photography challenges take better pictures free ebook

10 Photography Challenges Discussion

To Help You Take Better Pictures Without Buying Any New Gear

10 photography challenges to help you take better pictures

If you haven’t already downloaded my free ebook, keep reading and sign up to get it.  If you already have it, skip down to the discussion part at the bottom of the page.

Think you need the latest gear or a new camera to take better pictures? Think again.

What if taking better pictures was as simple as learning to think outside the box and to challenge yourself to photograph differently? Well, it may just be that simple.

Just released May 14, 2012 as a special bonus for subscribers, my new book is designed to push you through your sticking points and help you discover ways to look at everything differently.

Looks Great! How do I get it?

To get your copy immediately, simply subscribe using the form below and once your email is confirmed, you will be sent a link to download it.

I take your privacy very seriously

Then… as you move through the challenges, come back here and let us all know what sort of impact the lessons are having on you as a photographer.


We can interact here through the commenting system (comments are temporarily closed during domain move). I can get a better idea of how you’ve used the challenges and together we may come up with more

So, first subscribe above.

Then practice the exercises.

Then, let’s discuss them here.  Please leave any comments or feedback you have for me on the book below.  I also want to hear your experience with the challenges you’ve tried, or if you’re having trouble with any of them.  Lastly please share the images you create while doing the challenges and anything else you’d like to share with me and other readers.

I look forward to hearing from you and seeing your images.

NOTE: Comments on this page have been closed. This is a temporary measure to ensure no comments are lost during our domain move. We will reopen them on the new site in a week or so (tentative scheduled for January 9th, 2014) Thanks!

206 Responses to “10 Photography Challenges Discussion”
  1. Colin says:

    I joined after the publication of your Ten Photography Challenges ebook how can I download it?

    • Darlene says:

      Hi Colin, thanks for that! The link for the download is in the first Welcome email you receive after confirming your subscription. So first confirm, then read the very next email for the link. If you dont see the email, please check your spam folder in case it got lost in there. If you still can’t find it please use the contact form and I’ll email it to you directly. Thanks.

  2. Mark says:

    I’ve signed up for your site and blog, how do I get your book?

    • Darlene says:

      Hi Mark – if you can’t find the email, please use the contact form to get in touch and I’ll send you the link manually.

  3. Rob says:

    Mark, see the comment above yours

  4. amy says:

    I haven’t had a chance to read through the whole thing, but I wanted to take a minute and thank you for sharing your expertise and knowledge so freely. It’s a refreshing change of pace to find someone who is generous with their work such as you. I’m looking forward to reading through the whole thing and I’m excited to practice the suggested exercises. I’m a photography student and have been in my program for about 10 months, but I have decided that the more I learn, the more I realize how much there is I still don’t know! Hopefully I will “get it” soon, but there are so many different factors that make up a great photo. Thanks again for your ebook and your great blog. Amy

    • Darlene says:

      Thanks Amy, I’m glad you are finding it useful and enjoyable! I see you got it to download successfully!

  5. Hi,

    This is really fun! I locked myself in the bathroom and started shooting. By the time I had finished about 80 shots I got really creative, and when I reached 100 images my head was full of new ideas that won’t leave my mind. I may have to continue this challenge with 100 more photos 🙂 I also look forward to starting a 365 day project on music.

    • Darlene says:

      That’s awesome Randi! Do share a link with us to see some of your images from these challenges. I’d love to see what you came up with from your bathroom shoot!

  6. Hi,

    I hope this link is working. If not, please copy and paste

  7. Darlene says:

    Yes that link works, thanks for sharing! I really like this one!

    and this one! great close up shot

    I really like your close ups of the little bottles and how the light was playing off them and the walls, etc. Good job!

    That and I think I’m really jealous of your bathroom! LOL

    • K:-) says:

      I enjoyed looking at your pics, what a lovely eye for detail. Am jealous of your bathroom too. 🙂

  8. LOL! Thank you, Darlene. I appreciate your feedback. It’s always nice to get comments from someone who actually knows something about photography. !’ll be in touch.

  9. Noel Formosa says:

    Dear Darlene,

    I have read with interest this priceless book. I believe that this is an excellent refreshing course both for amateur, and professional photographers alike. After I studied it from page to page, I realised that this is not just a one time exercise, but these exercises can be done over and over again every few weeks to identify areas where one needs to improve. It is also an ideal self examining process to see how a photographer’s artistic visions are developing.

    In the past I have learned and always kept in mind, that it is not the equipment, that makes a photographer, but how artistic the person taking the photo is. I believe that these exercises are based on this only one true philosophy. I found your book, and your website, to be very inspiring and help me to strive forward to improve in my abilities and my photography.

    The fact that this book was free of charge helped me to appreciate better your work as a photographer, as a photography instructor, and understand better your passion for photography. This work helped me to improve both in my photographic abilities, and in the artistic value of all around us. Thank you very much for your (this) contribution to photography, and for helping others to improve without thinking about financial gain from it.


  10. Darlene says:

    Wow Noel, thanks for much for your kind words. I’m truly glad you’ve found value in this book and my site, and will continue to read and practice photography. Thank you for your recommendation!

  11. Saki says:

    Take a look at when you have time.

  12. Darlene says:

    Saki, I’ve looked, you have some very nice images. But how does that relate to my book? Did you use some of the exercises to get some of your images? Please share with us more about this.

    If you haven’t used my tips I cannot leave the link to your images here. This is a page for discussing how to better one’s photography using tips in my ebook, not for posting a link to anyone’s images as advertising.


  13. Judd Harris says:

    Thank you for the great book! I just finished reading it. I can’t wait to get started with the exercises, fortunately we (my wife and I) are going to take a young man’s senior pictures this afternoon. This will fit in with the first exercise. I am president of the local crmera club and would like to use these exercises with the camera club. Again thank you for the book!


    • Darlene says:

      Awesome please do! Share it with your camera club and if they all want a copy they just need to subscribe to download it as you did! Thanks so much Judd. Have fun with it and share some images with us!

  14. Christine says:

    Walked around the subject today. Chose my trombone. would have had a lot more options if I weren’t so afraid of damaging it. 😉

    • Darlene says:

      Awesome job. Did you take photos that maybe you wouldn’t have before doing that exercise? Did it force you to think outside the box?

  15. Christine says:

    I don’t know that I took photos that I wouldn’t have before, but it forced me to pull out all the techniques in my tiny bag of tricks. I did things I dont’ often do. And really forced me to think outside the box and explore. I want to try again with someone else with me who can hold it up so I won’t be so afraid of hurting it. I looked at it and my camera and said, “I don’t know which is worth more and which one I’d rather break.” Guess that’s what happens when you combine your two loves.

  16. Fonny says:

    Dear Darlene, I have forgotten how I came across your website a few days ago, because I was so enthralled with the information that I kept on reading and clicking another page and another page and did not return to the original website.
    Your website is not only about photography, you also cover things beyond photography!
    In clear and understandable language you explain technical matters step by step with beautiful examples so that I can understand and see what you try to explain. But above all it is about feeling, a feeling or emotion that you want to capture! That struck me most. It is not only a scenery that you want to take, but a feeling that you want to share.
    In your unique way you also stimulated me to come out of my comfort zone and I am trying to do so. So dear Darlene, thank you very much for this opportunity. I am a working woman but will try to make time available to pick-up my camera again. I wish you all the very best and hope I will one day be able and brave enough … 🙂 to share a picture with you. Warm regards, Fonny

    • Darlene says:

      Fonny you already are brave just for sharing your thoughts with us! Thank you for your kind words, and yes you’ve got my point exactly. There’s technical stuff involved but there’s also a whole lot more to photography and I’m so glad that has translated over to you as you read my articles.

      Do share with me any time, privately or in the comments. I’d love to see your images and encourage you to continue!

  17. Catherine says:

    Hi Darlene,

    I was thrilled to download your e-book and to be so encouraged with the challenges you put before us in the book. I am impressed with how much information you give away and inspired by that. I am a beginner to photography, and the projects are very helpful. I am not naturally creative in this area and so your info has been helping me “look and see”.

    The bathroom challenge showed me that I can look from many angles and I was very surprised to find I needed many different lighting settings in the one room. I had a creative block at about 70 photos but pushed through and eventually took 128.

