Bringing into being.

fresh out of the nest

fresh out of the nest

Many of my students want to take "more creative" photos. At first this may seem like something you can do by applying a colorful filter or by shooting at a quirky angle. But eventually these “creative techniques” fall sort and when the novelty wears off you are back in your visual rut.  This is because you have remained one step removed from the true creative process. I can tell you how I step into the creative flow. It is simple  and you can do it if you take the time. Creative photos come from connecting to your subject. How do you do that?

First step is to be fully in the world. Being in the world takes time. Slow down and settle into your surroundings. Take three whole minutes to really see where you are without expectations. What do you actually see in the distance, mid range and close to you? What catches your eye? What touches your heart? What do you feel? Stay with that. Observe it, appreciate it, connect to it. Don’t photograph it.

From this point of connection you will notice something fresh and can bring into being an image that expresses your new experience of beauty. In his book The Courage to Create, Rolo May tells us that creativity enlarges human consciousness by bringing something new into being.  You can do this by simply bringing your being into your seeing before you click. You will see the creative difference in your photos and in your Self when you take time to create a connection by being with your subject. Give it a try!

depth of field depth of feeling

Students often ask me how they can create more of a feeling of depth in their images. Photographing a meadow across from my home in PA I suddenly realized why I have photographed this same scene a thousand times. Because it has depth. It attracts and holds my attention in three ways.

1. interesting subjects in foreground, mid ground and back ground.

2. three levels of details, small blades of grass, medium size flowers, and large trees.

3. psychological depth, the dark area of the forest in the distance evokes a feeling of mystery. For me is a bit scary, and I wonder what might be lurking in those woods. Perhaps a bear?

The technical challenge in creating a sense of depth is to use a small aperture (large number) so the details are in sharp focus in the foreground, mid ground and background.  To accomplish this in the soft early morning light, you might need a tripod. The smaller aperture setting will let in less light, so you need longer exposure. 

You can see I also used the rule of thirds in my composition, one third meadow, two thirds forest. When you are successful in creating a feeling of depth, the viewer wants to visually walk right into the image and explore. Rather than feeling flat, there is dimension.

Spring is the perfect time to practice your landscape skills. I invite you to find a spot, sink in deeply and capture the deeper feeling of the place. Visual and emotional depth are a perfect mindful antidote to our fast pace daily life. Enjoy!

Seeing One Thing Becoming Beauty

Spring Bud.jpg

Spring is just arriving in Boston. Slowly, slowly, small buds are appearing and possibilities are emerging. I really love to photograph nature in this state. What will it become? Will this bud be a leaf, a blossom, a branch? It does not really matter. I just want to see it for what it is in this moment. I won’t be back on this path again so what it is becoming will remain unknown to me. I only know what it is today. And that is more than enough.

I love to isolate my subject so I can really focus attention on one thing at a time. To do this I simply stop, center, start. Stop and appreciate what is right in front of me. Center my breath and attention, and then start to focus my camera on the simplest subject possible. Try using a shallow depth of field setting like f4.5 so the background will blur out. Remember, you need to have your camera close to the subject and the subject far from the background. It is also helpful to use manual focus since the camera may have difficulty locking on a single stick.

I love the subtle gradation of color in the background of this image. There were thousands and thousands of sticks just like this one that I blurred into a soft background. Next time you are in the middle of many flowers, many trees, many people, see if you can choose just one and simply see that one living thing becoming beauty before your very eyes. Magic.

Sometimes what is in the way, is the way.

I am out in the Bay Area this week and the weather is wonderful. I have be able to get out and do some nature photography of salt marshes, and the bay. I happened to be in a parking lot under a bridge just as the sun was setting yesterday. I tried and tried to find a spot to stand where I could get an unobstructed view of the setting sun.

It was impossible with the bridge in the way. I was running out of time as the sun was setting quickly. Suddenly it occurred to me the bridge was not in the way, it was the way. The way to capture the beauty of this specific sunset. The bridge supports were actually strong, simple shapes, so I stopped trying to work around them and used them to frame the scene. I then started photographing the bridge instead of the sunset and liked those photos the best. (see on instagram)

So here is an idea for you to try. Next time you can’t get rid of something from the scene, or life, see if you can turn it to your advantage. Shift your mindset and vantage point to see it as essential to what makes this moment unique. You can see more of my photos from this trip on my instagram account so follow along there.

Have a great weekend! Suzanne

instagram: curioussoulphotoschool

Private photography course enrollment for the Spring 2019 series is now open. Contact me for course information and tuition. 4 spaces available.

Looking Forward Looking Back

nightportraite.jpg

Since it gets dark so early now, I have decided to focus on night photography for a while. I love to seek out existing light at night and see what can be created. You do need fast glass to do a shot like this, that is a lens with capability to open to F 2.8. This allows enough light in to shoot without a tripod. You have to push the ISO up to about 2000 which creates a gritty feel, but I love that.

This image has not be photo shopped. It was taken by a security light on a building in an empty parking lot. I had my subject face me with the light striking just one side of her face. But the right eye was totally in the dark so I had her turn just enough until I could see the catch light in both eyes. Then I took two shots and we were done. I used my Sony Alpha 6000 and my F1.8/50 prime lens.

I like the feeling of the face being half in the light and half in the dark. Feels like the moment we turn from the past to the future. Perfect way to begin the new year. Looking forward to spending more time in the dark while looking toward the light. Happy New Year to You.

Suzanne

Nothing Special

Minimalist Composition

Minimalist Composition

This morning I woke up to fog and snow. The perfect combination for my favorite type of photography. Macro minimalist. To just slow down and focus on a single detail is very relaxing. I love to just stand still in one spot and slowly scan the area for any little thing that can become the center of attention. I use a shallow depth of field like 4.5 to blur out everything except the one thing I want to appreciate. And suddenly, the most ordinary thing is transformed from nothing special to a show stopper. Yes, one leaf on one twig is photo worthy.

And the best thing is it is a mindful moment that requires nothing but your full attention. I wish you happy holidays and hope you find something special to enjoy every day. I am taking a few weeks off to focus on my photography and design new programs for next year. So check back in a few weeks and see what’s new. Suzanne

Information - Knowledge - Wisdom

Night Photography Class Cambridge MA

Night Photography Class Cambridge MA

Do you ever feel stressed by information overload? There are thousands of tip, tricks, filters, fixes, and gear to help you take better pictures available through YouTube videos, classes, e-books, and more. But if you don’t put into practice what you already know, you will never feel happy with your photos. You will keep jumping from one technique to another in search of ….. something else.

It may seem like a contradiction for an educator like myself to say learn less, but what I mean is go for QUALITY rather than QUANTITY of information. Then turn that information into knowledge by practicing it and applying it until you don’t even have to think about it.

Then knowledge becomes wisdom. You intuitively sense how to simply BE a photographer when you SEE something that takes your breath away. And you will see beauty everywhere every day. It is this experience of BEING IN SEEING that offers the greatest reward, we discover something about our world and our self in the moment we click.

What is one thing you learned this year you can focus on and practice, practice, practice?

If you would like to spend some time with me focusing on what matters most, I am now scheduling private sessions for 2019. I can help you create a learning path that cuts thru the clutter and keeps you growing forward as a photographer step by step. Contact me directly suzanne@curioussoulphotos.com

Gift Certificates also available for purchase on the Curious Soul Photo School website.