30 days photo challenge

The first of May I started with a photo challenge on Instagram. It’s the first time ever I’m organizing an online challenge and I wanted it to be a little bit different. I wanted that people who would accept this challenge would actually learn something. So, in the challenge some assignments aren’t really challenging though you can learn from them.

Oh and of course you can still join, it’s 30 days without specific dates. Just check my Story highlight for tips.

Below I will explain the challenges: 

  • Self portrait

This one is easy; make a self portrait. It can be a selfie with your phone, a photo with your camera in the mirror or self-timer, it doesn’t really matter. Play wit hit.

  • Out of Focus

This means that your subject or the landscape you are taking a photo of is out of focus completly. The best thing to do is get rid of automatic focus and change it to manual focus. That can be done on the lens itself or in camera (depending on the camera). 

Find a subject ((city) lights work very well) and turn your focus ring. You see it going from a very sharp picture to a picture out of focus. Play with this. 

  • Framing

Oeh I love framing photo’s. This can be done through an open window, a doorway or even a ring. Frame your photo in whatever way you like. 

  • Large Aperture

To use this you first have to understand what an aperture is. Aperture is the opening in a lens through which light passes to enter the camera. It is expressed in f-numbers like f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8 and so on to express the size of the lens opening, which can be controlled through the lens or the camera.

A large aperture is f/1.4, f/1.8, f/2 etc. this means it lets a lot of light in. 

  • With Flash

This one is easy I guess. But using flash isn’t. The best thing to do is point the flash towards the ceiling or sideways and when you can’t choose the direction of the flash put a paper in front of it to make it a little softer. Just play wit hit and find out how it works, how you can use it and what it does. 

  • Bokeh

Bokeh comes from the Japanese word – Boke – meaning ‘blur’ or ‘haze’. Bokeh is defined as “the effect of a soft out-of-focus background that you get when shooting a subject, using a fast lens, at the widest aperture, such as f/2.8 or wider.” Simply put, bokeh is the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph.

  • Top-down

Also known as flatlay photography, which means you photograph right from above. Often you see this with product- or foodphotography. For this you actually need a good and steady tripod, but if you don’t have one (like me) than make sure you have enough light, like close to the window, and try to have as less shadow as you can have. 

  • Movement

There are several ways to photograph movement. Later on in this challenge we will have movement / in motion again, just to try out different ways. So, lets try movement by zooming J I love this! It involves zooming in or out while you take a photo, causing the shot to blur from the centre outwards, as if the scene is “bursting” towards you.

But how do you do this? Well, here we go:

  1. Choose a nice scene, like in between lights or in the forest. 
  2. The exposure should be between half a second and 2 seconds long.
  3. You can take this photo handheld but it’s better to use a tripod.
  4. Change the focal length of the lens during the exposure. Zooming out tends to work better during the night for longer exposures, and zooming in works better during the day.
  • Shadow

Photography is not about your camera gear it’s about using the light. And where there is light, there is shadow. Shadows can be so awesome in photography. Just take a nice subject and follow the shadow while the sun moves throughout the day. It’s almost like clouds, you see lots of different things in it. 

  • Black & White

Change the settings of your camera to black & white and start shooting. This way you pay a lot more attention to the light. Colours are often distracting, when you look through your camera and only see black and whit you can focus on what photography really is about: light.

  • Double Exposure

I find double exposure shots very artistic, almost painting like. In simple words, a double exposure is when two photos are combined into one.  Nowadays, this effect can be achieved with a DSLR camera by enabling Multiple Exposure in the shooting menu and manually capturing both exposures. You can also use flash to create double exposure. The easiest way is in camera. 

  • Small aperture

Earlier I talked about large aperture. Well, small is the opposite which means the higher number. f/22 for example. You use this when you want everything sharp and no blur in your photo. Often used with landscape photography. 

  • Low perspective

An easy one but often forgotten. When taking photo’s always try to look from different angles. Go low to the ground and take shots from there. You’ll see it makes a totally different photo. However, I don’t often take portraits from a low angle. This is often used to make people look more important, more powerful. Not something I really like. 

  • Long exposure

Yes, take your tripod out. If you have one. If you don’t than use a table, a wall, your bike, whatever works. Long exposure means a low shutterspeed, it means you will have motion blur in your photo. 

The shutter speed comes in fractions of seconds. Typically, you will be working from a range of about 1/125 – 1/500 for everyday photography. Here, 1/125 means the shutter is open for one 125th of a second.

But how long is a long exposure? For a long exposure in photography, you typically use speeds longer than one second. 

Anything below 1/60th of a second will create blurriness in your images. It is almost not possible to take sharp shots from lower than 1/60. Long exposures tend to create photographs from exposures as long as 30 seconds.

If you want to make a long exposure shot in bright daylight you need an ND filter. I have a 10-stopper and sometimes that’s not even enough. If you don’t have an ND filter take photo’s at sunset or at night. 

