Category Archives: Creative
Nancy Rotenberg’s book, “Photography and The Creative Life”, is one of my most cherished books, a book I refer to often. It is full of inspiration and passion, Nancy’s passion. It is not a book about technique, f/stops or shutter speeds. In fact, she does not even caption her magnificent images. She would rather you decide what they mean to you. Nancy was my mentor, friend and advisor. She alone is responsible for pushing me kicking and screaming into leading photography workshops. And while cancer took Nancy much too early, her spirit remains and is ever present in my walk with photography and the creative life.
With the holiday season upon us, might I suggest you pick up a copy of this book and read it. Don’t read it once, read it twice and then read it again. For those who have heard my Dream, Believe, Create lecture, you will quickly understand where much of my inspiration comes from.
I’m interested to hear what you have to say about the idea of ”Photography and The Creative LIfe”. What do you do to tap into your creative side? What can you share that will help others live a more creative life?
Let me start. I believe we all have F.U.D., fears, uncertainties and doubts. We carry these around with us as we try to be creative. Most times they are like big bricks in our camera bags weighing us down. For me, I did not believe I had a creative bone in my body. Heck, I couldn’t even draw a stick figure. How on earth could I be a creative photographer? As such, I had to look through everyone else’s viewfinder to know what a good image looked like. I would try to find a good subject, but I never felt like mine was as good as Dan’s or Bill’s or Ferrell’s or Tony’s….. My breakthrough came in 2004, when I went to South Africa for a workshop with Freeman Patterson. I went with my friend Ferrell McCollough and learned just before the trip that Nancy was going to be a participant as well! Can you imagine my excitement?! As Ferrell and I were exiting the plane in South Africa, he said. “John I have challenge for you.” What would that be, I asked? ”On this trip, you will not be allowed to look through anyone else’s viewfinder. I want you to come home believing you are a good photographer and can see worthy images all on your own.” I’m not going to lie, this scared me to death. A trip of a lifetime to South Africa with my hero Freeman Patterson and Nancy happens to be on this trip too and I can’t look through her viewfinder to make sure I’m going to get images like hers?!?! I took Ferrell up on his challenge. It was hard, however, I came home with images that forever changed the course of my journey with photography. Images that were mine! Images that I created. But more importantly, I realized I was creative. I could do this without looking through anyone else’s viewfinder!
The blog image was created on this trip. It is a montage or “slide sandwich” as we called them in the film days. One image is of the dancing girl on the rocks in the tiny town of Nourivier. The other is a multiple exposure of the wonderful flowers in Freeman’s beloved fields This creation captures the essence of my journey to South Africa. I went to be with Freeman to learn about the creative techniques he is so well known for. Things like slide sandwiches and multiple exposures. I ended up falling in love with and being taught a valuable lesson by the people in South Africa, especially those from Nourivier. It was in Nouriver that I learned to “dance” as Nancy would say. It seemed natural that I should combine the two images to create a third. Every time I see this image, I smile. It hangs in my office as a constant reminder of this trip and more importantly, as a reminder that I am creative.
Nancy’a book is hard to find, however, her daughter Marci has some left. You can contact Marci at email@example.com.
A girl in Nouriver South Africa
Fuji X-Pro1 – 14mm Fuji lens
Another from our wonderful morning in Cape May. The sky was simply amazing.
A big thank you to all those who support the webinars I do for Topaz. Yesterday we had another full house, thanks! The recorded version is available to watch on YouTube NOW! I will have a link on my TUTORIALS page as well where you’ll always be able to find it for later viewing.
The other day Stephan made a great suggestion. He suggested I do a texture treatment similar to the one I did on the inverted tree image on the multiple exposure version. Great idea! See below.
While in New Hampshire, my tour partner Dan was drawn to this particular scene. At first, I thought it would make a strong b&w but then I thought it might be even better with texture. To make this happen, I used the INVERSE command to make the base image a negative of the original (see below) and then I used my favorite tools for texture work, Totally Rad’s Dirty Pictures along with FlyPaper Textures. For a discount on either of these please go to my discount page by clicking here.
Inverted image CMD I in Photoshop
Original b&w image
Back in Trinidad. I was setting up this scene when I saw the beautiful taxi and quickly grabbed the shot. I didn’t see the motorcycle behind him with the exhaust pouring out the tailpipe. I think that adds so much to this scene. I used my Topaz Lomo style processing in Topaz Adjust 5 which I feel fit this scene very well.
Below is my first Cinemagraph! I know its dark and corny, but I just wanted to do one! Pretty easy to do really, just follow Mark’s short video tutorial that I posted along with the post yesterday. I can see these being really fun to do!
The terrace that Hemingway writes about in “The Old Man and the Sea” is the La Terazza Bar in Cojimar, about 20 minutes from downtown Havanna. Cojimar is a very interesting, small fishing village. This particular home is near the end of the main street. The gentleman was kind enough to let us take his picture while sitting in the colorful entryway of his home.
I have a couple of things I want to share today.
1. Be sure to head over to Tony Sweets blog today to see his stunning floral photography with his new D800E.
2. Mark S. Johnson’s post today is about how to create a cinemagraph. What is a cinemagraph? Take a look at these on the Ann Street Studio Blog. I’m going to give one a try today and will share the results in a future blog post. Looks like great fun!
I photographed this car last year. I loved the Lafayette sign above it. I’m pretty sure the car has not moved since last year. It was very dirty and seemed to be in the very spot I found it previously. I was not going to photograph it again and then, like I spoke about in a previous post, I thought, what can I do differently. I moved across the street and this time and included the woman. Last year, when photographing cars, I was all about clean scenes without people. This is something I’m prone to do. My comfort zone is clean images without people. Add to this, my negative self talk which has been, I’m not a “people photographer.” As such, I’ve never been comfortable photographing people. I envy those who are. We had a few on this trip who I’ve learned from. While this is not really a “people picture” adding the human form is new for me and I’m very happy with it. I think it adds to the image.
How about you? Do you stay in your comfort zone? Is it hard to try new things? What did you do to beat that demon?
Can you tell I’m having fun revisiting my San Miguel trip in 2006? Sometimes its not necessary to include the actual subject. In the case of the lead image, I excluded it and photographed just the shadow. I like the simple graphic created by the color and shadow. In the image below, I included both the lamp and shadow. And much like the recent discussion about what to include and not include, I decided to include just a bit of the door and feature the lamp and shadow.
As the cold settles in, I decided to warm up with a look at some old flower images. This particular image is a favorite that I’ve used for presentations. This time, I used different processing techniques, learned watching a recent Nik Webinar. I used filters I’ve not used before in Color Efex 4.0. I really like the soft glow I was able to add while keeping the center sharp. For final detail work I used the new Topaz Detail 3 which is just wonderful. Today is the last day to get 40% off of all Topaz software. Click on this LINK and use the code topaz2012