Friday, July 29, 2011

Banishing "The Box" ~ Floral Friday!

(1/8 sec.@ F/16, ISO 100, 50mm fl, overcast morning light, handheld)

I had to banish the blahs. You all know the blahs... when that creative muse doesn't show up, when inspiration and creativity elope to some far off destination without warning. When you'd rather let your kids challenge you to the 57th round of Mario Karts instead of pick up the camera or editing. Nothing piques your interest, nothing seems brilliant enough, and every idea feels like it's been done before so why bother?

And I'd had a great week don't get me wrong. And I DID want to shoot something, the urge was waaaay deep down inside though. Then I remembered a little lesson I learned years ago. I was very focused on painting and sculpture but nothing seemed satisfactory. I'd labour days, weeks, months over something to get it exact but was always left wanting. It was enough to make me want to abandon art completely. Then an instructor on exchange from Europe noticed my struggle in class and asked me why everything had to be perfect. I couldn't answer. Why DID everything have to be perfect? Next thing I knew, he'd prepped my workspace with the sloppiest materials I'd ever seen together on one table with some plaster and said "Don't think anymore. Just create something delightful - for you."

Needless to say, when I abandoned myself to just enjoying the process I wound up creating an entire series of sculptures that even sold at the local art show before I could get them all out on the table for display. Banishing the pressure to accomplish the perfect piece gave me freedom to just enjoy being an artist. To break out of the box I'd put myself in. The blahs always seem to come in a box. Ever notice that.

I marched myself out to the front lawn yesterday determined to keep the blahs in the box and looked at my front garden. It occurred to me again that I haven't done enough artistic photography lately, that I needed to banish the typical approach to photographing the garden and just shoot with abandon and see what I end up with that delights just me. Just because. So I did!

The image above is one of a series I think I'm going to post - just because I truly enjoyed the process. I love the colors so vibrant and fresh after the rain we finally got. And because cone flowers are so stiff and sturdy looking I thought I'd do something fun to them, make them move or dance or twirl. So, I dialed in an exposure that would give me a slower shutter and give me ample time to move the camera around.  At times I knelt down and zoomed up into them, hovered way up over them and swung the camera back and forth across them, and for this morning's post I arched the camera from one side to the other almost in a circle. I immediately was personally delighted with this one... the composition is good (merely by chance, these don't always work, it's hit and miss... but soooo fun) and the speed at which I twirled the camera was just enough so you still have context.

And voila! Enjoying the process meant I could banish "the box". The muse eagerly returned, inspiration and creativity grovelled at the door asking for forgiveness, and my addiction to the Wii, banished. We spend a lot of time figuring out what our cameras can do for us - but have we spent enough time figuring out what we can really do with our cameras?

Thought outside the box lately? Need to banish it? Get out there and play. My playing wasn't anything spectacular... it simply brought me joy. Thanks for the ramble today folks, get out there this long weekend and express your joy while banishing "the box".

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Guest Post With Wanda Judd! ~ Exploration Thursday!

"Pemiquid Point, Maine"

I am very pleased to present a very sweet and talented lady as our guest here on the blog today. I first became familiar with Wanda Judd's work over at BetterPhoto and since then have followed her career over at flickr and Facebook. We'll include links to view her images on other sites below, but for now, let's hear a bit from Wanda about how she started out and what she loves about photography!

