Still Looking For my Creativity

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Saturday, February 15, 2020

It has been so long, I almost forgot how to get into my blog to write about this short adventure.  It is a rare thing for me to only be on my second trek in a month on the 15th.  Normally, I have been at least four or five times by this point and have added a great many images.  That just isn’t the case this month it seems.  I have been in a bit of a creative slump and have had a lot of other things going on in the background which means that I have had very little energy to put towards my photography.  There have been very few good days as well, but I could have been out any number of times thus far.  It just seems that I don’t have the umph to create new images right now.  That is not uncommon at all among photographers, and it has happened to me several times over the years.  It is no fun, but it is part of the experience that has to be accepted.

Since my last attempt at some pictures, I have been trying to spark my creativity by thinking about new and different subjects to shoot, different ways of shooting familiar subjects, and just trying to get my eyes, brain, and heart coordinated to where I can “see” compositions again.  It has been an uphill battle to put it lightly, and I just haven’t had that urge to go out and do anything with the camera pretty much since the end of January.  I don’t know how long it will last, but I’m not over it yet I don’t think.  I was able to get a couple of images captured today though which is a good sign of what might be to come in the future.

After missing my opportunity at good weather over the last few days due to some other commitments and some other large decisions going on, I was left with a morning I could go out where there was not a cloud in the sky.  Normally, I would just pass this day by, but having been out of touch with the camera for so long, I felt that I needed to go out and try something, even if it didn’t turn out fantastic.  I just needed to work on getting my eye back more than anything.  Knowing that the clouds were going to be nonexistent, I was counting on being out early and getting that early warm light at golden hour and then packing it in shortly after 8:30am when the sun got too high in the sky to be flattering light.  I was prepared to deal with shadows and was looking forward to maybe doing some high contrast black and white if a subject presented itself.

As I was getting ready for bed, I started to plan out my locations for the day.  Since Spring has not quite added any real color to the landscape just yet, I figured that I would do better working with some downtown compositions using the buildings and geometry there to make the images that I was after.  I considered looking for some rural settings, but I was actually pretty tired of doing the barn hunting thing and didn’t want to go out on a long and tedious drive in the hopes of finding something that was lit well and worth stopping for.  Downtown gave me the opportunity to work in the shade, or in the open light with shadows and hard lines available.  It was something that I don’t shoot all that often so I was hoping that I could get a little spark of creativity from the subject matter I might find.

I started out before sunrise in case I could find something to benefit from the colors of sunrise along the horizon.  It didn’t take me long to get downtown and I started to look for something that caught my eye.  I started out towards Art For Art’s Sake since I had attempted to shoot that area a week or so ago without any success.  There was an old garage by the gallery that had caught my attention, but I wasn’t ready to shoot a picture of it just yet.  When I got there, I started to look at possible compositions and found that the one that I liked had a telephone pole in the middle of the view with a large construction sign on it.  That was not what I had in mind at all so I kept on searching.  I tended to stay in the outer edges of Downtown so that I could maybe get a little bit of an older subject to work with.  It wasn’t looking good though and I was seeing absolutely nothing that I was interested in photographing.

About the time I was ready to call it quits and head off to something else, I saw the back of a business located around 1st St and Westdale which caught my eye.  There was a lone staircase on the back side with a really nice decayed look to the siding of the building.  It had the geometry that I was looking for, and if I was lucky, I would be able to get the sun to hit it and provide some nice shadows.  I pulled into the parking area and got out to see if I could get something to work.  I checked out the angles and found a couple that might work for me, at least good enough to get my gear out and try to capture something.  I went ahead and mounted my 24-70mm lens since I wasn’t needing anything overly complex for this composition.  I mounted it to my tripod and dropped it to about knee level to get the perspective that I was after.  I looked at the scene to see if any filters would be necessary and decided that there was really no need at all for any filters which would make this a very straightforward image.

Failing Facade“, Canon 5D Mk3, 24-70mm f/2.8L Mk2, No Filters

I started out with a horizontal composition but quickly decided that the path my eyes were going was not horizontal in nature, but vertical.  I flipped the camera on its end and went with a portrait orientation.  I liked the composition better almost immediately.  I backed the camera up and zoomed in to get a little tighter focal length to even out the stairs and that made it even better.  I played with the height of the camera until the railing corresponded with the line of stairs on the inside.  My outer framing for the image was dictated by the posts of the railing and the upper fencing of the porch which gave some natural visual boundaries so that the eyes would stay focused on the stairs and the textures on the wall.  It was just a matter of waiting for the light at this point.  As the sun was coming up, I was able to see that there was no way that this section was going to get any direct light due to a building that was in the way of the section of the building.  I wasn’t going to get the high contrast that I was after with this one, but there was enough visual interest that I thought that I could still make an interesting image from the scene.  I went ahead and waited until the light was balanced and shot a few frames which I figured would become a monochrome image in Lightroom.

