As photographers, we are constantly trying to perfect our art. We take time to meticulously study the rules, decide when to break them, and for the most part are our worst critics. This has been known to dampen our intuitively creative nature. What do you do to rejuvenate your creative side?
There have been many times when I have become complacent. I find myself taking the images necessary for work, and no longer feel the spark that enables me to push my creative boundaries. I have a few ideas I would like to share to encourage the progression of your creative journey. In this post I will be discussing the importance of broadening your horizons and finding new ways to explore, pushing your self to create beyond the paradigms with which you are familiar.
When I realized I was not blown away by the images I was procuring for fun, I decided it was time to explore new mediums. For me, this came in two different forms.
1. Capturing images with an infrared converted camera
I was lucky enough to have an adjuvant mentor who pushed me to convert one of my cameras and experiment with the results. I could not believe how long it took me to take the plunge. The conversion process can seem daunting, but LifePixel eloquently explained my choices. There are various plug-ins, and methods in both Photoshop and Lightroom that allow you to create faux infrared images, however, in my opinion, nothing even closely compares to having the internal infrared blocking filter on the camera sensor replaced with an IR passing filter. The out-of camera rather prosaic images certainly need some manipulation, which is also an excellent exercise in creativity. You can spend hours perusing the LifePixel site for all sorts of fun and visually beautiful results. For me it is about perfecting the monochromatic image and creating stunning contrast. One of the first images I processed was of a train in Chicago. The color visual really did not grab my attention, but the processed IR image I found to be considerably more pleasing.
I have learned, through practice, that there are optimum visual queues to look for when shooting IR. The world simply takes on an almost ghost like quality but the High contrast opportunities are perfect. For example, Yosemite provided a stunning vista with beautiful skies. Most flat, gray days are not going to give you ideal results.
I now enjoy taking my 5D MarkIII and my converted 1DS MarkII and comparing the images. This exercise encourages me to look a little more carefully. The following images were taken near Morro Rock, San Luis Obispo, California.
2. Aerial photography using small UAVs
Many years ago, I became a private pilot, and took to the skies as a way to escape my earthly ties and, in essence, to reduce the size of my problems! Since I am aware of the beauty from the sky, I was excited when the world of small UAVs opened up as a viable way of taking images from unique angles. The market has rapidly expanded, admittedly with a certain amount of confusion as to the rules and regulations, but I relive the excitement of taking to the air even though my feet are planted firmly on the ground!
It is absolutely vital to understand how to fly safely, and really have a command of your drone before worrying about how to capture the image in your head. After a while it becomes second nature, but there is always the excitement of looking on the screen and seeing the world from above the earth. I like to fly both the DJI Inspire and Phantom 3 Professional drones.
Now I also enjoy comparing images from the IR camera and the drone!
It is absolutely vital to understand how to fly safely, and really have a command of your drone before worrying about how to capture the image in your head. After a while it becomes second nature, but there is always the excitement of looking on the screen and seeing the world from above the earth. I like to fly both the DJI Inspire and Phantom 3 Professional drones. Now I also enjoy comparing images from the IR camera and the drone! I will also attempt to recreate similar monochromatic images from my Inspire using Photoshop and Nik filters. Each time I go out, I can now cater to many moods using different instruments to capture my thoughts!
No matter what you decide to do to get those creative juices flowing, set yourself a task and follow through. It can be as simple as spending an hour capturing the clouds, or forcing your self to shoot only vertical images for the day, making sure you are framing correctly and not cutting off any point of interest.
In closing, I would like to quote a dear friend, and talented photographer, Barry Blanchard: “While out finding that picture, I sometimes find me.” Thank you for reminding us all to be receptive and mindful when we capture moments to share with the world. It is important to remember that if we are in the business of taking photographs, we need to keep our clients happy, but what we capture in our free time is what keeps the spark alive.