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The Ten-Shot Challenge!

My latest challenge was to take 10 photos. Sounds easy, right? But there were certain limits. I had to imagine that I only had 10 shots left on my roll of film. Remember those days of film? When a roll was 24, maybe 36. And that is all that you had. Like most of us, I have got so used to the 'disposability' of digital, being able to take hundreds of photos just to get maybe 5 that I am pleased with. And when playing with intentional camera movement (ICM) and multiple exposure (ME) that ratio of 'success' and 'failure' gets even lower.


But I set out on this challenge with enthusiasm, as usual eager to try out something new. I read the restrictions: start with an empty memory card and no deletions!


I stepped outside my kitchen door where there is an amazing Acanthus mollis growing (Bear's Breeches is its common name!) It is well over a metre tall now, with huge glossy green leaves, and purplish and white sepals and petals. It can only be pollinated by bees or bumble bees that are large enough to force their way between the upper and lower petals to reach the nectar at the bottom of the tube.



I chose a macro lens, and took my 10 shots, focussing on the details of the plant, and where the light was falling.


Here is the result. Yes, a set of 10 images, but...... at least two are out of focus and I would usually have discarded them; one is compositionally wrong, and at least one needs the exposure adjusting! But, I am following the rules and have not deleted any:



Had I caught the essence of the plant? Maybe the size, the different textures, shapes and colours. And its role as a habitat. But in terms of 'quality' images? Maybe not. Reviewing these photographs brought home to me how much I rely on deleting and editing to get images that I am pleased with.


I then seriously considered cheating on the challenge! Instead I told myself, that was just a play, and I could have another go, no-one would know. But lo and behold, much the same happened again!


I realised that despite trying to adhere to the mantra that I hear from so many professional photographers 'get it right in camera', I don't slow down enough, pay enough attention to the settings prior and/or the composition prior to taking the shot. Maybe because I do so much ICM when you know that it is often serendipity rather than careful planning that gets that 'wow' image. Or maybe my photography still has a lot of room for improvement and this challenge has shown me that!


I then went back to the images with a much more critical eye (not in the spirit of the challenge but why let an opportunity go by!) I was firstly surprised by how many creatures have made this statuesque plant their home and are feeding from it. Although potentially an invasive plant, it is certainly useful in the wilding of the garden.


What had I been aiming for? Catching the light. I was therefore pleased with the ones with the spider's web that had caught the light. I then edited a few of the above to emphasise that aspect, leading to some lovely surprises!



And going down even further I found these delights:






Photography never ceases to amaze me. The endless possibilities, the way that it can lead you to seeing the world anew, and the wonders of nature that it reveals. For me personally, the learning that I gain from undertaking what essentially was a simple challenge is invaluable, as is the counter it offers to quell those negative thoughts about my photography.


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