Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Find A Quiet Spot ~ Telephoto Tuesdays

"The Sprites of Spring"

Too many grey days in a row always sends me scrambling for my gear. No more sitting in front of the computer screen at that point, or tidying my work space yet again. On the dull winter days I have to get out. One of my favorite places to haunt on just such an occasion is our very own

It's quiet, it's bright, and it's beautiful. I instantly relax. I don't even pull out the Nikon right away. There are comfy benches along each pathway through the greenhouses that invite you to stay a while and let all the greens and colors and textures reveal themselves in their own time. My eye begins to notice tiny buds opening, tiny fruit ripening on gnarly branches, and these tiny tiny iris type flowers poking up out of the colorful mulch in the photograph for today. I can find spring here. It's refreshing. And I can photograph it and carry it home with me.

It's lovely. I leave feeling rejuvenated.

I can't stress enough how important it is to find a quiet spot, or a beautiful spot, (a goodly distance from your work place) and let it feed your creativity every once in a while. No deadlines, no emails, no pressures. For twenty minutes, for an hour, for a weekend. It builds YOU back up and gets you to a place where you can go back to all the other things with a better attitude and with purpose. Even just writing about it here makes me feel better!

So, find such a spot this week if you can. And take some time to breathe. Or to be inspired. I know you want to.

Thanks for the ramble gang. If you're ever in Ontario, please make time to visit the RBG too. No matter what time of the year!

Friday, February 24, 2012

One Lazy Friday

"When Daylight Lingers"

All plans went out the window today. Which was a bit of a downer, but instead I found time to catch up on some edits to older files, planned out changes for my business page on Facebook (thank you Jennifer and Bob for your guidance), and browsed new sites I've discovered and found things that have sparked new ideas or resurrected older ones I lost track of. All while nursing my son back to health. And by nursing I mean telling him to stay in bed and then avoiding any contact with him so I don't get whatever he has. Ha. Kidding! I made sure to throw a box or two of Kleenex up to him after he was banished. I'm deeply caring that way.

Sometimes life just makes you take a break. Whether you want it or not. And in the meantime, thought I'd share an image I'd once lost track of but found again while I puttered around my office space/dining room, while my youngest stayed home from school, valiantly fighting a cold. It's a shot of the winter night sky, one of those nights we realized the days really were starting to seem longer, and the light was starting to ease into that pre-spring glow. As I recall, there was a wicked wind that day that ate through our gloves, scarves, parkas, and heavy winter boots. A damp wind. A heartless wind. The kind that makes you question your sanity. Although I happen to know my sanity IS questioned on a constant basis, so that was nothing new.

Anyway here I am, typing out a ramble late in the afternoon and realising it was good to just go with the flow, rest, and take care of my boy. And if that's a sneeze I feel coming on, he's grounded.

Have a fabulous weekend gang! Stay healthy and stay productive!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

You and What Army?

"The View From Here"

I've been thinking lately about influences. And more specifically, who photographers, or artists, or anyone following a calling, surround themselves with. Who has your back? Who can you learn from? Who reminds you that there's more? Who reminds you to risk it? And who reminds you to use your head? That's like... an army of peers if you think about it. And all very valuable to you as you develop in your craft.

Here are the type of friends, peers, and mentors I have decided are invaluable to me as I decide where to take my photography next. My hope is that you have found these people to add to your posse too. And if not, what are you waiting for? Here's the list, in no particular order;

The Critical Eye: not every one's favorite type of influence depending on your own personality but suck it up anyways, cause they are the person who sees past your obvious talents and asks you if you're still growing, and if you're pushing yourself enough. They're the ones who will tell you honestly that an idea will bomb, that a photograph isn't working for you, or that your attitude needs to change. Sometimes thought of as more blunt than anything, these people truly have your best interests at heart. In a word, they're your champions. They're seeing the big picture and want you to truly succeed, not just live in the little victories of today. They are the ones that become your mentors. I have several in my life, and you know who you are... *wink, wink*

The Beacon: these are the peers that are the shining examples of where you want to be one day, and how to get there. And no, they don't have to be doing the same type of photography as you, or even be apart of the same vocation as you, but they are without a doubt some one you look up to. And here's the key... these are the same people who are so jazzed about the creative journey, that they love to share it. They'll share the process, the mistakes, the approaches that always work, and the new discoveries they make in their field. They're totally approachable, and are not above taking the "eager to learn" under their wing. I'm supremely grateful for the beacons in my life while I figure out this whole photog gig.