"I am first daughter, wife, mother and gram…as a result of these I became photographer. I like to say that I was fired and no one told me…I basically woke up one day and realized that my son and daughter had actually grown up and didn’t need me any more and I had never done anything just for me, something that would give me inner pleasure. I decided to take up photography…I knew nothing about apertures, f stops, how to change a lens…I bought a Nikon camera. Looked for lessons…discovered workshops at The Disney Institute at Disneyworld…. I had no idea how lucky I was to be in the company of these great professionals…Moose Peterson, Bob Krist, the late John Netherton, Jay Maisel ( I recently took another workshop with Jay and learned as much about life as I did photography), Jill Enfield, David Middleton, Beth Wald, Steve McCurry…I was hooked and attended all the workshops they had until they closed the Institute. After that I found Maine Media Workshops in Rockport ME…my first class there was with Alison Shaw and it was certainly a learning experience…it was there that I learned an amazing lesson of light. We had gotten up at 3am and drove to see the sunrise in a wonderful area of summer cottages. I saw the amazing light And saw how fast it was gone…it was at that moment that I knew for me photography was a spiritual experience…it took me a while to realize that what I do and like and put together is in fact art…a deeply personal form of art that gives me peace and pleasure and one I can get lost in..I lose all track of time when I'm shooting and do a fair amount of talking to myself when I shoot."

"When I first started in photography, I did the predictable flower shots, macro, intimate, deep into the soul of the flower and while I still love the flower … It did not take long to discovered that I love abstract photography, architectural photography, photography with motion, movement and softness…I am well aware that there are two kinds of photographers..the tech ones and the art ones...and while it takes a bit of both to make a good photographer, we do lean in one direction over the other.... I have a dear friend who is an amazing tech photographer but admits that he would love to have "the eye"..."

"One of the things I learned early on is to Simplify, Simplify. As a result I very seldom look at or take a whole picture…I look at segments of a photo I am about to take...I think I also look at life in segments as well..."

"I did not come to digital until three or four years ago…I loved film (slides) and the discipline it took to get just what I wanted. Since I started with digital I fell in love with all the periphery that goes with it…I love seeing a shot and knowing or feeling that I will add softness, overlays, punch up the depth of color with HDR…”The eye sees what the mind knows”.

"I have recently been shooting with my iPhone and this year have had two iPhone shows…featuring only iPhone shots…one a shared show at our state Capitol and a solo show in Richmond’s river district…and I was amazed at how well these shows were received."

"I have two mentors… Alison Shaw and Tony Sweet and am inspired by their creativity."

"The lighthouse seen above, was taken at Pemiquid Point in Maine while attending a workshop with Alison Shaw…It was shot with slide film…with a soft focus filter…the color was just as it greeted us before sunrise. When we arrived there and saw the sky and color, I simply ran to make my shoots and the total excitement I felt when I saw the sky is something that I will always feel when I see this shot…the composition was also so exciting in the viewfinder , the peace and joy and excitement at seeing this and knowing it was right will always be with me…"
"Lincoln Memorial"

"The Lincoln Memorial was taken the second day of shooting on a trip to DC …I simply was not pleased with what I did the day before and went back the next day…when I turned my camera at the angle, it was pure excitement seeing it in the view finder and knew that again it was right…"

"The Keyboard"

"The ‘Keyboard” I fell in love with while walking under a railroad bridge and when looking up saw this amazing site…it looked like a giant keyboard and I had to stop, put up the tripod, get down on my knees and shot away…
I love being a part of Betterphoto, Facebook, Flickr and FotoBlur…a great way to learn, to see, to grow as a photographer…."

My very special thanks to Wanda for agreeing to be our featured guest today! You'll miss out on some fabulous art and photography if you neglect to take some time to click on the highlighted links above and view the rest of her galleries. If you sign up for her mailing list at her website, you'll be updated on any shows or projects she's involved in. And I know she'll be pleased to help you with an order if you feel moved to purchase a print...

This is a lady who's work moves and inspires me every time I look through her galleries. You can sense the wonder and care that goes into every image... it's been an honor to collaborate on a guest post with her today!
Thanks again Wanda for being so inspirational, and to all my readers have yourselves a super day! Be sure to leave a comment or two for Wanda below and let her know if you enjoyed becoming acquainted with her photography! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

I Heart Architecture ~ Mono Monday

(1/40 sec.@ F/9, ISO 250, 18mm fl)

Busy finishing up last minute projects this week so that I can take a mini-vacay from work next week and devote all my time to some random rambling about my fair city and beyond - without an agenda, and just the Nikon.

