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100 Possibilities

Ascend: 100 of 100, originally uploaded by Roadduck99.

I finished my project today.

Over the past 11 months, I’ve been engaged in a flickr project called “100 Possibilities.” The premise is that you create 100 different images of a single object. The exact interpretation of that is left up to the photographer. You could take one photo and process it 100 different ways. You could take basically the same photo 100 different times. I chose, as do most people, to photograph my object in a variety of places, and to use a variety of techniques.

My object was a baseball that I acquired at a Portland Sea Dogs game several years ago. My wife and I left in the 8th inning, and as we were walking outside the stadium, a foul ball flew over the stands and came within inches of giving me a concussion. Fortunately I was not hit, though I did literally “feel the breeze” as the ball flashed in front of my nose. It came to a rest across the street, where I tracked it down.

This baseball has stayed with me ever since, following me from job to job and holding a place of honor on my desk. When I stumbled across a couple of other people on flickr doing the 100 Possibilities project, it didn’t take long for me settle on Ball, as it (he?) came to be known, as a subject that I would enjoy taking photos of.

As with anything in life, this project really didn’t follow the path that I had originally envisioned. For one thing, I expected to get through it during the winter, and just have a couple of lingering photos to take after the grass re-greened in the spring. Instead, it extended all the way through the baseball season and into the fall foliage time frame. It was truly a four-season project, which I think benefitted the final collection. For another, I wrote down several photo ideas early on, many of which I did not end up doing for a variety of reasons.

The other thing that I didn’t envision was the development of a little community around the project. There was the communal experience with other photographers working through their projects. Two of whom – Chuck and Brenda, a retired couple from Kentucky – charged through in three months, and incorporated Ball into their projects. Others are in the middle of slogs that are much longer than my own, while still others have come and gone. And to my surprise, a couple of people saw Ball on my photo stream and were inspired to start their own projects. Ball became a mini-celebrity on flickr, both within and outside the group.

The project was a great learning experience for me, too. Of course I learned a lot about photography. I learned some things about composing photos. I learned some things about processing photos – prettying them up after uploading to the computer. I answered a lot of “what does this button do?” questions about my camera. And I really took the feedback of others to heart, whether they be fellow flickrites or my wife. When Doreen said she liked a photo, I knew it was a good shot.

Is it art?

I also learned a lot about myself. First and foremost, I’m notoriously bad with follow-through, but I learned that I can follow through with things I’m interested in. I also learned that I am interested in the art of photography. I wanted to know how to make my photos look a certain way, and if I couldn’t do so, I threw them out and tried something else. I admit that there are a couple of “too lazy to make it better” photos in the collection, but for the most part I’m proud of the shots that I’ve included. And I’m proud that I was able to take 107 failed photos of me juggling and turn it into an entertaining video that made people laugh.

That’s what I thought this was going to be about when I started – making people laugh. I figured that at the end, I would have 100 photos of a baseball that were either silly or explicitly baseball-themed. But I found that I wasn’t interested in being silly all the time. So along with the silly photos and the baseball photos, there are some attempts at art, and a few that I think are truly beautiful photographs. There are also a few that carry an emotional connection with me, depicting places or events that carry deep meaning in my life. These connections were never made explicit, nor for the most part were they obvious to the viewer. I was happy that others could enjoy the photos for themselves.

And now Ball and I are done. I’m glad I did the project, and I’m glad it’s over. On to the next great thing. There’s another project in my future, perhaps even another 100 Possibilities, but what exactly that will be is yet to be decided. I can only hope to have as fulfilling an experience the next time.

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