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Becoming a Photographer in 20 Minutes

Photoblitz!!! & Utilizing the Techniques Within Becoming a Better Photographer


Listed below is the unique list of photographs I had to take in 20 minutes during the Photoblitz:

  • Two contrasting things, e.g. light & darkness, life & death, cats & dogs.
  • Smooth, rough, dirty, or wrinkled. Make a photo of hands that tell a story.
  • Make a picture of death (but don’t kill anything in doing so).
  • Make a photograph that features vertical lines today.
  • Find a pool, puddle, or other body of still water.A photo of a reflected subject.
  • Take a picture featuring rope or knots.
  • No ocean, surely you can find some water around you to take a photo of.


When approaching this assignment, I first knew I had to plan some rough ideas of the subject matter of each picture before I started that 20 minute clock. That is exactly what I had as the timer started – rough ideas. Most of my original ideas came to fruition, but there were a few that required adjustment on the fly that really made this challenge more difficult (but also more fun!) I also happened to get lucky that the day I did this assignment was a rainy one, because a few of my photo prompts required water and reflection in water. I am also fortunate to live 2 minutes away from the James River, and to have an old plant that was literally dying to be photographed (haha). This assignment, and this unit as a whole, has been the greatest challenge for me thus far in this class. After reading Becoming a Better Photographer, I realized that I am one of those people who really doesn’t take much into consideration when snapping a pic. So I had to change my mindset into one that was considering the artistic choices I was making while taking these photos. Additionally, I found that the use of filters/quick editing can really elevate an image, and add to the emotion you are hoping to evoke through the image. To capture all of these images, I used an iPhone camera. I had to use self timers, flash, take pictures laying on my back, kneeling in rainwater, and use various different light sources. I definitely feel like I ran the gamut of beginner photography skills. Below, I will include each image that I took for this assignment and explain which of these points – (1) selection, (2) contrast, (3) perspective, (4) depth, (5) balance, (6) moment, (7) lighting, (8) foreground/background – I focused on in capturing each picture.


#1 – Two contrasting things

Of course, this picture focuses on the elements of contrast and lighting. But it also uses elements of balance and perspective. In taking this picture, I was laying on my back atop my bathroom counter in order to get this perspective of looking up at the light fixture. This picture conveys a contrast between dark and light, between power and the absence of it. The lighting of this photo is affected by the subject matter itself: the lightbulbs. They are sources of light themselves, and one bulb being out of power greatly affects the light allowed into the picture. I think that this image also demonstrates balance in its very contrast. The photo is split down the middle displaying the left half as light and the right half as dark, opposite states portrayed in balance to one another.

#2 – Hands that tell a story

I was really focused on the elements of balance, contrast, selection, and lighting in this picture. However, it is another instance of an image that captures a particular moment. I arranged the hands (of me, my mom and my dad) in this triangular way to create balance in the photo. We are all close, just barely touching and spaced in a way that I found pleasing to the eye. The contrast is found in the details. These are hands from different generations: you notice life, hard work, and the passage time etched into each line of textured skin. There is also contrast between the skin color and the couch beneath it, helping the hands to stand out as the focal point. The lighting was critical to being able to see the details within each hand, as these details tell the story of the photograph to the viewer. I don’t think this photo would be as effective if all the hands were selected from people the same age, because the same progression and comparison would not be present.

#3 – A picture of death

This picture additionally encapsulates several photographic elements. The foremost in my mind when framing this picture was depth, selection, and foreground versus background. I continually made sure to focus the camera on the dead flowers and leaves in front, causing the rest of the plant to be slightly out of focus. I moved the detached parts of the plant closer to the lens so that they would be in the forefront, and therefore hopefully the first thing your eyes go to when viewing this image. I selected this subject for the photo as it represented exactly what I was tasked to capture: death. As a plant dies it changes slowly, and by capturing this exact moment in its deterioration this image become unique. Perspective came into play in that I put the camera down to view the plant from the level of the dresser it sat on, and I darkened the background lighting to exude the ominous mood of the flower’s slow departure.

#4 – A photograph that features vertical lines

With this photo, perspective and foreground versus background really came into play. This image can be so easily changed through focus, and how close the camera was. By focusing in on the screen, the background is an obscured blur. This allows the vertical lines of the screens to pop out to the viewer’s eye and become the dominant subject of the image. By placing the lens right up against the screen, the picture no longer becomes a simple image of trees and houses but rather a harsh focus on the screen. There is noticeable contrast found between the crispness of the item in focus and the background – hard versus soft, focused versus unfocused. The lighting in this image was all up to mother nature, changing the image from perhaps one of suburban delight to a more somber, constricted view of the neighborhood.

#5 – A photo of a reflected subject

The main elements focused on in this image are selection, contrast, depth, and perspective. I selected this clementine to be the subject of this image because I knew its bright orange color would provide stark contrast against the overall grayness of the background. The sky was gray, the table was gray, the air even seemed to be gray… then bam! Bright orange. There was a thin layer of water lying still at the top of this concrete table, and if you put your eye level at the same level as the table’s surface, you were able to capture the round reflection of the clementine. The clementine’s reflection is the one in focus, creating depth between itself and the surrounded objects in the image. The railing and brick in the background are reflected atop the table as well, however in a softer and more distant manner.

#6 – A picture featuring rope or knots

Now bear with me, I may have implemented some poetic license with this image. The first thing that came to my mind with the word “knot” was my hair, because it is constantly tangling and knotting, feeling impossible to undo like a tight knot in a rope. That is why I selected it as the subject for this photo. Lighting was very important in this image to make sure I could show the texture of the hair, right down to the flyaways and pieces that constantly tangle themselves. The flash was not necessarily critical in bringing more light to the image, but it was so to highlight the small details within the hair to show its frazzled and static quality in this particular moment. The perspective was important in that I can never see the back of my head where all the problem areas lie. It allowed me to see a part of myself that I usually can’t. This perspective offers those viewing the image a viewpoint backwards to the one they would usually expect.

#7 – Some Water

This isn’t the ocean, it’s actually the James River, and that guy in the photo is my brother. This photo is a moment. A moment frozen in time. The water that constantly waves is immobile because I made it so. Time has stopped because of my camera. Depth is established through the focal subject (my brother), the railings of the dock, and the immense body of water surrounding everything. The ships in the background are miniscule and blurry compared to the smiling boy in front. They are a mere strip of dots and lines because of the position of the camera. Distance and shape are created through the eye-level position in which I captured the photo. The perspective here is mine, and it allows me as the photographer to control what I see and how to share exactly what I’m seeing with anyone else looking at the image.


If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ve learned something – I sure did! I learned about new techniques to utilize and consider from Becoming A Better Photographer, as well as what goes into the process of planning, executing, and analyzing images to ensure that they tell a story.

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