I think I picked this exercise up from one of Freeman Paterson’s books, either that or one of my students bought it back from one his workshops to tell me about it. I started using it as soon as I could. I was lucky enough to join him on one of his workshops at Hopewell in New Zealand where he made us do it twice in the same week. Each time with a variation. This exercise takes a fair bit of discipline to do properly. I will include a couple of variations so for those of you with some spare time you can really push yourselves and repeat the exercise with slightly different criteria.
This exercise is about forcing yourself to extend what you see, and what you think makes for a good photograph.
Find a random location
Ok so this is a bit hard. The easiest way is to buddy up with one of your Foto Friends and get them to choose your spot, and you choose theirs. By doing it this way you can also time each other and make sure you both stick to the rules.
To do this yourself some people drive to a spot, say a forest or park. Park your vehicle, or choose another equally suitable starting point. From here walk 200 steps. Yes exactly 200 steps. You will have to count. You could make it a 850 steps if you want to get a bit further away from people.
Mark the spot, (with gentle care for the environment, rather than dragging your foot across the ground). Putting your camera bag down is plenty enough.
From this spot, without moving, you are to photograph for at least an hour and a half. I am thinking you should take at least a 100 photographs if not many more.
I have a bad back, so I find this exercise much more comfortable if I take a hiking chair or stool, or even a picnic rug. Don’t forget some sunscreen, insect repellent, and something to drink (these are always in my photography pack with my first aid kit).
Find as many photographs as you can. Good ones. Not just photographs for photographs sake. Search out the good ones.
Stay there for at least an hour and a half
Post some of your best photographs in the comments bellow
Post a maximum of three photographs from the exercise.
Comment on the work of others in a positive and encouraging manner.
Reflect and discuss on what you are learning from being forced into one almost random location.
What does this mean for the rest of your photography? Tell us in your comments. You may need to leave this bit some space to formulate in your thoughts.
You can repeat the exercise or use some of the following suggestions to make it harder and more challenging for yourself.
Repeating the exercise in a different location and making it harder for yourself is a fantastic thing to do. I am sure I learnt more the second time I did it.
To make this harder put some effort into the randomisation. You could go to a location you have never been too before.
Stay for two or three hours and push past your personal points of boredom.
Take a tripod and keep your camera on the tripod for the whole exercise without moving your tripod.
Used a zoom lens, then how about you tape it at one focal length, or put on a prime lens and only use the one focal length for the exercise.
Here are some of my photographs from the second time Freeman put me in a spot I couldn’t move. The first time was on a tripod, the second was on a log with a view.