So this week I'll just be posting some images I've had set aside for just such an occasion... and although this first post will look vaguely familiar, it's a much wider view of "The Beckoning" done last month. I needed a shot to show the extent of the details around this massive entryway! It was that simple. This is just one impressive door folks. If you're ever on the University of Toronto campus near Queens Park, you need to locate this door and see it in all its glory with your own eyes!

Back to work I go... thanks for the ramble! Have a good one!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sunset n' Wildflowers ~ Floral Friday

"Summer Susans II"

I love wildflower fields. I don't get to shoot enough of them, my own fault really as I seem to get caught up searching for more architecture and less nature sometimes. I think some major rural scouting needs to be done soon, a few locations noted for some good sunset back road ramblings.

I have noticed I like to take the more romantic or artsy approach to wildflowers. None of the trying to isolate a single razor sharp specimen on a backdrop of green bokeh. I like to include what I now refer to as the "beautiful mess" of the field or trails. Keeping it very natural looking. The only real magic coming from the quality of light. And the quality of light is at it's finest just as the sun rises, or decends.

This was taken over at Princess Point, here in Hamilton at sunset. Trails are carefully mowed through the fields, allowing you to get up close to birds that nest in the tall wild grasses, and to tons of flowers that are encouraged to naturalize throughout the area...

It was quiet, it was natural, and it was bathed in sun. I love sunsets and wildflowers.

Thanks for the ramble, and have a great weekend folks!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

No Hesitation ~ Exploration Thursday!

"Trails Ablaze"

The heat is hitting record highs here in Hamilton right now. So my brain feels a bit like mush.. well, more than normal. Short post it is!

I read a quote the other day that I really connected with. The image above, taken over at Princess Point was basically a result of needing to capture the beautiful light before it disappeared completely... and so I simply shot the scene right where I was standing. I later moved around and tried other angles but this one when reviewed conveys everything just the way I saw it no matter what I did the few minutes later. And then when I read the following quote, by one of the masters of compelling composition himself, I realized how much and how often it can be true. And releases me from being trapped at times by the "rules". It goes like this....

"Now to consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk"
..... Edward Weston.

Now I realize this may contradict my post earlier in the week on being deliberate, but I guess I'm saying this along with it; Shoot carefully the things that need to be displayed carefully, and shoot with abandon when something so moves you that to think any further about it would cause the magic to flee. The shot above was one of those times.

Let me know what you think of all this? And a quick thank you to my new followers by the way... Blogger's Follow app isn't letting me "see" you all right now, but it says you're out there... so thanks for reading along.
Have a great night, hope you're all finding ways to stay cool!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Deliberate Photography ~ Telephoto Tuesday!

"Sweet Summer Susans"
(1/50sec.@ F/9, ISO 125, 20mmfl, 55-200mm zoom vr, late evening light, tripod)

I need to slow down. I get out on trail, and see all the potential images before me and I go into overdrive. In the back of my head I want time to stand still so the light stays exactly the way it is so as to get every shot and not miss anything. If anyone has created an app for this, please let me know. I'd be your biggest fan.

Anyone else wrestle with this? In my heart of hearts I know that if I slowly explore an area, and take some time adequate enough to properly set up the shots I'm seeing, I'm rewarded with images I love and lessons that impact me. Scouting a trail before hand becomes an important part of this more deliberate approach, and using my tripod also makes me a deliberate photographer. Simple things. But things that leave my head completely in all the anticipation of shooting a wide variety of subject matter in a designated area.

 I'm learning to not just become familiar with a location, but to allow it then to reveal itself in new ways... which always happens when I'm willing to slow down and let my eyes adjust to the way a location really functions. What's hidden in the shade, what catches the light differently, what moves in a breeze, what flourishes near a fallen tree... then finding a way to interpret it the best in camera.

