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One Tree, One Camera, One Year

At the end of 2008, I decided to embark on a year long project. I picked up a Rollei Retro 400 disposable camera for a good price at a local shop and chose a simple scene near my office that I would shoot every 15 days for a full year.

Photo by dirklancer

July 4, 2009

At the end of 2008, I decided to embark on a year long project. I picked up a Rollei Retro 400 disposable camera for a good price at a local shop and chose a simple scene near my office that I would shoot every 15 days for a full year.
I labeled the back of the camera package with a bit of reference information so that I could stand in the same spot each time, and also a list of dates to take the picture so that I could cross them off as the year progressed.

Photo by dirklancer

The project “manual”

I began on January 5th – for no particular reason – and exposed the film gradually until the end of the year.

Photo by dirklancer

January 5, 2009

The scene is an old tree in front of the university I attended (I now work just across the street from the campus, so it was a convenient choice). You’ll notice the fresh and untrodden snow in the January shots. (It snowed over the Christmas break, and the snow was not yet trampled by students)

In February the snow shows signs of heavy foot traffic.

Photo by dirklancer

February 4, 2009

In late March and early April we experienced a pleasant and substantial increase in temperature – the April 5th image captures what is left of the melting snow.

Photo by dirklancer

April 5, 2009

In early May, the buds are just beginning to show on the tree.

Photo by dirklancer

May 5, 2009

By late June the leaves are in full force and the tree is capable of casting a broad shadow.

Photo by dirklancer

June 19, 2009

In August, you can see hints of preparations for the return of students in the fall – the sidewalk behind the tree is being repaired.

Photo by dirklancer

August 3, 2009

In September you get the sense that shadows are getting longer.

Photo by dirklancer

September 2, 2009

Strong winds in late October and early November made quick work of the tree’s leaves.

Photo by dirklancer

November 16, 2009

And by the end of December we had a peaceful blanket of snow covering everything once again…

Photo by dirklancer

December 16, 2009

You can see the whole gallery here:

I few things that I learned for next time:

  • I had never used this camera before, so I didn’t realize until the end that I had a habit of putting my fingers in to the edge of the composition.
  • It would have been better to compose a scene that had more potential for visible changes with the seasons.
  • Black and white film didn’t reveal the range of colour in the seasons here.
  • I should have asked someone else to take a picture on July 19th for me while I was on vacation a few thousand kilometres away from home.
  • My scanner is not so handy with black and white; I need to work on this some more.
  • Some shots were severely underexposed (I waited until it was too dark)
  • If I did it again, I would be precise with the time of day to really show the difference in daylight throughout the year (it probably would have also been a better choice to do this on the same day of the week, to make it easier for me to remember to take the picture. Sometimes by the time I remembered, the sun was already going down.)

The part of this project that had the greatest impact on me was the waiting. I really wanted to see what kind of shots this camera would do, but I had forced myself to wait the whole year. As I waited, I began to consider the impact of waiting on our lives and the way that it is a mundane, yet powerful, contributor to our perception of so many things. In some ways, we are always waiting for things to get bigger and better, but in nature, we are waiting for a cycle that simply repeats itself over and over again.

The contemplations that arose from this little project grew up to become a much bigger project called “the Art of Waiting”. I encourage you to visit the project’s site and leave me a comment!

What are you waiting for?

written by dirklancer

28 comments

  1. mephisto19

    mephisto19

    great project and you seem to be veeeeery patient ;)

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  2. vicuna

    vicuna

    Great project and interesting results! I now understand where the roots of the waiting for project are ;))! Great job Mr Project! :))

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  3. paramir

    paramir

    great project, great idea! taking on a year-long project is very respectable! :)

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  4. strangelilgirl

    strangelilgirl

    you are becoming quite the project man! I'm digging it

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  5. pfudal

    Nice idea ! Bravo !
    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  6. disdis

    disdis

    waiting!!!!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  7. mattcharnock

    mattcharnock

    nice my friend very nice!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  8. azurblue

    azurblue

    Smart idea ! I see that you practised last year for the waiting project, lol ! Bravo !

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  9. dotdotdot

    dotdotdot

    Was thinking of doing the same thing.. but Singapore is in the topical region! No 4 seasons here! I think all the photos will look more or less the same for me.. Haha.. Great project btw,, (:

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  10. panelomo

    panelomo

    wow! -

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  11. abcdefuck

    abcdefuck

    bravo bravo!!! :)

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  12. nural

    nural

    really great project!!! good idea and I really like the shots as well

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  13. -a-l-b-e-r-t-o-

    -a-l-b-e-r-t-o-

    yes, it's the art of waiting

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  14. lomo-art

    lomo-art

    super nice project.
    A good idea!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  15. ilovemydiana

    ilovemydiana

    i love doing things like this :o)

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  16. stouf

    stouf

    What a visual trip in time !!! This is amazing... Congrats buddy !

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  17. kboboland

    kboboland

    it looks so cool just constantly clicking the Next Photo button really fast, you can watch the leaves grow!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  18. satomi

    satomi

    wow. fantastic idea! and yeah, you must be really patient!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  19. venusattack

    venusattack

    i like ur project alot!! Keep going!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  20. eva_eva

    eva_eva

    very inspiring! :) u are so patience :)

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  21. mochilis

    mochilis

    Wow! Nice pics and good idea.
    Congrats!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  22. em_hoefler

    em_hoefler

    I love this idea! very cool!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  23. moochie_lomo

    moochie_lomo

    Great idea! It doesn't snow where I live so I'd have to use color to better show seasonal changes. What a great inspiration! Thanks!!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  24. superlighter

    superlighter

    Patience is a great virtue! great project!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  25. flashback

    flashback

    you should make a small time lapse movie with the photos.

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  26. modernyoung

    modernyoung

    amazing project! *o*
    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  27. dirklancer

    dirklancer

    Thanks for the encouragement everyone! :)
    It really wasn't such a big deal - I just snapped a shot every once in a while... ;)
    What are you waiting for? get shooting!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  28. susielomovitz

    susielomovitz

    wow wow wow! beautiful!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: 中文(繁體版).