    Thanks so much and I look forward to more challenges in the future.

    I posted more photos at

    Cheers, Catherine

    • Darlene says:

      Catherine, thanks for sharing with us and good job! That’s exactly what I wanted that challenge to do for you, stretch, force you to think and see differently so I’m so glad! Keep up the good work.

  18. Kathy says:

    Be gentle with me.  I’m a complete newbie, using only a point and shoot.  But, I really like the slant of this book toward the art, more than the tech, of photography.  So I tried to do this assignment.  I think I failed in the observer not even knowing the 10 shots are of the same thing, but the encouragement to try all angles still got through to me with the admonishment, “If something catches you eye for even one shot, isn’t it worth a couple more minutes of your time?” I took one shot of this preying mantis – as usual – then I thought,  Why not more?  And I believe there are several interesting variations that are more engaing than the original.  See what you think.

    P.S. the really time-consuming part was figuring out how to use Flicker to share these! Hope I did it right.

    • Darlene says:

      Sorry Kathy I can’t see your photos, it says it’s a private page. You need to make them public so others can see them too. I look forward to taking a look! I promise I’ll be very gentle.

  19. Eris Parker says:

    Hello Darlene
    Thank you so much for your Ten Photography Challenges. Just what I need. I tried the first challenge but instead of walking around the tea pot I turned the teapot around. Not right. Then I went out and walked around our War Memorial Cenotaph just after Armistace Day. But still I have not quite mastered the challenge. So I shut myself in the bathroom and clicked off over 100 photos – that was an interesting exercise -thankyou.
    If you would like to see my attempts please visit
    cheer Eris

    • Darlene says:

      Hi Eris

      Turning the teapot is perfectly acceptable! There are times when you can’t move the subject though so then you can only move yourself. If you can move something and it’s better, go for it. I do it all the time. But don’t forget to still look at it from all angles as the light will be different on each side as you walk around it. The light doesn’t change when you turn it though.

      I like the way you started thinking after some time in the bathroom. I like the fact you steamed up the room and got the water droplets. I like the out the window viewpoint and the under the table angle. See, that’s exactly what I was wanting you to get out of it, so good job!

  20. krik says:

    Hi Darlene,

    Pls see my attempt for this first challenge. Please visit and I really want to share some of my photographs but unfortunately my internet connection here was very slow.

    • Darlene says:

      Kirkstine – I’m not sure I understand. Which challenge were you doing exactly? I don’t have a weekly challenge or do you mean the one where I said to get closer?

      Phillip I’m glad you’re enjoying the tips and my articles! Is there one or two images you wanted me to look at in particular that related to one of the challenges in the ebook? This page is for discussing the challenges in the book and what you went and photographed and learned from them or what you found you had difficulty with. It’s very hard for me to go look through your whole Flickr stream, you have over 100 photos there. Please direct me to one or two that relate to the challenges or one image you want comments on.


  21. P. Meex says:

    Hi Darlene

    A couple of weeks ago, I subscribed to your newsletter and I must say … the tips are just great.
    Thanks for all the work you’ve put into this. I’ve put in a link to my photos on flickr. If you have the time and are willing to take a look at them … any comments/suggestions are welcome.


  22. Susan Hague says:

    Hi Darlene,
    I downloaded your book some time ago and read through it all. I love your writing style – so clear and relatable. Anyway, today I finally went out and got acquainted with my rubbish bin for the first challenge, and after watching your video on Google Plus I set up an account and have uploaded my 10 plus 1 of the bin here – – I think that at this stage you are actually the only one who can see them apart from me of course. Took me a while to really get into the swing of things but by the end I was actually getting better at it I think.
    Thanks for this course – I’m looking forward to do the other ones.

  23. Darlene says:

    Hi Susan

    Good job on getting out there and doing it, that’s the first step! And for setting up Google Plus. Did you find my walk through helpful for doing that?

    Great job on getting 10 different images. Keep shooting!

  24. Susan Hague says:

    I have got to say Darlene that I wouldn’t have done it – signed up with Google Plus – without you. Very helpful article indeed.

  25. Dirk says:

    Well, tried to get closer hope this will do it

    best regards

  26. Susan Hague says:

    Hi Darlene,
    I have just uploaded some macros to the google+ macro community photoshare in response to your interview with Don Komarechka –
    I presume you will be able to access them and would value your comments.

  27. Randy Heinsman says:

    I downloaded your “10 Photo Challenges” a few weeks ago but didn’t get a chance to sit down and look at it during the busy holiday season. Your recent email reminded me that if I want to improve I have to do more than just read – I have to get out there and actually take some pictures. A challenge is just what I need to get me motivated and get me thinking outside my rather small box. This is what initially attracted me to your web site. I have thoroughly enjoyed the book and I look forward to working though each challenge.
    Here are my 10 shots from “Walk Around Your Subject”
    All feedback is appreciated

    • Darlene says:

      Hi Randy – nice job! You’ve gotten several different looks from one small coffee cup. Now . . . go try a bigger subject!

      I’m so glad you’ve found it inspirational and motivating, keep up the good work.

  28. Edgar Arias says:

    Hi Darlene,

    As others above, I also want to thank you for sharing your book so openly. I really like it.
    I happened to watch your interview with Trey Ratcliffe right before diving into the book, so I just couldn’t help imagining your voice over the words I was reading. Lol (I have the imagination of a 10-yr-old sometimes).
    Anyway, I’ve already read through the whole thing already and found it really helpful.

    Some of the tips also reinforced stuff I’m already doing, like going out to shoot with a single prime lens (I actually like doing that a lot): (the link below goes a I did of an old camera on an afternoon walk armed only with my trusty 50mm lens)

    And yes, I shoot film :).

    Anyway, I shoot on weekends, so I plan to practice 1 challenge per week starting tomorrow.


  29. Bonnie Lewis says:

    Hi Darlene,
    I appreciate the chance to develop and respond to these challenges . Thanks for this thoughtful set of challenges and any feedback. All the pictures in this challenge are of my great grandmother’s chair in all of its dust old glory. I’ve been obsessed with the image of this chair sitting in a field. At least that was where I started. As you will see, I tend to go close-up (it’s what I love).

    Images on Flickr

    Thanks again!

    • Darlene says:

      Awesome job Bonnie! Great subject for that challenge also. Did you learn anything from this exercise? If so, what?

      • Bonnie Lewis says:

        Thank you for your encouragement and kind words! This is the first time that I have used a larger object for the focus of a group of photos. I would like to develop the ability to convey emotion and atmosphere, and I think this may be a good way for me to work on this. I like to shoot close-up and discover the unseen, but I tend to look for abstract patterns, lines, and just plain composition that pleases me. But, I would like to learn to tell a story with my photography. I didn’t really get the picture I wanted to of the chair. It’s still out there waiting. The grey tone picture came close. I will keep trying.

        I will start on the second challenge this week. Thanks again!

  30. don kellar says:

    I am just starting on the projects. Taking that first step is the hardest. It is interesting how when the rest of our lives are going great, we see lots to shoot and when we are stressed, nothing looks great. This is tax season, so you can guess which state I am in. Saw this tree in the light from the porch last night and was impressed by the contrasting bark. Took a few night shots and then decided the next am to make it the subject of the first project. Most of the shots show the use of aperture and depth of field. The trunk shots were taken with f22 and f3.5 for comparison. Here is a link (I hope) to the flikr file which is called project one.
    These were exported directly out of lightroom so the watermarks don’t indicate final pictures or pictures worth publishing.
    Just fun to shoot whatever is available. Open for any comments thanks

  31. don says:

    Hi darlene
    I spend so much time trying to get razor sharp picsand i forget t realize that what is out of focus is just as important. I pictured the depth offield as starting from end of the lens to a distance. But f3.5 photo shows blur at the lens and out from the focal point. The dof narrowed both ways, near side and far side focus giving two out of focus areas. Using a narrow dof for emphasis of a subject. The two pics of leaves showing the bud and the emerging leaf showed the beginning of spring as it was the only green on the tree.

    I learned to just go do it. Sometimes i cant wait for inspiration. Thanks for your kick in the butt email to encourage us to get started with the projects.

    • Darlene says:

      Hi Don – yes depth of field starts where you focus and extends in either direction, towards and away from the lens. So really shallow depth of field will create a blurry foreground and background.

