Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Practice of Photography: Focus on CIRCLES & SPIRALS

Growth is a spiral process, doubling back on itself, reassessing and regrouping.
Julia Margaret Cameron

As I'm a little obsessed with creating mandalas from my photographs right now, I thought our August photography theme should be Circles and Spirals!

There is a symbolism in the circle that speaks to us of wholeness and inclusion, of completion and infinity.  However, this shape may mean something different to you.

We see the earth, the moon, and the sun as circles.  Look for circles and spirals in the world around you, photograph them, and think about what they symbolize for you.

Here are a few ideas: clock faces, wheels, wedding rings, coins. When you start looking for circles you will see them everywhere. The same goes for spirals - they are more intricate than circles, and many complex spirals are found in nature.

So start looking and create your own unique collection of circle and spiral images, and you can even use them to create mandalas, as you can see I did with the photo above!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Labyrinth Photo Mandala

My creative practice this morning has been spent on creating photo mandalas, and here is the result of the mandala I created out of a photograph of my backyard labyrinth.

To create this, I started with a square photograph in Photoshop.  I mirrored the photograph four times, as shown on page 98 of The Creative Photographer,  I then duplicated the layer, rotated it 90 degrees, and changed the blending mode to lighten.  I then duplicated this layer, this time rotating it 45 degrees.  For the last step, I duplicated that last layer and rotated it 90 degrees.  And there you have a mandala!

And if you want to make it circular, use the Elliptical Marqee tool.  Holding down the Shift key select the circle and drag it onto another layer.

Warning: this can be addictive!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Practice of Photography: Focus on WATER

Everywhere water is a thing of beauty, gleaming in the dewdrops; singing in the summer rain; shining in the ice-gems ...
John Ballantine

June came and went before I had time to blink, and here we are in July.  I've just returned from a couple of days of being beside Lake Bonaparte, and I was constantly mesmerized by the water.  I've come home to rain, so it felt like our July theme should be water!

Water lives in so many disguises: flowing rivers, steam, ice, rain, and beyond.  Recording the visual experience of water is an interesting challenge, as water is so much more than just a wet substance.  It is light and shadow, flow and movement, pattern and shape.  Begin viewing water more mindfully and you will see more than an expression of "wet".

To catch the movement of water use a fast shutter speed.  To slow down the movement of water so it looks like a stream of silk, put your camera on a tripod and slow down your shutter speed.  Photograph the ocean, the rain, water in a glass, water running out of a tap, children running under a garden sprinkler - see how many ways you can record the many disguises of water.

Continue this exercise into the winter months when water turns to ice and snow.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Practice of Photography: Focus on COLOR

The whole world, as we experience it visually,
comes to us through the mystic realm of color.
Hans Hofmann

Well, it has certainly been flowering in abundance in my part of the world as spring greets us.  One of the things that I notice about spring is the color green. It is so deep and fresh and speaks to me of growth and joy.  So I decided that for May I would share the theme Color from my deck of The Creative Photographer Exploration Cards.

There is magic and mystery in colors, in the way two blues or two reds are never exactly the same. Color is a primal language with a vocabulary that speaks to our sub-conscious.

Scan your surroundings for images that contain the colors of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. Look for hues and shades of these colors. Choose one of these colors and photograph it wherever you find it.  Perhaps you can choose a new color each week, and start your own Collection of Color.

There are vibrant colors in the natural world as well as in urban areas and man-made things. You could set up your own color still life. Combine certain colors that appeal to you. Use contrasting colors such as green and red, or harmonizing colors such as green and yellow. This will train your eye to register the background color in a photograph, something we often overlook.

And if you need some color inspiration, visit the Design Seeds website - the photographs are just wonderful and I love the color palettes!

And of course I'd love you to share your photographs on The Creative Photographer Facebook page!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

iPad as Photo Art Studio

I've spent a great deal of time during the past months playing with the photo apps on my iPad as I'll be teaching a workshop on the iPad as Photo Art Studio at Art & Soul in Virginia Beach this coming week.  What fun I've had!  There are so many exciting apps out there, and they are pretty easy to use, especially compared to using Photoshop.  Most of them just need a couple of taps and your photo has become a work of art.

One of my current favorite apps for taking an ordinary photo and turning it into something that looks as though I have been working hard with a canvas and paints is Pencil Camera HD.

I love that I can look at dozens of ideas in a space of minutes and choose one that resonates with me.  As I've never taken time to learn how to sketch, being able to create sketches from my photographs is really exciting for me.  I am so grateful to the technical geniuses out there who make this possible!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Practice of Photography: Focus on FLOWERING

I hope you enjoyed experimenting with the Portals theme in March.  I encourage you to continue with this project - you will see a difference in your images if you do.