The image above is of Black Eyed Susans growing wild in a field of dense tall grass. I dropped down to position the telephoto close to the grass and peer through. The result was a dreamy see-through green as I focus through the moving grasses and on the flowers. And it was all done deliberately. Guess I'm learning after all.

Have a great day folks, and thanks for the ramble!

Monday, July 18, 2011

When Contentment Is Enough

"Out On A Limb"
(1/40 sec.@ F/8, ISO 125, 18mm fl, late evening sun, ancient Oak @ Princess Point)

I'm a mom, wife, AND and fine art photographer. It's an interesting mix.  As of right now, my photo explorations with regards to nature and landscape extend merely to the reaches of Ontario, with the odd ramble through another province once in a while, and out of country even less. In the future I'm anticipating that to change, but for now it has to do. Suffice it to say that I have learned in the last few years that it's possible to be content pursuing photography right here at home. "Elated" to always being at the mercy of limited travel while I still have other responsibilities? Not exactly... My ability to photograph certain subjects or scenes is incumbent on whether this is the week we get groceries, whether the kids need to have friends over, whether the dog needs her nails clipped today, and whether seeding the lawn takes precedent. All things I'm not bitter about taking care of because I am a wife and mom, and that job really is priority one.

And sure, it'd be lovely to photograph France, Turkey (didn't know I have this intense desire to visit Turkey did ya?) Scotland... heck, some days I'd be happy just driving into New York... but right now I can love and care for my family and STILL head out for two hours with a pal and our cameras, and return happy with getting images that still stimulated me creatively, artistically, and spiritually. It's called being content. Do I still wish to visit all those places (trust me, the list is loooooong) sooner than later? Yes. Do I want to put a plan together that'll help me get there sooner than later. Of course. But I think there's a trap for us artistic types that our pursuit of expressing ourselves must consume us every waking minute. And we confuse contentment with complacency.

This is a simple oak tree in the post today. I loved it's textures, I dropped to the ground to get the wide view of the canopy in direct late day light, and I knew I would convert it to B&W. I find trees on their own magical. And shooting it made me feel great. I guess I'm posting today because I hear a lot of discussions on pursuit, and pushing yourself, and eyes on the prize type of pep talks out in the photography world and beyond, even in the business world in general. But how will we ever enjoy what's possible, what's achievable in the distance, if we can't enjoy the now? If being content here isn't enough? Just something I've been mulling over, so you get to hear about it, lucky you... and in the meantime am very content to get shots of oak canopies if it means I get to enjoy the whole process of growing a photography business AND being there for my family and my community. Desires, dreams, goals, and visions are wonderful to be sure.

But sometimes contentment is enough.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

On the Breeze ~ Exploration Thursday!

"And Then They Danced"

No, I haven't suddenly forgotten how to get a sharp photograph. Today's post is a stand of wildflowers waving in the breeze along a trail two evenings ago. Now some of you may have no use for this type of artistic imagery. Nothing was blurred in processing either. This shot is SOOC. (straight out of camera) My goal was to still have enough detail to see the flower shapes, but to catch the motion of them swaying slightly. And try as I might, they're too sturdy a plant to actually bend and sway, so catching them "dancing" on the breeze was more like it. I think I might have this one done on canvas when printed.

There's something about soft light, soft shapes, and a slow exposure that can turn nature into abstract art or visual poetry. A windy day can offer the photographer a chance to photograph outside the box, choose to be creative, and forget the rules we so often adhere to religiously. Who says every subject has to be frozen in time?

I've been a long time fan of Freeman Patterson's photography. He listens and looks for nature to direct how he can most accurately and beautifully portray it in the lens. His images of lupins or wildflowers dancing in the wind are in a word delightful. When I need inspiration or feel myself getting bogged down with literal accuracy as I photograph, I open one of his books (all of which will be life changing/photographically changing reads) and allow the images to remind me that nature should be enjoyed and that it's many faces can be caught in the camera if you loosen up and enjoy yourself.