      Feel free to share your images as you work through the challenges!

  32. Francisco says:

    My First Challenge, I will be doing this challenge again with a bigger object and posting pictures of that challenge.
    Darlene, thank you so much for all you do!

  33. kyleview says:

    Hi. And thank you.
    Am reading your 10 challenges eBook
    This coming weekend. I will be doing photos
    Looking from a different perspective.
    Started using me camera. Fujifilm s4300
    in apeture priority mode. And already seeing the
    Thanx so much

  34. Sylvie says:

    Hi Darlene,
    Thanks so much for this book. I’ve just started reading it and I can wait to use my new camera now (Pentax K30) . I do hope to be able to take time in the coming days and do the first assignment which is going to be very.. hard to get out of my comfort zone but mainly sharing the pics.
    Hope to be with you soon.
    Aganin thanks so much

  35. Destry says:

    Hello Darlene,

    Thanks for the time and energy that you put in the book to help those that want to get better and photography. Learning your camera, then learning to take advantage of it, I think, is the most crucial part of starting off. I was fortunate to buy my first SLR camera (Canon 450D) off a guy who was trying to sell his dad’s off of Craigslist. Unfortunately, his dad had complications and never got a chance to use the camera at all; so it stayed on a shelf collecting dust. When I first held it in my hand, it was as if it came right out of a brand new box, never opened! The next lens I purchased after the 18-55mm kit lens was the nifty fifty. Awesome little lens for the price!

    Here is to getting “close.” : )

    My dad strumming on the six string.




    • Darlene says:

      Nicely done! I really like the b/w version. You are certainly in close enough to get the subject and the meaning of the image, great job!

      • Destry says:

        Thanks Darlene!

        It pays to get close and it takes your photos to the next level. Who wants just “average” photos? 😉

        Looking forward to getting more photos in.

  36. Louise says:


    I’m new here. I downloaded your “Ten Photography Challenges” ebook on Sunday and am just beginning to read it. How do I sign up for your newsletter?

    I look forward to trying out your challenges.

    Thank you.

    Louise Dandeneau

    • Darlene says:

      Hi Louise if you filled in the form to get the ebook you’re already on the newsletter list too! Thanks for joining!

      • Louise says:

        Great. I have the ebook and am receiving the newsletter. Thanks.

        I just started reading the book and I plan to do the first challenge this week (Walk Around Your Subject). I will post photos next weekend. I have a subject in mind, my challenge is how to photograph it in 10 different ways.

        Thanks again. 🙂

        • Darlene says:

          Hi Louise – that’s awesome. What’s the subject you have in mind? Maybe I can give you some suggestions.

          • Louise Dandeneau says:

            Hi Darlene,

            I’m planning to photograph my husband’s guitar – alone, not with my husband playing it. I have a couple of viewpoints in mind, but any suggestion would be welcome, bearing in mind that my macro lens and my 15-85mm lenses are being repaired at the moment, leaving me with only my 50mm prime lens for about ten days.

            Thank you so much!

          • Darlene says:

            That makes it a bit tougher as part of the exercise is to change lenses. Different lenses will give you a drastically different perspective from one another, something you can’t change just by moving around. I’d wait until you have your lenses back. You also may want to choose a larger subject say a car in the driveway. Or better yet – do both!

          • Louise Dandeneau says:

            Yes, I could photograph my car. That’s a great idea. When I get my lenses back, I’ll photograph the guitar. Any suggestions then for my car? It’s a red Volkswagen Golf City.

            Thanks again for answering so quickly! I sure hope I can take a workshop with you some day in Edmonton. Do you ever give any in Winnipeg? I know plenty of photography enthusiasts that would participate (I’m a member of the Winnipeg South Photo Club – 70 to 75 members).

            Thank you.

  37. Hi Darlene

    Thank you for your inspirating writing… I’ve been struggling to get inspired for some time now, both professionally (day job) and my hobby, which is photography.
    I downloaded your eBook earlier this evening and read it in one go. It’s an easy read and to the point. Whilst reading, I immediately started thinking of creative ways to push my boundaries. i will share some of my findings and experiments

  38. Jenn says:

    Darlene… Stumbled upon your website & have sigend up for your eBook. I love using challenges to make me use my camera! I am a total newbie to using DSLR, bought my Canon T2i last April & did some beginner photography classes on-line. I find that if I have some guidance or challenges to complete that’s when the learning happens! My new goal is to complete your challenges in your book..thank you for writing & publishing it on-line for everyone! Also, a big thank you for having a place for us to connect with you & other photographers…it really helps!

  39. Jackie says:

    Hi Darlene,
    I too just happened to fall upon your site. I have been doing photography on and off for years but get paralyzed by all the new techniques and technology. I am using your “challenges” as a means of ignoring all those pieces that scare me and hopefully get me back into the “shoot” of things. Thank you so much for sharing your information. (Where is the best place to post things? I have a dropbox that I can share with you or is there somewhere else?)

    Again, thank you!!!

    • Darlene says:

      Hi Jackie – if you can upload the photos to somewhere online such as Google Plus, Flickr or a photo sharing site – then just post the link here on this page that works great! Have fun and glad to see you get back to do photography.

  40. Andrew says:

    Is there a way to share photos only here and not to the public as a whole? I’m asking wanting to share here but not make them available to just anyone.

    • Darlene says:

      Hi Andrew – hmm, I’m really not sure. You could add them to Google Drive and just post a link here and make it so that only people with the link can see them (settings for sharing in Google Drive). I’m not sure of any other way to do it because if you make them private on facebook or Flickr and give us the link here, we won’t be able to access them.

      • Ruby says:

        There should be a link on the photo and on the album in Facebook that you can send to anyone and let them view your photos, unless they’ve changed it again.

        • Darlene says:

          If you’re referring to how to share photos, it depends on the security you set on the images and if you share them to friends only or public. Public anyone can see, not if only shared to friends.

          • Ruby says:

            If I sound curt, I’m sorry – long day. I’ve set up a Flickr account and look forward to beginning your first challenge. See if this works. I went to “Options>get link” when viewing a photo in one of my albums set to friends only. In the pop up window Facebook says “You can use this link to share this photo with anyone, even if they don’t have a Facebook account. Anyone with the link will be able to see your photo.” Can you get there? I had to put it on a line by itself to keep it from separating after the “?”

          • Darlene says:

            Yes I can indeed see it!

  41. Destry says:

    Hi Darlene,

    I noticed one of the links in your PDF book called 100Strangers. I joined the group on flickr and ever sense then, its been getting me out more to take photos. I had also read your challenge about walking around your subject or getting different views. Here is one that I took just the other day while walking downtown in San Antonio. This strip has so many tourists and people walking along it, you can’t possibly miss opportunities. Unless, of course, you leave the home without your camera! This one was unexpected but it was fun as I got to meet some pretty cool people.


  42. Hello Darlene
    I stumbled upon your site a few weeks ago and printed the ebook you have put together. I received your challenge this week, so today being one of my days off I went doen to the main street where there were some blossom in full bloom. I used this for my challenge. I hope you like them 🙂 but I’m more than open to constructive criticism to improve my photography.

    The pictures were taken in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England.

    Happy snapping 😀

    Ed x

  43. Andrew says:

    Hi Darlene,

    I took some shots with close up in mind so here they are for you to view. I couldn’t figure out Google Drive completely so I did this with a guest pass. I hope it works.


      • Darlene says:

        Very nicely done Andrew! You’ve gotten nice and close and in on one subject for each shot. Can you tell me if you learned anything from that exercise?

        I like this image in your set a lot

        • Andrew says:

          Yes Darlene I did for sure. I feel like I have looked at thousands of photos of other peoples work on line and published. It always leaves me frustrated because so many of the images were of magnificent landscapes, cityscapes and foreign villages. Still tied down to work and not being able to travel much, I felt like there is no way I can capture things like that. The small southern town I live in doesn’t have much in the way of compelling subjects. Now thought I realize that I haven’t been truly looking. I learned from this that there are images around me I just have to look deeper to extract smaller things from what might be lacking in the larger scene. I believe this is going to help me look and see more. I think even if i get to travel it will help me get more than just the obvious. I’m glad I found your site and thanks for being willing help.


