Posts in 52-Week Challenge
Dogwood 52 Week Challenge

I’ll be updating this blog post each week as I progress through the Dogwood 52-Week challenge. If you’re wondering why I’m participating, click here for a previous blog post. Hover over the image for description and camera info. I don’t think this works as well if you’re viewing on a mobile phone or tablet, so I’ll also add description and info below the image gallery. Enjoy.


Week 18 // Weight or Mass

Heavy as a stone, light as a feather. Find inspiration and shoot an amazing photograph.

Paper beats rock because the trees are not intimidated by the rock and simply grow on it.

Camera + Lens: Nikon D810 + Nikon 24-85mm f3.5-4.5
Exposure: 1/125 sec at f/3.5, ISO 64
Lighting: Natural Light


Week 17 // Balance

Balanced composition is pretty straightforward, unless you are trying to shoot in the "Accidental Renaissance" style. So shoot a balanced image in the Accidental Renaissance style.

Accidentally got caught up in an Easter sunrise service while I went to go photograph the sunrise. Also accidentally composed the photo as a Golden Ratio.

Camera + Lens: Nikon D810 + Nikon 24-85mm f3.5-4.5
Exposure: 1/25 sec at f/3.5, ISO 400
Lighting: Natural Light


Week 16 // Shadow

Tell a story. Make it compelling while only using shadow.

The face of the rock became more apparent as the sun rose higher into the sky, allowing the shadows to accentuate its features.

Camera + Lens: Nikon D810 + Nikon 24-85mm f3.5-4.5
Exposure: 1/100 sec at f/8, ISO 64
Lighting: Natural Light


Week 15 // Anonymous

This week's inspiration is Anonymous. Interpret this how you wish.

This is an old photo I found when sorting through old photos. This photo has clearly gone through an IG Filter, but I don’t remember ever creating it or posting it and I can’t find any evidence of this photo on my IG accounts.

Camera + Lens: iPhone 5s
Exposure: N/A
Lighting: Natural Light


Week 14 // Center Frame Portrait

Center Framed composition is a great way to isolate your subject. Use this knowledge to create a portrait that exhibits loneliness.

Life in the sky must be lonely if a creature with the capabilities of flight is often hopping around along the ground.

Camera + Lens: Nikon D810 + Nikon 24-85mm f3.5-4.5
Exposure: 1/800 sec at f/8, ISO 200
Lighting: Natural Light


Week 13 // New Beginnings

Our world is full of circular patterns; as some things end, others begin. Tell us a story of a New Beginning.

Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful places I have seen. The creation of Crater Lake was a result of the destructive eruption of Mount Mazama, destroying its own summit and over time turning into what is now one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon.

Camera + Lens: Nikon D810 + Nikon 24-85mm f3.5-4.5
Exposure: 1/200 sec at f/8, ISO 64
Lighting: Natural Light


Week 12 // Trash

Trash is your inspiration. Tell a story or create something beautiful.

Because this is the ATM that Portland deserves, but not the one it needs right now. Because it’s broken.

Camera + Lens: iPhone Xs
Exposure: 1/404 sec at f/1.8, ISO ??
Lighting: Natural Light


Week 11 // Fill the Frame

Using Fill the Frame is a great way to isolate your subject and create interest in your photo. Can you do it with only one color in the frame? Fill the Frame with one color.

Part of my job at the architecture firm I work at is to help take process photos. In this case, there was a strong theme of blues to match a client’s branding color.

Camera + Lens: Nikon D810 + Nikon 24-85mm f3.5-4.5
Exposure: 1/60 sec at f/4.2, ISO 400
Lighting: Skylight


Week 10 // Hometown

Tell us the story of your hometown. It could be a famous landmark, something the town is known for, or even just your favorite place to relax.

Vancouver, WA is what I would consider my hometown I suppose. I lived there from 1997-2001 and again from 2005-2007. It is where the majority of my extended family have lived and where most of our family reunions occur. My work in architecture afforded me the opportunity to work on this great project on the Vancouver Waterfront. This is the next iconic spot for this city and I’m proud to have been able to help contribute to it.

Camera + Lens: Nikon D810 + Nikon 24-85mm f3.5-4.5
Exposure: 4 sec at f/8.0, ISO 64
Lighting: Rising Sun


Week 9 // Mood

Your Artistic Inspiration this week is the mood you are feeling today. Take that mood and use it to create art.

It has been fairly busy the last few weeks and I feel like I’m often finding myself running on empty or drained, resulting in a rather exhausted but stressed mood. An empty coffee cup best encapsulates this cycle of being busy, but drained, and needing energy.

Camera + Lens: Nikon D810 + Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro
Exposure: 1/60 sec at f/4.0, ISO 3200
Lighting: Cafe Lighting


Week 8 // Leading Lines

It is easy to use Leading Lines to show depth in an image or guide the eye to a specific spot in the image. Instead, this week use leading lines to show the concept of infinity.

