A Slap in the Face

Back in June of this year I got slapped in the face (metaphorically speaking) with a stone cold reality that I did not like:  I’m no longer creating, I’m copying and I’m copying me.  How boring not to mention uncreative.

This thought came to me as I was preparing a weekly post.  I pretty much post my photos chronologically, in the order taken.  That’s the easiest way for me to keep track of photos that I’ve posted.  I don’t know how many of you other than Steve have noticed but my post during most of this year have been on a one year lag, and to the month in many cases.  So, I was preparing a post and I realized the photos were from the same month a year ago and they were from the same location with the same subjects that I had just photographed a few days prior..  That’s when I received the metaphorical slap.

I realized I was just redoing what I had done almost exactly one year ago at the same spot.  It kind of took the wind out of me and made me wonder what the heck I was doing photographically.  I like taking pictures and, to some extent, kind of have to.  But still, doing the same thing over and over is not cool, unless maybe your Claude Monet painting water lilies.  I’m not him, heck I can’t even speak French.

I’d known for quite some time (well in advance of that slap) that I needed to expand my area of interest for photographic subjects.  I certainly haven’t mastered it but I think I’ve done fairly well with my two years of macro photography and there are quite a few areas of photography were I’d like to reach a similar level of competency at minimum.  I’ve mentioned before that I like street photography; the good stuff and I don’t think that all of what is supposed to be street photography is that good.  Just because it’s shot in B&W and the shot was taken on the street doesn’t mean it’s street photography.   I mean under those conditions traffic cameras qualify as street photography.  I’ve said this before too (and I know a couple of other people I follow have expressed this same thought):  I’m too timid to blatantly photograph a stranger as they watch me and I can’t even politely ask if they would mind if I took their picture.  So I’d have to do it surreptitiously or with a long lens.  I’ve done a tiny bit of both but it’s always been in conjunction with some sort of public festival where people are taking pictures anyway.

I also think I’ve mentioned I like taking pictures of buildings but I really need a wider lens than what I have and the post processing to correct perspective distortion is a bear.  I’m not that fond of landscape photography, in fact I find most of what I see rather boring, and I haven’t been that good at what I’ve tried in this area.  I find the majority of the landscape photos I’ve tried just seem to be missing something.  I really don’t know what it is.  On thing I would really really like to be good at is informal, candid portraits, but I haven’t given it much of a try.  Most of all I would just like to be able to see something that catches my eye and that I can turn into something that other people would enjoy viewing.  Just not sure which way to go.

 

Rereading the above two paragraphs I see I’ve thrown in quite a few reasons why I can’t or haven’t explored some of these areas.  Realistically those are just rationalizations to avoid moving outside my comfort zone into areas of possible failure.  I realized that I really had no choice but to start venturing into some of those areas and I did do that in July during a weekend a trip to Chicago.  What better to photograph in downtown Chicago than buildings, and I did that.  Since then I’ve done the same in a couple of other locales outside the St. Louis area and I have snapped at things that just caught my eye.  But, because the subjects are there whenever I need them, I continue to take macro shots; however, not sure what I’ll do during the winter months.

I still have several posts worth of 2015 photos that I’ll continue to share as well as all my photos from this year, the majority of which are macros.  But I will throw in some of the new non-macro stuff I’m trying even though I know I will find it hard not to stay completely chronological.

I guess I could have made a long story short much sooner but here’s the jist of it all.  I am making an effort to expand the types of subjects I photograph and will share those in my posts.  At the same time I am going cut back on macro photography (I really am almost tired of it) which means sometime in the future I may not have enough material for a post each week.  But that’s pretty far down the road after I finish off the 2015 and 2016 photos.

I haven’t figured out when I’ll start incorporating some of the new stuff in the blog yet but hopefully before the end of the year and that’s not that far away.

This has been pretty rambling but I do want to close with one word of advice.  If you are ever feeling kind of down about you photography and think you might go to a web site like Flickr for inspiration.  DON’T DO IT!  Wait until you are in a good frame of mind.  I did it and there were so many fantastic, gorgeous, and wonderfully outrageous photographs by so many amateur photographers that I was in a funk for 4 or 5 days wondering why in the hell I spent so much money and time taking pictures.  Then we had a rain and the next day I was laying down on my stomach in the front yard taking pictures of mushrooms like I had earlier in the year, and the year before.  Hello.  My name is David and I’m a photoholic.