          • Darlene says:

            Andrew – that’s a perfect lesson take away! Thanks for sharing. Have you gotten to the bathroom exercise yet? 😉

  44. Sylvie says:

    Hi Darlene
    Thank you for your wake up mail. I’ve read the ebook with a lot of interest and I have even starting taking pictures with my new camera but I’ m not confident enough to share them. And I do not have a Flicker account yet ( need to take time to see how it works…). I’m more used to Dropbox.
    Having giving a very chickened explanation,I will try to post some pictures tomorrow ( I just can t do it now as I’m writing this from my IPad )
    Again thanks for pushing me

    • Darlene says:

      Hi Sylvie! No worries. You could share from Dropbox I think, but I’m not that versed with it, so I’m not the best to answer that. I’d still say Flickr is your best bet if you can sort it out.

      Other options are: Facebook, Google Plus or 500px if you are on any of those sites. Just share a link to the photos or album.

      • Sylvie says:

        Hi Darlene,
        Thanks for your answer. I’ll try to figure out how Flickr does work tonight as I’m not very keen on using FB as to Google Drive it uses PICASSA and I’m not sure you can see the pictures unless you have an account. The thing with Flickr is that I need to have another E-MAIL address…. Another “code” to remember LOL.
        By the way thanks again for your yesterday mail as it pushes me to grab my camera and take pictures. Actually I usually have my camera with me almost everyday but I’m not confident enough to share them.
        Please wish me luck to get through the “Flickr” thing in order to post some of them…
        Now I do have to carry on….

  45. Sylvie says:

    Hi again Darlene,

    Here I am. I do hope the link is working.

    I took others but I’m very disappointed with the result of some of them as they’re blurred…

    • Darlene says:

      It says you have nothing available to me. You have to make them publicly visible.

      Post a couple that are blurry and I’ll help you sort out why.

      • Sylvie says:

        Hi Darlene

        Hope it’s not too much and it works… Sorry if so. Just let me know how many I can post?

        Anyway thanks so much for your help and support.
        Have a great day. Here sun is shining at last!!!!!

        • Darlene says:

          Sylvie – okay I can see them now!

          One request I’d like to make for anyone sharing images, please tell me which challenge they relate to? It will help me make more appropriate comments for you. I’m assuming these are for “walk around your subject” right?

          Great job on the old chair! I see up high angles, down low, under the chair, different focus spots – you can hardly tell it’s all the same thing right? One thing I’d like to see is something with a longer lens, is the 18-55mm your only lens currently?

          You may also benefit from reading this and picking yourself up a 50mm f1.8 lens. I wrote it by the way.

          Tell me – what have you learned fromt his exercise if anything?

          Okay the fishing net and statuettes, and the blurry image issue. Can you tell me what camera mode you used for these? I can already tell you why they’re blurry, do you know why?

          Read this and tell me if you can figure it out – I wrote this too.


  46. Sylvie says:

    Ok next time I ll mention the challenge. I do not know the rope yet.
    Yes it was for “walk around your subject” and yes I do use the 18-55mm lens. I just bought a new camera ( Pentax k30). I don t think that I’ll buy the 50 lens yet. Lol. this excersise has helped me to look around and make me take pictures that I wouldn’t have even dared to take.
    As to the blurred images I didn’t use a tripod and I was wearing the MBT shoes which are not very stable..
    I have a question but I ‘ m not sure I can ask it here. It’ about lightening and the use of flash.
    Many thanks for your comments and help
    Ps I like your post on FB with your picture

    • Darlene says:

      Ask anything you like here, or on the Facebook page. Thanks re: my new photos! Notice it’s on here too in the sidebar on the right?

      What are MBT shoes, I’m not familiar with those? The reason the images are blurry is because of the slow shutter speed. Even if you had more stable shoes, shooting at 2 seconds or longer is pretty near impossible to get sharp without a tripod. Look at those ones again. What camera mode were you shooting in? Av (A) or Manual?

      • Sylvie says:

        Hi Darlene,
        At last I have some spare time….
        MBT shoes are walking shoes. MBT stands for “Masai Barefoot Technology,” and the shoes are designed to simulate walking in sand. They are shaped like a teeter-totter (that’s how I call them…) They increase muscle activity, strengthening and toning of the leg, buttock, stomach and back muscles takes place during everyday activities like walking and standing. I use them because they help me to walk as I underwent an arthrosesis of the left foot.
        Back to the pictures. For the blurred ones I used the AV mode. I also use a lot the M mode.

        As to my question here it is;
        I’ve taken few pictures with and without flash but I don’t like both results. The one without Flash is yellowish-orange and the ones without the lightning are too harsh (I even use compensation but still..)
        Can you give me an explanation?
        Hope I did OK with FLICKR and in advance thank you for your help.
        It’s night time here so Good night

        • Darlene says:


          Those shoes sound interesting, I’m going to have to google them now!

          Okay let’s look at your photos one by one:

          – with flash and it comes out quite strong
          – what do you feel you want to correct or change about this one? How harsh the flash looks?
          – this is because of your camera settings. You are at ISO 100 and f14 which means that the camera is NOT very sensitive to light, and you’ve closed down to a very small aperture. The shutter speed is 1/30th. So what all that adds up to is that with those settings you are pretty much not capturing ANY natural light and the entire exposure is being done with the flash.
          – on camera flash, especially the little tiny built in ones are very harsh because they are small, my camera doesn’t even have one and I rarely use a flash on the hotshoe pointed directed at my subject for this reason
          – by looking at your last image I can tell that there IS some natural light there to use, you just need to change your settings
          – by changing to ISO 800 f5.6 you can shoot at 1/40th of a second, add the flash and it will be a lot more balanced
          – when you say you used “compensation” what do you mean? on the overall exposure or on the flash?

          It won’t let me see the second image

          – this one is very dark (under exposed) and orange
          – were you on Manual mode for this one?
          – can you tell me why it’s too dark?
          – why might it be orange? what setting controls the color tint of your image?

          – is blurry right?
          – what mode did you use hear Aperture priority?
          – your settings are ISO 100, f5.6 1/5th of a second with a 55mm lens.
          – do you know why it might be blurry? if you had to guess? based on those settings above – what setting controls motion?

          same problem as this one and this series

          – settings: ISO 100, f4, shutter speed was 4 seconds.
          – HINT: do you think you can hold the camera steady for 4 seconds without a tripod?

          Same issue again here

          – ISO 100, f14, for 2 seconds.

          So what can you change to make them less blurry? I’ll tell you it has nothing to do with depth of field, this is motion blur.

        • Darlene says:

          Sylvie – I’d recommend you read these three articles I’ve written over on the Digital Photography School site, I think they will help.

          Manual, Aperture and Shutter Priority modes explained

          5 tips for getting sharper images

          Why a 50mm lens is your new best friend

  47. Rebecca says:

    I haven’t done this before, hopefull this link to flikr works.
    I had fun photographing my son’s boots.

    • Darlene says:

      Well done, you moved around, shot through the grass and the boot pull on straps. Lots of variety and that’s great. What did you learn from doing it?

      • Rebecca says:

        The more I moved around the more interesting the photos were.

        • Darlene says:

          You mean each successive one was more interesting?

          • Rebecca says:

            As I walked around it was interesting to see different views of the boots and see them in different and more unusual ways rather than just straight on. That made the photos more interesting, I think.

  48. Angélica says:

    Hola Darlen: Estoy viendo tus artículos, por cierto muy buenos. Me suscribí a tu libro pero al bajarlo, encuentro que no esta traducido al español, por lo que se me hace muy difícil leerlo. Me podrías informar como lograr su traducción? Todo el resto tiene traducción instantánea.
    Gracias por tu generosidad, un saludo

    • Darlene says:

      I’m very sorry but my site is in english, I have no plans for translations at this time.

      Lo siento mucho, pero mi sitio está en Inglés, no tengo planes para las traducciones en este momento.

  49. Jenn says:

    Here is my walk around the apple tree…hope this link works!

    • Darlene says:

      Yes that link worked! Good job with that! Is this near where you live or in your yard?

      The only other things I’d suggest to add more variety in the images is to try using a wider lens. Do you have anything wider than the 55mm you used? Do you have the 18-55 also?

