Things to do to get back into snapping images
In today’s world I of course did the first thing you do when you want information, I opened Google and searched for tips on overcoming photography block. There are numerous pages that provide great tips on things to do to when you can think of anything to photograph. One site I found was 10 ways to break photographer’s block by Haje Jan Kamps. This has some really good tips on how to get you taking pictures and shooting away. One example is the “100 Step Challenge”
The 100 step challenge
The 100 step challenge is one I’ve promoted here on Photocritic before – because it’s one of those things I’ve found work incredibly well indeed. It’s easy: Grab your camera, and start walking. Count your steps. After 100 steps, stop where you are, and where you’re standing, you have to take a photograph.
This works pretty good if your just lacking in the imagination department and want to get back into the swing of things. But to do this I would still have to put down the Xbox controller and get my butt off the couch. So I kept up my search for some information that was a little more directed at what I call “Photographers BLAH!”
I still love taking pictures and seeing the results of a new experiment. It is just the lack of energy, will or whatever it is inside us that makes us get moving that is seriously lacking at the moment.
So once again I reverted to Google and tried another search. This time I stumbled across an article called Don’t Let Lack of Preparation Hold Back Your Photography on http://www.lightstalking.com. This articles covers some great steps on preparing yourself to shoot, so you know your ready for that epic shot you are looking for.
A huge part of taking a successful photograph is preparation. Sure you can be lucky enough to be on the spot at a time when a perfect shot comes up, but that is not going to happen very often. If you want to get consistently good shots, then preparation is the key.
Again this article does great job of helping you get back into taking pictures when either your inspiration is not up to par or your missing a lot of good images because you did not bring the right gear, or show up at the wrong time. But it still doesn’t address my problem of “Photo Laziness”
Search number three netted me the following article that has some really simple techniques to jump start your creative juices. I have to admit that just reading the tips in this article piqued my interest a bit. I felt some of the old motivation creeping back in .
The article is 25 Ways to Jump Start Photography Inspiration on diyphotography, which by the way has a ton of great information for Photographers. One tip I found particularly interesting was tip #24.
24. Shoot an Ordinary Item Seven Times, But Make Each One Unique
This has to be a nice trick to get some inspiration going. Get an (ordinary) object and shoot it. Got the shot? The lighting is OK? The focus? Great! Now start playing with all the parameters of the image. Focus, Angle, Depth of field, Background, Movement. OK, you get the point. try to make seven of those pictures.
That gave me pause to think of how I could shoot anything seven times and make it independently different. You will notice it said “ordinary item”, hmmmmm.
Making ordinary things appear different
After reading this article I went and grabbed my camera and started looking for some ordinary things to shoot that would challenge me to kick start my photo gusto. After looking around I finally went outside and took a little walk. Everywhere I went I found one of the most ordinary things you could find, that would give me a challenge in meeting the 7 different images photo session.It was just a simple ‘Rock’, a pretty rock, but a rock just the same. I didn’t really limit myself to the suggested criteria of “Focus, Angle, Depth of field, Background, Movement.”, but I did use them as a starting point.
This particular rock I found laying next to the driveway. It’s a nice rock, but really how am I going to take 7 unique images of a rock and make them interesting? I had a backdrop setup on a table that I had used recently for an item I was selling on E-bay, so I used that as a starting point. The first thing I noticed is that even placing a plain old rock on a bright colored background adds interest to the subject. This explains a lot.
To keep it simple I got out my Sony Alpha 550 and just used the 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens that came with the camera. I decided to do all the shots without flash, but I did use a small LED flashlight to experiment with a little fill light. I didn’t spend a lot of time editing or fixing things I messed up, like the missed focus point in this first image. My goal was really only to meet the challenge that the article had presented to me.
The Final Results
This was simply an exercise to get back in the mood to shoot again. I placed the rock on the bright blue backdrop that I had on the table and got a baseline shot that is basically a plain rock on a table cloth. It is still a much better image than I would have gotten in the driveway.
Next I took basically the same shot and placed the flashlight above and a little in front of the rock to give a nice fill light effect. It is not a huge change, but it does reinforce the idea that fill light can have a dramatic effect on your images.
For the third shot I did what anyone shooting a rock and needing a new image would do, I flipped the rock on its edge. I know it seems a bit like cheating, but it does give you a different view of the rock. It was at this point that I realized just how hard it was going to be to get 7 independent and unique shots of a plain old rock. It seemed like a simple concept when I partook of the challenge. I do see myself as at least semi creative when it comes to things like this. So I was getting a little frustrated with what to do next.
So for my fourth shot, I sort of bent the rules a little bit and introduced a prop into the image. I had a small box that just happened to be the perfect size for my rock. So I created the “Rock in a Box” image here.
I figured since I had thrown the rules out the window anyway, that a few more props couldn’t hurt. So I pulled out a piece of paper and some scissors and did my take on “Rock Paper Scissors”. These are my only pair of good scissors so I couldn’t show the rock breaking the scissors. But I did consider it for a moment or two.
The phrase “In for a penny, in for a Pound” says it all on the next image.I was really out of things to do with my rock. As a matter of fact, the rock almost went out the window and back into the driveway. I was thinking to myself, “What sort of idiot decides to take 7 shots of a ROCK?”. Then I went outside and had a smoke to think about it, and it hit me. The rock just needs to relax, like I was doing on my smoke break. Wallah!!! Shot #6 appears.
The last two shots here were actually intended to be attempts at creating a ‘floating’ rock. I was going to edit out the flashlight or the plastic cap under the image and make them appear to be floating in mid air. I worked for about 30 minutes on the one with the cap in Photoshop Elements and just could not get it to work the way I wanted. So I said to heck with it. But they do give 2 more views that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise 😉
Are you feeling my pain yet? Do you see my sanity ebbing away slowly? I sure was. But it was then that I realized that I had spent over an hour with my camera in my hand, taking pictures. Framing my shots and thinking about what I was going to do next. Then some time cropping and editing them. Whether I wanted to admit it or not. Step #24 in that article had gotten me over my bout of “Photographers BLAH!”. I was back in the mood to shoot whatever I wanted. I felt once again like I needed to get out of the house and take that one amazing image that I will remember for ever. It hasn’t happened yet, since I am writing this article. But it will, I have faith.
What this proves is that it may only take one simple thing to get us back into the mood for taking pictures. It could be a simple challenge such as the one I just did, or it could be someone asking you to take pictures of their dog. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you get off the couch, pick up your camera and get out into the world and do some shooting. Who knows, it could be you that catches that next great image that will live in infamy.
Keep Shooting Str8!
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