Next week it's my hope to have another artist/photographer join us on the blog for Exploration Thursday. You'll want to stop in for that post! In the meantime, channel your inner artist, take a cue from nature, and explore what you can create in the lens.
Thanks for the ramble, have a most awesome day!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sunset Walks ~ Wide Angle Wednesday

"Lovers Light"
(1/25 sec.@ F/16, ISO 250, 20mm, Exp.Comp+0.3)

Just enough light. Anyone else ever struggle with how you know you have just enough light? Enough for it to still be a correct exposure, but not so much that you can't follow your creative instinct or vision. And how subjective can the whole dilemma get, since no one can truly interpret how you saw the light for that particular subject matter anyways, or interpret your interpretation... anyone else totally confused now or is it just me?

I fell in love with this light last night while on a walk with another photog addict/friend. It stopped me in my tracks. Literally. My pal Kelly will tell you. She nearly slammed into the back of me. (Well, that could be a slight exaggeration). It was the sun bursting through the trees and lighting a slight curve in the trail. Magical looking. And I could have bracketed this shot so that later in editing I could have layered a few shots together to carefully bring out details in all the darkest areas of the frame... but I felt it would defeat the purpose since I composed to include certain dark areas within the shot so that the light was the subject, not the entire area. This time anyways. Because how you want to represent the light, especially in a landscape, really is subjective. And next time I may very well decide to make the scenery the subject... in which case, I would bracket the shot to get several different exposures that I can combine later to make the most of the light everywhere.

But for now, I like how the path is lit, and slowly fades away... it has just enough light. I think.

Back to work I go, but thanks for the ramble!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just a Shape? ~ Telephoto Tuesday

"Emerging Hosta"

Just a quick post today. I was really drawn to these giant hosta leaves in the garden the other day, especially as they're tucked way back in the shadows for the most part. But I love how easily shape can be defined, or heightened with just a little light to rim it. And I love how contrast causes us to pause and see the form and beauty in a single hosta leaf.

Nature is all about shape. And the Creator even knows how to light his own subjects the best... no help from this humble little photographer required. All that was required of me this particular morning was to click the shutter. And see it as more than just a nice shape.

Have you picked up your camera today? What, exactly, are you waiting for?
Thanks for the tiny ramble folks, have a good one!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Let Yourself Be Inspired ~ Mono Monday!

"A Melody In Her Smile"
(1/200 sec.@ F2.5, 50mm prime, ISO 125, late day shade, handheld)

Sometimes I have to break away from my routine and find an example of something inspiring to try out for myself. I usually end up learning something in the process too, which is a delightfully fulfilling bonus. Like the time I was inspired to take up soccer back in the late eighties and discovered not only is it an effective form of exercise if you stay upright, but that I have a natural propensity for falling in molehills when doing drills running backwards. That cast on my arm and I were inseparable for about eight weeks. Ah, good times.

But back to 2011. This weekend I went looking through other blogs that I find inspiring, just to see if I could find something to motivate me to break out of my routine. I thoroughly enjoy a blog called The Pioneer Woman (and no, she doesn't know I'm making mention of her site here but if you haven't heard of her, you have a lot of enjoyable catching up to do) and she tackles the subject of photography along with other various life skills... and I have always loved her laid back approach to photographing people, especially her kids. Needless to say, I've been trying to be a little more laid back myself lately, and also trying to widen my love for portraiture. Let's face it, architecture and nature will be my first loves (er, first and second loves... or tied for first loves...) but there's something to be said for being able to know how to take engaging photos of your family and have fun at the same time, and I'll be honest, portraits (candid or otherwise) usually stressed me out in the past. I noticed how spontaneous and lovely the pics were on the PW blog and decided I needed to practice that more.

