Spark Your Creativity and Take Time to Play

Laughing

Ever feel like your creativity is  at a standstill?  Something got it on hold?  The common belief is that creative or mental blocks come from trying too hard to actually be creative.  So, how can we stop trying to hard?  It’s not that we should stop trying per se. It’s more that we need to stop trying to make every image a powerful image.  Being playful often starts with just laughing at yourself.  Seriously…laugh at yourself.  Do something stupid or silly.  That becomes infectious and can move you forward to play, which in turn will spark your creativity!.

In being playful with your work, it’s often even more helpful to put down the tripods, and SLR’s.  Put down the lenses and filters. Put down the soft boxes and fill flashes.  Being playful means letting go of the “rules” of photography.  I’m reading David DuChemin’s book, The Inspired Eye and in it, he speaks to this idea that that inspiration can come from play.

Some ideas from David include taking a day and try taking pictures whenever the mood hits.  Even if you are shooting through wet glass, or in a moving car.  Take a picture with your focus ring taped down.  The softness from the out of focus shot can force you to look at something more generic like the lines and energy of a scene.  It really is inspired capture that David is going for here, and that can definitely come from play.

One of my favorite images from my own library is a niece – I was literally playing.  I wasn’t expecting anything great, or show-stopper quality.  Just goofing around.  I was laughing and being silly, and so was she.  I took the camera to ridiculous angles, knowing it wouldn’t work (or so I thought).  Just goes to show you the power of play in photography:

Laughing

The upshot?  Take time to play – only good things can come from it!

Nicole Young: Featured Author!

Finding Focus

Nicole Young (aka Nicolesy) is no stranger to the blog – she’s been on the podcast, on more than one occasion, is also a fellow NAPPer (and I think she works the Helpdesk there too), an accomplished iStock Photographer, and also a well-known author has established herself as one of those “in the know” in my opinion.  When she talks, I listen.  So, when her latest eBook was announced over on Craft and Vision – I hungrily jumped at the chance for a sneak peak at it.  Boy, did she deliver here!  The shots are all new (no old portfolio shots from her), and the topic is spot on – how to better focus!  How ironic that this eBook comes out on the tail of my own video talking about moving focusing from your shutter to the button on the back of your camera!  Talk about a great segue between each other.  The difference?  Mine is one gear-specific video – hers is just found gold!  And it’s only $5!

Finding Focus

 

Not only does Nicole deliver on a subject that is timeless (and timely! 🙂 ), but she does it so eloquently that I stopped the eBook I was preparing on the same subject!  Normally, being slow to the publish point makes me go “grrr”, but she did this so much better than I ever could have that I just gotta give some serious props here.  I love how she broke the topic of “finding focus” down in the eBook too.  Her areas of discussion range from:

Aperture
Depth of Field
Lens Compression
The Lens
The Camera
How to Focus on:
People & Animals
Landscapes
Groups
Still Lifes
Storytelling
Software
Macro Photography  (Photo Stacking)

Talk about complete coverage!  I was only going to talk about four things in my eBook – it’s now in my Recycle Bin, because Nicole covered each one, and did it perfectly!

Nicole Young: Finding Focus

So, naturally, I seem to be singing her praises here – and yeah, I kinda am, but with good reason:  this is a home run!  I don’t recommend reads often, and when I do, I usually find a couple things lacking or that I wish were done differently.  Here?  Nothing is wrong – it’s absolute perfection!  She taught me things I thought I knew and was wrong!  (Yes, I can admit when I am wrong…LOL).  Thanks to Nicole for putting together such a great eBook – and thanks to Craft and Vision for giving me a sneak peak at it.  For everyone that wants to learn more about getting tack sharp focus, this is gonna be the best five bucks you ever spent!

Nicole Young: FInding Focus

 

As if that’s not enough good news – the folks at Craft and Vision have, in typical fashion, launched this with some promotional good will – with 20% off (so it’s only $4)!  How do you get this wonderful deal?  Just visit the C&V website and buy the eBook now…or bookmark in your RSS and when you get to your iPad (this looks awesome in the iPad btw…if you read things on the go, this is the way to read it!)  So, how do you save?  Use promo code FOCUS4!  And if that’s not enough of a savings for you, tryFOCUS20to get 20% off a 5-book purchase!  It’s a win-win all around – you help Nicole out with a little coffee cup money, and you get a bucketload of knowledge in the process!  If you’re the money-saving type (and who isn’t these days), make sure you get the book before the deal ends on August 19th at midnight!

Nicole Young: Finding Focus

Ummmm, I Don’t Think So…

WrongOne

Email barrages us every day from people we know and love, trust and respect, sliding all the way down to spam we instantly delete, without even batting an eye.  Where on the scale different types of email lie in your own pile of sorting to do is up to you, but I just got one the other day from an otherwise respected photo resource -onOne Software, touting their latest “Perfect Photo Suite”, and boy did I get a bitter taste when I read through it.  Now don’t get me wrong – I think it’s a great company, and I love a lot of their product line, but this email just rubbed me the wrong way:

WrongOne

Seeing this sort of advertising goes against everything I believe in as a photographer – no matter what the post production software can do, nothing can take a bland picture and make it into art.  The fundamentals simply must be there.  If your composition is lousy, don’t expect any software to “make it right”.  There is no magic button in photography – it’s a matter of developing a style, an inner voice, and an essential foundation of composition that builds your skills and a portfolio.

The message this is promoting is that it’s not the person behind the camera, but rather the camera and the software that make the print.  Sorry onOne, but I gotta throw the red card here (soccer analogy for the rest of you) – this one was the wrong move.  Am I out on a limb here or does anyone else think this is the wrong message to pitch your product?