      If so try some with that lens at the 18mm end. Maybe get right under the tree and shoot up into it with the wide. Try some other options.

      Nice selection using that lens though. Did you get anything from the exercise?

  50. Rebecca says:

    Here are my tries at the second challenge. I think it ended up being more macro versions of ordinary items.

      • Darlene says:

        Hi Rebecca – I can see them now!

        Yes they do seem like macros LOL. Did you do more than one image per item? Don’t forget exercise #1 – walk around the subject. Take more than one per image to develop the scene. Just get in that habit always.

        I really like the idea of the paintbrush against the wall and the shadow.

        Do you see how some of them are blurry? It’s the same reason and same solution to Slyvie I mentioned above. Read my comments above to her and go see those articles.

        Does your camera have different modes? What mode did you shoot in?

        • Rebecca says:

          My camera is a basic point and shoot Cannon powershot. I have been playing around with shooting in manual and learning some of the options in this camera before I upgrade. I noticed for the paintbrush that the ISO was very low and I tried to stablize the camera and it helped a little to clear up the image. I guess I should of changed the ISO.
          I did take 4-5 shots of everything, I just included my favorites. I think I could of done a little more walking around, but I was having a little difficulty figuring out different ways to shoot the items.

  51. Leah says:

    Darlene, thanks for the e-book and all the great ideas. And thanks to all the people who have shared their photos! I’m just getting started, but here is a link to some of my photos – about half were taken this week for this challenge, but then I discovered a few close-in shots that I already had, and added those as well.

    I’m looking forward to more challenges!

    • Darlene says:

      Hi Leah – sorry which challenge are those for? One from the email or one from the book?

      The one of the spiderweb on the fence is really well done. To get them to show up is tricky and you’ve done that nicely.

      I also think the one of the metal object is successful, party because I can’t tell what it is. So you’ve done a good job of hiding its identity and make an abstract.

      • Leah says:

        Hi, Darlene,
        I see now that I didn’t understand the assignment correctly – it was the one from the email, week 3 challenge – I’m trying to play catch up, so my mistake.

        I got lucky with the spider web, the sun was hitting it just so.


        • Darlene says:

          You may have been doing the “get closer” quick tip. That’s good too.

          Go back and read the “walk around your subject” part in the email and go to page six in the ebook for the full challenge description on how to do that part.

          But you did take action and got out and took some photos so award yourself for that!! Don’t worry about doing things right or wrong.

  52. Phil says:

    A close up of patterns in the sand after the tide had gone

  53. Phil says:

    Hi Darlene,
    Sorry. I am new to all this web sharing stuff. Have changed the viewing to public.

    Another go at uploading ‘patterns in the sand’


  54. Rebecca says:

    I was hoping this would fit into one of the challenges, but I’m afraid it doesn’t exactly. I was asked to take pictures of my son’s class. It was my first time ever posing people. I keep repeating “move around” “walk around” as I was taking the pictures. I was amazed at what a difference it made as I moved around and one shot would be okay and from a slightly different angle it would be incredible. I shot 300 pictures in a 20 minute recess so it was quite the move fast and try to remember everything I have learned experience. I have really appreciated your book and your tips and I can tell that my pictures have improved dramatically. I was hoping you wouldn’t mind looking at these and letting me know if something stands out that would improve them. Also if you know any good articles on posing friends. I struggled with positions to put two friends in. I found plenty on couples. Thank you so much for your ebook. It is fabulous.
    I will take these pictures off after you have looked at them to protect privacy.

  55. Gordon says:

    Lesson #5. Found this interesting sculpture while at a wedding in Minneapolis, so my link for the 10 shot assignment.

    Am hoping this is the correct way to allow others into the Flickr site:
    Looks like Rebecca’s, but it’s not highlighted, so I need help with getting images here.

    Thanks Darlene for your excellent tutorials and this site.

    • Darlene says:

      @Gordon great photos of the statue! I’m not sure what you mean by “Lesson #5” though. Challenge #5 in the ebook is to “limit yourself” but I’m assuming this is the walk around your subject one, is that right?

      • gordon says:

        Sorry about the confusion…yes, these are for the 10 shot walk-around challenge.
        Ok, onward and upward to week #4. Thanks.

    • Leah says:

      as a fellow “traveler” – one who is following along and absorb the lessons – I wouldn’t mind seeing some of your bathroom shots. Like you, I can’t imagine taking 2 – let alone 6 -let alone 100 – photos in my also small and not very tidy bathroom. If you wouldn’t mind sharing, I think it would be inspiring to see what you’ve done.

      • Gordon says:

        Hi, Leah. Loaded 19 for you. I didn’t edit any, just as shot. Some need to be cropped or shot from better angles, but I was surprised at how many photos were waiting in that little room. The mirrors help to create different effects. See so many more that I could have, should have worked on. So, with that in mind, next time I’m going to pre-clean the bathroom, take in a couple of lenses, and try to make sure I have enough time to play.
        Have fun…..

        • Gordon says:

          Oops..I use the Tab key a lot at work: it sends the message when I hit it on this site….habits

          All the best in your bathroom….go for it. Gordon

          • Gordon says:

            So………? did you get the bathroom cleaned and photographed? it’s fun – really. Can’t put these things off; Darlene is watching, you know.

          • Leah says:

            Hi, Gordon,
            somehow I missed the post with the link to the photos – thanks for sharing! You have some great shots – I particularly took note of the glasses on the counter, as well as the lights (something I struggle with – photographing lights). As I suspected, inspirational. I guess the only thing to do is give it a try!

  56. Gordon says:

    Darlene…….today decided to try the 100 shots in a bathroom; now I have a small bathroom, nothing fancy, just the basics.
    I figured I could find 6 shots for sure, but 100, YIKES!! Not only was this exercise fun and challenging, but there are way more than 100 possible shots in that little room. As they were loading to the computer I was coming up with more ideas that hadn’t occured the first time around…yup, went back and did some of them. Not sure if you wanted them posted or not (surely not all), but the exercise made me slow down, look, and try to find a different viewpoint.

    • Darlene says:

      @Gordon you can share if you like but I love hearing about your experience and what you’re learning from each of the challenges. That was exactly the point of that one, so well done.

  57. Gordon says:

    Darlene…….today decided to try the 100 shots in a bathroom; now I have a small bathroom, nothing fancy, just the basics.
    I figured I could find 6 shots for sure, but 100, YIKES!! Not only was this exercise fun and challenging, but there are way more than 100 possible shots in that little room. As they were loading to the computer I was coming up with more ideas that hadn’t occured the first time around…yup, went back and did some of them. Not sure if you wanted them posted or not (surely not all), but the exercise made me slow down, look, and try to find a different viewpoint. Appreciate your 10 Photo Challenges ebook and the many tips, tutorials you’re making available.
    Regards, Gordon

  58. Jenn says:

    Here are some of the photos from the challenge of “taking stuff out of your garage”. I know it is suppose to be “junk” but this was in my garage & I created a bigger challenge by NOT taking it out of the garage…mostly cause I didn’t know how to start it!

    I just can’t get myself to do the bathroom shots…can’t stand our bathrooms! Maybe tomorrow if it’s still raining cats & dogs!!

    • Jenn says:

      The apple tree shots were from the “walk around your subject” challenge.

    • Darlene says:

      Jenn yes the idea is to make something that we see as ordinary or ugly look interesting. I like the car shots though good job on those. You could go in the garage for round two and this time pick tools and ugly stuff!

  59. ROY says:

    HI Darlene
    Downloaded your books last night,have just read the first 10 Challenges I really enjoyed the way you say what you say.
    I am a bit of a sentimentalist probably something to do with my age 75 AUG. Will have to read it again and again to soak up everything you mention.Started photography 60 years ago but families and mortgages and life get in the way Started again 3 years ago worked my way up to a D700 Nikon and love it .But cannot get in to a rhythm and cannot make up my mind as to what type I want to follow I think your comments in you first book are starting to stir things up a bit lets hope so. Thanks once again

    • Darlene says:

      Hi Philip

      I love the self portrait in the mirror! Seems you had to get creative with it. What’s the last one with boots? I can’t tell what it is, most of the image is out of focus. Was that your intention?

