Tag Archives: creative

Understanding The Creative Experience in Photographic Art

Part of the creative experience when you are creating art of any kind is to understand when to break the rules. Studying the successful works of the masters before you earns you some of this knowledge; however, this alone does not guarantee success.

People that practice both photography and art like to have rules. But, rules are guidelines. More like suggestions to be contemplated. What makes a rule a steadfast guarantee of success in one photograph will make it an utter failure in another.

No, instead it’s really applying learned academic knowledge combined with the intangible gut feeling of pure instinct over the period of many viewings.   When you are looking at a subject, say a flower, if you purely concentrate on the academic aspects of taking the picture all you will accomplish is taking a clear focused picture.

 

That’s it, and that is harder than what most people realize in the days of iPhone photographers. That’s because the proper academic technique of taking a picture consists of the mathematical measurements of aperture, focus, rule of thirds, white balance and lens selections, the list goes on and on. You either get these right or it’s wrong.

 

The result is a properly formatted picture of a flower. It looks good. But is it art? That’s where so many people get hung up on definitions.

Now let’s look at that flower from a more creative view. When you are viewing the flower what are you trying to express? What vision are you giving your work? Do you want to break any rules to make that image speak the emotion or action you want it too.

Purple Daisy
Purple Daisy

How you come to this is by experimentation and learning what works for what goal you want to accomplish.   For instance, does the flower have to be precisely centered in the picture, or by putting it to one side can you force the viewer to move their attention?

After a while and about 10,000 pictures you begin to develop an eye for what is going to work and what might not. It is not really a conscious thing though.  I mean you don’t wake up one morning and the world suddenly looks different.  Rather, it is a slow process that usually takes years to appear.

However, I daresay you will become as proficient in the creative view of photographic art as the academic photographer does with all of their math and formula.

Mind you, neither side is necessarily better than the other and any photographer worth their lenses will tell you that it takes both the academic and creative approaches to truly the master the art and science of photography.

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What is The Potential of A Photograph?

Some artists start their creative process by looking at a blank canvas. They envision the scene they wish to portray and think on what colors or tools they will need. They may begin with a sketch and some painters even begin with a photograph.

It’s a personal inner vision that tells them what the next step to creating their art is and what they need to do.  Then they use their experience as an artist to tell them how to accomplish it. It really is no different for the photographic artist. As you would expect, it begins with a photograph.

No, wait, it begins even before that. For me, it begins with my camera. I will walk down seemingly endless amounts of garden path and corridors looking for anything that strikes my eye. I look for things that are different, full of color, or makes a statement in some way.  Then I have to ask myself about the angle of the subject, the lighting conditions, and even what settings I might need on my camera. Soon after all that, I take the shot.

Once I have these various tasks done and I’ve finished my picture-taking for the day, I take my undeveloped artistic blueprints to my office.  There I start the mental and physical process of choosing what will work and what will not.

Cameras have limitations, and no camera will always manage the impossible feat of matching the human eye.  So, if I deem 3-10% of the number of pictures I take on a shoot as having some potential, then I’m happy.

I call those pictures a blueprint for that is the best description of what raw unformatted pictures are to a photographic artist. Those pictures are my canvas, or my sketch, and from them I ply my inner artist to create, simplify, expound, and develop my inner vision.

On a recent trip to Florida earlier this year, I found this palm tree flowering in a courtyard. The sun was shining and the sight of this strange flower sufficiently struck my curiosity.  I immediately saw potential with this flower.  This is the raw unfiltered image.

What is the potential?
What is the potential?

At this moment it’s just a picture.  Nothing has been done with it.  As a photographer I could sit here and ponder the exposure, the depth of field , and all of the photographic niceties that make a good picture and traditionalists usually do. But as an artist,  I’m looking beyond the technical at an image that can be transformed into a living work of art.

What kind of potential do you see for this photograph?

This week I’ll use it as my canvas and next week I’ll show you what I see.

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A Day With A Blue Jay

After taking the picture of a blue jay feather on the ground, You walk around some bushes and down a slope to discover this cute creature.  At the time, you may believe that this bird was just a blue jay.  He looks like he was fighting with other blue jays.  Knowing that blue jays are rather territorial this doesn’t strike you as surprising. It’s that time of spring when mating and small hatchlings are beginning to fly about, and you have seen several small baby robins twittering about.