  • Shallow depth of field

Depth of field is the area of acceptable sharpness in front of and behind the subject on which the lens is focused. It essentially refers to how blurry or sharp the area is around your subject. 

The camera’s aperture controls this blurriness and sharpness by adjusting the size of the opening in the lens. 

There are several things that can help you create shallow depth of field: widening your aperture, move the camera closer to your subject and keep your subject further away from the background. 

  • Light

Well, photography is painting with light. So, during this challenge try to really look for that special light, that light that illuminates everything else. I’m curious what you’ve come up with.

  • Silhouette

Simple right? But by photographing a silhouette you are really checking out the light and photography is really about knowing light. You should know what happens when you photograph with the sun at your back and with the sun in your face. You can take a nice silhouette shot when the sun is in front of you.

  • High ISO

Ok, you might think; why did she put ISO in the challenge? Nothing really creative happens when you photograph with high or low ISO. But, to understand your camera it is important to know how ISO works. You use high ISO when you photograph when it’s dark(er). 

ISO is a number that represents a sensor’s sensitivity to light, and while using a higher ISO brightens an image, it also diminishes images quality by introducing noise.

So take several shots with high ISO and get to know at what ISO your camera shoots with too much noise to call it art. Always good to know the maximum ISO you like to use. 

  • Rule of thirds

I’m not really font of rules. Photography means being creative and there shouldn’t be rules in creativity. But, you should know the rule of thirds, just so you can break the rules 😉 Rule of Thirds is actually rule of composition. It should help a photographer place a subject in the image, in a way that’s pleasing to the viewer. 

  • Close-up / macro

Close-ups, who doesn’t love them? You can either take a close-up shot of a person or a beautiful macro shot of a flower or bee. Explore the things around you and go for it J

  • In motion

Earlier we talked about movement with zoom. This time we’ll try out motion by moving the camera. You’ll see it’s a total different movement from the one with the zoom, though it can create nice artistic pictures. 

  • Low ISO

So, we already talked about high ISO and not really contributing to an artistic picture. Wel low ISO isn’t any different. During the day you’ll probably shoot with the lowest ISO possible. Just figure out what ISO really does by taking different photos with the same shutterspeed & aperture and change the ISO. 

  • From a distance

Couple of challenges ago I talked about close-up, now it’s time to shoot from a distance. Go onto the street and shoot from a distance. And don’t just shoot, try to find something interesting to photograph. From a distance it is more difficult to single out one particular subject. 

  • Portrait

What makes a good portrait? Nothing and everything really. The fun thing about photography is that creativity can’t be wrong. Of course, if you portray someone for a LinkedIn profile photo the eyes should be sharp. 

Ask someone to be your model and try different things: a front portrait, side portrait, sharp or blurry portrait, full body, only face, with hand in front of face etc. Try out as many things and explore what you like the most. 

  • Reflection

Reflections are great. Whether it is on the window, a lake or on the phone. Reflections are everywhere and if you can’t find one just use your phone to create one. 

When you hold your phone horizontal and you place the lens of your camera on top you made yourself a nice reflection. Works great with portraits, architecture and well anything really. Enjoy!

  • Short exposure

Ah so where long exposure blurs everything, short exposure makes everything incredibly sharp. Sport photographers use this. Short exposure freezes the thing you see. Great to take photos of pets, children, sports. 

Anything above 1/250 is considered short exposure, well by me that is 😉 

  • Through the window

Windows are a great playground for photographers. When I don’t want any reflection I put the lens of my camera against the window. However, sometimes I like the reflection, especially when I take photos from the street. 

Play with reflections, shadows and light while photographing through windows. 

  • Panning

And we arrived at the third movement: panning. Panning is a photographic technique that combines a slow shutter speed with camera motion to create a sense of speed around a moving object. It is a way to keep your subject in focus while blurring your background. Panning is typically done on a subject moving horizontally, such as a moving car, or a running dog.

  • High perspective

Photographing from a high angle. Simple right? With portraits you have to be careful that it doesn’t make the person you photograph look small. Sometimes it feels like you look down on someone. I especially love it with children or animals who then look up into the camera. This of course also is taste.  

  • Self portrait

We started and we end with a selfportrait. Make a portrait of yourself with something you’ve learned and liked during the 30-day challenge.

I hope you enjoy(ed) the challenge, will you let me know what you think/thought of it? And if the tips & description helped you take better photo’s along the way? I hope so. But also let me know if you want to know more.. I can always elaborate on a specific subject in another blog.

Say cheese,


Comments (2):

  1. sikis izle

    Nov 12, 2020 at 12:52

    If you want to use the photo it would also be good to check with the artist beforehand in case it is subject to copyright. Best wishes. Aaren Reggis Sela

    • mvarendonk

      Nov 12, 2020 at 14:12

      What photo do you mean? All photos on my website are made by myself. But if you mean in general; yeah. If you want to use a photo that is not your own you have to check with the photographer, probably you have to pay for it, which is normal because photographers need to live as well.


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