The high of creating City Hall (see Part 2 of the story behind that shot) fueled the next year of my photographic journey. I tried to reach that summit with roll after roll of film but never could quite get there. I slowly learned how to constantly achieve good but never great. The work became an uninteresting collection of long exposures of traffic. You could easily understand everything in the frame. There was no complexity or depth in the images.
I know that I am being hard on myself but the dissatisfaction with this work drove me. I challenged myself to build a pinhole lens for my big 4x5 camera. After two failed attempts, I built a well designed and easy to use lens. I then challenged myself to post a new image for 100 days all captured with the newly built lens. For those not familiar with 4x5, the film comes in 4x5in sheets and not in the familiar roll format. Each sheet costs about $2-5. I only had enough sheet holders for 14 exposures. To make matter even harder on me, I started this challenge in January. This required me to go shooting on several occasions when the high temperatures were below 20 F. The Sheetburner Project was one of more difficult things I have done photographically but also one of the most beneficial. The roots of the Handheld Project are found in select images from this series. The challenge forced me to create regardless of how I felt that day. In the volume of work, I discovered ideas that I wanted to explore further. I highly recommend a 100 day challenge for anyone stuck or struggling with where next to take their work.