SiJ 2018 - we made it! Thinking back - and ahead ...

Discussion in 'Photo Challenges' started by MoonMind, Feb 1, 2018.

  1. I would like to keep the SiJ challenge as it is - yearly, in January, period.

    4 vote(s)
    25.0%
  2. I would agree to an occasional break in the pattern - like additional months.

    4 vote(s)
    25.0%
  3. I would prefer a nine-month pattern in order to get variation in subject matter.

    9 vote(s)
    56.3%
  4. The "Single" aspect is to be held up: one camera, one lens, preferrably a prime.

    8 vote(s)
    50.0%
  5. People's choices are theirs entirely - everyone should choose whatever they prefer.

    6 vote(s)
    37.5%
  6. We value perseverance and dedication - those who participate see it through.

    7 vote(s)
    43.8%
  7. Nobody wants to have to contribute sub-par images - we should tolerate breaks.

    6 vote(s)
    37.5%
  8. Let's be lenient and accept any contribution anyone can afford to make.

    6 vote(s)
    37.5%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. MoonMind

    MoonMind SC All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Dec 29, 2013
    Switzerland
    Matt
    Folks,

    Bill has - most graciously - asked me to wrap up this year's Single in January challenge. I'll seize the opportunity to initiate a discussion about how it should be carried out in the future.

    I find it hard to express how much I enjoyed the whole affair - even though it may have been taxing and frustrating at times, but that was to be expected and didn't take away significantly from the main experience. Above all else, it was exhilerating to come back to the forum every day to find another thriving thread full of interesting and strong images, which in turn motivated me to do the best I could in the circumstances. What's more, everyone took care to keep the atmosphere welcoming, encouraging, yet purposeful and focused. I want to thank all participants and supporters for joining in and congratulate those of us - i.e. most of us! - who made it through to the end.

    There were, however, some very accurate critical observations about the conditions and limitations of Single in January. Let's take a step back and consider them.

    "Single" was originally meant to signify a very clear call for self-inforced expectations and limitations: one month, one posted image per day, but also one camera (if possible, even exclusively!), one lens with one focal length. More and more people have voiced concerns about the pressure and sometimes suffering these rules have caused them, so let's examine them in more detail:
    • Using a single focal length can really make your creative juices flow, but it also means that many subjects or image opportunities are out of bounds; you get your eye in only to realise that you are unable to take some images you would have loved to catch and show. Additionally, for an EDC camera, a zoom lens may simply feel like the more sensible choice.
    • The same goes for the "only one camera" aspect; depending on your choice, you can wrap your head around how the body works and what it can do, but sooner or later - at least if you have access to more than one camera - you'll run into issues or situations when a different setup would open up an opportunity or fit the circumstances better; think bulk and weight (the EDC aspect can be a huge issue if you choose a more capable, but also more bulky combo) or low light capabilities.
    • The fact that the challenge runs for a whole month and demands that you post one image a day is core and key to the challenge; thus, this is rarely called into question on the whole, but there actually is one observable issue: Up to now, the Single *in January* has been the only regular challenge, and that means that we visit the same season and conditions as well as the same subject matter year after year, leading to repetition as well as difficulties for some; to illustrate this, here in central Europe, it's winter time, cold, cloudy or foggy, generally wet and dark, with little light around at the edges of the day (though if you can catch it, it can be beautiful). I personally cope sufficiently well, but the conditions lead to more safety shots around the house than I'd like, and those who are further north have even tougher conditions. On the other side of the world, people are baking in the relentless summer sun and have to force themselves out into the heat and glare if they want to achieve variety.
    The key question to my mind is whether all - if any - of these conditions and limitations is conducive to the fun and quality of the results of the "Single in" challenge format.

    I would invite everyone to join in to create the best set of conditions to make it the most rewarding experience for as many people as possible; the poll (in which you can choose as many options as you like) is meant to make it easier to make out general tendencies.

    So, let's start the discussion.

    First and foremost, I think it's worth thinking about breaking the rhythm and change it to a nine-month cycle; this way, not only would everyone see different (and differently difficult) conditions and seasons, but it would provide all of us with even more interesting insights into each other's daily views and surroundings.

    I want to propose a "Single in" cycle: January, October, July, April - repeating every three years. What are your thoughs on this (see the first three questions fo the poll)?

    Secondly, I think we could also discuss how strictly we want to enforce other limitations.

