• Category Archives simple photography
  • 60 with 60 Recap: What I’ve Learned from My Photo Challenge

    calla lily

    I’m happy to report that I have successfully completed my self-imposed 60 with 60 photography challenge.  In this challenge, I aimed to post 60 photos using a 60mm prime lens. My hope was that by imposing limitations on my gear, and by having a numerical goal, I would tap into a new vein of creativity (i.e., get out of a creative rut) and perhaps get to know that particular lens better.

    Specifics:  Nikon AF-S 60mm f/2.8 micro lens mounted on a Nikon D7000 body

    Time:  September 8-September 25 (18 days total)

    Results: The main purpose of the challenge was self-discovery.  However, I did manage to capture some images that I am proud of (as well as some that are admittedly so-so). You can see the whole collection of 60 images by clicking on the image, below:

    60 with 60


    There were pluses and minuses to this challenge.  On the positive side, using one lens made shooting simple.  I could just grab my camera and go, without needing to ponder which lens to bring.

    Secondly, using a single prime lens ensured that I needed to have active footwork.  I had to physically walk to and from a subject to get the correct composition, rather than letting a zoom lens do all the heavy lifting.

    Thirdly, by taking the lens decision out of the equation, I was free to focus more on lighting and composition.  I was able to be more thoughtful in my approach.

    And, finally, I did learn a lot about this particular lens. While it is fairly fast (f/2.8), it is not as fast as the 50mm (f/1.4) and I missed some shots due to low light.  Also, it is a fairly large lens, and the camera/lens combo was not easily tossed into my handbag. For an everyday lens, I would prefer something smaller and lighter (again, noting the 50 mm f/1.4).

    There where were additional downsides to this challenge as well:

    First of all, I grew weary of this lens!  I thrive on variety, and limiting myself to one lens proved to be far more challenging (and I might even say, annoying) than I could have anticipated.

    And the number: Sixty!  S-I-X-T-Y is a LOT of images.  When I first came up with the idea of 60 with 60, I confess that I was more enamored of the catchy name for the challenge and less concerned with the actual number. I’ve never participated in a challenge, self-imposed or otherwise, with such a large number of images, and I learned my lesson from this.

    Finally, it was frustrating to be prevented from using the best lens for the job.  For instance, while this lens is touted as a macro lens, and it does a fair enough job at close-ups, it doesn’t hold a candle to the 105mm for sharpness and detail. When taking photos of flowers, I had to resist my perfectionistic streak and use the camera at hand. Knowing I could have achieved a better image with a different lens was a challenge in itself.

    Having said that, challenges by their very nature are opportunities for growth.  They force us out of our comfort zone and encourage to try new things and to be innovative and creative.  I am glad I did this challenge because it helped me stay focused on a theme and it made me shoot images nearly every day. I am already looking forward to my next challenge.

    I’d love to hear about your photographic self-challenges. Are there any you would like to share?  Or do you have any suggestions for me to try?  I welcome your thoughts and insights.

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  • Beauty and Neglect

    The jasmine blossoms
    try their best to cover up
    the peeling white paint

    Yes, another haiku. I couldn’t resist! This jasmine-covered archway stands in front of a yard near our house. I love that it tells such a story of hope and decay, beauty and neglect.

    As always, please feel free to share you own original haikus in a comment, below.


    image: taken with Nikon d700, 50mm lens, aperture 4.5, ISO 200, shutter speed 1/100 second

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  • Lacecap Hydrangea

    I’ve always been partial to lacecap hydrangeas. Have you ever looked closely at a lacecap blossom? It’s like having two-flowers-in-one. There are the itty-bitty individual florets in the center (i.e., the lace) and the beautifully-colored larger petals around the perimeter (i.e., the cap).

