random photography assignment generator

I’m working on my third year in a photo-a-day photography project, and there are days when it’s pretty near impossible to think of something to shoot. On days like that, you need an assignment – someone to give you a topic or subject, and you go hunting for (or staging) a photo to meet the assignment.

So, I cobbled together a simple web page to randomly generate assignments.


If nothing else, it might spark some ideas for you to create your own assignments.

If you use the utility, I’d love to hear about it! If you post to Flickr, throw a tag of “assignmentr” on the photo.

on following the light

Photography literally means “the process of drawing with light” – it’s not “taking pictures of people or things,” it’s all about playing with light. If the light isn’t there, there’s no photograph. If the light is boring, the photograph is boring. But, if the light is right, even the most boring subject is transformed into something magical.

Much of the time, when I jump to grab my camera, it’s because the light has caught my eye. Warm light coming through a window. Light refracting through glass. Reflecting off of a surface. Sometimes it’s just a property of the light that catches my attention – warmth, softness, darkness, harshness.


Shoot the light. Start with the light, then find the subject or story, and work on angles and composition.

It’s not an absolute, and I’ve got plenty of counter-example photos that work despite the light, but it’s a pretty good starting point to find the light, and a photograph will follow.

rethinking the digital photography sessions

I’d planned to keep doing episodes of the sessions, even going so far as to map out a few on the wiki. But, the folks at Inside Aperture are doing such a fandamntastic job, that there isn’t really much point for me to do Aperture-related screencasts, which is really all I’d done so far.

I’m going to rethink the sessions a bit. Maybe they’ll evolve into more of a storytelling thing – picking a shot and talking about the story behind it, and how the shot was composed, taken and processed… Something like that might be more interesting for everyone, rather than just duplicating a set of screencasts.

Digital Photography Sessions – Episode 003 – RAW vs. JPEG

It’s not a full examination of every technical aspect of RAW vs. JPEG, but I show some of the reasons why I try to shoot RAW almost all the time, as well as some reasons why I sometimes shoot in JPEG instead. Some of the subtle differences didn’t really translate into the compressed video files, but hopefully you can get an idea of what the extra data in a RAW file is handy for.

episode 003

Episode 003: 10:43 duration, 320×240 11.4MB or HD 15.2MB

Digital Photography Sessions – Episode 002: Basic Workflow

Time for another episode, this time on basic workflow – importing a few photos, deleting the crap, and processing the one(s) that don’t get nuked. This time, the dogs were quiet, and The Boy™ decided not to make an appearance. I might schedule him for a later episode…

Episode 2: Basic Workflow weighs in at 12.1 MB, and clocks in at 10:27. Or, if you want a full HD version, use the second link.

Digital Photography Sessions: Episode 2
Digital Photography Sessions – Episode 2 (320×240, 12.1MB)

Episode 2 (1080×675, 14.6MB)

Digital Photography Sessions – Episode 001

I’m going to try producing a series of presentations in various media to document and share some of the tricks I’ve learned in my playing with digital photography. There are lots of other resources out there, so I’m not going to try to be canonical or exhaustive, but will try to answer some of the questions that people ask me.

This first episode is mostly just an intro/warmup for me, and I picked a basic topic: project and album management in Aperture 2.

Episode 1: Aperture 2 Project and Album Management weighs in at 10.20 MB, and clocks in at 8:24.

Digital Photography Sessions: Episode 1
Digital Photography Sessions – Episode 1 (320×240, 10.2MB)

Episode 1 (1080×675, 14.2MB)