    It is true that a single camera with a single prime lens forces you to get creative to get enough shots you feel comfortable about presenting to other photographers. But as I indicated above, you collect a wealth of experience this way, and maybe have to break your usual habits and patterns to make it work. On the other hand, it can be really frustrating and sometimes get you down sufficiently to drop out - I certainly have had these moments, more than once. To account for this, we have been understanding and agreed to gear changes for a while now - so it would only be logical to change the old rule into a recommendation for those of us who feel ready and able to stand the pressure; it's not as if the resulting images from those who chose a dfiferent route are less rewarding to look at! The fourth and fifth option in the poll take care of this aspect.

    Finally, there's another issue arising: The challenge has gained in popularity, so more and more people would like to participate, but some struggle with getting one image a day posted; some have even dropped out because of one single day they had to miss. I'm in two minds about this - on one hand, I don't think it's sensible to be religious about any kind of fun challenge on an online bulletin board, on the other hand, the search for images, the self-inforced pressure to post every day is a key aspect of the whole format in my experience - again, another source of creativity, though a tough demand at times. But truth be told, I don't have any problems whatsoever with accepting other people's decision to leave out a day or three. I just won't let myself let the sides down in that respect - again, it's obviously a personal decision, nothing I want to have to enforce. And while it's sometimes a bit sad not to get to see someone's continuous flow of great images, it's by no means taking away from the entertainment and inspiration the challenge provides. So, I have included another three options into the poll to let you have your say about this as well.

    As usual, I hope I haven't overdone it. I want to finish with a big THANKS! to everyone who participated and contributed in any other way - not only did we have a great time once more looking at everyone's images, it was a great show of support and encouragement, good humour, wit and attitude I wouldn't have wanted to miss for a fortune.

    Happy shooting - and may the light be with you ;)

    M.
     
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  2. Covey22

    Covey22 SC All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Feb 3, 2012
    Well said.

    A variation in months would be welcome. I don't mind cold weather, but sometimes the conditions are horrendous.

    Keep the single aspect. It enforces discipline into the process, and part of the Challenge is to maximize what you can get using a singular piece of kit. We're all guilty of desiring more gear than we can use, and this exercise reminds us of the wise old adage "Shoot with what you have," as well as the corrollary "Is it really the equipment holding you back?" SiJ in the past taught me many lessons about both those points.

    Finally, it's supposed to be a fun challenge. :) Not everyone will get a shot a day that they feel meets their personal standards or preferences. And that's okay. Life does not stop because we have a Challenge underway. The only pressure on me is self-imposed. I try to do my best, and that's really all we can do. We share our images, and to me, the really fun part is hearing everyone's stories behind them - the Selects and the Outtakes.

    My 0.02 before inflation. Thanks all!
     
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  3. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Lexington, Virginia
    Steve
    We can encourage certain practices, e.g., one camera and lens, but even now we really don't enforce these. Folks miss days, cameras break, etc., and we encourage folks to go on. I personally find the restrictions liberating since I don't worry about gear and work with what I have. The Canon G9X was as basic a compact as there is these days and it's biggest advantage is that it's pocketable. That was critical at the beginning of the month when I was travelling but unimportant later when I concentrated on interior shots. The Key thing for me is to simplify the gear questions and concentrate on subject, composition, technique and post processing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
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  4. ajramirez

    ajramirez SC Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Antonio
    Matt,

    You have given us quite a lot to think about. To keep my response short, I would keep the original set of guidelines (one camera, one lens, one photo per day) because they really define what the challenge is. However, we are not the photo police, and everyone should feel like they can participate even if they need to bend the guidelines somewhat. This time around, I missed one day, and although I considered stopping, I am glad I finished. No one chided me for breaking the rules, quite the contrary in fact.

    So, in sum: (1) keep the one camera, one lens, one photo a day rule; (2) no enforcement of the rule; let people be their own judges of how they want to participate; (3) I would personally prefer the challenge to continue to be in January, as it makes for a good start for the year, and usually (although not this year) coincides with my vacation time, although I would not mind your suggestion of a 9 month rotation.

    Cheers,

    Antonio
     
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  5. tonyturley

    tonyturley SC All-Pro

    Nov 24, 2014
    Scott Depot, WV, USA
    Tony
    Good points, all. I like the Single aspect, but everyone has different schedules and restraints. I think welcoming everyone to participate as much as their own personal considerations allow is a good thing. I've been able to participate all 31 days the past two years, but life happens. Others have not been so fortunate. I'm open to rotating months - I think the variable seasons and subject matter would add to the discussions.
     
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  6. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    I've done two SIJ's now, the first one in 2012 when we had one of our driest January's on record and this one when we've had one of our wettest, about 6" of rain as opposed to the average of 4" (150mm against 100mm), so I'm all for ringing the changes in the month in which it is done. That's not to say there won't be days with challenging weather, but hopefully not almost every day!

