good to take a skyline shot at dusk if the place you’re shooting from puts the sun in the wrong place to light it up. So think a bit about lighting direction before you set out, and you’ll save some time.

Your camera has a great lens on it, with an f1.8 speed at the widest aperture settings. Practice using it to take indoor shots without a flash unless you’ve got a studio lighting setup. That camera has pretty good high-ISO performance, so play around with various ISO settings indoors to see how much noise you can tolerate in your images. Once you’ve got your highest usable ISO speed set and the camera lens wide open in ‘Aperture priority’ mode, check to see what your shutter speed is and make note of it. That will give you an idea of the kind of action you’ll be able to record indoors without motion blur.

One drawback to your lens is that at the telephoto end of its range it’s quite slow: f4.9. I’m not sure what it’s like mid-range, but you should practice with the lens at all focal lengths to learn its limitations and how much light you need for a 70mm portrait shot vs 28mm wide angle or 100mm telephoto.

I don’t know if you are new to photography or just new to this camera. If you’re new to photography I’d say go and take pictures of things, but don’t worry if the subject is interesting - instead, worry about getting the effect you are trying to achieve. Figure out how you can get a nice portrait with an out of focus background. Plan to take a picture of something in low light, then figure out how to do it. See how close you can get with a macro shot, and how to make sure that you get enough light.

And at the start, shoot everything either in manual or in aperture or shutter priority. Stay away from the ‘auto’ setting of the camera, because you won’t learn nearly as much about the camera by just snapping away on auto as you will by having to make choices for shutter, ISO, and aperture with each shot.

Get a tripod. DC has a lot of night time/long exposure opportunities.

Go to ViewBug and click on their contests for a bunch of ideas.

I used to have a baseball blog called “No Pepper Games”, and I always wanted a picture from a ballpark of their “No Pepper Games” sign, but could never find one. I challenge you to find one (preferably at Nationals Stadium)! (In lieu of that, how’s about a good shot of the Presidential Race?) (And in lieu of that, how about just a good ground-level picture of a baseball field’s basepath (with chalk line) as it transitions to the grass of the infield?)


Sir. I work in Washington; I pass members of Congress and their staff on a regular basis. I asked you for a challenge.

Smart boobs. Like Sophie Marceau.

Look for different angles or lighting conditions for some of the monuments. Everybody knows what the Lincoln Memorial or The Wall looks like. Show us the same places but make it different and interesting. May require some technical things or creative. Or both. Have fun with it, too.

I would like a photo of someone picking the nose of Abraham Lincoln…

A good shot of the reflecting pool. (you know, with a reflection)

Take a photo of the back of the Washington Monument. (everyone shoots the front)

Cherry blossoms. In August.


You mean, pressed in a book? Or use a TARDIS?

You could always throw a pizza up in the air, photograph it against the sky, and title it: “Politicians Promises”

Aside from all the obvious monuments and such, my favorite views in DC are from the Rhode Island Avenue Metro platform facing East, and views of that metro station from the surrounding neighborhood. It’s just a smorgasbord of beautiful, oddly-juxtaposed shapes.

Also, a panoramic shot from 13th and Clifton, facing South. Bonus points if you can get one from inside or on top of that apartment building.


So, one Saturday afternoon a summer or two ago, my daughter and I were traveling on the Yellow Line from Pentagon City to Columbia Heights. For those who are unfamiliar with the DC Metro Subway system, this route takes you across the Potomac River. It is an interesting and lovely view of both DC and Virginia.

As we were taking in the view, we suddenly heard an excited young woman exclaim, “Look! It’s the ocean!”

Mr. Excellent, I challenge you to take that trip and produce a picture of the “ocean”.

Spend a day with the apeture set wide open and see everything in terms of shallow depth of field.

…if you are looking for a real challenge consider starting a365 Project. I’ve just decided tostart my second project after the first one sucked the life out of me a couple of years ago. You can follow along here.

It sounds easy: but taking a photo a day for a year is actually extremely challenging undertaking. It certainly put me through the emotional wringer more than once: but my photography skills improved exponentially and I had an impressive body of work afterwards as well.

As an aside: I started my descent into photography madness here on these boards: Its quite funny to look back on this thread: I even got the name of Canon wrong! It was thanks to Sam Stone that I ended up buying the 500D: and he offers good advice (as always) in this thread as well. The 500D died earlier this year but has been replaced by a 7D and a 5D!

The sun.

Get an extreme close-up of a spider.