The second theme I am sharing from my deck of The Creative Photographer Exploration Cards is appropriate for Spring which seems to be around us here in the south.  The theme for April is FLOWERING.  Flowers are wonderful subjects for close-up photography.

The easiest way to experiment is to buy a bunch of flowers or a potted plant in flower and photograph these in a controlled indoor environment where there is no breeze, where you can choose background colors that complement your flowers and where you can stand comfortably to photograph. Find a window with good light, set your camera to its macro settings and consider using a tripod to avoid camera shake. Engage 

with the flower through the lens of your camera. Try using different aperture settings for different 
results. With a small aperture setting such as f/2.8 or f/5.6 you will be able to blur the background which will accentuate the color and shape of the flower. You may even find small insects living in your flowers.

When I started photographing flowers, I thought, "My God, where have I been?"  I'd never seen the mysteries of a flower. We walk by wonders every day and don't see them. 
Barbara Bordnick

Don't forget to share your photographs on The Creative Photographer Facebook page!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Camera-Color-Closer at Art & Soul

"Color is the language of light; it adorns the earth with beauty. 
 Through color light brings its passion, kindness and imagination to all things:
 pink to granite, green to leaves, blue to ocean, yellow to dawn."
John O'Donohue

Bring your camera and discover the beauty of close-up photography at Art and Soul in Virginia Beach on Thursday, April 25th, 2013.  In this class we'll be doing photography and book-making and mixed media all in one day!  You'll create a unique book that I guarantee you haven't seen before - and the wonderful thing about it is that it is easy but versatile.  We'll be making it using rainbow colors, but I'll show you how to adapt it for other projects and how to create it with a fabric spine as well.

A book is no good without something to go in it, so after preparing our book pages and setting them out to dry we will get out our cameras and photograph at close range a selection of colored objects (including fresh flowers which I will bring).  You will learn how to use your camera to photograph close-up using the macro feature.  Getting closer is the best way to improve your photographs.

Have you heard of White Balance and don't know what it is?  You don't have to have any technical expertise to learn about White Balance, but it is fun to see how it can change the color of your images. I'll show you the easy way how to learn all about the White Balance capabilities that may be available on your camera.  You'll also learn how to re-size photographs to fit into your journal.

Once you've played with your camera, you will return to your journal and add more color to the pages using parts of your personal color fan and color photographs to complete your journal.

And finally, for the visual journalers out there, we'll have a short discussion on how we relate to different colors, and what they might mean to you.

This will be a day full of learning and fun, and you don't even have to go out hunting for supplies as I will provide everything you need to create your journals, and you will get your own personal color kit when you arrive in class.

Register for this "Close Up - In Color with the Camera" class at the Art and Soul website.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Inner and Outer Vision: Intuition and Photography

At the end of February, Jennifer Halls and I co-facilitated a workshop entitled "Developing Your Inner and Outer Vision: An Intuition and Photography Retreat" at the Haw River State Park in Browns Summit, NC.

Both intuition and photograph require us to practice heightened awareness and perception.  As we do this we become more sensitive to subtle differences in color, shape and light.

One of the awareness exercises you can practice is to become more aware of the dance between contrasting elements.  To do this, take your camera out into your surroundings and explore this idea by photographing:

Light and Shadow
Rough and Smooth
Simple and Complex
Round and Straight
Wet and Dry
Old and New
Full and Empty

Notice how this practice increases your awareness of the subtle differences around you.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Practice of Photography: Focus on PORTALS

Becoming a creative photographer is a practice.  It is about paying attention to your surroundings and seeing with fresh eyes.  We can be overwhelmed by the clutter of the world, and one way to start seeing more clearly is to focus on a specific theme or object for a period of time.  This practice has made all the difference to my photography.

To simplify the practice, and give you a place and an opportunity to share with other creative photographers I am sharing one of the focus themes from my deck of  The Creative Photographer Exploration Cards to Expand Your Creativity each month.  You can share your images on The Creative Photographer Facebook page.

The theme for February and March is PORTALS.  This is the first theme in the series of 24.

A camera could be considered a portal - as it is an entry into another reality.  As you learn to see the world more deeply through your camera, you will notice that everything is speaking to you. For a photograph to be meaningful, you must focus beyond the superficial to the feeling in the image.

Portals include doorways, windows, entrances and exits. They are thresholds to inner and outer realities, and can symbolize openings and closings, beginnings and endings. Consider this as you look for images of portals in the world around you.

Doors or windows can make interesting collections, especially as a way to absorb the feel of a place you are visiting. The doors you see in France are very different from the doors you see in Africa, and the stories of the people entering the doors are all unique.

Art is the window to man’s soul.  
Without it, he would never be able to see beyond his immediate world, 
nor could the world see the man within.
Claudia Johnson

Share your interpretation of portals on The Creative Photographer facebook page.