Photowalk Challenge

Natural Ladders, 2018, Toronto by Christopher Parsons

There are a lot of different ways that you can challenge yourself to a photowalk. Use specific lenses or focal lengths or creative formats. Walk a predetermined distance and take a hundred photos from that site. Shoot black and white, mobile only, or focus on a concept, colour, or number.

I think I have a challenge that’s a bit different.

Recently I planned a photowalk to wander along a river in Toronto and, along the way, shoot some sculptures I’ve wanted to look at for the last several months. I got ready to head out, threw my camera over my shoulder, and walked out of my building and into a light drizzle of rain.

The low chances of rain had turned into the reality of rain, and it was only starting to come down harder. Without weather sealed gear there was no way I was going to be walking a few kilometres in the rain and shoot.

I quickly rerouted to an enclosed botanical garden that I live nearby. And pulled out my 12-42mm 3.5-5.6 II R kit lens and started at one end of the gardens and walked all the way to the other end.

Piles, 2018, Toronto by Christopher Parsons
Sharp Symetry, 2018, Toronto by Christopher Parsons
Unitlted, 2018, Toronto by Christopher Parsons
Opening, 2018, Toronto by Christopher Parsons
Revealed, 2018, Toronto by Christopher Parsons

I then swapped out my lens for the Panasonic 25mm 1.7 I had with me, and proceeded to walk all the way through the gardens once more. The shots I got tended to be different from the zoom lens, and forced me to think about what was differently possible to shoot with the prime lens compared to the short zoom.

Rough Hills, 2018, Toronto by Christopher Parsons
Valve, 2018, Toronto by Christopher Parsons
Red Frame, 2018, Toronto by Christopher Parsons
Untitled, 2018, Toronto by Christopher Parsons
Apex, 2018, Toronto by Christopher Parsons

Once I’d walked the length of the gardens once more I passed through it one last time, this time with my Olympus 40-150mm 4.0-5.6 R. This is definitely not the lens I’d normally use for this kind of shooting environment. And that meant that I was forced to really try with the lens and make it perform in a space in which I’m not comfortable using it.

Aligned, 2018, Toronto by Christopher Parsons
Pals, 2018, Toronto by Christopher Parsons

What did I take away from this? That by walking the same space with different lenses possessing different characteristics I saw the space and photographic opportunities differently. It also was a useful exercise in just visualizing the possible: what shots was I willing and able to experiment with based on the lens at hand? What kind of shot — architecture or natural environment – captured my imagination with the different lenses?

The shots shown above are those that I was most happy with. There were, obviously, far more that got deleted (especially from the 40-150mm!). It was a fun opportunity, and a challenge I suspect I’ll revisit in the future.

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