    With regard to the one camera, one lens I'm all for keeping that aspect. I much prefer prime lenses over zooms, however zoom lenses should not be excluded since that would exclude certain cameras with fixed zoom lenses, such as marlof with the LX100. I did suggest during the event that if I took part in the next one I might well go with my Leica D-Lux typ109 as a means of ringing the changes and being able to take a wider range of subjects. Perhaps a loosely applied caveat that ideally with interchangable lens cameras a prime lens should be ones lens of choice.

    Personally I concentrate on outside shots and I've limited myself to a small area, mostly my own parish and I was beginning to be stretched for subject material with the one lens, hence my thought of going with a short range zoom next time. I realise having seen just what other people have been submitting how much of a recluse I'm becoming which also limits to some extent my subject choice, no family, no pets and no cups of coffee to fall back on when things get tough outside, hence my use of a range of animal skulls when one day in particular was just too wet to venture out, not only was the camera not weatherproof, nor was I!

    Whatever, any rules should be applied loosely, it's a challenge but above all it should be fun and nothing should exclude anyone from participating. I think if I had to keep just one camera it would be my little Leica so such cameras should be welcomed, was it not Bert Hardy, a renowned photojournalist of the 1940's-1950's who took iconic images of British tourist resorts with a Box Brownie to prove that it was the person pushing the shutter that counted, not the camera.

    Barrie

    P.S. I don't know how anyone holding down a job of work manages during short daylight hours, so hats off to them, I couldn't cope with that.
     
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  7. ajramirez

    ajramirez SC Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Antonio
    Lots of wandering around at night, and always carrying a tripod helps. :)

    I really enjoyed your photos this month and am glad you decided to participate.

    Cheers,

    Antonio
     
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  8. marlof

    marlof Trying to focus Subscribing Member

    Dec 25, 2010
    The Netherlands
    Marlof
    I think it should be one camera one lens one month, period. It was not supposed to be an exercise in photographic excellence, but just a “familiarize yourself with the goods you have, in stead of constantly acquiring something new”. Have fun, and create your own subset of additional limitations if you like. Sometimes I limited myself to a prime, this time to a compact with a zoom, in a precooked B&W setting none the less. I did try to shoot mainly 24mm, but happily cheated when possibilities asked for that. I also did OOC JPEG, but did straighten or clone out when I felt it was necessary. Not all of my images were great artworks, but I had fun. It was just what I stumbled upon during my daily walks. To Barrie: that helps. Even on a work day, I take a walk every day to keep me sane. As for the months: rotating months could be nice. In some months it might prevent me from participating, but I can imagine it would benefit others.
     
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  9. I'm all for the variation in months, and I'd support the use whichever camera you want. Obviously. Since this year I used a superzoom. I think as long as you stick with your choice (which I didn't, having switched from my initial decision several times, but I stuck with the P610 for the whole month) its all good. one camera/one prime is fine for those who like to shoot that way. I'm not a fan, because I use the primes on my Pentaxes and Nikon1s sparingly and for particular situations. Also, I'm brinking on selling, in any case. By the time the next "single in.." comes around I may not actually own a camera that fits the bill. (I just bought the washing machine I needed, rather than a camera I thought I wanted)
     
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  10. Burkey

    Burkey SC Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    885
    Apr 18, 2011
    Northern New England
    I need to reflect a bit but it was fun, sorta'. The weather was extremely limiting for me. We live on the side of a small mountain in northern Vermont at about 1600'. Lots of ice during January that made something as simple as going of a walk a "not so nice" experience. So for me having a similar challenge in early or mid-summer would be much more enjoyable.
    . . . David
     
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  11. theoldsmithy

    theoldsmithy SC All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 7, 2013
    Herefordshire, England
    Martin Connolly
    I found this SIJ a bit of a struggle half way through but found a second wind. The weather and short daylight hours make January a poor choice for me so I’d definitely welcome some variation. On the kit front, if anyone wants to use zoom lenses, compact zoom cameras, bridge cameras or even smartphones it’s fine by me, as long as you try to stick to your choice and work out how to get the best out of it. I used an XE-1 and 35mm 3 years ago and didn’t enjoy it. Then I used an EM10 +12/32 which worked well as it was my holiday camera. But last year’s RX100 and this year’s G5X better fitted the ethos of the challenge, I think.
     
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  12. Hageneth

    Hageneth SC Regular

    103
    Jan 8, 2017
    Suffolk.UK
    Ian
    I'm all for a 9 month cycle as it's obvious that several people had difficulties due to adverse weather. It would also give us a chance to see other people's seasons. Also, having experienced blistering heat when on holiday in Dubai (45c) I can appreciate some of the problems for our friends down under.
    I also think that the original ethos of one camera one lens should still apply with the caveat that participants should be able to use a fixed lens camera with a zoom if they wish. I used a Fuji X70 and tried to take most of my photo's at 35mm but a few times had to resort to 28mm when I didn't have enough room to back up.
    However, as Barrie said the rules should be flexible and the main thing is that it remains fun. I really enjoyed it and being retired it got me out of the house even on some manky days when I would normally have stayed put.
     
