By challenge creator Judi Lapsley Miller with help from the AoB moderator team.

Have you ever seen Monet's haystack series? Monet repeatedly painted the same scene as he explored how the light changed throughout the day and seasons. Unlike photographers, he had to work on multiple canvases at a time as the light changed throughout the day. We have it a bit easier! Learning about and seeing the light, and how it varies throughout the day is an important aspect (perhaps the most important) aspect of photography, which is all about controlling and exploring light. Watch for how the colours change from dawn to dusk, see how the shadows fall, and look at how your camera settings need to change to accommodate this.

This month participants created a photo series of 3-6 photos that brought out the best of a scene as the day progressed. They could shoot across multiple days, but each photo in the final collection should be taken at a different time of day. The sparks this month focused on some valuable tools for landscape photography, which were then put into use to get Golden and Blue Hour photos, as well as the final challenge.

Week 27 Spark: Timed Exposures/Tripod

Moderator Paula Vigus (New Zealand) selected Roger Smith’s (New Zealand) gorgeous waterfall for the time-exposure Spark. Paula explained how “Roger has done a fairly typical water slow shutter shot but why I've chosen it is because he has just the right amount of blur. Sometimes the blur can be overdone and look very silky with little to no life in the water, too fast a shutter stops the water in its tracks. I felt Roger’s was just right and the rest of the image was well composed with those wet rocks in the stream. A really nice image which fitted the spark well.”

Week 28 Spark: Exposure Bracketing and HDR

Moderator Karen “Kizmet” Miller (New Zealand)  chose Astrid Authier’s (New Zealand) glorious HDR forest photo. Karen says “to me, this is the epitome of what a tropical forest would look like. The colours are nice and bright and there is plenty of texture showing on the bark of the trees.  The path appears almost three-dimensional and is drawing me in.  I would love to go exploring in that forest.” Astrid explains that she used Lightroom to merge 3 separate raw conversions and then played around with reducing the texture/clarity sliders to produce a 'dreamy' effect.

Week 29 Spark: Panorama

Moderator Carmen Therrauilt (Canada) selected Jillian Selkirk’s (New Zealand) panorama, which used the Brenizer method (combining a close subject, a wide aperture, and shooting a panorama including and around the subject to get an even shallower depth of field effect). Jillian said I had never heard of Brenizer method (Bokehrama) for Panorama photos until this week and was keen to give it a try. This is my second attempt, using 9 photos blended in Photoshop. I used a shallow depth of field (F2.8 ). I will be using it again, it was fun and I love the results. Carmen commented “I was immediately drawn to this panoramic photo by Jillian Selkirk because of its dreamy look and beautiful soft colours. But it was not until I viewed it on a large screen that I fully appreciated the image. Jillian used the brenizer method to shoot and stitch multiple photos together to create this final image with so much detail and soft depth. The resulting effect makes me want to walk right into this lush garden and experience it for myself. This is an image I would not tire of if it were on my wall! Well done, Jillian!”

Week 30 Spark: Golden or Blue Hour

Moderator Marion Skelton (New Zealand) selected Kathy Keddle’s (New Zealand) glorious sunset photo. Kathy said she loved the lighting from the last light of the day in this photo. Marion agreed that the lighting gives a soft glow to the photo, and the long shadows give the photo an abstract look.

July challenge: A Matter of Time

Melanie Day (New Zealand) went all-in with her monthly challenge, I’ll let her tell you in her own words what she learned in the process.

July was a very windy and wet month in Auckland. Along with the weather and being away for 2 weeks finding variation in the times of day and conditions was more difficult.

Location: I chose an area near my local bus stop where I look across the harbour to the old lime silos. I post many early morning photos from this location on my Instagram account @at_mels_bus_stop or under the hashtag #melsbusstop. This was a chance to explore other times of day from the same location.

Time of Day: I took photos from 7:30am to 10:35pm. I spent 8 sessions of approximately 1/2 hour on location. I took over 130 photos (thank goodness for digital cameras!). The first 2 times I learned things that I improved on in subsequent shoots, such as reducing tripod shake during windy sessions and making sure the tide wasn't low.

Direction: The photos were taken in a generally northeast direction. All photos were taken within 30 metres of each other but I purposely didn't try to match each shot exactly, rather angled it to get the best of the conditions. I moved left or right, or panned or shot high from the tripod (1.2m) or down low on the rocks.

Method: I used the camera connect app for Canon cameras for the first time. It was easy to change settings with no accidental camera bumps.

Things I have learnt over this month:

  1. My tripod does not stay steady at full extension on a windy day (blurry photos when zooming).
  2. I can see changes in light over a long timeframe but also within minutes of the previous photo.
  3. Taking photos in a northerly direction washes out the colour when the sun is overhead.
  4. Consider what else may change in the photo over time eg. tide or weather conditions, and time a visit when they coincide nicely.
  5. Employing HRD bracketing helps get detail into under-exposed shadows.
  6. Different camera settings can have a dramatic effect on the outcome.
  7. If you don't like the light, wait.
  8. If you don't like the light, move.


  1. 7:36am 22 July f/8 3/10 sec ISO 100
  2. 8:45am 22 July f/8 1/8 sec ISO 100
  3. 5:59pm 20 July f/8 1/8 sec ISO 100
  4. 6:26pm 20 July f/8 4sec ISO 100
  5. 10:25pm 1 Aug f/13 8 sec ISO 100

Join Us

Throughout August, we’ve been taking a different tack and exploring still-life and camera effects. If you’ve just come across the challenge, it’s not too late, just jump on in and join us in the Art of Birding challenge. The challenges are suitable for all ages, abilities, and gear. All you need is a camera (mobile phones are fine) and some enthusiasm.

Created by NZ photoartist, Judi Lapsley Miller.

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