As it turned out though, I didn’t care for it in black and white.  It needed more shadows to really work out.  However, it did look pretty good as a color image with the warm tones of the building coming through the painted portions.  It really helped the mood to have the color reference I thought, and the geometry was just what I had in mind.  I worked on the image for a while dealing with the color balances to get them just right which wasn’t the easiest thing considering that the subject was in the deep shadows on a clear blue sky day.  I was able to create an image close to what I had in mind and it was reasonably well put together.  It is hard for me to know for sure though since my heart still isn’t in my photography currently.  It was a start though, and that was something.

When I had gotten through with this area, I was pretty sure that downtown wasn’t where I needed to be.  I knew that there was a barn in the area of Union Cross that had a blooming tree by it that I wanted to check out, so I started out that way.  It wasn’t long before I arrived and started to search for the barn.  The problem was, I didn’t remember exactly where I had seen it.  To make a long story short, I didn’t go down far enough, and I missed it.  The lighting wasn’t all that great so I wasn’t worried about it.  I actually did see an old wagon between two trees that look promising in the morning light.  The only problem here was there was nowhere to pull the truck off the road, and it was too early in the morning to ask for permission to use the driveway and get in the yard for the best composition.  I had to let that one go, but at least I was thinking about some interesting compositions and that made me happy.

It was about time to call it a day as the sun was rising in the sky, but I wanted to go and try one other location before I stopped for the day.  It was a couple of trees that I had seen off of Old 311 near the construction area.  I thought that with the low sun and the clear blue sky that I might be able to get a decent image of the trees.  When I arrived there, the trees were looking decent, and the background wasn’t too cluttered at all.  I pulled off the road and walked a little closer to the trees and found that I had a simple composition that I liked developing.  I went back to the truck and grabbed my wide angle 16-35mm lens.  I was wanting to deepen the sky a bit with a polarizer, but I knew that I would have some terrible banding from the effect if I tried that filter.  I decided to make this my second shoot of the morning with no filters at all.

A Pair Divested“, Canon 5D Mk3, 16-35mm f/2.8L Mk2, No Filters

I walked back out closer to the trees and started to frame up an image.  I had the camera just below eye level to get the separation that I wanted in the image and started to frame up a vertical composition.  I liked that I was able to fill the frame with the trees, but I didn’t like how it was looking at all.  I wanted to see a horizontal attempt to see if that would be any better so I flipped the camera.  It seemed to work out better than the vertical, but I had a lot more of the bland blue sky in the frame now.  There were a few contrails and some very thin high clouds that I could just make out which I was hoping would give just enough interest to the sky to make the composition work.  The warm light of the low sun was fading quickly and the trees were losing that glow that I wanted to capture.  I was able to get a handful of shots exposed before the light was gone.

My intention for this image was a black and white one since the main subject was a pair of trees with great structure and textures.  When I brought this image into Lightroom, I didn’t like the black and white image at all with the blue sky behind the trees.  It would have worked on a cloudy or foggy day, but not on a clear day, not at all.  I almost trashed the image but decided to bring it in as a color image to see how that would look.  I liked how this was looking much better from the start.  I did some subtle changes to the colors and saturation before I was happy with how it was looking and finalized the image.  Again, it wasn’t an earth shattering image by any stretch, but I kind of liked it, and Toni who is the resident tree expert said that she liked it as she walked by the office.  That was enough to decide to keep it in my collection.

I think I was out around two hours or so this morning and shot 18 images from two locations.  I wasn’t thrilled with either of them, but I knew that part of that was the fact that I just wasn’t feeling my best creatively and I couldn’t let my own emotional connection with the images dictate too much when it came to what images to keep and which ones to throw away.  I’m happy that I processed these two and am reasonably happy with how they turned out.  I am just really hoping that in time I will come out of this slump and start getting excited about creating images once again.

Thanks for joining me, and I do hope that you enjoyed the two images here.

Until next time…