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  13. donlaw

    donlaw SC All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Texas
    Don
    I support the 9month rolling concept to get a variety of seasons for different locations. For me this has always proved to be a learning experience. This year I went entirely out of my comfort zone by assigning a self imposed limit to include a face in every image. I usually would never approach a total stranger and ask to take their photo. What I found is a lot people like it. As long as you have an explanation, like doing a project where you have to get a photo a day.
    On the equipment side, in previous years I stayed true to the one camera/lens. This year I violated that by switching from 20mm to 45mm three times. But, I did with fore knowledge that my options would be better with the longer lens. I feel we should be flexible here. The idea is to learn and have fun. So latitude is ok with me.
    Also, like others had said I really looked forward to seeing what others had produced each day. It does reveal some details about each of the participants that helps us know each other a little better.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
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  14. I had fun with the challenge. It's good to have something which makes us think creatively on a daily basis. Of course no one is going to post work which is up to the top of their personal standards on a daily basis. But the process of thinking and shooting for the challenge makes us all better shooters. I like keeping it one camera/one lens. While knowing things can and will change for some people. I did a self imposed camera change for the last three days because I wanted to stop using the body I started with due to putting it up for sale. So I completely understand that things come up. I'm good either way with keeping it in January, or going on a rotation cycle.
     
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  15. MoonMind

    MoonMind SC All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Dec 29, 2013
    Switzerland
    Matt
    Thanks a lot to everyone who participated in this thread! It's somewhat difficult to wrap up, but that's entirely my fault for setting up a poll the way I did. :biggrin:

    The one new thing we really should try (and I'll be happy to initiate it when the time comes) is the nine-month cycle; so there will be a "Single in October" proposal come September. :2thumbs:

    It's also quite clear that while we will do everything to make the challenge bearable and sustainable for everyone, most of us want to keep up the full "Single" spirit:
    1. one (whole) month;
    2. one shot posted per day;
    3. one camera;
    4. one lens;
    5. preferrably one focal length, which ideally means a prime.
    We expect all participants to agree and stick to these rules - but we will not enforce them except by honouring them personally and individually. Furthermore, we show more leniency the further down the list a rule sits - so, the usage of zooms isn't even worth commenting on, but a lens change probably should be at least mentioned, and everything further up will raise eyebrows - which is fine since it keeps everything and everyone focused. However, apart from rule 1, there may always be exceptions because, as Tony put it so succinctly, life happens.

    We are fully aware of the nature of the challenge: It should primarily be fun, but it should advance your photography by making you deal with self-imposed limitations and expectations. We support each other by appreciating everyone's efforts and by being understanding should someone struggle (as everyone will, occasionally). We accept personal decisions and adaptations that enable someone to see the challenge through.

    The key recommendations stay the same as well:
    • Pick a camera/lens combo you don't mind carrying *all* the time.
    • If you choose a theme or dedicated subject matter, keep it manageable.
    • More generally, don't overdo the extra limitations; explore your limits instead (and those of your gear).
    • Focus, don't fret. It's only a game you play alongside everyone else - not *against* anyone (except maybe yourself).
    To sum up: Creativity needs opportunity and dedication - find your wave and ride it. You have a lot to gain and essentially nothing to lose.

    M.
     
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  16. NoSeconds

    NoSeconds SC Top Veteran

    706
    Jan 1, 2017
    Troy
    I’m in already, I’ll use my GX85 and Sigma Sixty... I’ve developed a taste for Tele-primes now...
     
  17. tonyturley

    tonyturley SC All-Pro

    Nov 24, 2014
    Scott Depot, WV, USA
    Tony
    I'm thinking at this point I'll be using my new-ish Fuji X-T20 + 18mm F2. I'll cement that (or not) as we get closer.
     
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  18. I'm in. But won't decide what I will shoot with till the time gets closer. Never know what I may acquire between now and then.
     
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  19. Burkey

    Burkey SC Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    885
    Apr 18, 2011
    Northern New England
    I will definitely do another and next time force myself not to change out gear. I just want to be able to go for a walk and find images without having to worry about landing on my "backside" because of heavy ice buildup.
    . . . David
     
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  20. donlaw

    donlaw SC All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Texas
    Don
    I am in, but as useful it was with the EP5 (and fun since I got several comments on the semi retro look) I will probably stay with my plan to sell off m43.
     
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