I pondered on this week’s theme of using leading lines to show the concept of infinity for a while and kept coming to the conclusion that the typical leading lines composition always leads to a singular point. I decided to use that and flip it around with lines that point to all sorts of directions, creating a sort of entropic experience for the viewer. I found this in Axiom Custom Product’s art installation at the Portland Winter Light Festival.

Camera + Lens: Nikon D810 + Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 FL
Exposure: 1/40 sec at f/2.8, ISO 1600
Lighting: Whatever was in this art installation


Week 7 // Love Story

Make us feel the love in this week's photo. Tell a love story in one image.

Justin Timberlake fans love them some JT. For this set at the concert, the stage light was cut down to a minimal few spotlights over the performers on stage so it was quite dark except for that one spot. Then he asked the crowd to turn on their phone’s light and suddenly the whole arena lit up.

Camera + Lens: iPhone Xs
Exposure: 1/30 sec at f/1.8, ISO a lot.
Lighting: Stage Lighting and a lot of Cellphone LED Flashlights


Week 6 // #NoFilter

No limit on what you shoot this week, as long as the image is pure. No filters, presets or other edits. Basic exposure corrections only this week.

Given that I rarely use presets or filters, this week’s challenge was pretty easy. As I was helping photograph the Portland Winter Light Festival this week, I took the opportunity to grab a shot of the south waterfront area. I liked the way the crescent moon and clouds looked as a backdrop to the Marquam Bridge.

Camera + Lens: Nikon D810 + Nikon 35mm f1.4G
Exposure: 13 sec at f/16, ISO 31
Lighting: Natural and Architectural


Week 5 // Symmetry Landscape

Landscape is one of the most practiced type of photography. Use Symmetry in a Landscape to create a new viewpoint for this week's image.

I didn’t want to take a typical landscape photo for this challenge; I wanted to push the boundaries a little bit here and there. I decided to focus in on a subject. I initially wanted to go with a macro photography style, but ended up with this moment on my commute home. I also wanted to take a photo in portrait orientation instead of landscape orientation. Symmetry is typically a man-made concept (at least when it comes to reflective symmetry). This situation puts the symmetry of the brick work against the asymmetry of the tree and soil.

Camera + Lens: iPhone Xs
Exposure: 1/46 sec at f/1.8, ISO ??
Lighting: Natural Light


Week 4 // Warmth

Tell a story that makes us feel warm inside.

Wood in architecture is one of the best tools to help provide a sense of warmth in a space, especially when juxtaposed against the more contemporary building materials of glass, steel, and concrete. We subconsciously slow down around wood; we let our guards down around wood; we become comfortable around wood.

Camera + Lens: Nikon D810 + Nikon 24-85mm f3.5-4.5 @ 24mm
Exposure: 1/25 sec at f/3.5, ISO 400
Lighting: Skylight and Available Artificial Light


Week 3 // Black and White

Take an amazing black and white photograph of any subject you want.

I decided to challenge myself to convert a photo that I normally would want to depict in color as black and white. This colorful sunrise photo was the perfect candidate for me to try and make black and white. I emphasized the layering of the foggy hills and the fluidity of the cloud textures as they become the dynamic points of interest once color is stripped away.

Camera + Lens: Nikon D810 + Sigma 85mm f1.4EX
Exposure: 1/2.5 sec at f/16, ISO 64
Lighting: Hydrogen Fusion + Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) Softbox


Week 2 // Rule of Thirds Motion

Use Rule of Thirds to show motion in your picture.

Knowing that I was going to go hiking this weekend to chase some waterfalls, I had a couple of rough ideas of what I wanted to capture. I don’t normally photograph waterfalls using the rule of thirds, but this particular waterfall was almost asking for it.

Camera + Lens: Nikon D810 + Nikon 24-85mm f3.5-4.5 VR
Exposure: 15sec at f/16, ISO 32 + ND8 Filter
Lighting: Hydrogen Fusion + Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) Softbox


Week 1 // Self-Portrait

Take a picture that tells us who you are, without actually showing your face.

For this week’s photo, I went with the “take photos of items that represent who I am” route. The items in this image are pretty self-explanatory for most of those who know me.

Camera + Lens: Nikon D810 + Sigma 85mm f1.4 EX
Exposure: 1/80sec at f/8, ISO 400
Lighting: 18” Neewer Ring Light


I Miss the Georgia Tech Photography Club
photo courtesy of gatech.edu.

photo courtesy of gatech.edu.

