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Wednesday, 12 November 2014


Hi Mike - I really like the sound of the OC/OL/OY project. I have been doing something similar for the last 553 days and it has made a huge positive difference to my photography.

There are a couple of differences - I use a Fujifilm X-E1 camera but tend to alternate between 23mm and 35mm primes; and instead of printing an image every day I use a daily photo blog to choose one best image each day, edit and post it so that there is a continuous record of the images I can refer back to to see my progress. It's probably not quite as good as making a print every day but the self-editing skills are still exercised by this process.

Despite the differences I've noticed many of the benefits you have described in your article - the improvement in skills and familiarity with my equipment, and the development of my personal style. In my case I've tended to gravitate towards monochrome environmental portraits, usually in square format.

Anyway - the project is a brilliant idea and I'd agree wholeheartedly with the benefits it can bring to your photography.


Yes I've been thinking of sticking to my A7 and a 50mm lens.

The problem is that I have a couple dozen of them, and they are very different .

I'm considering doing the assignment, but it will be with a 35mm FOV lens...perhaps a Fuji X100T.

Good luck with that Mike, optimistic plans to better our lives often go awry but I hope it happens so that we will see more of your photos - oh, and make that one lens a 40mm equiv. :-)

Go for it, Mike! And I'd love it if you posted your 'photo wall' here, at times.

Let's all start on January 1... I'm sure the house will be sold by then... for sure!

You see now? This is why I love your blog. You're so honest at the core. And it's not just that you're echoing how I feel too. I'd *love* to do the OC/OL but don't think I can pull it off right now.

Unfortunately for me, in my case, it's not the ownership-of-too-many-houses or any other tangible obstacle that's getting in the way. It's just lack of gumption, or my assumption that I don't have the fortitude to carry it out. I even have the perfect camera and lens: an Oly E-M1 and a Lumix/Leica 25/1.4. I love that combo. I'm just afraid that, since most of the pictures I've shown to anyone in the past year or two have been taken with my Oly 11-22 zoom, I keep thinking I'll give in to temptation after some number of months and start screwing lenses on and off again.

But, then again, maybe that's even more reason to screw up my courage and give it a try. And maybe I should buy a new printer to really make it work. Hey, yeah.... a new printer. Now we're talking!

I've been thinking of doing this with either my M3 or my Panasonic GX1 with the 20mm f1.7 lens. The only thing that bugs me about the Pannie combo is that it's slow to focus for street stuff. Probably leaning towards the M3, just sick and tired of all the overhead associated with digital.

I sympathise and wish you luck on selling your old house. I moved over two years ago and am still waiting for a buyer of my old house.

Go for it when you can.

I've decided to do it but I am going to use my 17/2.8 (35e) as my lens for 2 reasons:
1) it's the only native prime I own and
2) I've always used 50's. Wides have never felt right to me. A year of working with it will help me more than another year of doing many of the same things I've done before.

This will get... interesting... I'm sure :)

Careful about waiting for things to settle down before starting. Life has a way of insinuating itself into your time so that you eventually forget that you wanted to do a project.

I think the TOP OC/OL/OY exercise is more challenging for people who work at home.

Unless you live in a place with four seasons, or have a garden, or is blessed with small children, own pets, or possess a hoard of interesting personal effects indoors (with which to come up with interesting compositions a la Paul Caponigro père; but he used large format).

But one's place of abode or work is no excuse, really. Different places are interesting differently. We all live (or work) in neighborhoods.

What is keeping me from committing to the exercise is the printing part. Unfortunately, digital printing outlets are not as ubiquitous as the Kodak/Fuji/Agfa developing kiosks which were present in every city and large town in the Philippines, as late as a decade ago. The truth is, 99.99% of folks who own a digital camera do not print their photos (me included). Digital printing is a niche; a very small niche.

I prefer to outsource printing my digital photos having gone through a slew of HP/Epson/Brother ink-jet printers all of which rarely lasted more than a year printing documents and spreadsheets. But if I can't get a discount at bulk printers in Hidalgo St, Quiapo in old Manila (our tiny version of Mong Kok, HK), I may be forced to own one.

It has to be a "plug-and-play" printer because I don't want to mess around with color profiling, gamut, and what not. All I wish is that it's WB/tonality be accurate enough. A prosumer printer (say, an entry-level Pixma), to print post-card sized and (at most) letter-sized pictures.

If I edit ruthlessly and print only the keepers, the cost of consumables (paper and ink), especially the latter should be OK. The cost of ink is not insignificant. (Prosumer printers are like razors. Both are disposables. The manufacturer derives the bulk of their profits from tied-in sales of ink/blades. It's a case of the derived demand being more important than the initial purchase.)

The printer should last the entire OY. If the "quality" of the prints remains the same throughout the exercise, any improvement in the IQ of my pictures will be due to improvements in my technique. Alternatively, if the printer's output deteriorates and the quality of my pictures (i.e., composition) remains the same or improves, that too is a pass.

I have no problem with camera choice (I only have one). I also have the 50 mm-e lens to go with my Ricoh GXR-M: an LTM Color-Skopar 35mm f/2.5 (of which Mike had good words sometime ago). I hope Ricoh doesn't release a 50 mm-e GR mid-way through my OY. Otherwise I'll be forced to start-over again. :D

So, here are my thoughts as I consider whether or not to do the OCOLOY exercise.

First, the prescriptive challenge is very strict. It kind of has to be for it to really work. You need to dribble the basketball all day, every day to become one with it. So, some people are ready to accept this wonderful exercise with only one camera and one lens, to shoot each day and print each day, for a full year.

Or, many, perhaps a solid majority, realize they (including our TOP ringmaster) can't take on this challenge for one reason or another and will not accept it. Maybe. Someday.

