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Recharging your creative juice

It happens to everyone and not just photographers. You just can not get the creative juices flowing, nothing jells, nothing looks fun, you just feel blah. Sometimes it comes from shooting the same thing over and over, other times it comes just from the endless days of trying to make a living. But everyone gets there now and then.

I was in a bit of a funk several days ago when I was invited to a local car show here in Orange County at the proverbial crack of dawn. “Maybe” was my response to the invite from my friend when he sent me the email telling me about the show. About the same time,  I read a blog post by Scott Borne who is a photographer who I have only recently heard of but have really “connected” to via his blog, photofocus,  and other articles.  This particular post was called “12 tips for car show photographers and a second post was about why fast glass matters was about shooting cars with wide apertures and why you needed to use something other than a wide angle lens.. He talked about  using cropping and strong lines to make art instead of snap shots. This kinda of clicked with me on several levels since I have been a car enthusiast for years. Car show? blog? hmm.. a way to get out of a creative funk? Possibly.

So I found myself getting up at 5AM to meet my friend at the Irvine Cars and Coffee meet and greet along with my Nikon D300 and my 17-55mm F2.8. It did not start off in a  very promising way or so I thought, the light sucked, the coffee was weak, I had more excuses than carter has pills. But, I stuck with it and starting to shoot. And it was hard, harder than I thought it would be. But as the morning wore on, I really started to get into a nice rhythm and feeling like I starting to get traction for some nice “keeper” shots.

Here are some of my results from breaking out of a creative funk with some help from a blog entry.

Like I said, getting this pictures was harder than I thought it would be. I really had to look at the subject very differently and shoot a bit differently that what I am used to shooting for the majority of the time. With the shallow DOF, I had to nail the focus on the money so I was using my spot focus mode. I paid very close attention to my histogram to make sure I was not blowing out the highlights at all, I needed all the information I could get since I wanted to have a very saturated look. Angles were everything and I made a point of getting all the way down on my butt, stomach or standing on something to get up then down. Anything to get away from the normal 5 foot high shooting position. I also went in very tight alot both in camera and in post on a couple of images. A tight crop can work wonders on art like this.

My lighting was very overcast which at first I was cursing under my breath, ok, maybe out loud some too, till I understood that the very flat light would help a lot in keeping the image’s contrast flat till I brought it up in post to exactly where I wanted it. It did mean I had to shoot with a relatively high ISO even with a F2.8 aperture. So noise reduction software was a much to clean up the images. High pass filtering was used to really get the images to “snap” and show off nice sharp lines. I used LR3 for the majority of my post work and CS4 for the final touch up and finishing.

In the end, I had alot of fun at the car show, I got some cool images and made a few new friends and managed to get out of my funk. I meet a couple of car owners who I gave a few images to to thank them for letting really get up close to shoot their cars. In both cases, the owners were intrigued by what they saw as very weird angles until I showed them the images on the camera. So not only was I able to get out of my funk, I managed to make a few business contacts too. This was a win -win day for me all the way around, I just had to embrace it.

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