Back at Georgia Tech, I was a part of the Georgia Tech Photography Club.  We weren't exceptionally productive all the time, but we did have our moments of brilliance rooted in a common interest of photography.  We walked around the city, we photographed events—some of them were even paying gigs, we set up a photography studio to provide free portraits for students and staff, we photographed sports, we photographed products, and we shared photos that we’ve taken with each other and even held a photography exhibit and sold our prints. But more important than learning different skills and techniques with and from each other, we learned how to explore and experiment with photography. There was a sense of comfort of having others around you who can help you without judgment because they have either been there before or they are just as eager to explore something new.  Since I moved back to Portland, I haven't really put much effort into seeking out a similar group of people.  Architecture grad school occupied most of my time and it also did not have a lot of people.  However, now that I've graduated from school and am in the "real world", I miss having a community of photographers to just explore the craft with and improve my skills.

Despite this longing for seeking out a group of photogs, I am still hesitant.  Being an introvert, I am naturally hesitant to meeting new people or being a part of a group of people.  It usually takes a long time for me to get to a point of being comfortable around them.  While at Georgia Tech, we had a common bond of difficult academic life of school to connect over in addition to our common interest in photography; it wasn't photography 100% of the time which was nice and made for easy conversation.  Another cause for my hesitation is the amount of time and commitment I would have to put in.  In college it was fairly convenient to go to the student center during lunch for a meeting or meet up to walk around the city.  However, the real world is far less convenient and it'll be hard to say how committed or consistent I can be with other priorities in life.  So I guess it's partly an introverted and mild social anxiety issue, partly it's a motivation issue, and partly it’s other life priorities issue. Case in point, I started writing this blog post back in 2015 and just got around to finishing it because I didn’t really know where to go with it until earlier in 2018.

The 52-week dogwood photography challenge

Instead of forcing myself to find a photography group, I will take one aspect of photography club that I've enjoyed and try to incorporate it into my routine: Weekly themes.  A different theme per week to focus my photography, forcing me to see things in certain ways.  I will provide camera/lens info and lighting setup if applicable.  Hopefully I'll be able to keep this up once a week.  I've attempted daily photography challenges before and have failed miserably.  So I’ll be participating in the 2019 52-Week Dogwood Photography Challenge, a list of topics created by photographer Dale Foshe that has attracted over tens of thousands of participants. 2019 will be its fourth year. I’ve casually followed along with this photography challenge but have never participated in it myself.

Each week, the weekly challenge will be in one of three categories:

  • Story Telling: Good photographers can take beautiful images of something. Great photographers can tell a story with an image. In this category you will take a prompt and turn it into a photographic story.

  • Compositional Eye: In past challenges we have explored the rules of composition. This year we push the rules even further by using them in specific ways to train your compositional eye.

  • Inspiration: In this wide-open category, we start with a simple inspiration. Use this inspiration as creatively as you can. There are no rules so feel free to think outside of the box.

If you want to follow along and take your own photos, I highly encourage it!  Personally, I’ll be posting these to my Instagram account (@niou.photo) as well as on this blog. I might create its own page for convenience, I haven’t decided yet. Either way, it will be somewhere on this website.

The Challenge List

Week 1 | Story Telling: Self-Portrait
Take a picture that tells us who you are, without actually showing your face.

Week 2 | Composition: Rule of Thirds Motion
You already know what the rule of thirds is, now is the time to use it. Use Rule of Thirds to show motion in your picture.

Week 3 | Inspiration: Black and White
Your inspiration this week is to simply take an amazing Black and White photograph of any subject you want.

Week 4 | Story Telling: Warmth
Tell a story that makes us feel warm inside.

Week 5 | Composition: Symmetry Landscape
Landscape is one of the most practiced type of photography. Use Symmetry in a Landscape to create a new viewpoint for this week's image.

Week 6 | Inspiration: #NoFilter
No limit on what you shoot this week, as long as the image is pure. No filters, presets or other edits. Basic exposure corrections only this week.

Week 7 | Story Telling: Love Story
Make us feel the love in this week's photo. Tell a love story in one image.

Week 8 | Composition: Leading Lines
It is easy to use Leading Lines to show depth in an image or guide the eye to a specific spot in the image. Instead, this week use leading lines to show the concept of infinity.

Week 9 | Inspiration: Mood
Your Artistic Inspiration this week is the mood you are feeling today. Take that mood and use it to create art.

Week 10 | Story Telling: Hometown
Tell us the story of your hometown. It could be a famous landmark, something the town is known for, or even just your favorite place to relax.

Week 11 | Composition: Fill the Frame
Using Fill the Frame is a great way to isolate your subject and create interest in your photo. Can you do it with only one color in the frame? Fill the Frame with one color.

Week 12 | Inspiration: Trash
Trash is your inspiration. Tell a story or create something beautiful.

Week 13 | Story Telling: New Beginnings
Our world is full of circular patterns; as some things end, others begin. Tell us a story of a New Beginning.

Week 14 | Composition: Center Frame Portrait
Center Framed composition is a great way to isolate your subject. Use this knowledge to create a portrait that exhibits loneliness.

