As the year winds down…

I’m taking time to play.

DSC_4261-2If you’re not trying to be real, you don’t have to get it right. That’s art.

Andy Warhol

I couldn’t have planned this year if I tried and looking back on it, I think that may be what got me through it.

Sometimes it’s just better to let things unfold and make choices on the opportunities that present themselves.

Life and art are a lot alike that way.

Sometimes it’s worthwhile to listen to your gut and just go for it. The path that you should be on is often the easier one to navigate.

Winter Carnival…

has gone to the dogs!

20170226-dsc_2505-edit-2Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

There’s a lot to be learned from our four-legged friends.

This week-end had a special event sponsored by some amazing local business’ all in the name of raising money to support the Panhandle Animal Shelter.

A little snow didn’t keep the crowds away and the dogs ran their hearts out pulling size suitable empty kegs down a snowy track to raise money for their less fortunate friends.

There were dogs of all sizes dressed in all kinds of gear sporting EzyDog harnesses for the Keg Pull.

This was my first time attending the event and I had the pleasure of being in the thick of the action. Some dogs gave it their all, seasoned veterans returning to better their times from past years. Others, new to the game, took more leisurely runs, pausing for photo opportunities along the way.

Great group of dog loving people supporting a wonderful cause and lucky me…I got to spend a few hours combining two passions, dogs and photography.

February’s Tip: Double your pleasure and try to find a way to combine two passions in one. Really think about what gives you the most joy to photograph and seek out opportunities that combine those things. Your heart will thank you!

A case…

for blinkies.

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Creativity takes courage.

Henri Matisse

The words of one of my mentors often creeps into my mind.

“Sheryl, first learn the rules then break them!” She’s a painter but much of it still applies as we look at composition and style.

For example…the nose and the eyes must be in focus. When photographing in snow make sure that your highlight blinkies aren’t flashing indicating that you’ve lost detail in the brightest parts of the image.

Heavy sigh…

I’m always more inspired when I take a painterly approach to my dog photography. I’m all about the moments and the emotion expressed in those moments.

I love lost and found lines and not having every detail tack sharp; a sentiment that not everyone shares.

In this image the “snow P” is taking every ounce of enjoyment that he can in his dash through the deep, freshly fallen snow.

Blinkies on? Flashing like mad!

Eyes in focus? Not a chance with all that flying snow!

Today’s thought is take every opportunity to be creative. Try things. Shoot one way then do the opposite. Don’t let the rules and your head get in the way.

Show me what you’ve got!

Is that you…

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Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Seneca

A lot can be learned from watching our canine friends and seeing how they live in the moment.

I recall the crazy antics of my bloodhound when she was presented with the “heel” from a loaf of French bread. Her joy knew no end as she pranced, danced, flung it around, rolled all over it, and then at last would eat it.

Another Stafford of ours would do “the green bone dance” when he was given a Greenie to chew on. Designed for dental health we had no idea why they inspired such antics but they always did.

My dogs are some of the lucky ones. They are cherished from the first day that they come to us until the last day of their lives. It isn’t so for many other dogs though and we, the P and I, have a plan to do our part towards making that happen for more animals in the coming year.

We’ll be sharing more about this as it unfolds in the upcoming weeks…

Stay healthy and happy during this holiday season and find joy in the little things.

 

Pop…

art.

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I like to be the right thing in the wrong place and the wrong thing in the right place. Being the right thing in the wrong place and the wrong thing in the right place is worth it because something interesting always happens

Andy Warhol

I’m not a fan of generic filters plopped over images but I do sometimes find their effects appealing and reminiscent of other styles of artwork.

I keep the editing of my raw images firmly in Lightroom and Nikon Silver Effex, only using Photoshop for the addition of text.

For the preset for this image though a sticky mouse pulled one of my adjustment sliders into an area  that I never venture into and rather than quickly removing the edit I took a little time to look at the effect.

A nice feature in Lightroom is the ability to create your own sets of presets that can give you a starting point for your edits. I tend to keep my presets very “gentle” since I find that even amongst similar images, one does not fit all. This way you can apply the preset and then adjust from that point. It’s something that I will often do for my nightscapes.

