Sunday, July 15, 2012

Treasures of Imperfection

One of my favorite places to visit with my camera is Cline's Country Antiques in Mt. Pleasant, NC, affectionately known as "The Junk Farm".  You can find all manner of unusual and interesting items here, many of them in stages of deterioration.  It is the perfect place to photograph textures as rusty items and peeling paint abound. In fact the chair and the old tricycle on pages 122 and 123 of The Creative Photographer were photographed at Cline's Country Antiques.

Why photograph old things? I talk about my feelings about old things on page 122 of The Creative Photographer: 

"Old things seem to hold the energy of all those who held them or beheld them.  They have a story, a history.  They were once useful or meaningful, and now they have been left to disintegrate.  They can remind us of the inevitable journey of the human body.  Keep your eyes open for these hidden treasures of imperfection.  Visit an old junkyard and look at the junk in a new way.  Think about the "life" it had before it was discarded.  Photograph these things in such a way that you focus on the beauty in their degeneration."

And, if you don't have space to collect and store old things in your home, making photographs of them is a fun way to start a collection.  I have a great collection of old chairs which I have made into a Tag Book, and after my last visit to Cline's Country Antiques, I now have enough photographs of rocking horses to start a new collection!  What might you like to start a photograph collection of?

How about a show of hands?  (Also found at Cline's!)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer and Slow Photography

Once photography was no longer my daily business, I slowly began to use it as a way to find myself again.  When my cameras were my "work tools" I found I wanted a break from them when I wasn't working and so I found that I only made photographs for myself when I was away from my daily life.

Now I often find myself content to sit watching something with my camera on my lap waiting for the intuitive connection between my subject and myself.  But I wasn't always able to allow myself to slow down and do this.

To get to this place of "slow photography" I suggest in the Exploration on page 134 of The Creative Photographer that you:

"put on music that speaks to you, perhaps something without words to distract you and loud enough to drown out any other noises.  Then, take your camera and sit in front of an object you have decided you want to photograph.  Take a photograph of this object every five minutes for an hour (a total of 12 images).  In between, just look at the object, contemplate it, and listen to the music."

Doesn't that sound like a perfect way to spend a summer day?

In addition I suggest you "think about where the object came from, how many hands it passed through to get to you, whether it has been touched by the sun or the earth, by ocean, river or stream.  Think about its symbolic meaning ..."

After all, as Jan Phillips so eloquently reminds us: "We photographers are poets in the language of symbols."

(And if you want to know what the Buddha is holding, it is a stone with the words "Embrace Love" stamped on the stone)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

New Perspectives

In Chapter 6 of The Creative Photographer the focus is on changing your perspective by getting closer to your subject.  This reminds me of the way I aim to be in my life when I am overwhelmed by my never-ending "to-do" list - I simplify by focusing on one thing at a time which allows me to be truly present to what it is I am doing.  I find I enjoy things much better that by doing this and often wonder why it took me so long to realize that you can really only focus on one thing at a time!  You'd think a photographer would intuitively know that!

This past weekend I took time out from our family reunion to look around my sister-in-law's beautiful garden in Virginia Beach and got closer to the color and shape and wonder that is present in flowers.  I used my macro lens (which gave some interesting effects as it fogged up in the 104 degree weather).  I became totally mesmerized at these miniature worlds within worlds.

On page 104 of The Creative Photographer I talk about the captivating essence of flowers in the Exploration called "Flower Power":

"There is so much beauty in flowers.  Once you start photographing them, you can become enchanted by the perfect details, the color, and sometimes the minute life forms that live in them.

Get down to the level of the flower as if you were having a conversation with it.  Get as close as your camera will allow.  Look at the background.  Is it simple and uncluttered?  What color is it?  Does the color enhance the flower or detract from it?

I love blurred backgrounds with images of flowers.  Flowers are primarily about color and shape, and blurring the background - and even parts of the flower - allow us to focus on the color and form.  If your camera has an Aperture Priority mode, this is a great time to use it.  Set your camera to its smallest f/stop (which equates to its largest lens opening), such as f/2.8 or f/5.6."