The Cheerleader: these friends are instant encouragement. When you're having the worst day ever, when you've failed to complete a new project, when you're struggling with a new concept, these people seem to know when and how to build you back up. They remind you that it's a long journey, that not everything you accomplish will be easy, and that you have to keep working because they believe in you that much. They're the ones that will surprise you with coffee (or hot chocolate in my case) when you're sounding overwhelmed, or will be that ear you can vent to at the drop of a hat. And they don't just appreciate your skills, they totally appreciate you as a person. Hearing from them always jump-starts my day big time.

The Partner In Crime: this person is the one person who feeds your appetite for your hobby or craft like no one else. They hop in the car with you on photo adventures without a second thought for hours on end, regardless of the weather. They will eagerly discuss the hidden gem of a photo op they stumbled upon one day while out running errands. They constantly send you links to new things to photograph, seminars to check out, or blogs to start following. They'll go with you to art shows, they'll join online communities with you. And they'll always drool over new gear the same way you do. I can think of one such person in particular right now. If you have more than one of these, all the better. But that's rare. These are the people that know how you think, and how you operate. They aren't in competition with you, and they are totally comfortable in their own skills. They know when nothing needs to be said, and they know that their opinions are more than welcome. I can't stress enough how valuable this type of relationship is!

That's just four types of people you need in your life as a photographer, or creative, or entrepreneur. There's many more, but these are the ones that ultimately stand out in my mind. I couldn't do what I do without any of them! Who do you have in your corner? Take this week to think about it, and to find some way to thank them.

Thanks for the ramble. Have a groovy day gang!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fish vs Flowers: A Total Surprise

"Water Nymph"

Today's image was a complete surprise. It all started with a trip to the Royal Botanical Gardens located here on Ontario. They had two different features within the main greenhouses. Glass Under Glass and Chocolate: The Exhibition. Both a wonderful way to spend a winter morning to be sure. It's a delightful place anytime of the year! But out of everything I photographed, it was the fish in the Mediterranean Greenhouse that held a challenge and got my creativity going.

I was totally not expecting that. I was there to photograph flowers.

I had to work around extreme reflections, low light, darting fish, and moving water. I kept my camera on continuous shutter mode and just kept taking photos whenever there was a slight possibility the fish would approach me. It wasn't until an employee arrived with fish food that they really began to take notice. The conditions meant I needed my fastest glass, the 50mm prime, the ISO up to 400 to allow the speed I needed at 1/500 of a sec, and in order to keep the noise at a minimum and get the exposure I wanted I also bumped my exposure compensation up another +2.7. The aperture was F/3.2. Any smaller and the shutter speed was an issue, and any bigger and I wasn't sure just how much would be in focus.

This was one of the surprising results. And I love it for the watery patterns and motion it contains. It seems a little fantastical to me, like if you were to look away and then look back, the elegant golden sprite might vanish altogether.

I went for tropical flowers. I wound up with fish.
Who knew so much fun was waiting!

I can't say it enough. Be prepared for the unexpected when you decide to photograph your city and surrounding areas. Surprises are always waiting.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dreary Equals Industrial ~ Mono Monday!

"Guardian at the Docks"

I find the weather swings from gloomy to startlingly bright and cold with no happy medium in the last few weeks. Hardly ideal conditions for inspiring photographs. So today's post is another rant on working with what you've got.

The image above was taken down at the docks in the Hamilton Harbour a couple weeks ago. I had wandered around the pier and bay front trying to find something fascinating but felt like everything was coming up short. Ever have those days. I'll heartily admit that I do. I decided the best locale for finding some interesting material despite the bland weather would be the industrial docks. With a dull sky, and light rain, I had a chance to simplify my photography. Once in this mindset, everything began to have potential once again.

Simply put, I decided on this particular day that dreary weather equaled industrial type images. I stopped looking for inspiring aesthetics and started looking for aesthetics that conveyed power, durability, and the relationship between the water and the ever present steel mills. 