    Wishing you a day filled with opportunities to stop and notice the beauty all around you, no matter how inconsequential it may first appear…

    image: taken with Nikon d7000 camera, 105 mm lens, ISO 200, aperture 7.1, shutter speed 1/60 second

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  • Book Review: Low Cost High Impact Photography

    The words “minimalism” and “photography” are perfectly encapsulated in the work of photographer/blogger Steve Johnson (husband of The Minimalist Woman Meg Johnson). He brings a clear eye and a minimalist sensibility to his photos that give them a serene, timeless quality.

    Steve has just released a wonderful new e-book, Low Cost High Impact Photography. His premise is that serious photography does not need to be prohibitively expensive. He demonstrates how to take fabulous photos with a mid-range point-and-shoot camera. And while the information is primarily written for compact cameras, most of the information is applicable to dSLRs as well.

    The book is divided into 4 main sections:

    • Equipment
    • Technique
    • Aesthetics
    • Photo Essays

    Each section is carefully thought out, useful, and beautifully illustrated with Steve’s photos, as seen below:

    Steve writes like an old friend, gently pointing out things about lighting and camera settings in a way that makes the reader feel at ease. Despite his relaxed tone, the information is spot-on accurate. He shares tips and tricks for saving money on camera equipment, for optimizing lighting, for taking steady pictures, and for composing compelling shots.

    He includes countless practical tips, like this one for taking photos of people:
    “Never count down for the shot – great for rigid death grin, and little else.”

    He gives specific, detailed instructions for eBay and product photography, low-light photography, food photography, flowers, sunsets, and much more.

    In his photo essays, he breaks down the shots and explains his process and technique.

    His philosophical musings sprinkled throughout the book are an added bonus:

    “Photography is more about recognition than creation — the good stuff is hidden in plain site.”

    “Good photography is about removing non essential clutter.”

    “The biggest joy of being a photographer is that the smallest, most trivial thing can take over your entire world just like that. While I’m looking and photographing stuff like this nothing else matters, politics, personal stuff, everything just goes away for a few minutes or even a couple of hours.”

    Is the book technical? Yes, but in a way that is practical and helpful, not intimidating. Steve’s mastery of the subject enables him to write with easy confidence in a way that engages the reader and makes you want to reach for your camera to try out his techniques.

    Some writers can discuss the technical aspects of photography, while others are better at discussing the aesthetics of photography. It is a rare individual who can do both, and do it well. Steve is just such a person.

    I highly recommend this book. If you are just starting out in photography or are a seasoned pro, you will find plenty to enjoy in Low Cost High Impact Photography.

    (Please note: I am an affiliate of this product, meaning that if you purchase it through my site, I will get a percentage of the sale.)

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  • One shell, three ways

    I have been dreaming of warm weather and tropical beaches. A friend gave me this shell from Mexico and it inspired me to experiment with different processing techniques. If I can’t be in a sunny place, at least I can focus on something that was! (And just in case it’s difficult to distinguish: it is a cross-section of a spiral-shaped shell, containing little rocks lodged within the curves).

    In the top image, I used a Lightroom 3 (LR3) preset called Warm Glow. Next, I added some contrast with a filter from Nik ColorEfex Pro called Pro Contrast. Finally, I added a frame action from the CoffeeShop blog. I like how the processing brought out the bright colors that were hiding in the image.

    In the following image, below, I used a LR3 preset called Color Creative – Cold Tone. I was pleased with the soft, dreamy quality it gave the photo.

    And, finally, I went for a sleeker, more minimalist look. In the photo, below, I applied a BW Creative – Look 1 preset in LR3 and then added a black/white filter from Nik Silver Efex Pro.

    I am not sure which I enjoy more: taking the picture or processing it. I lose all sense of time in both activities. There is something wonderful to be said for both.

    How about you? Which do you enjoy more? Taking photos or tweaking/processing them afterward?

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  • Floral Photo Update

    Hi, and Happy Wednesday!

