Firing The Creative Mind - Part 2: Letting Go Of Judgement
there is more to mindfulness and self awareness. There are two other aspects, in fact, that are equally important, and both of which play a huge part in how I approach photography and I think should play a big part in how you approach photography, too. One of those aspects is judgment. Now, by definition, photography is judgmental. Put a camera to your eye, and instantly you start making judgments. The light is good or bad. That's a judgment. The subject is boring. That's a judgment. One of my favorites. I need a better camera That's a judgment or a wish, but then wishes a judgmental, too. Photography involves making judgments, but every time you write a subject off, you're creating a barrier to creativity. So the fewer judgments you make, the better your photography will be. Those of you who know me know that I believe there's no such thing as good light. Sure, there's the Golden hour, that time of day that landscapers live for. And yes, for some landscape photography, you could say g...
olden light is good light. But if you're trying to capture a full blown storm, for example, is no good at all. The truth is all light is good light if you know what to do with it and stop judging it. So rather than, say, the lights bad, which is judgmental, Ask yourself. How can I best use this light that's creative? Rather than, say the subjects boring? Ask yourself, What can I find interesting about this subject that's creative Now, by way of example, I've set myself a challenge. I grew up in Lincolnshire, which, if you didn't know, is best known for its cabbages and these potatoes. It's a flat agricultural county that photographically requires a huge amount of one's imagination is often referred to as England's Idaho, which may be unfair. I don't know. I've never been to Idaho. My challenge is to visualize and create a single image that captures the spirit of the place. My very first step before I even consider cameras and lenses and composition is to put aside my deep seated judgment held since I was a 10 year old kid, that there's nothing to photograph in Lincolnshire. The first aspect of approaching a seemingly photographically challenge subject is to really consider the underlying story and find the beauty in it. Lincolnshire is renowned for its flatness. And because of that driving around, one of the things I've become acutely aware of is how the skyline is constantly punctuated by, among other things, electricity pylons. They're everywhere now. How often would you think to take a landscape photograph, where electricity pylons are the main subject? They're ugly. Eyesore is right. No wrong. That's all thinking. Remember, pylons are part of Lincolnshire story. They're part of its landscape. So rather than fight it and tried to find ways to lose them, I'm going to get them to work for me. I found this scene now on the face of it, not much to look at. But remember, Lincolnshire is all about emptiness, wide open spaces and big skies. And that's what I've got here. The flat agricultural land, which just goes on forever and above it, only sky and pylons. But look at those pylons a moment, line shape, pattern, strong elements of design. And I can work with that. First off, I'm thinking of this image as an elongated rectangle closer to a panoramic format than the standard 3 to 2 format of my camera. So I need to bear that in mind when I'm framing the image because the story here is centered on the sky and the pylons punctuating the skyline. I'm going to place a horizon low in the frame, which will emphasis everything above it. I'm going to position the wires initially in the top, left of frame. So they emerge from the corner, which will lead the eye into the main subject, which is the first pylon. Now, talking of the first pylon, notice how it interacts with the background. Depending on where I stand, stand here and the bottom gets lost in the trees behind it. If I move a little to the left, however, I can create separation between the pylon and the trees, and I'm going to position it on the third line, which allows the eye to contemplate the scene before it reaches the primary subject. Next, I want to consider the space to the right of the first pylon, the continuing line of pylons which get gradually smaller, the further back they are and depth so they are a critical element in the scene. Now there's one last thing I want to add a bit of mystery, but for that I need a bit of mist or fog. Now, according to my weather forecast here, there's snow coming some snow showers almost anywhere, So all I have to do is sit and wait. So here is my final framing a strong use of line, primarily the horizon and the wires. And add to that the implied line of the pylons disappearing into the distance takes you on a visual journey into the Lincoln sheer landscape. Making snap judgments about the type of light or locations, or about how photogenic a subject happens to be, is the very best way to kill creativity. You can find a story behind any subject, even electricity pylons, if you're willing to open your mind and look deep enough. And usually in my experience is these hidden stories, the stories most people ignore that make the very best photographs. This is completely impromptu, but I just had to stop and show you just on my way home. I've completed the Lincoln sheer Challenge on my way back out of Boston on the main road, following all the trucks and all the tractors, and what did I see this incredible sight? And I just wanted to show you now this might just look like a field of curly kale, but I saw something completely different to the casual observer speeding past in a car. This is just another field of Lincolnshire vegetables. But look with a mindful eye and you'll see something else. Line pattern and texture, strong elements of design that are the building blocks of compelling images. I found a viewpoint that emphasized all three. Drop the camera angle to exclude the telltale signs of real life in the background and then turned it into black and white for emphasis. And that's how you get from a field of curly kale to a piece of photographic art. So I wanted to stop and show you this because it's a really great example of the ability to see beyond the literal subject to the design elements underneath that go for making really great photographs.