In 2018 I decided to start my longest photography project so far: Project 52. Every week I was choosing and publishing the best landscape photo taken previous week. All together they create a collection of 52 photos which I present below with descriptions and conclusions.
TL;DR: below I present short description of the project together with conclusions: what I liked and what went wrong. If you are not interested in the description, scroll below to see all 52 photos.
Motivations and rules
Every year around New Year’s Eve I review photos taken during past 12 months. I have favourites folder on my disk where I keep photos that I’m particularly happy with.
Browsing this folder in the end of 2017 I was quite glad with what I’m seeing, but not extremely glad. I noticed that most of my favourites were taken during longer trips (like Thailand) and apart of these I wasn’t taking many photos. I decided to change it.
Project 52 is not a new idea. As a matter of fact hundreds (if not thousands) of photographers all over the world already tried it in many variations. Regardless I wanted to challenge myself. My goal was to photograph more often and regularly. I wished to take more photos of the Netherlands. I still remember how bitter I was about having almost no photos of Kraków when I was moving out.
The rules are simple: each week I will try to take at least one decent landscape photo which I wouldn’t be ashamed of. At the beginning of following week I was publishing last week’s best on my instagram.
What went well
First and the most important: I managed to complete the project. To be honest I don’t even remember anymore if starting it in January I believed that I will complete it or not. There were obstacles throughout the year, but thanks to stubbornness and my friends’ support I didn’t stop during the year.
The main goal of the project was archived as well: I photographed more often and more regularly, I was actively looking for new places and views. Even during terrible weather I was still going outside to take something new. I learnt to plan better: checking the weather forecast before the sunrise or sunset, predicting mist or interesting clouds, checking tides and looking for new places using Google Maps.
Because of the project I made a lot of photos of the Netherlands, especially Haarlem, Amsterdam and the coast. Before that I wasn’t really experienced with seascapes. I learnt to photograph what I considered boring before: waves with a longer exposure, water ponds left after high tide or various objects on the beach.
I was forced to make my process of selecting good photos more strict. Some weeks were really hard, like when I went to Iceland and brought back bunch of nice photos.
What could be better
Starting the project I expected some obstacles. It was not a surprise that one of the biggest ones was lack of motivation. In July when for over a month sky was cloudless I felt really tired and was very close to stopping the project.
There were weeks when necessity to take a photo was becoming a burden. I felt like this especially during weeks with no time for photography: welcoming guests or during ugly weather. The problem occured during winter time: sun was rising when I was already in the office and setting when I was still there leaving only weekends for photography.
It happened few times that taking photo in the beginning of the week was making me lazy: I knew I already have one shot, why would I need another one. In the end of the year I was counting weeks till the end.
I’m glad I’ve started and managed to complete the project however I’m not particularly sure if I would do this again. It required a lot of time and energy, but also provided with a great satisfaction in the end. I’m more than happy with the final result. A lot of photos presented below wouldn’t even be taken otherwise (especially sunrises as I have a lot of problems with waking up so early). I understood what kind of photography I like and learnt to plan my trips so much better. I think it was worth an effort.
Below you can see all 52 photos of the project. They were also published on Fotoblogia (in Polish), on SwiatObrazu.pl (in Polish), on Bored Panda (in English), on Ann Voskamp's blog (in English) and on Femina.hu (in Hungarian).
Week 1: Marvellous sunset in Pisa (Italy) taken with a great luck. We were just leaving café when I noticed colours in the sky. Everything was changing so fast that I managed to take only two hand-held photos. Instagram
Week 2: Bloemendaal aan Zee beach during a low tide. Boring and cloudless sunset forced me to look for interesting elements. I found these shapes making great leading lines. Instagram
Week 3: Forest close to Barcice (Poland) in the late evening. While processing this photo I was still under strong influence of Stranger Things. Instagram
Week 4: Sunset by the road from Nowy Sącz to Kraków (Poland). There was a heavy snowfall during the weekend, but it wasn’t until Monday for the clouds to go away bringing a colourful sunset. Instagram
Week 5: Sunrise by the dunes in Kennemerland National Park. I spotted this place and frame almost year earlier and since then I was trying to get it with right light. Instagram
Week 6: Sunrise in Amsterdam on my way to the office. Interesting shape and colour of the clouds lasted only for few minutes. I managed to take 2 photos with a very slow shutter speed. This photo was shared by @yumsterdam instagram profile and got over 3000 likes! Instagram
Week 7: Very cold and cloudy morning in Haarlem. Instagram
Week 8: Pier in Orłowo. Probably the coldest sunrise in my life. Temperature in the morning dropped to -15°C with wind reaching 80km/h. Instagram
Week 9: Cold wave in the Netherlands lead to frozen canals in Amsterdam and Haarlem for the first time in few years. Instagram
Week 10: Weekend in Poland and gorgeous sunrise from Głodówka in Tatry. Instagram
Week 11: First time during 2018 when I considered dropping the project due to no interesting photos. The weather was quite poor and even though I spent whole weekend in dunes I was extremely disappointed with photos. Instagram
Week 12: Haarlem and its reflection in Spaarne river. Instagram
Week 13: Windmill “De Adriaan” (Haarlem) covered in morning fog. I spotted this view while commuting to work. Thick mist made windmill look like it was located on an island. Instagram
Week 14: Cloudless night in Brzeszcze. This is one of my first photos from Sony A6300 after switching from Pentax. As I was travelling I processed it on my phone and only at home I noticed that it is slightly blurred. Instagram