      • Philip Hallam says:

        The boots are small cakes of soap (about 2 inches long). They are in the soap dish with the sink basin plug and the oof foreground is the hot water tap. Yes, it was meant to be oof as I am experimenting with shallow depth of field. Maybe too shallow in this case.
        The self portrait in the mirror seemed to be the obvious way to go with the mirror photo!

        • Darlene says:

          I see now! The thing with really shallow depth is you have to nail focus on the thing you want focused. I don’t see anything sharp in that image like maybe you were too close for your lens to focus? It looks like the back wall is closest. The eye goes to areas of: sharpness, brightness, color and contrast. There’s nothing sharp so we’re left to wander around trying to find a subject.

          The really out of focus thing in front of the soup isn’t helping either. Try moving positions so that’s not there and focus on the little soaps.

          • Philip Hallam says:

            Another look at this photo and I totally agree with you. The focus was meant to be on the boots and plug in the soap dish. I did want the hot water tap as a slightly oof part of the photo to show that the things in the dish were in a bathroom. Not everyone has gumboot soap so I was hoping the HW tap may have thrown a clue in that direction.

    • Darlene says:

      Philip – there’s no time restrictions on the challenges, you can do them whenever you can and are meant as ongoing practices you can revisit any time. So no hurry.

      I love your quote about learning to see images, that’s great!

      I really like the one of the spider web and the upside down old red tricycle. They are very simple and clean and you see the subject right away.

      One thing you want to watch is your shutter speed. What mode and what settings did you use to take these photos? A few of them are a little blurry from what appears to be camera shake (too slow of a shutter speed using the camera hand held).

      • Philip Hallam says:

        Hi Darlene,
        I didn’t realise there were no time limit restrictions which will make things easier. I do enjoy my photography so much more when I am not under pressure.

        I take your point re camera shake. I was trying to catch up and a gloomy day combined with little time that day meant that I used high ISO and large apertures, thus avoiding the tripod. (ISO 1600 and f4 or thereabouts for most of those shots in Aperture mode.)
        You are right. The shutter speed was a bit slow on some of those shots which were away from the door and the light. The 2 shots you mentioned were in the best light!

        Feel free to use my quote if you want to

  60. Philip Hallam says:

    Hi Darlene,
    These are 3 of my “walk around the subject” photos.
    This tree is only 30 metres from our door and I have taken dozens of photos of it over the last couple of years, (particularly in winter.)
    The moon shot was taken a few days ago and the other 2 today. (Sunrise and sunset.)

  61. Philip Hallam says:

    Thankyou for your comments and encouragement Darlene. I have worked hard at ‘developing my eye’,so to hear those words from somebody who does not know me personally just makes me want to work harder.
    You also made me realise that I did not complete the challenge properly as I have always used that tree as a foreground for clouds, fog etc. So, out in the frost this morning for some different shots that I had not done before.
    One side of the tree is hollow as you will see from the photos. Inside the hollow were 2 birds nests and a wombat is also living directly under the trunk in a hole that he/she has dug. Moss and texture of the wood also make a good subject for macro photography. I had to lie down in the frost to get the wide angle vertical shot.
    What did I learn? I learned that because you see something every day, doesn’t mean you know everything about it and photographic opportunities must pass most of us every day.
    I was pleasantly surprised to see the shadow of the tree was visible through the bottom hollow of the same tree and that will only happen at this time of the year.
    Thankyou for prompting me, otherwise I would not have ever thought of this shot.


  62. gordon stevenson says:

    Hi, Darlene. Attached photos for Challenge #2 – Hidden Treasures.
    Attempted a couple with light painting. Not too many exciting treasures in the
    garage sale collection.

  63. Beverly Edgmon says:

    Yes, I did exactly as you asked and walked around a subject and used different angels. I think this might be the first time I saw quality of light on a Mimosa bloom. After that, II was really inspired and I feel I got a very nice shot of a Clearwing (hummingbird) moth and a swallowtail butterfly. But the very most important was the light that flickered in my head. I don’t know that I will always see it, but SEE IT I DID that day! Maybe I will learn to post shots soon?

  64. Photostop Photography says:

    Hi Darlene,

    I am a fan of your photography and also of your writing skill! I am attaching the Challenge #1 pictures. Please let me know your view. I am so much inspired by your words that I snatched some ‘me time’ and tried to shoot those pictures. I wish to learn more from you. Distance matters, I am far so cannot join your workshops but I check your works regularly and feel great thinking I have the same passion as yours.

    Thank You so much for this effort to share your knowledge with me 🙂


    • Darlene says:

      Hi Photostop (do you have a name? It’s nice to know the person behind the photos)

      Good job on your first challenge. Tell me what you learned by doing it? Did you take photos differently? More of them?

      Are you open to a further step on it? If so – try and choose another subject that’s a bit larger like say an old truck or vehicle. Try and get a bit more variety in distance: wide angle, long lens, close ups, far away, pieces of it, make it small in the photo, etc.

      I’m a bit curious about the large watermark across the middle of your images as well. There is much debate on watermarks and whether or not they actually work an image theft deterrents or not (most people say they don’t work, I tend to agree) and whether or not one should use them or not. Here’s a few resources, you decide:

      Hope that helps.

      • Photostop Photography says:

        Thank you so much Darlene. That was really prompt reply. Firstly, I am Sayantani, a mom of 4 years old, currently residing in India. Stealing some ‘Me Time’ is a dream for me right now, still I dream to take good pictures and be more confident about it.
        I started learning how to watermark(which I think I have not learned well enough) because someone took few of my photos from my blog and made a collage of it in his/her profile. But still I think that I should think of some other way to protect the pictures. The video is really interesting, it made me think that I have wasted time and made my pictures look nasty by putting big watermarks. I am sure you are not able to realize the real pictures to criticize the pros and cons in them.
        While taking the pictures, I realized it needs to increase patience a lot to provide different angles from same shots. For me Portrait is really difficult and I am a fan of Macro and portraits. (I also went through the video interview of Don, I really like his work).
        To take vehicle picture in a lonely place in the cities of India is a challenge itself due to population and pollution. But I will try and send you those soon.
        I have a 105 Nikon lens and 70-200 Nikon lens. I used both in last Challenge. Can I use those to capture all the variations in a subject?

        • Darlene says:

          Nice to meet you!

          As for the watermarks I’d have to agree. I’m moving towards not using them at all. If people take my images I’m not going to worry or spend time on it.

          For variety of lenses you may want to add a wider lens than that. 70mm isn’t super wide and unless you have a full frame camera. With a cropped sensor it’s a 105mm which is quite long. What body do you have?

          • Photostop says:

            I agree with you regarding the watermark issue. With the advance technologies, its easy to remove them so there is hardly any need to spend time creating them.

            I have a Nikon D80 with a 50mm & 18-200mm lens kit and my husband (he is also very much interested in photography & gears) bought a D800 recently. I am trying to learn the basics of those cameras. I wanted to take a Nikon 12-24mm but its a bit more expensive so I am not sure about other good wide angle lens for those cameras.

            I am not a fan of 70-200 because I really like Micro and wide angle photographs.
            Can you suggest something?

          • Darlene says:

            Hi Sayantani – I’m a bit confused, before you said you have a 105 and 70-200, now you say you have a 50mm and 18-200mm. So which lenses do you own?

            They will behave very differently on your D80 to his D800. The D80 is a cropped sensor, the D800 is full frame. So the 18-200 on your D80 is really more like a 27-300mm. If you want a truly wide lens you will need something like the 12-24 or a 10-24 made especially for APS-C or cropped sensor bodies. The wide lenses will all be in that same price range. The 18-200 is a kit lens and as such is one of their lower grade, lower quality lenses. Any time you have a really large zoom range (18-200) like that they cannot make the same high quality optics as in a lens with a shorter range like the 12-24mm.

            You can look at something like these:

            Sigma 8-16mm this is a very popular lens

            Sigma 10-20mm f3.5

            Sigma 70mm macro lens

            Nikon 80mm micro

            Unfortunately once you start getting into the specialty lenses they are not inexpensive. Macro, fast zoom lenses, fast prime lenses – all come with big price tags due to the complex optics required to make them.

