Sunday, April 13, 2008

Creativity – What else do you Do?

In the last few articles I have been focusing on how, as photographers, we can keep our creative juices flowing. In part, this is a result that I have been suffering from cabin fever and have not been able to get out as much as I want.

This is only a bad excuse I am telling myself, as I know there are many things I could do within the house. I am not a robot, which means that I have a chance at being creative, but your state of mind is the most important element and it needs to be excited so that your everyday chores are getting in the road of doing what you love to do.

This week the snow has been melting like water going down the drain. I can finally see bare patches of ground and in a few days I should be able to wander outside where I want to, at least with rubber boots.

You may remember a similar image in a previous blog Perth on the Tay River there is a summer image of the bridge.

Art has always been my passion, somehow getting a ‘Real Life’, probably defined by TV shows, has shaped who I am to arrive here at the age of 57. Working, learning, chasing a career, raising a family and spending time with great friends has taken up most of my time.

Creativity, which is something we all have within us and are born with, is not something that needs to be learned, but needs to be practiced and nurtured.

Watercolour – Fall sumacs in pine and birch forest

If you are a photographer, I think it is important that we have other outlets to pursue creative passions. Therefore, I thought I would show some other outlets I have, which help to shape the approach to my photographic artistic endeavours.

Take a sketchpad with you as you wonder about. This could just be at noon hour as you take a break from your job. With sketching, it is a lot easier to control the DOF as you only have to draw the parts you like. Find some interesting but very ordinary compositional elements such as flat rocks on the path with weeds growing out of the cracks as with the pen and ink drawing below.

By only drawing those parts that you find interesting you are helping yourself to see better with a camera. By Sketching it will help you to reduce the multitude of clutter within an image and how to best compose and focus the image to enhance the strong compositional elements.

I find rock and its formation interesting in its texture and patterns but extremely challenging to render into an image. As you can see with the practice page below I was trying different techniques and render round boulders by using either water bottle spray or the sponge to add texture. This is no different than when I use my camera and shoot different angles and light to best bring out the rock detail. This is probably still my largest challenge to render rocks in an interesting manner.

In the practice page below I was just using the brush for paint both round and jagged rock formations. For me rocks are not easy.

In sketching, you definitely don’t want to include every piece of the scene before you and understanding what to include will help in developing your own photographic images. This practice, in seeing less, allows you to focus on your photograph and decide which elements you will enhance with image editing software to bring forward the stronger parts with colour and contrast and to partially remove the other parts with the opposite effects.

An image is made up of many parts and with painting, learning how best to describe these parts is part of the learning experience. In the watercolour practice piece below I wanted to render the distant late fall foliage with just enough texture for the viewer to understand the element but not enough detail for realism. Similar to controlling DOF.

Last year I went to an exhibit of Renoir landscapes and after seeing his images I felt I had to quit my job right there and then (I didn’t) and pursue my painting passions. But I am getting close.

Do take the time to visit galleries as the feelings and understanding of composition, abstractness and colour will all help you to better compose an image with your camera.

If you look at the landscape paintings of the impressionist they are about everyday, almost boring landscapes that they were able to bring to life with their palettes. Studying these masters and others will help you as you travel about to also realize the great beauty in everyday life and with your camera and its multitude of settings best bring it to life in an image.

This is a 2 ½ foot ‘papier maché’ Blue Whale I am making. I used the metallic marbles for eyes and now I just need to paint it to really bring it to life. It was built using chicken wire as a frame, covered with the standard process of thin newspaper strips soaked in a mixture of water, flour and wood glue. I then used the ‘papier maché’ pulp to add the final texture and shape.

The image below ties in the discussion of art and street life. I find the street beggar just as interesting as the images in the window.

He is a gentle Ottawa regular and I did get his permission for image and donated to his living expenses.

There are signs of spring and life emerging after winter as the image below shows with the melting dirty snow and the few leaves of the covered plant struggling to find the sunshine.

At the Luminous Landscape there is a great article Balmoral Mist – Deconstructed on examining a moody photographic image and what make this a great photograph.

Also do check out 25 Ways to Jump Start Photography Inspiration 25 Ways to Jump Start Photography Inspiration

Niels Henriksen

A Photographer’s Adage

Whether a watercolor is inferior to an oil [painting], or whether a drawing, an etching, or a photograph is not as important as either, is inconsequent. To have to despise something in order to respect something else is a sign of impotence. - Paul Strand - Camera Work, 1917


Ashish said...
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nielsp said...

The above comment was deleted as is was an Ad and there is no blogger profile available.


Davidlind said...

There are some interesting parallels for me in our experiences. I am also 57. I worked for many years with homeless veterans and sense your interest and compassion for them. And although I recently started taking photos with some regularity it has also led me elsewhere. But not to painted. It is the written word and especially poetry which has actually become the most popular part of my blogs. I write often in my blog about how photography can lead to other creative endeavors.
Interesting similarities.

Bengt said...

I like this article... yours bengt


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