Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Rock the house

The first Readers Challenge Photo assignment will give you an opportunity to rock the house because the subject is “rocks”.

In the animated TV special “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” the characters go trick or treating during Halloween. Each child would excitedly proclaim the kind of candy they got after every stop except for Charlie Brown who would look in his bag and disappointedly say, “I got a rock.”

Now, like Charlie Brown, you may be a little skeptical in the choice of subject but fear not, your photo doesn’t have to be just a boring picture of rocks. With imagination in either a found situation or a created one, and you can come up with an interesting picture.

Rocks are easy to find. From the mountainous boulders of the Sierras to the tiny gravel pebbles under your feet, they’re everywhere. The levees of the nearby Delta are lined with miles and miles of riprap. Many homes and local businesses employ stones as part of their landscaping.

Inanimate objects can be difficult to shoot well. Carefully consider things like lighting and composition. Harsh lighting can bring out the features of a craggy rock to enhance its textures. A smooth, round stone can be best shot in softer light.

Rocks can be a part of a still life, a part of an overall landscape or even a place to pose a person for a portrait. Use a macro lens or closeup filters to shoot the minute details of a rock.

Rocks are often neutral in color which can be played against things such as flowers or a bright colorful background. You can do just the opposite with a colored rock. Set one in a field of grey ones and it will stand out.

You can shoot a found scene such as smooth pebbles on a beach or the jagged rocks of a mountain pass. You can also create your own composition like those rock balancing artists.

Any kind of mineral will do, granite, sandstone, even crystals. You might want to think about alternative meanings of “rock,” too. All are acceptable.

This is an assignment that requires some careful thought for your photo to stand out. With a little imagination being between a rock and a hard place can be a creative a endeavor.


How to Enter:

1. Email your entries to Type in “Rocks” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be shot between January 11 and January 25.

3. Entries are limited to up to 12 photos from each photographer.

4. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of camera/lens you used and where it was taken (e.g.: “John Doe of Stockton. Location: Pershing Avenue, Stockton. Camera: Canon Rebel T3 w/ 55-300mm lens”).

5. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown) and what they are doing in the photos and where they are. (e.g.: Jimmy Doe, 6, of Stockton sits on rock along the Calaveras River in Stockton).

6. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.

7. The deadline for submission is January 25. A photo gallery of all the pictures submitted will be run on February 1 at

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  • Blog Author

    Clifford Oto

    Clifford Oto, an award-winning photographer, has been with The Record since 1984. Through the changes from black and white to digital photography, he’s kept his focus on covering the events, people and life of San Joaquin county. This blog deals ... Read Full
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