Two years…

of weekly blogging.

dsc_5730-2Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier.’

Alfred Lord Tennyson

A beautiful day with frigid temperatures and a fine way to end my second year of blogging.

I set a goal for myself two years ago to write a weekly blog post on photography. I wanted it to focus mainly on creativity and inspiration and highlight an image preferably from that week.

It’s now two years later and this year was for me filled with ups and downs and I know that I’m not alone in that.

Highlights and lowlights…rather ironic considering that they’re two of my favorite things.

Some of the best highlights?

Photographing a proton arc during a night of northern lights, in one word…unforgettable.

Photographing rare halos and having the most incredible e-mail conversation with a renowned physicist.

Numerous publications and an Image of the Day by Earthsky.org.

An abundance of canine photo shoots, so dear to my heart.

The lowlights? Frankly I’m just going to visualize whirled peas and leave it at that.

I’ve got a new project starting and can’t wait to immerse myself in it.

Don’t forget to take some moments for yourself during this busy time of year and find something positive to focus on…

Perfection…

is it all it’s cracked up to be?

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To the artist there is never anything ugly in nature.

Auguste Rodin

We hear a lot about perfection; what it is and how to achieve it.

For me though, I think that the imperfect often warrants a closer look and when it comes to photography I’ll take imperfection any day!

There is a certain beauty that comes with symmetry and I think that in many ways we’re programmed to prefer this.

During the flurry of our first big snowstorm of the season I was thrilled to find this tiny snowflake, not at all perfect and yet so utterly perfect!

This is the time of year when I start to think about my goals for the coming year and I have some big ones for next year.

For the next few weeks though my goal is to stay present and not get overwhelmed by the expectations of the season.

Look for beautiful moments, be kind to one another, and celebrate the little things.

Sheer beauty…

in a fragile package.

dsc_7294…the endless repetition of an ordinary miracle.

Orhan Pamuk, Snow

Winter is fast approaching and it does bring its challenges but for me it is one of the most beautiful and picturesque times of year.

I love an opportunity to photograph nature as it appears, these tiny intimate landscapes that are so often overlooked. When you find something this transient that you’d like to photograph, get your shot because this type of subject matter doesn’t linger, but then move around and look at it from different angles. Simply changing your position can make a huge difference with the available light and composition.

In the eyes of those who only see snow as something to be endured perhaps take a moment next time it is falling and appreciate its fragility and uniqueness.

Vapor condensing onto dust particles in the atmosphere…a gift from nature.

 

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?

The important thing was…

I got to vote.

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Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.

Robert Green Ingersoll

I’m an optimist, it’s just how I roll.

It’s been a time of great passion where I’ve watched friendships crash and burn on social media and it’s been difficult to not get dragged into the fray.

Politics is a funny beast though and I have seldom, if ever, seen someone’s mind changed by these engagements. I hope for a time when campaigning isn’t done by tearing the opponent down but by focusing on important issues and how those will be addressed.

For me, the important thing is that I got to vote and I will continue to believe in America and democracy.

If this election has you reeling go out and find some beauty in the world, I promise you…it’s still there.

My day went to the dogs…

and was filled with great moments.

dsc_3039-2Life rarely presents fully finished photographs. An image evolves, often from a single strand of visual interest – a distant horizon, a moment of light, a held expression.

Sam Abell

Yesterday was one of those perfect photographic days that for me was so centering.

It started out with a photo shoot of one of my absolute favorite subjects…dogs. The energy was great, the dogs exuded canine joy, and there was even a little break in the constant rain that couldn’t have been better timed.

As the sun began to sink lower on the horizon, cirrus clouds appeared and I had another treat following my theme for the day…parhelia or sundogs.

Jumping in my Jeep I headed off to see what might develop as the hexagonal ice plates drifted high in the sky, nearly horizontal to the horizon.

As I watched, a circumzenithal arc appeared above the sundogs, lasting only for a brief moment. I shot from several different angles and in today’s shot thought that I’d throw out that you don’t always have to have a straight horizon, sometimes it’s fun to deliberately tilt the camera, Dutch tilt, more often used in cinematography.

Life is about moments and today was filled with them.

Where will you find yours this week-end?

Rain soaked…

and searching for moments.

dsc_2282-editIt is not enough to photograph the obviously picturesque.

Dorothea Lange

This quote really resonated with me. I think we are inundated with beautiful images and while I can appreciate that beauty, it takes far more than saturation to make me want to look twice or even remember that image.

We have had one of the rainiest months on record and it has taken some doing to watch for moments that isolate themselves from utter grayscapes.

Even the clouds have not been cooperative deigning only to show solid overcoats of smooth gray until this morning…

I am reminded of a book I’m reading whose main character is a photographer. She goes out to shoot a sunrise and takes 400 images. Unless you’re doing a startrail, timelapse, or shooting a burst for an action shot I can’t imagine why a person would want to take that many images of a single subject and then have to search through those later for the image that captures it. I would feel like I wasn’t really being present in that moment and looking beyond the obviously picturesque.

My question is just because it’s digital does that mean that we should be less thoughtful about the shots that we take? Would your photography improve if you treated it more like film?