Week 15: I spent most of April testing my new camera. Sony mirrorless system replaced Pentax DSLRs after 7 years. Instagram
Week 16: April and May is a time of year that keeps most of landscape photographers in the Netherlands busy. Huge areas of country are covered in blooming tulips. These are called Lalibela and were growing close to Schagen. Instagram
Week 17: Rainy morning with a view on Makowica. Despite colourful clouds I didn’t manage to see the sunrise as rain forced me to retreat. Instagram
Week 19: One of the most photographed places in the Netherlands: Zaanse Schans. Panoramic shot made with 6 vertical photos. Instagram
Week 20: Schiessentümpel waterfall in Luxembourg. First time I saw this place in Internet I decided it would be lovely weekend trip. When I arrived I found out that parts of viewpoint are closed and waterfall is full of fallen branches that block the view and clutter the image. Nevertheless I’m pretty happy with this photo. Instagram
Week 21: Sunset in Haarlem. I was running on Tuesday when I saw the most beautiful sunset ever. Unfortunately I only had a phone in my pocket. Fortunately volatile weather brought some nice clouds and colours on Sunday. Instagram
Week 22: Sunrise in Oliwa, Poland. Remnants of old (built during 2nd World War) buildings. I saw this place on many photos in Internet so I expected it to be pretty crowded. Pleasant surprise I was alone at the beach that morning. Instagram
Week 23: Sunrise with my favourite view on Wawel Castle in Kraków. Instagram
Week 24: Storm raging for several days on the North Sea made me think that clouds and high waves can make a nice photo. I headed out to the beach to find out that waves have thrown thousands of jellyfish to the beach. Instagram
Week 25: My favourite view in Haarlem. Due to lack of tall buildings blocking views, 12 floors is enough to see entire panorama of the city. Instagram
Week 26: Hot week with cloudless skies. Perfect for sunbathing and swimming, and terrible for photography. When publishing this photo I considered stopping the project on week 25. Instagram
Week 27: During summertime coastline became my favourite place to take photos. Back then I thought about Dutch coastline as boring, but I still tried to find some interesting shapes in water, sand and clouds. Instagram
Week 28: Remote corner of Texel island, middle of the night, spooky sounds in the bushes nearby and over 90 minutes of waiting. This is how much it took to make this photo combined from 180 exposures (30s each) that shows Earth’s rotation. Instagram
Week 29: Marvelous Alsace in eastern France. Picturesque little towns surrounded by vineyards covered hills and Rhine river. It’s hard not to fall in love with this place. Instagram
Week 30: After few weeks of cloudless weather storm finally brought some clouds and nice colours to the sky. Instagram
Week 31: Brussels after sunset seen from Mont des Arts. Instagram
Week 32: Cloudy evening on Scheveningen beach in the Hague. Instagram
Week 33: Sky full of stars in Polish mountains. Just few steps from the fireplace and one could see millions of stars and Milky Way. Instagram
Week 34: Fifteen minutes break between one rain and another, and absolutely gorgeous sunset on Bloemendaal beach. Instagram
Week 35: Dark evening in Haarlem. Despite sunny day evening sky was covered with low dark clouds. Instagram
Week 36: Sunset by Roques de García viewpoint. First week of September I spent on Tenerife which turned out to be photographer’s paradise. Instagram
Week 37: In September I participated in React Conference in Alicante. Tight schedule didn’t leave much time for photography but I managed to take some shots of sunset. Instagram
Week 38: Northern Lights above Hvalfjörður in Iceland. First night of our trip was the most beautiful one with aurora in the sky and freezing cold. Instagram
Week 39: Cold and clear sunrise by Fjallsárlón lake. This is one of my favourite places on Iceland especially in early morning when most of tourists still sleep and I had this place only for myself. Same as two years ago I was stunned by the beauty of Iceland, but I couldn’t help to notice that number of tourists grew. It made this moment even more special as there was absolutely nobody around. Instagram
Week 40: October marked two years since I moved to the Netherlands. I decided to redo some of my first photos of Amsterdam, including popular view on Keizersgracht. Instagram
Week 41: Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam during sunrise. Few weeks later “I amsterdam” sign was removed as an attempt to reduce number of tourists visiting this small square. Instagram
Week 43: It was week with no time for photography. I didn’t manage to take photo until Sunday evening. Instagram
Week 44: Beautiful sunset, unfortunately about 90 degrees to left from my composition. Fortunately some of the clouds got nice pink colour. Instagram
Week 45: Cloudy afternoon in Amsterdam. It was week full of splendid sunrises and sunsets but due to shortening days most of them I watched from my office. During weekend sky was covered with low clouds. I decided to use canal full of yellow leaves as a foreground, extending exposure to 30 seconds to blur them. Instagram
Week 46: Sunrise by De Poel lake in Het Amsterdamse Bos. I tried to balance exposure time to smoothen water a bit without losing its structure. Instagram
Week 47: Panorama towards Moleson peak in Switzerland. Despite lack of nice light I still like this view enough to feature it. Instagram
Week 48: When I woke up in the morning I had no hopes for a nice sunrise. Bilbao was covered in clouds and a bit of rainy. After I reached the cliffs, just few minutes before sunrise clouds were illuminated by rising sun. Due to heavy wind it was incredibly hard to get a sharp photo. Instragram
Week 49: Weekend in Haarlem. Clouds were passing very fast and formed nice shapes in the sky. Using ND10 filter I managed to extend exposure time to 30 seconds. Instagram
Week 50: During whole weekend weather was just dreadful. Mist, rain and a bit of snow didn’t encourage me to leave the apartment. I realised that these unfriendly conditions may add some charm to well known locations in Amsterdam. Instagram
Week 51: Last two weekends of 2018 I spent in Poland. Weather was still terrible but I managed to go for a short hike to Cascades of Rodło (pl. Kaskady Rodła). Instagram
Week 52: Last week of December was as cloudy as the whole month. Views were there for at most 5 minutes.