Week 15 | Inspiration: Anonymous
This week's inspiration is Anonymous. Interpret this how you wish.

Week 16 | Story Telling: Shadow
Tell a story. Make it compelling while only using shadow.

Week 17 | Composition: Balance
Balanced composition is pretty straightforward, unless you are trying to shoot in the "Accidental Renaissance" style. So shoot a balanced image in the Accidental Renaissance style.

Week 18 | Inspiration: Weight or Mass
Heavy as a stone, light as a feather. Find inspiration and shoot an amazing photograph.

Week 19 | Story Telling: Aging
Love it or hate it, aging is something we all experience. So tell us the story of Aging in a single photograph.

Week 20 | Composition: Negative Space
Create a powerful landscape using Negative Space.

Week 21 | Inspiration: Serenity
What does Serenity mean to you?

Week 22 | Story Telling: Stranger
It is easy to tell the story of someone you know. So for this week's challenge I want you to tell the story of a stranger.

Week 23 | Composition: Leading Lines
You have already used leading lines to show Infinity. Now try to use strong leading lines in food photography.

Week 24 | Inspiration: Who inspires you
Inspiration comes from many places. Tell us about who inspires you.

Week 25 | Story Telling: Freedom
Freedom means many things to many people. Tell us a story about what Freedom means to you.

Week 26 | Composition: Geometry
We live in a world surrounded by geometry. Use Geometry in your photo this week.

Week 27 | Inspiration: Gratitude
What are you grateful for? Show us.

Week 28 | Story Telling: Your Culture
Photographers participating in the challenge come from nearly every country and culture. Tell us the story of your culture.

Week 29 | Composition: Depth of Field
Depth of Field is a great way to isolate your subject. Instead, for the challenge though I want you to use DoF to make a subject appear part of something larger.

Week 30 | Inspiration: Exit
"Every exit is an entry to somewhere else". Be inspired by the Exit this week.

Week 31 | Story Telling: Friends and Family
Telling the story of someone you know well is sometimes the hardest story to tell.

Week 32 | Composition: Frame within the Frame
Using only natural elements, frame your subject. No actual picture frames allowed.

Week 33 | Inspiration: Tell a Lie
It is said that the "Camera Never Lies". Prove it wrong.

Week 34 | Story Telling: Color without Color
Tell a colorful story, but do it in black and white.

Week 35 | Composition: Symmetry Portrait
Symmetry is a strong compositional technique most often used in landscapes and architecture. So break the mold by using Symmetry in a portrait.

Week 36 | Inspiration: Your Habits
Some habits are good, and some are bad. Your inspiration this week is either.

Week 37 | Story Telling: Seasons
The weather is changing! Find inspiration in the seasons. 

Week 38 | Composition: Rule of Odds
The rule of odds is easy enough to understand and employ. So use the rule of odds in an Urbanscape/Architecture photo.

Week 39 | Inspiration: The Elements
Earth, Fire, Wind, Rain, and Spirit. Find inspiration in the elements of our world.

Week 40 | Story Telling: Modern Convenience
What modern convenience of 2019 can not you live without? Create an image that looks like an advertisement for your favorite Modern Convenience.

Week 41 | Composition: Color Theory
Color Theory is a huge part of composition that most photographers don't explore. So it is time to explore it. Use Color Grading to create an image that looks like it is a still from a movie.

Week 42 | Inspiration: Work Work Work
Work, let it inspire you this week.

Week 43 | Story Telling: Film Noir
Film Noir is a dark and moody type of photography well suited to storytelling. So tell us a story using Film Noir.

Week 44 | Composition: Viewpoint
Changing your viewpoint creates a different perspective and is often used by photographers to create interest. Shoot this week from the viewpoint of another person.

Week 45 | Inspiration: Musical
Music is part of the soul, so let it inspire you this week.

Week 46 | Story Telling: 7 Deadly Sins
The 7 deadly sins are Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed and Sloth. Tell us a compelling story about one of the 7 deadly sins.

Week 47 | Composition: Rule of Thirds Emotion
The rules of thirds is so popular because it is so versatile. This week use the rule of thirds to show emotion.

Week 48 | Inspiration: Current Events
What is happening in the world today? Be inspired by current events.

Week 49 | Story Telling: Storms
Storms are a powerful force of nature. Show us weather at its best.

Week 50 | Composition: Patterns
Patterns/Repetition are another well known compositional rule, but have you ever tried to use it in Macro Photography? Well now you can!

Week 51 | Inspiration: Food
Be inspired by Food. Yes, it really is that easy this week. You made it this far you deserve the break. A sweet, delicious break.

Week 52 | Story Telling: Self-Portrait
In the first week you took a self portrait and told us who you think you are. To finish this off take a self portrait that shows us who others think you are.