Artistic Freeze? Just look around…
Writer’s block. Creative drought, you might say, particularly if you’re a fan of the music of a certain Canadian band. Artistic freeze, I’ve heard it called. Whatever the name, it’s not uncommon for arts or creative types to struggle with getting “output” once in a while. If you are, as I am, new to the art of photography, you might find that this comes more often—it’s a condition where you just can’t think of anything to shoot. Either you can’t decide among the many objects around you, or you find that many of those objects are already in your library!
Looking around my collection—here and on Facebook, as well as other locations—I find that I’ve getting an increasing number of animal shots, especially birds. So when I am struggling to decide what to shoot, I often go to one of my favorite bird spots and let them do their thing for me. Recently, though, what they’ve been doing is a lot of stuff I have seen—and shot—before. Since I am regularly in the same spots, I do tend to see a lot of the same things, and this doesn’t exactly drive the creative urge. So yesterday I took off for the wildlife refuge, as I do fairly regularly, and poked around a bit to see if there was anything interesting going on. Apart from a large quantity of boring little birds I didn’t recognize, I saw almost nothing. It was a nice visit, and serene enough, but I came back without anything interesting to show.
This has been happening to me a good bit lately and it troubled me as I was on my way home. What to shoot, and what to experiment on, what to write about—this series of questions was bothering me later as I sat doing some editing at my dining room table. But then it hit me—I’m frequently in the same spots (home, work, wildlife refuge, etc.), but those spots aren’t always the same; I asked myself, what has changed here in the past day, or in the past week? I looked around an spotted almost immediately the flower that is attached to this post. And dove right in!
I shot about 30 frames with this flower, at varying settings; this is not the best composition of the bunch, but I really liked the color. Learned a lot in this shoot—adjusting colors in Elements, playing with the settings on the camera to get the best color reproduction…heck, I even learned that my Canon 60mm EF-S Macro lens reports subject distance! (For those keeping track, I shot this at f/10 in Aperture Priority mode, with my Speedlite 430EX bounced off a near-white ceiling some four feet above the flower; the camera picked 1/60 second and that drove ISO 400.)
I suppose the lesson here is this…finding something to shoot doesn’t always require loading up a bunch of gear, slogging through the mud, or even leaving your home—if you run out of ideas, look around you and think about what’s different. I’ll bet you can find something interesting that’s right in front of your eyes!