These galleries contain responses of readers and students to the assignments, so that you can see what others have done with them and try them yourself. If you get something you really like, you can submit it for possible posting in the gallery.
This is the first exercise I give in a workshop because the shift in visualizing it forces is so apparent. There’s a full discussion of it in the book, but here it is in brief:
Put a normal to slightly long lens on your camera (in 35 mm camera equivalents, that’d be around 100 mm). If you are using a zoom, set the focal length to around 100 mm and tape the zoom control so it will not shift.
Now turn off the autofocus control and set the focus distance to one foot, or as close to that as you can. Tape the focus ring so it won’t shift either.
Now, make 100 exposures of light on a human body, composing as follows: put the camera to your eye, then shift the camera in and out until some part of your subject comes into focus. Don’t refocus the lens or zoom to change the focal length. Focus only by moving toward or away from your subject. Once you’ve done one, do 100 more. Do them right!
When you look at your files, don’t look for picture of light or of bodies, just look for energies that move your eye around in a lively way. Let yourself be surprised.
Here’s how this exercise works: the focus limitation cuts you off from your normal way of working and forces you toward a purely visual response that leads to other solution that is different and surprising. Being so close takes away the thingness of what you see, and it becomes a field of shapes, shadows, energies that move and push each other around. Those pure energies become the subject of your photos.