            If you don’t want to spend that much on a macro (micro) lens you could try extension tubes that help your existing lenses focus closer

  65. Hi Darlene,

    I posted my link Challenge#1- Walk Around Your Subject once before, but not sure if that worked, so posting it again.
    Believe me or not, you made me to literally complete this project, and I am happy about it. I have never learned photography but it’s a lifelong passion for me. I am not a pro but want to make it my profession. But everything is a dream and I have a dream to learn about this art as much as possible. Your writing skill is as motivating as your pictures and I just love your work. I hope you will help me to learn and succeed.

    Your book is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!! I lost myself while reading it..!!!!


    • Darlene says:

      Photoshop yes your first comment was posted, it just takes some time as I moderate and approve all comments. I get a lot of spammy comments trying to advertise stuff so I sort through them to find the real ones and sometimes it takes a day or two. I commented on your original comment. Thank you for your compliment for the book, I’m so glad it’s helpful.

      • Photostop Photography says:

        Got it! I will definitely wait for your response from next time 🙂
        I am just adding the link of my blog to view, I know it’s terrible to see those watermarks. I promise to keep clean and clear pictures from now onwards.
        Please let me know your view about the pictures I shoot in your convenience. You criticism is sooooo much important for me 🙂
        Here is the link :

        And thanks again for taking time to view the Challenge Pictures!!! You are my Idol 🙂

  66. Photostop says:

    Hi Darlene,

    I have used the D80 for years with 50mm and 18-200mm lens. Now for D800 I have 70-200mm and 105mm lens.

    I have never checked these lenses that you linked, they are very impressive, I think the Sigma 8-16mm/10-20mm are for D80. Do you think they will give somewhat equal results as 12-24mm in D800?
    I like the sigma 70mm but I have a question, will it work more or less same as Nikon 105mm that I already have?

    I come across few troubles while taking pictures as I have never done any course on photography.It will be very helpful if you suggest something:

    1. Indoor Portrait : In natural light on a gloomy day, what will be the best camera settings.
    2. Sunset : What is the best way/settings for good sunset shots.

    As an amateur, I have lot of silly questions which all the time come to my mind, I apologize for that.

    I am preparing for the Challange#2, though in India there is no such basement/garage sale, yet I have to figure out something that’s quite similar to the recommendations in your book 🙂

    Thank You!


    • Darlene says:

      I found your questions, sorry I missed this!

      To try and answer some of them, one by one.

      Wide lens – yes the 8-16mm is about the same as 12-24mm on a full frame camera, like the D800. It as specially designed for the smaller sensor cameras, so if you buy that lens it will NOT fit on your D800, only the D80.

      Macro lens – Your question about the 70mm and 105mm are tricky because it depends on which camera body you are using it with. If you put the 70mm on the D80 it will be similar to using the 105mm on the D800. You mentioned you wanted something for macro which is why I suggested those. But if you put the 105mm on the D80 it will be more like a 160mm, much longer. Because the D80 is a cropped sensor camera it is multiplying the lens focal length by a factor of about 1.5x.

      #1 – indoor portrait, do you mean using natural light as by a window? That is a very hard question to answer in a short comment. I teach a 12 hour weekend class on this where we cover this subject over two days so difficult to answer in a few sentences. The short answer is – it depends. I can never tell you what the optimal camera settings are without knowing: your subject matter (adult of child, single person or a group), your intentions (do you want a blurred background?), and your equipment (do you have a tripod?)

      I almost always use a tripod when doing indoor, windowlight portraits because there isn’t a lot of quantity of light, but if you set up correctly there is usually nice quality of light (soft and directional). If I’m photographing a single person I usually use f2.8 to blur my background (get them away from it also), and set my ISO to 400 to start, 800 or higher if my shutter speed gets too slow. If it’s an adult they can sit still for slower speeds than a child so I adjust accordingly. Usually I’m shooting at something like this: ISO 400, f2.8, 1/15th of a second, on tripod, using my 85mm f1.8 lens or my 50mm f1.8 lens.

      You can read more articles I’ve done on portraits here:

      #2 sunsets: 3 quick sunset tips for you (maybe I will do an article on this)
      – first expose for the sky, letting the foreground go into darkness or silhouette
      – set your white balance to add more drama or color to the sky, try shade or cloudy or adjust the K scale towards the higher numbers
      – put something interesting in front of the sunset, a tree, building, something that has a recognizable shape and adds interest to the image. Just sky isn’t as interesting visually.

      Keep shooting!

  67. Geoff says:

    Here are two of my pictures taken with the challenge to limit myself. I limited myself to my 50mm lens and manual focus.

  68. Photostop says:

    Hello Darlene,

    I tried to manage some picture from a locked room (I don’t have any basement).
    Here is the link for Challange#2 Hidden Treasure:

    Thank You.

  69. Photostop says:

    Sorry for this 2nd message, due to slow connection I am not sure if I am able to send you the link for Challange#2
    Here it is again:

    If it’s still not showing please try this:

    Thank You.


    • Darlene says:

      Good job, are those things in your garage? Things you normally pass by? Do share what you learned by doing this challenge.


  70. photostop says:

    Hi Darlene,

    Due to no internet connection I am late to reply. I really donot have any garage/basement here. I have a locked room and the stuffs there are used as the subject. But I am not happy with the outcome. It could be quite impressive and better if I could find some vintage and totally unused item to shoot. I am waiting for a good bunch of pictures if I can find for the next project and impress you a bit 🙂

    I had few questions last time in the reply of July 25, 2013 at 9:27 pm. If you have some time to discuss them either in your website or here, that will be great!

    Thank you so much.

    • Darlene says:

      It’s not about WHAT you photograph, it’s how. That’s the point of the exercise, to get you to look at ordinary, even boring things and think about how to make them look interesting in a photograph. Lighting, angle, lens – all change how the object will appear. Think a little more about those things and less about what is actually the thing in the photo.

    • Darlene says:

      Sorry, not sure I saw your questions. I’ve been busy with a project over the weekend and just about finished it. Where did you send or post your questions?

  71. photostop says:

    Hello Darlene

    This is the link for Challange#3 :

    Please let me know if you can view them. I have no fancy bathroom, stuffs are also not that impressive to shoot, still took about 45 pictures (sorry about not taking 100, I couldn’t find anything else).

    I will be waiting for your expert comment on how much I need to improve and in what area.
    Thanks & have a very nice one!


    • Darlene says:

      Hi Sayantani

      I don’t see 45 photos I only see 9, where are the rest? It’s hard to know how you did on the project without glancing over them all for this one. Each of those 9 images: did you take different variations of those shots? The hanging light for example, did you take 4-6 of that object?

      This exercise is an extension of the first one “walk around your subject” to get you to think outside the box. Look around take more photos of the same thing from different angles, in different ways. How about the bathtub, the drain, the shower spout? Did you try turning on the water and try some moving water shots? Did you flush the toilet and photograph it swirling down? If there’s a window (I’m assuming there is outside the curtain) did you photograph out of it? Did you try some wide angle shots if you have such a lens (if I remember you don’t have one is that right?)

      That’s what I mean by thinking differently. Does that help?

      So NEVER ever consider any exercise you’ve done a failure! The fact that you did it has already moved you forward. It’s the process of continued learning and practice not getting it right or perfect on one exercise.

      • Photostop says:

        Thank you so much Darlene for your view that I should concentrate on the subject and not how it’s coming out. I was judging myself negatively all the time that I can’t take good pictures and got frustrated.
        Though my bathroom is really small with limited items,yet I can try again the Challange#3 with the shower shot etc and upload some more pictures.

        The question I asked last time was:

        “For D80 I carry 50mm and 18-200mm lens. Now for D800 I have 70-200mm and 105mm lens.

        I have never checkedbefore these lenses that you linked, they are really tempting & impressive, I think the Sigma 8-16mm/10-20mm are for D80. Do you think they will give somewhat equal results as 12-24mm in D800?
        I like the sigma 70mm but I have a question, will it work more or less same as Nikon 105mm that I already have?

        I come across few troubles while taking pictures. It will be very helpful if you suggest something:

        1. Indoor Portrait : In natural light on a gloomy day, what will be the best camera settings.
        3. I got a chance to shoot few snaps of a customer inside a studio. I failed to take perfect pictures. That was embarrassing. How to shoot quickly inside a studio with artificial lights ?

        As an amateur, I have lot of silly questions which all the time come to my mind, I apologize for that. ”

        Thank you..