So, to recap, this exercise is binary. It is yes or no. If you don't do it right, it won't have its intended and desired effect. So don't do it at all until you are ready.

Yeah, so here is what I am going to do given my many competing obligations. I am just not going to do "the whole 365." I am going to do "the whole 52." I am going to keep my camera (Nikon D610) and my lens (Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AF-D) with me as much as practicable. I am going to print one photo each ***week*** on my all-in-one inkjet printer. I am going to use a binder instead of a box.

There may be some times where I will cheat on my OCOL, like to take a snapshot of the parking lot section sign with my iPhone or to isolate my daughter in her dance performance with my longer lens from the audience. But, this will not be the norm. I will have my OCOL set-up with me at most times.

I would argue that I will not have the same benefit as someone who will be doing the full OCOLOY exercise. I may end up only getting a small fraction of the benefit. But, this way of keeping my camera and lens from gathering dust will still be a valuable learning experience in my view. I will uncharacteristically try to keep from letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Let's see how it goes.

One other issue. If I were using a film Leica, I imagine I would be thinking mainly about such factors as aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focus, composition, etc. With my digital SLR, all of those will still be important, of course, but as a new convert from film to digital, it looks like there are so many other elements I am supposed to be taking into account, like auto distortion control, high dynamic range, and pet portrait scene mode settings. Ai yi yi. I may actually have to do this for "the whole 104" weeks to get to know my camera.

a decade ago I spent a year with one rod and one fly. fished almost every day for six months and as often as I could otherwise. it was a very instructional experience.

the takeaway?

most of the limits you feel are brought from outside sources. using one tool forces you to stretch and adapt. the lessons you learn will change how you look at everything you do.

ok...now for some real life.

in the seventies I performed your exercise out of economic necessity not choice.

some amazing photos resulted.

I must admit that when I could afford to pick up other lenses I did and never looked back.

today I have 30 or 40 rod/reel combinations, tens of fly patterns. I use a dozen camera/lens combinations as well.

as tools they all are better at one thing than every thing.

as a tool user I can make any of them do what I need if I work smart enough.

good luck to you.

Instead of January 1 you could begin on February 19 (Chinese New Year). That’ll give you three months to settle down, acclimatise, find your tao.
Just get started with a Big Bang of fireworks; very uplifting!

Sorry you're going through such stressful times. I trust you realise we support you, at the very least in our thoughts. May not be much but hopefully it's still better than nothing.
Take care,

I have the feeling that one camera, one lens is too equipment-oriented. You'd see good photos that you couldn't take because of that limitation. I suspect most of the famous photographers who supposedly used OC/OL did so because of the *kind* of photography they were doing, and the OC/OL simply suited that kind of photography...In other words, they chose the photos first, and they weren't just wandering around looking for shots that suited their equipment. When I was working as a newspaper reporter, shooting photos just for myself, on film -- an expensive proposition -- I carried an empty slide mount around with me. Much lighter and handier than any camera, I could carry it in my shirt pocket. When I saw a photo, I could frame it with the slide mount, and "zoom" it with my arm. I think I probably learned as much from that as I would from OC/OL, and the focus would be on the photo, rather than the equipment. (I did this for several months, losing and replacing several slide mounts, then got bored with it, lost the slide mount and didn't replace it.)

I tend to see long -- I like ~85. But on two heart-breaking occasions, I lost what would have been some of the best photos (most personally significant) of my life because I had one lens, and it was a long one. Don't do that no more.

Started on Wednesday. I was going to wait until New Year's Day, but like so many people, have always been "too busy" to think about carrying my X-E2, or "on my way somewhere" or "need to do something else first", and know that procrastination would mean never starting. That's me.

I have been in a bit of a photographic rut for a couple of years, but I'm already starting to see the benefits: back-of-the-mind thinking and looking, camera with 35mm f/1.4 always to hand. I'm amazed at what I've seen afresh already within a couple of miles of home (a small Welsh town on the coast of Cardigan Bay). That realisation itself will drive forward the enthusiasm I hope. Can't wait to start the printing part on 12 December!

I think this camera and range of lenses are probably my most favourite ever, the 35 being excellent, and I find that getting a print as a result of the process is the most satisfying part. This exercise is made to measure, for me, at this time. Thank you for crystalizing the idea, and for all the other ideas and inspiration you provide.

While you are waiting for the right opportunity, start shooting every day with your iPhone. "Print" one photo periodically as the desktop picture of your computer. One month of that will be transformative I am sure.

I remember the original exercise and planned to do it when it was convenient. I then forgot about it and never participated.

I would prefer to start this exercise after the holidays. But putting it off until January means looking back in another 5 years and regretting I hadn't acted.

So I started yesterday with a 45mm-e and a plan to follow the requirements precisely. I am making no concessions, because, why? Shooting 3 to 5 minutes a day with a lens I already own and making a print a day are hardly insurmountable obstacles.

What is hard is starting.

I've been planning something like this for some time now to document the coming year(s?) as the due date for my first child draws near, so thank you for the carefully prescribed ruleset. I for one appreciate this to narrow my focus, as having tried to work with a 365 project a couple of years ago I found that as soon as it lapsed and I missed a couple of days, it was not being true to the project so it fell by the wayside. This should suit me far better, the 'discipline with leeway' approach should mean I'm more likely to maintain momentum even through the sleepless nights.

The one deviation will be using the little 17mm Olympus on an E-M10, partly as it's what is available to me and partly due to the portability – it’s a little wider than suggested but I’ve been thoroughly delighted with the look and feel, both of the images and the lens itself. Working selling camera gear all day this sort of project will act as a tonic to the constant gear lust which is forced upon me!

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