So, without having to find a fantastical location or set up any lighting, heck, without having to put shoes on for that matter, I asked my daughter if she had a few minutes to stand around and do nothing outside. And being that she's a teenager and they seem to naturally love to stand about doing nothing, she said sure. So I proceeded to take her out back and shoot her! Hahahaaa... small photographer's joke there folks, relax.

A shot like this is just this simple... I stood on the deck above (interesting vantage point, photography 101) and she stood below with the massive clematis climbing the fence behind her. And I told her that I was just testing some aperture choices with my handy dandy portrait lens so just to bear with me. And as I tweaked my exposure she'd make silly faces (of which she has banned me from showing to the blogging world) and I'd be aghast which in turn would make her laugh... and voila. I ended up with fifty or so very natural candids, fresh looking and still of a professional quality with a shallow depth of field that emphasized her eyes and softened the rest. And many of them make really nice B&W's. A delightful bonus to be sure.

Are you inspired by others in your field? Do you have blogs that not only teach you but change your mind or attitude towards other aspects of whatever you pursue? Break away from the norm, you might just find a love for something new!
Thanks for the Monday ramble folks! Have a good one!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Recipe for Beauty ~ Floral Friday

"Wild Gypsy Rose"
(1/80 sec.@ F/6.3, ISO 100, 125mm fl, 55-200mm Nikkor VR, handheld, bright shade)

I love nature. I love flowers. I love photographing them. But when someone asked me to pinpoint how to get the most beautiful floral photos the other day, I discovered I was at a loss. I hadn't really thought about it. Is my approach to flowers and nature different than my approach to other subjects? I had to mull that one over.

I don't yet have a macro lens, and I don't do a ton of still life so my florals are basically limited to outdoor, available light, golden hour, all weather shooting. I use my telephoto for the most part, giving a nice bokeh and selective focus. When I can, I like to get out just after the rain. But that doesn't always happen, and raindrops on every flower you photograph starts to feel cliche.

So I went out and shot just flowers the other morning. And paid attention to what works for me or makes me think there's a photo to be had. Here's what may help answer the question in the first paragraph. But of course your answers may be different...
1) I photograph flowers almost like you would a person. In fact I know several other readers/photographers that have said the very same thing. If you want to improve at portraits, try getting close-ups of a single flower. Find it's best side, the most flattering light, and make sure you get the colors accurate.
2) I stop labeling them as flowers, and approach them as complex shapes that need to be carefully composed around. I have even gone so far as to just look at grasses in the wind abstractly, and shot them to emphasize the idea of motion and nothing nature related.
3) I look for the one dominant color, pattern, cluster, or blossom to isolate somehow within the frame. Even in a giant cascade of flowers, one needs to stand out and anchor your composition for you. It needs to be the starting point for the eye to travel around the rest of the image.
4) It still needs to evoke a response of some kind. Deep red flowers are sensed as more dramatic, more romantic. Golden light can make a field of wildflowers seem dream-like, causing the viewer to remember running through them as a child. Pinks, and whites seem pure and sweet so diffused light and very soft focus can emphasize this to the viewer and feel inspiring. If something makes me stop in my tracks, I try to expound on that in the lens so that others have the same reaction.

That's just my first thoughts on this and as I think about it, my approach to many different subjects run along the same line, deviating only slightly. And to be honest, I just love the beauty found in nature so I photograph it. Plain and simple.

Thanks for following along at the blog all week gang! Hope it inspires you to get out there with your cameras. Have a super weekend! See you Monday!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Expect the Unexpected ~ Exploration Thursday!

"Marsh Light"
(1/50 sec.@ F/9, ISO 200, 40mm fl, late evening light)

Let me set up the scene. Sitting editing at my desk last night, supper ready, I look out my window for a moment and what do I see? The most massive clouds moving quickly across the sky. I look at the cloud anxiously. If I time this right, I can have dinner on the table in two seconds, hubby will walk through the door, my kit bag will be ready, and out the door I'll go after scarfing down said dinner... to chase the clouds. I hear the car pull in and is that a nervous twitch in my right eye? I can barely contain myself. I NEED to get pics of those clouds lit so gloriously in the lowering sun!