        • Darlene says:

          For the D800 yes the 12-24mm will give you the same result, and the Sigma 70mm will be a bit wider view than the 105mm but if you already have a macro (micro) I’d go with the wider lens and something between the 24 and 70 also, like a prime 50mm f1/8.

          #1 I did answer your questions about portraits, see above.

          #2 in a studio? Like a photography studio? Sorry, I really can’t answer that – WAY too complicated for a short text answer. Do you have studio lights? Using speedlights? On or off camera? Studio lighting is really complex – advanced techniques. Master natural first, learn about lighting and then move to the studio. Get a light meter and learn about ratios. I’d recommend signing up for Sorry not a short answer.

  72. Photostop says:

    Hi Darlene,

    Sorry for the above repeating questions….I found your answers in my email after I dropped the reply. I am thrilled to get the idea that a tripod is needed actually to shoot the indoor portraits as my shutter speed always slows down in gloomy days.. I got the right way. Thanks 🙂

    For sunset I need to learn about the K scale and the white balance. I never thought about those. I need to waork hard 🙂
    I am giving you a link of sunset pictures I took when I was in NY (sorry for the big watermakrs, I don’t use them like that now after getting your suggestion) If you have time please let me know where Ishould improve.

    I have a new question though 🙁

    I got a chance to shoot few snaps of a customer inside a studio. I failed to take perfect pictures. That was embarrassing. How to shoot quickly inside a studio with artificial lights ?

    • Darlene says:

      Yes it is really hard to even see your images with that watermark on it, never mind enjoy them. I’m glad you can see that now.

      I really like #2, 6, 25, and 32 – partly because of the shape and interest other than just sky. But you’ve got the right idea there keep going.

      I think I answered your studio question by email, right?

  73. chat cams says:

    I love it when people come together and share thoughts.
    Great site, stick with it!

  74. Jodi says:

    Hi Darlene, this is my first time reading your ebook and I just did your first challenge. Little bit about me, I like to do photography as a hobby and would LOVE to make them look more professional. And I am mostly shooting pics of babies/toddlers. Thank you so much for your site, and book and this website! It’s pretty awesome you willing to help others.

    Well here is my Challenge #1. Any and all comments/praise/criticism are appreciated!

    • Darlene says:

      NICE job Jodi! That is really well done. You’ve got all angles covered, back front, sides, up and down. Close up and far away, details and whole thing.

      So tell me – what did you learn from doing this exercise?

      • Jodi says:

        I really think a big lesson for me was to just get out there and actually DO it. I love to make things look interesting through the camera lens already but just getting out there and shooting the pictures, working with the camera and the settings to make good pictures…that’s what I came away with.

  75. Ruby says:

    Darlene, is a bridge too big to use for “walk around your subject?” And if so, would a torpedo in the park be big enough? I can’t get ON the bridge now, but I have some shots from this Spring when the creek behind it flooded and it was closed, and I have a view from a few blocks away, a nice walkway under it with a view from a city park on one side and from a small marina on the other, and I can walk right up to where the road enters it.

    • Darlene says:

      Yes that could work. It’s anything you can do multiple angle of. Remember do try some super close ups as well maybe detail of the bridge itself.

      • Ruby says:

        Darlene, the stretch of riverfront with the bridge in it is going to be my project. Between the heat, the cloudless skies, and the death of my beloved Minolta Z3 I can’t get a shot just now that I need for the “Walkaround” of the bridge, but I accidently did a walkaround at another site on Monday that I just posted. I was working on bracketing with the Z3 and getting familiar with exposure control on my DSLR, which won’t bracket automatically. I’m learning to use Flikr and didn’t realize the photostream posts in reverse order to the sets, so the order is wonky. You can ignore the first 3 and last 2! The two photos after the photos for your challenge #1, Walk Around Your Subject ” are posted because they have a question for you in their captions. I only have 2 sets, you’ll see yours!:-)

        • Darlene says:

          Awesome job! Probably one of the best examples I’ve seen of this assignment. Give yourself a pat on the back.

          • Ruby says:

            Thanks! It was loads of fun. It’s funny I wasn’t doing it consciously, but the challenge was “percolating,” because I generally try to keep man made things out of the landscape, and that trip I “put them together.” I like the flavor that brought to it! I’m looking forward to the basement/attic next week, although it may be things in the gazebo!

  76. Tania says:

    Hi Darlene!
    I’m technologically challenged and am unsure as to how I upload / download my photos for the challenges so you can see them. Do I need a flicker account or something like that??? Thanks! Enjoying it by the way!

  77. Tania says:

    Hi Darlene!

    I have just completed the first challenge – walking round your subject and taking different photos. I chose an old Nuffield tractor in our paddock – actually, I couldn’t walk round it as it was backed into the trees, but I climbed up a ladder and photographed from up top instead (they didn’t turn out so well…). I learnt to appreciate my wide angle lens from this exercise – I normally don’t use it very much and loved using it when the animals came along to help add interest to my subject! I also decided that it was quite an interesting subject once I got into it – especially the colours with the sunlight on them – something I would normally never consider shooting. At the moment I only shoot in Jpeg, haven’t mustered up the courage to try RAW….. I hope the link works (I’m new to this!):

    • Darlene says:

      Yes the link works just fine and you did great! The photos of the tractor are really good! I really mean that. I love that you talked about using your wide angle lens more and what you learned. Some of the details and close up photos you can’t even tell it’s the same object. Really, really good job!

  78. Greg Varney says:

    Hello Darlene,
    I enjoyed reading your “10 Challenges…” ebook. Thanks for making it available to us. I enjoy taking photos and am actually improving. Your book has nudged me out of my comfort zone, and I thank you!
    The link below is to where I posted photos I took for Challenge #1. It is a photovoltaic array located at the Issaquah hatchery. Walking around to find different views was great fun–forcing me to find a different aspect of the panel to see. I tried different focal lengths, as well as a several macro shots.
    I look forward to the next one!

  79. Hello Darlene,

    On Oct. 18, 2013 I was in SoHo, Manhattan. I saw a statue that interest me in which I liked the details. For the first time I decided to take photos of the statue from different angles. Today, October 20, 2013 I read an article which lead me to your ebook. I decided to submit those photos for your review and input. I will do another photo shoot for this challenge to the specification in the ebook. Would you please let me know if I am heading in the right direction.

    Photos for Challenge #1 Walk around the subject can be viewed at the following website:

    Thank you for sharing your gift with us.


  80. hchriste says:

    I have not shot the 100 photos of the bathroom, I picture in my head some shots but justdon’t seem to take my camera into the bathroom.

  81. Kurc says:

    Thanks so much for the informative book. I have been a student and practitioner of photography, off and on for over 50 years, and still find much to learn about this great medium. Right now I am sharing this renewed journey with my son, as he has chosen photography as a career choice. A few wrinkles and challenges in that, as he has Down syndrome, but this has not in anyway hindered his passion or negatively impacted his emerging gift. The photos on his website are all his, with dad offering composition and exposure advise, but it’s his eye that sees what to shoot – with the exception of the front page shot of him. The photos right now are mainly of our cross Canada trip 2 years ago – a bit of a long story there, all explained on the site. We are working on turning this into a book, and are going to reach out to other young people across Canada to finish the project – and all those future collaborators, it’s planned that they too will have an intellectual challenge, as I have now met scores of young people, through Special Olympics, that share this interest in photography. To nurture and expand their talents and gifts, I was intending on providing input on how they can turn their snapshots into more appealing photographs, and I think recommending they join and download your e-book would be a phenomenal start. Sorry – very long winded, and did not intend on self promotion [again, this is for my son], but in the many different online resources I’ve found, I believe this is where we should be. Wishing everyone here a Merry Christmas.

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About Your Tutor

photography tutor in Edmonton

Born and raised in Edmonton, Darlene has had formal training in photography at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. She enjoys portraits, fine art, and travel photography. She is a seasoned traveler having spent time in Mexico, Singapore, Malaysia, Peru, Thailand, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Cuba and Australia. Darlene loves exotic locales, exotic food and experiencing different countries directly through the local people and the cultural arts. Her vision is to share her artistic talents through teaching “the art of seeing”, and to spread love and tolerance through the experience of truly connecting with and understanding people of different cultures.