The best of us struggle with fresh ideas when it comes to photography.
What separates the good photographers from the mediocre ones are ideas.
Most common excuses or reasons not to go out and get motivated and use that camera is this:
Oh… That’s been done countless time. I’m better than that.
It’s Newton’s1st Law of Motion which relates to inertia. A body stays at rest or continues in motion in the same direction until another force acts on it.
Inertia is something every photographer needs to overcome. Whether it’s shooting something time and again the same way, the safe way.
Or making excuses not to go use that camera.
We’re creature of habits and often we get set in our ways and don’t try other approaches.
Take a Drive in a Different Vehicle
Sometimes it can be something as easy as taking a drive. I don’t mean in your same old vehicle.
You will be surprised what you can see if you took the same drive you took everyday but in another vehicle that sits higher off the ground.
Until I started driving my GMC Safari van which sits higher than most
sedans, I didn’t realize what a difference a few feet can make.
Now I can really look into other vehicles. That voyeuristic streak aside, now when I’m on the freeway, I can sometimes see beyond the retainer walls into neighborhoods.
Use a Fixed Focal Length Lens
So perhaps all you need to do is to put on a different lens. Lose that kit lens which is so utilitarian and leave a fixed focal length lens on instead.
This forces you to really study your subject, move in closer or step back. Use your legs!
Why is this better? It forces you to really think before you release the shutter.
Use your flash off-camera
An entire blog has been written by Strobist David Hobby about the merits of off-camera flash and its possibilities, so I won’t elaborate further.
On camera flash should be a last resort because it’s unimaginative and dare I say it? Lazy.
What about that pop-up flash? It’s pathetic because of its range. That flash also shortens your battery life.
It makes all your pictures look the same because the direction of the light never changes from picture to pictures especially if you’re shooting on auto.
Have at least a point-and-shoot camera with you at all times
It’s great to challenge yourself to come up with a good picture using a very simple camera.
Focusing is slower, lenses don’t have the range of apertures you’re accustomed to and the shutter release is not as responsive.
You know the limitations, so if you can come back with a good picture, you deserve a pat on the back.
Strive to Use as Little Photoshop as Possible
Before there was digital, what did photographers do? They exposed carefully. Not everyone had the luxury of airbrushing.
They simply finalized the image in the viewfinder. That’s not unheard of.
Those who shot transparency film or slide film did exactly that.
Color corrected with gels, lit with flash and composed precisely so that the image was a full frame as possible.
That is not to say post production techniques are not worthy skills to master.
Even when using HDR, High Dynamic Range, you still need to have a strong image.
Quicktime virtual reality imagery is the same. Using it everywhere just because you know how without thought only makes it gimmicky.
Interior view of Back to the Grind Coffeehouse in Riverside.
Move your mouse over the picture. Click and drag left or right. Use the Shift key to zoom in. Control key to zoom out.
When my students turned in their first panoramas which were images stitched in Photoshop via Photomerge, this was very apparent.
The novelty of Photoshop’s capability made many forget that the end result is a still picture. One that still requires a strong subject. Otherwise it’s just a long skinny picture with no strong subject.
Maybe I left something out but I hope it gets you thinking.
I can’t believe it’s been a week since I last posted. The week long class at Riverside Art Museum for young photographers between ages 9 and up has kept me busy.
Glad I survived it.