Saturday, October 9, 2010

New Techniques to keep creativity alive

Keeping photography “fresh” is all about maintaining an open mind to new techniques. This often means applying already-used techniques in new ways or new situation or to new subject matter. A willingness to experiment this way is the key to maintaining creativity. No one has difficulty falling into a rut. Getting out of that rut requires some effort.

The hardest part for me is taking the time and effort to try something new. For me, creativity requires periodically and consciously coming to a complete halt and taking the time to think and speculate about new possibilities. There has to be a willingness to suspend judgments about the possible outcomes. The time must be taken to execute the new ideas and process the results.

This is the way the standard catalog of photography techniques is expanded. It is how the accepted range of subject matter is enlarged. Occasionally setting time aside for experimentation and to just play around with new ideas is what keeps creativity alive.

The photo illustrating this article is a good example. I went to the local park as usual with the intention of getting my morning walk and perhaps some wildlife or nature photos. For the past few days I have been thinking of changing my profile photo on FaceBook. While on a boardwalk through a forested area, quite dim under the foliage and just after sunrise, I decided to take a few minutes to experiment. For my usual nature shots in these conditions I would use a DSLR at ISO800 on a tripod without flash. I took out my compact Canon G10, set ISO200 and f/5.6 with built-in flash “on”. This gave a meter-recommended shutter speed of ¼ second. Holding the camera at arm’s length, I took a dozen shots while spinning slowly in place. The result was three “usable” photos and a new technique that I will continue to use in a variety of situations and subjects.

I have used camera motion during long exposures before, primarily for panning moving subjects but also to render more dream-like and abstract images of trees. Flash combined with slow shutter is also not a new technique but previously I always had the camera locked down on a tripod combined with second-curtain sync. The result is some new creative excitement and thoughts about how to apply this technique to other situations and subjects.

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