3, 4, 5 Mini-mindful-tasks

  1. ‘Colour / Texture’

Take twenty mins to explore your surroundings focussing on texture and colour and photographing what you find. You can look for one colour, or a rainbow of colours. Do it at home or out of the house. There are no rules. When you’ve collected around 15 images create a collage of your favourites (the layout app is good for this).

2. Photo Bingo

The second of the mindfulness tasks can be a peaceful exercise in noticing the things around you, or it can be flipped on its head and turned into a competitive game with the family (you can choose which mood you’re in on that day). 

It can be done at home or out of the house, and involves choosing one type of thing to spot and shoot. I’ve gone for ‘faces’ around my house. If you live with an art-hoarder like me this is made slightly easier. If you live in a minimal, zen haven with bare walls this may be slightly trickier.

If you enjoy that, try it with a different type of thing: spot different leaves on the park (or flowers as Spring and Summer roll on), or spot the local cats on a walk around the block, spot the piles of mess around the house, find shells on a beach (when we’re allowed to venture away from home), snap beautiful front doors, photograph red items around the house. 

There’s something very satisfying about creating a collection linked by a theme, so much so that it has a name, Typology: a classification according to general type, especially in archaeology, psychology, or the social sciences. 

After you tried this short task, have a think, is there a way you could carry this further? Is there a collection that you’d like to photograph that might take little bit more time to gather? 

The Typologist blog is great for inspiration too.

3. Window Light Portraits

You’ll need a willing volunteer to be your model in this task (or you could even have a go at using window light to create a self-portrait). 

It may also be helpful to get hold of a white or reflective item to help bounce light, and/or also a large dark item to absorb the light. Blankets and sheets are good, or mirrors, whiteboards/blackboards. Be creative with the items you have at home. If you have a room a dark walls see what effect you get when takng portraits near the window. 

First place your model by a window with soft, non-direct light. Before you even consider taking any photos observe how light falls on your subject. 

Slowly walk your model along the window ledge. Rotate them on the spot and see where the light hits them. Play with curtains or blinds to see what effect this has on the light. Don’t take any photos yet—this is an exercise in observation. 

Still, don’t take any photos.

Hold up your white/reflective surface behind and near your model and observe what happens to the light as it hits them. See how the light bounces off the light/reflective surface and ‘fills’ in the shadows’. Surrounding your model with light surfaces will create a soft, bright image.

Still, don’t take any photos.

Then try holding up your dark item near your model/subject. See if there is any change to the light that is hitting them. Dark items absorb light, and so surrounding your subject with dark items/walls will increase the drama and contrast in the image.

Using your camera, now attempt to capture what the naked eye can see. 

Keep taking photos and making adjustments; keep moving and rotating your model, and move the blinds/curtains and try to create different effects with the light and shadow.

*The examples below are self-portraits take on a phone camera, so it can be done on a phone camera, but bear in mind that the the phone camera’s job is to automatically take a correctly exposed image. It will try and compensate for the shadows and will try to brighten up the image. Don’t be worried about this. Have a go at manually bringing down the exposure on your phone camera—on iPhones you touch the screen and drag your finger up and down. These images will be improved vastly by cropping and editing after you’ve taken them so don’t lose heart if the lighting effect isn’t immediately obvious. 

Take a selection of your favourite images and edit them individually in your phone. 

First crop/rotate them so that you’re happy with them, then concentrate specifically on ‘brilliance, ‘highlights’, ‘shadows’, ‘contrast’ and ‘exposure’. See what happens when you play with these controls.

If you have a proper camera you’ll be able to get some excellent results with this lighting technique. 

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