Faster than you can say "Bob's yer Uncle" we wolf down our donairs, and hubby and I fly out to the car yelling something to the kids about not blowing up the house or losing the dog and off we go. I remember that not far from the house is a new trail that leads to a cool walking bridge over the highway to the beach... the clouds will look great from there!

Move ahead a measly ten minutes. The clouds? Gone. They've rapidly become a smear of grey across the distant sky leaving a hazy blue and nothing else. Can you say "drat!" I walk deflated across said bridge and wonder if I'll just have to stand around for another hour and at least get some night shots of the light trails of hundreds of cars on the highway beneath us driving into the approaching night. But man I wanted those clouds.

If there's one thing I've learned pursuing photography for the last five years, it's been to never restrict yourself to what you think might be waiting for you. Always be ready for the possibility that instead of what you envisioned, there might be a surprise waiting for you. There have been days I thought I was heading out to shoot landscapes, and instead I got hung up on some cool details I spied at the side of the road en route. Went to shoot architecture, and shot dogs playing in puddles instead. So as I stood on the bridge, I turned to see the view from the east... and found marshes rising up on either side of the highway along the trails. And if they weren't bathed in the most lovely sunset light, grasses shining, water with golden ripples. And if I poked my lens through the rungs of the bridges rails, I could get the view unhindered and from 40ft up.

I walked away with a ton of shots. The reeds in the water made little paths that zigzagged through the frame, natural layers the eye could travel around, and the light kept deepening. You'd never know traffic was roaring past less than 30 feet away... and the whole time I was reminded that I need to expect the unexpected when I head out with my camera.

Have a great day folks! Thanks for the ramble and I hope you all find something unexpected to photograph this week too!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Knowing Your Tools ~ Wide Angle Wednesday!

"Lost and Found"

Who here loves to learn? I certainly do. Had a random conversation one day with several other photographers who have begun repeating a sentiment I'm hearing a lot lately. And it goes a lot like this - who needs workshops, teachers, and programs? Just get out there and shoot already.....

I get told this every time I mention a workshop I'd love to travel to, or a webinar I feel the urge to promote to others. People look at me like I'm insane and always state "you're there already, who needs to waste time on something like THAT?" And to a point, in order to discover who you are as a photographer you DO have to just pick up your camera everyday and pursue photography your own way, with your passion, and no one elses. I hear that.

 But.... I personally believe in fully knowing the tools I have at my disposal as well. And I mean KNOWING my tools, understanding what I can accomplish with what I have, and maybe what my needs will be in the future as I grow. My husband can tell you that. Tools are what get you the final result. I shot the interior of the garage this morning for my motivation challenge. He had tools laying everywhere, ready to build something. He knows exactly how to use them all to his advantage, but he had to learn about them first. And I can honestly say I still don't know everything about my own tools of photography, and never will. And if there are ways out there to learn more, and things that will show me to be better with my camera, my lenses, my business, my vision then I'm sorry, but I'll be taking it all in. Why do some folks make it seem like being taught means lowering ourselves? Now yes, some workshops are designed to take your hard earned money and try to distract you with new shiny things so it seems as if you made a great investment in learning... but not every opportunity is built that way, and not everyone is out there to con you. You just have to wisely do your homework.

I never have a ton of money for the big traveling workshops anyways, but if I did, I would find one that combined a dream come true location with talented seasoned instructors. And of the smaller and more inexpensive seminars and teaching webinars I've signed up for, I've come away with more knowledge about photography than I had going in.