I like the pop art feel of this image and the knowledge that I created it myself. Each time you do something like this it’s a bit like a self guided study course and you have the opportunity to learn more about the programs that you use and their capabilities. Playing with images and this preset then gave me more information about how I should shoot an image designed for use with this preset.

Same thing with a camera. Take it off auto and just start shooting and experimenting.

That’s where  creativity lives.

One really big reason…

to follow your passion.

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To know ahead of time what you’re looking for means you’re then only photographing your own preconceptions, which is very limiting, and often false.

Dorothea Lange

This blog post is number one hundred which for me feels like I’m just hitting my stride. For almost two years now I have been taking the time to look and think about one image and the process has been an interesting one for me.

I write a lot about passion and creativity and how to keep that flowing when so much in life can act as a roadblock.

I don’t often feel the need to write about the technical aspects of photography; you can already find enough about that online to keep you reading for a lifetime. The question that I’m asked about most is how to build creativity. My own experience would tell me that if you’re bored with or stagnant in your medium it might not be the right one for you.

The challenge as I see it lies in developing a creative zone that extends far beyond the reach of a camera. It’s rather like shovelling the sidewalk during a winter storm; doing it once is not enough. Steady, continuous work is needed to keep that path open.

Just like muscle memory that is developed while practicing a sport, you can develop a rhythm with your camera that allows you to focus on the subject matter if you make it a part of your daily routine.

Developing a rhythm is the first step towards developing a style. Choosing subject matter that inspires you makes it easier to pick up that camera on a daily basis.

For example, on my canine shoots I will go in knowing the feel that I want for the images but I will try not to have any preconceived ideas on how I will get that. Structure to me is the death of creativity. I know that this approach works for me because the instant that I start moving around and shooting I am in the zone and it doesn’t really matter if I’m photographing a dog, piece of sky, or a snowflake.

All of this doesn’t just happen though, it takes practice and a first important step is being comfortable with your equipment so that you can focus on the creative aspect.

Today’s image is of subject matter near and dear to my heart…dogs. During the past few weeks I have had the absolute pleasure of photographing several groups of dogs, in various life stages. The energy, connections with their owners, and sheer joy these animals showed was incredible.

Will my style of shooting appeal to everyone? Nope, there are those that would prefer a backdrop and a stiff dog with every hair sharply in focus. I wouldn’t be happy and in my zone capturing that type of image but there’s room for all types.

Once you figure out the answer to this question “I like to shoot images that are…” it helps to define that creative zone and allows you to build on it.

If you’re completely stuck answering that question spend some time looking at all mediums; online, at museums or galleries, and see what you are drawn to. Think about how you can infuse that feeling into your medium of choice. I’m not talking about copying, I’m talking about putting yourself into the medium, there’s a big difference.

Love to hear your experiences on developing creativity. What has worked for you?

Thank you to all who follow this blog, I so appreciate it.

And thank you to Earl, how gorgeous is he?

Atmosphere…

and creativity.

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Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.

Ansel Adams

Many years ago I had family portraits done with my husband and two mastiffs. I treasure that memory but can’t help thinking how sterile and posed the image is.

It was out of that thought that the idea to photograph dogs in their own environment, just being dogs, was born.

It’s a challenging adventure kind of like those cooking shows where you open up a box of ingredients and have to make something amazing out of it. In this instance though you’re handed dogs and whatever weather conditions the day brings, and from that you need to create a group of images that hopefully capture the spirit of those animals. It’s real and unscripted and each shoot is different from the one before.

I think of photography as a language from which you develop your own accent and cadence. It takes awhile to learn what that might look like for you but I believe that it can only be accomplished by diving in and shooting every day under all conditions.

It’s an incredibly creative medium and one that I think it’s essential to develop your own voice for.

Will everyone like your work? Certainly not but in time you will develop a style of shooting that becomes more distinctive to you and with that knowledge it becomes easier to take whatever photographic opportunities that come your way and make the most of them.

On this day the ground had a layer of frost and as the sun hit it, it began to steam giving me nature’s version of a smoke machine. I couldn’t have scripted that and it lent such a beautiful, soft atmosphere to the shoot.

Have you picked up your camera today? Maybe you should…