Thank you stopping by and I hope you will enjoy the non-macro photos as I try to learn something new.

David

The one photo in this post was shot with a Nikon D7100 and a Sigma 105mm macro lens, but most of you already knew that didn’t you.
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16 thoughts on “A Slap in the Face

  1. Hi David, yes Flickr can be intimidating! I’d like to branch out too. I don’t make it to NYC as much as I used to, a place which makes street photography somewhat easier because there are so many people and buildings and other sights it’s like a giant festival on an ordinary day. At least that’s what it seems to me. I’ve done some dog photography at our recently opened dog park which has been good. (Posted some photos on FB but may put some up on my non-bug blog some time.) Of course my more pressing goal is to write, but the challenge either way is fostering one’s creativity. I will say that mushrooms shot is great. One winter I’m going to keep it going and finally shoot snowflakes. Not sure if that’s a different enough macro venture to inspire you—or how you feel about snow 🙂 —but it seems like a neat subject.

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    • Thanks Mike. I hope you can get back into writing. I’ve done very little creative writing (mostly for high school and college classes) but what I’ve done was always very satisfying. There’s nothing like being in the zone and the words just come pouring into your brain. A few years ago I used to occasionally read a blog by a guy who, among other things, took snowflake photos. They were pretty amazing but it’s not for me. As a kid I liked snow but a January, overnight “camping trip” at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. kind of cured me of snow.

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      • Thanks, David. I was sort of cured myself of snow, but living in western Massachusetts, there’s usually nothing for it (excepting moving to warmer climes), so maybe I’ll make some use of it. Although, last year we hardly had any snow, so maybe I’m living in the past. Either way I get a little concerned in the colder weather, because the chance for condensation in lenses and the camera body goes up. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself when I’m dreading the cold. I may have to rekindle the dream of finding and photographing snow scorpionflies to get out there.

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  2. Hi David, the accepted motto in photography circles seems to be ‘shoot what you enjoy’ – which usually turns out to be ‘ what you are good at’ …. I recently read an article that reminded me that we can’t be good at everything – even the best photographers specialise in what they are good at. It’s all about what satisfies us in the end isn’t it …. and what we aspire to. Your beautiful fungi image is a joy to view – I only wish I could lay on my tum for such an angle! Anyway – I wish you well in your artistic endeavours David.

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    • Thank you Eileen. I do enjoy macro photography but I’m starting to embarrass myself by just repeating what I’ve done before. I’ve been trying new subjects and I like it but, unlike my macro subjects, they are more difficult to find. Not sure how I’ll take care of my photo cravings this winter. Maybe I’ll just hibernate, photographically speaking. 🙂

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  3. I love your mushrooms David! I get in slumps myself and what’s even harder is that I am a landscape photographer. I do other things but that’s my primary interest. i don’t think it’s bad to stick with one thing but it gets difficult to present the same subject in different ways. Take the Golden Gate. I obviously love photographing it but I have to be creative with the ways I choose to photograph it otherwise you’re right, it can get mundane. Even a wondrous thing like that! I always look around for photographs I enjoy and wonder how they create them. I analyze them to see if I can detect the techniques both in camera and post processing. Once I try to figure it out I then take those things I notice and try to implement them in my own way. It helps me to learn. Take things that make you smile and make your heart sing. Whatever you like looking at is probably what you would enjoy taking. For me, I’m not a people photo person and I don’t care for street photos therefore I don’t take them or look at them hardly at all. Seems like you enjoy the macros to me. And color. But what do I know. I hope you find your heart’s calling. We all get in slumps. Hope yours is short-lived.

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    • Thank you Laura, I appreciate your encouraging words. I’m out of my funk now, I waited a few months before mentioning it because I didn’t want to say I was going to try new things and then not do it. My only problem now is finding those different things to photograph, but I do have some non-macro photos coming up in the future.

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    • Thank you for the 500PX suggestion Donna. I agree with your comments on street photography. I think many people might be mislead by the apparent simplicity of the really good photos and think it looks like it would be something easy to do.

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  4. Great post as I think it is something everyone goes through. I’m glad to hear that you are through your funk now and I look forward to your new material, although your mushrooms are beautiful! I know for me I’m still learning and although I most enjoy wildlife and landscapes, I’ve been trying other things to mix it up. The creative process is what makes me happy.

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