    I thought you might like to see what I’ve been up to lately. I seem to have been re-bitten by the ‘ol shutterbug. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying reconnecting with my camera, learning new techniques, and taking awesome online classes here and here.

    Sometimes, I use textures:

    And, sometimes, I use fancy framing:

    But, always, I find great joy in taking pictures!

    Your turn: what creative endeavors have been stirring your mojo lately?



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  • Elegant Simple Rose

    White Rose

    Portland is officially known as the City of Roses. (It is also affectionately known as Stumptown, Bridgetown, Rip City, P-Town, and PDX).

    Last week, my husband and I took a leisurely walk around our neighborhood and I was amazed to see roses still in full bloom. In November! I snapped a few pics and wanted to share one with you. So, here it is, with happy wishes to you for a terrific weekend!

    What’s currently blooming in your neck of the woods?

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  • Floral Sunshine

    floral sunshine

    I have been traveling this week and have not been able to post as often as I would like.

    So, I am sharing a burst of floral sunshine with you instead! I took this picture last week and it lifts my energy each time I look at it.

    I hope it lifts your energy, too.

    And next week, I’ll be back with a wrap-up of my minimalist fashion adventure, The Black Dress Challenge.

    Until then, have a terrific weekend!

    image: © 2010. Christianna Pierce.

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  • Mindful Photography


    I have been revisiting photography as a mindful activity. I find that taking photos, especially macro photos, is an excellent way to slow down and appreciate the present moment. There is nothing like focusing the lens of a camera on a small detail, realllly close, to help me, well, focus! And the congruency of minimalism and mindfulness is one of the bedrock elements of my minimalist ethos.


    There is a giant pine tree in our front yard that bears these interesting cones each autumn. The image, above, looks like a pine cone rose. I have walked by these cones over the years with, admittedly, only a cursory glance at them. It took the act of photographing these cones in various stages of development to get me to stop, breathe, notice and appreciate what was right before my eyes.

    This next photograph shows the cone midway through its natural peeling process:

    pinecone peeling

    I did not realize that pine cones peel away, layer by layer, to release their pine nuts. (BTW, I tried eating these pine nuts.  Big mistake. Very pine-y tasting and bitter, not at all like the delicious pignolia nuts found in groceries).

    And here is a picture of the mighty pine tree itself. My macro lens could only capture the center portion of it. I am guessing it is over 60 feet tall:

    pine tree

    I believe anything that gets us to stop and be mindful of the present moment is to be encouraged and embraced. I feel very fortunate to live in a time where technology (e.g., digital cameras) and creativity can be readily combined to facilitate moments of mindful presence. There is something about the immediacy of being able to see the finished product that only enhances the experience.

    What about you? Do you have a creative, mindful activity that helps you become centered and focused?  Or is there an activity you have tried in the past or would like to revisit as a means of getting grounded and centered?  I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share in a comment below.

    images: © 2010. Christianna Pierce.

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  • Minimalist Photography Collection

    games 28

    I recently came across the most beautiful collection of minimalist images depicting, of all things, game pieces.  Photographer Steve Johnson has created this collection as part of his new online minimalist photography store.

    To be perfectly frank, I was not super-enthused when I saw the title of the collection.  Games? But then I clicked on the slide show, and I was completely mesmerized by the elegant simplicity and beauty of the black and white images of chess pieces and dominoes and dice and other game pieces.  It felt like the slide show should be put to a meditative soundtrack and viewed as a short film.  I’m not kidding!

    Steve is actually running a special right now in which all three of his collections are available for a total of $5.  The photographs are perfect for bloggers or designers or anybody else looking for clean, minimalist images at a really reasonable price.

    Here’s a link to the minimalist photography 101 site.   All of the collections are good, but I suggest you scroll down and pay special attention to the Games slide show.

    Disclaimer: In case you are wondering, I am not affiliated with this offer in any way.  It was just something I enjoyed and I thought you might like to know about it, too.

    image source: Steve Johnson

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