July 18, 2014

Complete the 100 Happy Days Photo Challenge. Done

Well, I can now check off another item from my 21 Before 21 list! I started the 100 Happy Days challenge at a time when I felt like I was barely hanging on: right before exams. I was exhausted and stressed, and honestly probably started it whilst procrastinating. I thought the challenge would be a good way to help me improve my eye for photography as well as help me appreciate more fully how blessed I am to have so much beauty in my life.

I'm going to admit up front that I did not take a picture every single day. On six occasions I simply re-edited a picture from another day, like on my cousin's birthday, or on the occasional Throwback Thursday :) BUT. I did POST a picture every day. It was difficult sometimes; I almost forgot on several occasions. The days that I worked all day were the hardest, mostly because when I would get home, there would be no good lighting for me to take a picture of anything!

Okay, so: Am I glad I did the 100 Happy Days Challenge? Yes. Definitely. I enjoyed the challenge. I love photography and my life; combining the two on a daily basis was a really great experience. 

Did I learn anything? Actually, yes. And the things I learned are really quite random, but I thought I'd share them anyways.

1) For starters, I learned how something small can change how you view your world. Taking a picture every day slowed me down; I had to find one thing every day that was photo-worthy, and if that doesn't change how you see your world, then I don't know what will. You will see things in greater detail and have a fuller memory.

2) I also learned that I love black and white. Some days I just couldn't seem to find good lighting, and my pictures looked grainy or had awful coloring. Black and white was an easy fix for this. A poorly exposed photo can look beautiful once you make it black and white; all the distractions and imperfections disappear. It's a great way to turn the focus of the picture from composition and color to what you took a picture of. 

3) I learned way too much about photo editing apps. I tried so many editing apps, it's not even funny. I was eventually rewarded though. I now have a great collection on my phone, and can easily make even the worst of iPhone pictures look decent enough to post on Instagram. My favorites include:
  1. Snapseed: This free app is made by Google, so it has to be great, right? This is my go-to for basic editing and correction: brightness, saturation, temperature... Snapseed fixes all these best.  It also has a great center focus option that is more adjustable than the center focus on most apps.
  2. VSCOcam: Somewhere between Snapseed and Instagram is VSCOcam. It has powerful filters that really change your photo, and all the filters are adjustable. The app is free, and so are multiple filters, but it does have ones you have to purchase. The free ones are still great, especially the skin tone corrector!
  3. Afterlight: This app isn't free, but it was worth the 99 cents. There are lots of filters, crops, light leaks, and more. It is also a great editor for fixing the color tone of photos. 
  4. Instagram: As much hate as Instagram gets, it is still the biggest photo sharing social media out there... And for good reason. With recent updates, Instagram is up there with VSCOcam... The filters are now adjustable and there is an expanded editing option. The only downside is we've seen the filters so often we can probably spot an Amaro filter from a mile away. I love Instagram, and I'm not afraid to admit it. It is always the last step in editing any of my photos.
The only app I hated is Camera+. (There's my one bad review.) It's just too complicated and not very visually appealing. 

4) I learned that practice improves anything. I doubt any one else can really tell, but I can certainly see an improvement in my photography skills. I'm much better at finding good light and interesting angles, and it doesn't take nearly as many shots to get the one I'm wanting. I'm still no professional, but I feel like I have definitely gotten better.

5) I learned that everything is beautiful. This sounds so cheesy, and it probably is. But really... In the right lighting, anything can make a great photograph. Small moments that don't seem terribly important when they happen can make amazingly meaningful pictures. My favorite example is the picture I took of my mom sewing: she does it often enough, but the way the picture captured the moment is really beautiful.

Well, now that I'm done sharing life lessons, I thought I'd share my five favorites.

Thanks to all my friends who put up with a picture a day for so long. I loved this challenge and I may do it again one day. 

So, complete the 100 Happy Days Challenge: Done.


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