Isolation and the Eleven Day Olympus Art Filter Challenge

Today marks the end of 8 weeks of being offshore for work on a seismic vessel. The Viking I occasionally travels close enough to shore to see the coast of Panama and Colombia, but for the most part the scenery is pretty much... a lot of water. 
Liquid sandstone, 40mm, f/5.6, 1/200, iso 800
Sea of bokeh, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/4000, iso 200
Whenever I get a chance (usually mornings after my night shift) I go outside and practice photography. Mainly I am looking for new bird species, but I will photograph anything that catches my eye. After being out here for so long there are 1447 photos of this trip in my Lightroom 4 catalog and the amount of "new material" has to say the least... dwindled over time.

Another sunset, 15mm, f/8, 1/50, iso 400
Up close and personal, 50mm, f/4, 1/500, iso500
The lack of a variety of subject matter has been difficult, but has forced me to seek out interesting shapes, textures, and colors in everyday objects. Also, to take more time in compose shots rather than just snap shoot without regards to things like subject isolation and leading lines.

Laundry, 15mm, f/8, 1/4, iso 250
Wind, water, and oil, 50mm, 1/180, iso 200
Being isolated offshore has also forced experimentation with long exposure and nighttime photography. This has been something I ended up enjoying very much and I do not think I would have had the inspiration to try this at home. I am now driven to purchase a tripod for night-scapes and really start learning other techniques like light painting.

Cliché, 150 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, iso 200  
Tungsten dawn, 15mm, f/8, 6.7 sec, iso 200
I think in the long run isolation has helped improve my photography, and because I want to further challenge myself, I have decided to participate in what I am calling the "Eleven Day Olympus Art Filter Challenge" in where I dedicate one 24 hour period to shooting solely with a one of the Olympus art filters. I hope to get 3-5 good photographs per day/filter and I have set another personal goal that I will reveal at the end of the challenge. I think it makes sense to only submit straight out of camera JPEGs*. Of course this means no post processing in LR4 (I'm not even going to import them), BUT I am going to allow myself to modify anything I can access from the super control panel on the EM5 (i.e. gradation, white balance, flash mode, etc) There are 11 art filters and I will draw the name of a filter (that I wrote on a tiny piece of paper then folded - see below) from a cup each morning as to randomize their order. After each day of the challenge I will post the keepers to my Flickr stream and update this blog. 

I have about 15 days left on the ship and I think this is going to make the home stretch go by a lot faster. Either that or it is going to drive me overboard since I'm already going a little crazy! ;) 

Hope you enjoyed some of my favorite offshore photos, thanks for dropping by! The challenge starts now, so wish me luck! I do not think this blog has much of a "following" yet, but if anyone out there is interested in participating in this challenge I can create a Flickr group so that we can all share our images and discuss how it went for everyone...

Sam D.

*Eventhough this I will only feature SOOC Jpegs I will be shooting in RAW+JPEG mode because I still want the opportunity to salvage a photo that didn't necessarily work with one of the filters. This especially applies to bird photography as color is a major indicator of species... With my luck I will see a forked tailed flycatcher and be stuck in Key Line mode!!!