Be excited!  Who doesn’t love to take picture of cute animals and this little guy is simply perched on this low branch right next to you. He’ll spend most of his time checking you out and trying to decide if you’re a threat or just another creature walking by.  This is perfect!  You know the pictures are going to come out great.  You’ve already thought of a space in your office where he can show off your wall.

You notice his body feathers have a ruffled look to them.  His whole body highlighted by the bright sun,, which has revealed itself from behind the clouds and is shining in full force.  You stand still for a short time to watch your new feathery friend scurrying up and down the branches, looking at you, looking at the ground, and then back at you again.  He seems so agitated, but you think he would become an excellent work of art.  You slowly lift your camera and start taking his picture. Soon, he grows tired of you just looking at him with a large camera attached to your face and decides  to head off for more profitable trees.

It was then when a nice lady you met earlier that day, whom one could only describe as being one of those fine examples of a southern Texas belles with her broad brim spring hat and a quiet Texas accent , finds you to give some advice.   She and a friend of hers were wandering the gardens after visiting with you earlier and they discovered a mother blue jay with a tiny chick in a nest nearby.

Imagine your surprise when you discover that the frazzled male blue jay isn’t the victim of a recent fight.  He isn’t disheveled and ragged looking hopping from branch to branch ceaselessly because of his wounds.  Instead, he’s trying to find food constantly.  He’s a new father!

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Summer for the Texas Pansy

Soon my face will wither.

The aging of spring.

To a hot end from cold winter breath.

I quietly seek the bee that will prolong my place.

In the garden, in my flower bedding.

 

Oh sun of day, why transfix me with your gaze.

Cannot you see the tears of dew upon my gentle face?

They mourn even now, as my leaves begin their wilt.

Will I fade so quickly from the scorching heat?

In Texas gardens,  my time is short.

 

Remember me.

 

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5 Reasons to Enjoy Cacti

Growing a cactus is generally a love it or hate it part of the gardening world.  They make some of the best plants to grow and it’s even possible to plant varieties that produce fruit and eaten.

Some of the advantages of cactus in a garden are:

  • Low maintenance –  You really don’t need to worry about watering them everyday.  In the Texas summer when the temperature reach 105° in the shade, the heartiness of  a cactus plant is well suited to the dry and drought  conditions of August.  You do want to generally avoid tall-growing cacti such as a Sedona like cactus due to the intense storms that can roll off of the Great Plains.   A tree branch being torn from a tree in a 70 mph wind gust is bad enough, but an entire cactus with spines?  That’s a little frightening.
  • Little trimming –  Generally, you can let a cactus plant grow as it wishes however, if a cactus ever needs trimming make sure to use heavy work gloves and a good pair of garden shears.
  • Go long periods without nourishment  – Cactus can survive in desert climes with little water and little minerals from dusty and rocky soil.   Miracle-grow isn’t a necessity.
  • Cacti put out fruit that used in various candies and jams –  I learned this 1st hand when I was a student in archaeological field school.  Along with learning how the Native Americans cooked turtles, not for the weak of stomach, we foraged for prickly pear fruit during our time off.   It’s full of moisture and is just the thing when your hot and thirsty.
  • Security –  One of the most overlooked reasons for having a cactus garden is security.  Placing cactus strategically under windows is a great deterrent to a burglar.  Also, you can plant them as a border for other plans in a garden.  They serve as a natural defense against animals like dogs and coyotes.

 

There are some down side to cactus in a garden.

Cacti that receives too much water too much can start to rot and become an invitation to rodents and insects.

The largest deterrent to a cactus garden is pets and small children.  The curiosities of pets  or children child under 10 years old are generally not compatible with cactus.  These critters need to be trained about these plants so that a painful trip to an emergency room or veterinarian is not necessary.

Here is a good website with some further information about cacti:

http://www.thecactusdoctor.com/CactusCareTips.html

http://www.thecactusdoctor.com/Educational_Videos.html

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