Thursday, October 27, 2016

Seeing the Ordinary in Your Own Way

The wetland prairies are wide open spaces, but they can be intimately explored.
"Photography is (a means by which we)...learn to see the ordinary." David Bailey

I love that quote. When I first read it recently, it made me reflect on something that has been foremost in my conscious for awhile now. I hope to retire in three years and travel around the U.S. as a full time photographer. Nature photographers enjoy our national parks, evident from so many iconic landscape scenes. We all recognize these scenes (i.e. El Capitan or Delicate Arch) and have viewed hundreds of photographs of each. And we are compelled to go there and "Get the Shot". At last, I will have the freedom to get out there.

The small red mangroves on Biscayne Bay are among my favorite subjects to photograph.
I have to admit, standing on an overlook to photograph Horseshoe Bend or hiking to Delicate Arch while negotiating the crowds are not in my travel plans. I honestly do not have a great desire to capture an iconic scene along side so many others doing the same. The reason being is simple, I am spoiled. 99% of my photography is done in solitude and most of the locations where I photograph are not visited normally by other photographers. I have made images from locations that are as far from iconic as anything can be. Crowds of picture takers are not clambering to get to these places.

The unassuming little blue heron allows me to observe its quiet hunting ritual.
While some may find that to be a limitation, I see it as the opposite. I see it as opportunity to learn your unique creativity. By getting to know a location or subject so well without the distraction of others, I have learned to see the ordinary in my own way. In my opinion, uniqueness is the most important ingredient (above talent and hard work) for creating art. For me, it is the perseverance in going back to the same place and insisting that I have yet to capture it well. This is what nourishes my creativity; I keep trying. It is about creating an image that reflects my personal connection to the subject.

With subtle landscapes, water is essential to my photographs .
So while traveling from one iconic location to the next appeals to me in some ways, it is the unique connection to a new place that I look most forward to. But, in the meantime the Everglades and Biscayne Bay are calling me back, again and again.

Water has so many characteristics and behaviors. How can one not want to photograph it?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Play to Create

Sea weeds appear through the water in a pond behind my house. The evening sunlight reflected beautifully and the wind created gentle ripples.

If you identify yourself as a fine art photographer, it is because you attempt to create photographs that are unique. Your creativity is your reality and exists with a degree of independence that is constrained only by you. How far you take that creativity is totally up to you.

Sometimes, we feel uninspired and nothing seems to be working; poor lighting, lack of interest, etc. In those situations, we can either walk away or we can challenge ourselves to dig deeper into our creativity. Occasional lack of inspiration or a bad day is inevitable, but bad days can be decreased if we allow ourselves to make the time to simply play with no expectations.

As far as flowers go, this one was not inspiring until I decided to use intentional camera movement, such as with this image.
I like to use the "around the house" scenario to describe my version of play. Think of a time when you are home bound for whatever reason; weather, obligations, etc. This is about as far away from an ideal photo opportunity as anything can be for a nature photographer. But sometimes, home can be an experimental playground for photography. Within the constraints of my all too familiar surroundings, I find that I can stretch my creativity a bit more than usual. This is when I simply play.

Corrugated glass in my living room reflects the outdoor colors in an interesting way. I flipped this vertical image from to horizontal. 
Having always been attracted to the abstract, these home experiments have been a means to create abstract images. In so doing, both camera and creative skills are being worked on. I can take these new skills back out into nature and continue seeing things in a fresh way. It is playfulness that I take out there, the idea of viewing a familiar or mundane thing as something visually appealing.

Play with light, composition, or camera technique. Study abstract photography images from others and get inspired. Take the most boring object in your house and make it something new and interesting with your photograph. Do this when you are feeling constrained or uninspired, and then lose those feelings.

A building reflects on the pond behind my house. I threw small stones in the water to create interesting ripples.