Whatever camera you use and whatever type of photographs you normally take, I urge you to try this fun task. Maybe include it as part of your social-distancing daily exercise walk. Take the 1,000 Step Photograph Challenge.
Not my idea; I took up the challenge myself after watching a YouTube video by Thomas Heaton1, a superb landscape photographer based in North East England. He, in turn, was given the challenge by a Norwegian photographer, Oddbjørn Austevik2.
The challenge rules are these:
I did two walks, each time counting 1,000 steps from the first pace outside my front door to step 1,000. I took up the challenge twice because my estate has two main roads in and out and I didn’t want to choose one route over the other.
Route one took me towards a more urban environment. After walking through my estate to the exit, there’s a path alongside a dual-carriageway section to a major roundabout. This ‘Interchange’ sits over the A282, which is the road to and from the Dartford River Crossing and Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, linking Kent with Essex. Unless you’re into traffic photography, there are no opportunities for images here. Nor immediately across the roundabout, where there’s a large petrol station, a fast-food drive-through and more housing.
Luckily, there’s a pedestrian footbridge over a main junction in this direction, providing an over-street viewpoint. I admit to slightly manipulating my route to achieve 1,000 steps at the photographic position. I ‘scouted’ around the area under the footbridge and then, before walking up the steps to the top, stopped and counted them first. This was to ensure I hadn’t mis-calculated somewhere along the way before walking up to the footbridge’s highest point. I like to think this minor tweaking of my route didn’t infringe the spirit of the rules.
If only my photograph was as good as my counting. I thought I was being clever, biding my time for an interesting scene to unfold. But with just seconds to go I had to take what I could get. As you can see, route one’s photo (straight out of camera, unedited jpeg) turned out to be a dud.
I tried route two the following day. The walk through my estate in this direction leads to a slightly more rural landscape. Once across the pedestrian crossing, straight ahead is some open land. Here I had two options: left-diagonal down and across the field to a view of the River Thames and the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge; or remain on a straight(ish) line to the entrance of the local hospital, Darent Valley (DVH). I paused in the middle of the field and questioned whether I really wanted to walk across the front of DVH, especially during our current challenging times. After all, I wasn’t a photojournalist looking for a story shot; this was just supposed to be a fun challenge. Today, photographing outside the entrance of DVH just felt inappropriate3. So, I chose left-diagonal down and across to a view of the Thames and bridge.
For this shot, I was determined not to try and act clever. I would simply take the appropriate amount of time, within the 3 minutes rule, to survey the scene. I’d identify as good a composition as the 1,000-step spot gave me at the time of shooting, decide upon and set up my preferred exposure, then capture the image.
Success: photograph taken as planned. Which means that, regarding route two’s picture, I’ve got no excuse whatsoever. No extenuating circumstances, no hoped-for action that didn’t happen, just an even more dud (straight out of camera, unedited jpeg) picture.
But no matter. Despite two…let’s call them uninspiring photographs that I managed to bungle, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed doing the 1,000 Step Photograph Challenge and will certainly be doing it again in the near future.
And if you’re anything like me and get as much joy from the process of capturing images as seeing the final printed, published or social-media shared results, do give this challenge a go yourself. If for no other reason than to bring even more fun into your photography. And why not also share your photographs – if you dare.