Monthly Archives: September 2013

Creative Breakthroughs


Photojournal entry for the Find Your Eye course.
I am struggling with the exercise to identify creative breakthroughs leading to my favorite photos. In nearly all cases, the photos are a result of taking my camera out to see what I could see, poking around and playing and experimenting. Not that it hasn’t led to some photos I really love, but I’m having difficulty calling anything a breakthrough because I rarely go back and try to deliberately recreate effects. There are clearly technical breakthroughs–composition and technique are always improving with practice, but everything stylistically feels pretty haphazard.

It’s becoming clear to me that I am more of a process person than a product person. I have plenty of photos on my computer that I haven’t done more than flip through once when I downloaded them. (Don’t tell anyone, but there are actually some sessions I have never completely looked through. I took 1100+ photos at the zoo once…I will pay you to come sort them for me.) This is the first time I’ve analyzed what specifically I like about my favorite photos, so it’s time I build on those and start having some breakthroughs!

Photo Regrets

Photojournal entry for the Find Your Eye course.
In thinking about photo mistakes and missed opportunities, very few specific instances leap to mind, generally with photo mistakes I’m momentarily disappointed but it’s quickly overcome by the next batch of photos. I also like Gary Winograd’s quote, when asked how he felt about missing photographs while he reloaded his camera with film, he said “There are no photographs while I’m reloading”. Sometimes I want just BE, rather than be taking photos.

The most memorable mistake for me is taking photos at a wedding reception, only to find when I got home that they were all shot at ISO 1600. Not that it mattered, since I wasn’t actually the wedding photographer, but there is still some residual trauma there. I’m going to need some therapy first if I ever want to shoot weddings.

blur example

Exhibit A–shooting with too low a shutter speed. 1/20 sec, at f/3.2, ISO 200.

I know what is easily my most common mistake though–shooting handheld at too low a shutter speed (see Exhibit A). I occasionally remember to check it, and I’m getting better at remembering, but that only counts if you don’t wander off to a shader spot later. But a few months ago I found out about the existence of the Auto ISO setting. I suspect that when I first got my DSLR, I read through the manual and didn’t recognize what having it on would mean. All brain cells were occupied trying to recall whether high f-stop or low f-stop gave you the shallow depth of field, ISO was something I never remembered and never varied.

Now I generally leave Auto ISO on and a minimum shutter speed of 350, because I still frequently shoot distracted, and a somewhat noisy photo is at least usable, where a blurry one…not so much.

Photo Inspiration File

Photojournal entry for the Find Your Eye course.
In reviewing my favorite photos, I find there is a big difference for me between ‘Wow, this photo turned out awesome!” and “I THINK I’M IN LOVE!!!!”. I am more than a little dismayed to find that the photos I am most proud of are not the ones that really stick with me. I don’t quite know what to do with that. I am also having a hard time telling which photos I am just bored with because I’ve spent so much time looking at them.

Anyhow, I’m going to ignore my inner turmoil about the photos that aren’t quite my favorite favorites, and look at the ones I know I love. Different ones will probably be my favorite tomorrow anyhow.

DSC_0643-Edit-EditThis first one has been a favorite for a really long time. I love the light, and the way the rocks are lit in layers, and absolutely especially that bird–the wings, the backlight, that perfect moment.


DSC_0203-2This one I love for the motion, the blur and painterly feel. I was trying to decide if the clipping of the wings bothered me, but really it doesn’t. I think the balance between the white bird and the light reflecting water is nice.

DSC_0471This one is the underside of a mushroom of some kind. More an abstract than anything else, I think it’s the waving line of the edge that catches me. Plus the sliver of detail in the under bits.


IMG_2565This photo is all about the light. Backlighting and glowiness.


IMG_2706OK, this one just makes me laugh. I can’t believe this wound up in my favorites, but I kept coming back to it. See that time stamp in the lower right? It was a snap of the ground while I was testing an app that I ended up hating and never used again. But somehow it has ‘mood.’ Is that a thing? Mood along with texture and line? Really I have no idea why I like it so much.


IMG_3126Again back to light, with the shallow depth of field and glowiness.


DSC_0096Starting to see some themes here…again with the motion, the blur, the painterly feel. Also birds. I have a thing for birds. And the periwinkle colors are my favorite thing about the beach at dawn.


IMG_2742This is one of very few of my photos that I would say have the feel of having a story. To me it feels like ‘waiting’. And, I know you’re surprised, I do love the lighting.


IMG_3572This one is all mood. The silhouette of the hawk, and the sort of foggy surrounding. This was my favorite photo for quite a while, it just recently lost out to this next one.


IMG_4372This is my current favorite photo. Again this one I would call ‘mood’. The shallow depth of field (well, really the post-processing but whatever), with the cracking paint and the deep red of the roses. And I really like the curve of the fence.

So there we go. Looking for themes, there’s a lot of blur and sort of painterliness, whether shallow depth of field, or motion, or post processed. There are clearly a lot of birds and glowy lighting. And finally, what I am going to call moodiness; I haven’t taken many of these, but the ones I have I really do like.