When I worked with what was at my disposal, I began to get photographs that reminded me of the ways we naturally interpret this part of the city, and the industrial heritage it contains. And they felt right.

Dreary equalled industrial. Tomorrow it might represent something totally different. That's the joy of photography and working with what you've got.

Thanks for the ramble gang! Have a good one!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Challenge ~ WideAngle Wednesday!

"Give Me One Chance"

My crazy dog. Friends will be able to attest to just how crazy she can be, it's the border collie part of her that is unable to focus for too long on one thing, including sitting for a portrait. Rally is getting older, and I have so very few great images of her that showcase her personality. I'm attempting to remedy this. It's my new personal challenge. My mission. It's driving me nuts.

You're looking at the intense food driven part of her right now. THAT would be the Black Lab in the mix. I am not ashamed to say that I'm holding aloft a dog treat camera right. It's the only reason she's sitting long enough for me to get this shot. I'm lucky I managed to shoot fast enough in the window light to get her eyes in focus with my prime 50mm, the fastest lens I have right now.

I want to use my flash at some point when I photograph her, but I may have to settle for early sun coming in the window instead of late day, and harass one of the kids into holding a reflector to better light the other side of her face... everything about my flash gets swallowed up in her silky black coat, and I am still working on how best to light her. If I can get the shot I see in my head before Friday, I'll share, I promise. The reason I'd love to get some great light on her is mainly so that I can get the best DOF as well. Her nose in focus would be more suitable for this type of portrait. And that obviously didn't happen here.

On a completely unrelated topic, if my husband tunes in to the blog today I'd like to wish him a very Happy Birthday. I'd have a portrait of him up, but he too is hard to peg down for a photo the minute a camera comes out, and I've yet to find an effective treat to hold up camera right to distract him. Although he's informed me a homemade apple pie would do the trick if I were desperate. Right.

Guess I need to go warm the oven up....

Thanks for the ramble! Have a good one gang!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Getting Inspiration!

"When I Think of You..."

I needed to start my week inspired. It's as simple as that. Where do you find your inspiration or motivation to jump into that vocation you love, no holds barred as they say? Books? Galleries? Your neighborhood?

I gain inspiration all those places too of course. But when I need an instant boost to the creative juices, I turn to some of my favorite bloggers and photographers. And I thought, why not share them with you! These go beyond just photography for photography's sake. These never cease to make me sit up and say to myself, "Self... when was the last time YOU shot with that kind of obvious passion?"

So here are the go-to sites I choose specifically when I need to be inspired:

I poked through all of them today, and what do you know? I feel fired up and ready to photograph and explore in a way only I know how! That's how inspiration works. Find the one thing that will get you excited about your tasks today, and let's all get crackin'....

Happy Monday gang!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rethinking The Plan ~ Wide Angle Wednesday

"The Long Way Home"

How's your week been? Mine has been one of rethinking. I find it very easy when working for myself to forget my long term goals and start drifting along, content to let things come to me... whether they're really the things I should be pursuing or not. Needless to say, this leads to discovering you're directionless and wondering how you wound up that way in the first place.

I know somebody out there must be able to relate.

So I've been setting aside time once again to pinpoint where I've gotten distracted, where I've veered off course, where I've neglected using my abilities and skills, and what to do about it. I already know I haven't been working hard enough on the right things, and I already know that things I started on a whim need to be abandoned. I need to concede that it's back to picking out the route that best gets me to my ultimate destination (as a certain Canadian photographer would say). You may see changes here on the blog, projects retired before they begin, and whatever else that has to be affected. But that's because detours happen. And then we see our route clearly once more.

Sometimes getting back on track starts with acknowledging what started you on the journey to begin with.

My concrete list of things I love about photography looks like this:
city life
great lines
connecting with people
inspiring others
instant art

How long has it been since you thought about what's really important to you and what you're passionate about? It'd been awhile for me, so don't fret if you've been feeling the same. Redirect your focus (cough, cough, what? No, that wasn't a photo joke.... ) and find a way to get back to doing what you're called to do. I'm about to do the very same thing myself.

Thanks for the long winded ramble gang! Have a great night!