Things like A) knowing your reciprocals saves your work at a shoot happening in constantly changing light when your meter swings back and forth on you,
B) knowing how to read a histogram properly so that every shot has skin tones looking amazing, C) finding out that every time you add a flash you double your Fstop, and D) that your website and your blog need to be cohesive, yet fill different needs at the same time.
All these things were things I didn't know, till someone more in the know told me. And they've improved my photography because of it.

Don't let anyone tell you you're past learning. Devour information coming your way... then instead of sitting on it, grab your camera, call your web designer, or whatever it is you just figured out you need to improve your approach to photography and get out there and prove you can do it!

Thanks for the preachy little ramble folks! Feel free to sign in and leave a comment too. And have a super day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Satisfied With Simplicity ~ Telephoto Tuesday!

"Summer Greens"
(1/60 sec.@ F/8, ISO 160, 110mm fl, Nikkor 55-200mm zoom VR, early morning light)

I greet my workday feeling.... refreshed. The first morning of my personal challenge to be creative and photograph something, anything, not work related has me ready for my day. Did it require fancy filters? Did I need all my gear? Did I have to travel across the city? Did I search high and low for gritty, dramatic, newsworthy subjects? Quite simply, in a word, no.

In fact, the theme I kept in mind while wandering about the neighbourhood was simplicity. I wanted to stop looking for any over the top wowness (such a fun word to type by the way) and go back to what makes photography enjoyable for me. Simple color filling the frame. Directional lines, giving the basic feeling of movement and nothing more. Patterns found in nature, streamlined and dressed down. A simple beauty.

I kept it simple, and came back with a few surprises. How easy it was to feel satisfied so early in the day. Perhaps I've been complicating things for too long? Regardless, the simple act of wandering about for an hour this morning leaves me ready to start more serious work knowing that I do not have to go to great lengths to be happy with my photography.

The ornamental grasses in their prime leaning towards the morning sun have had very little altered from my original Raw file. I quickly used curves in PSPx2 to emphasize true shadow and highlights, and sharpened slightly. A slight crop was included. It was that simple.

Wonder what I'll spot tomorrow morning? What did you guys get today? Send me a link so I can see! Thanks for the ramble gang! Have a good one!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Daily Creativity ~ Mono Monday!

(1/400 sec.@ F/11, ISO 100, 27mm fl, 18-55mm kit zoom, early morning bright light)

It's Mono Monday and I find myself dragging my proverbial feet... what to post, and what to say? I find I'm still in actual work mode this week and am having trouble stepping into "creative mode" from "working photographer mode". Not that I'm complaining, I love that I'm starting to see photography work coming my way. But, as it seems to come in waves, I find less and less time for "me" photography once again. And to be fair, I don't want to just post any ol' shot, or discuss any ol' topic on the blog simply because I have to. I want to post because I have something exciting to share with all of you or something new I've learned.

So here's what's going to happen this week. Even though I will be spending most of my day "in the office" editing, and when I say office I mean my lovely dining room/studio turned workspace 5 days out of seven, I will actually be started my day very early each morning shooting for just an hour. Random locations, random subjects, random weather. But it'll be for the sheer joy of photography. And those shots will go straight to the blog the same morning with perhaps some slight processing but nothing elaborate. It'll be the motivation to enjoy the rest of the day as well, knowing I've made time to be creative just for me. And in turn, my work related photography will be at it's best as well! Just thinking it makes me feel refreshed already...

I am reading a book right now called "The Practice of Contemplative Photography" by Andy Karr and Michael Wood. The entire book is a challenge to leave behind the conventional ways we label things we see through the lens, and to begin to look more creatively at the things around us. I'll be attempting to do just that every morning for one hour in my own neighbourhood. To broaden my perspective of what is subject worthy material. And to give myself the boost I need when working the rest of the day on more methodical projects. Those of you that feel drained when you can't get to your creative outlet in due time know exactly what I'm talking about!

So! Wonder what I'll wander across tomorrow? Stay tuned to find out...