Play and the Creative Process

I’ve been thinking about the creative process recently.  How do you get out of a rut?  How do you find inspiration?  If you’re not in a rut, how do you find the next unique image.  I think play and experimentation are really important tools.

When I’m out in the field and unable to deliver on my vision I may try panning or zooming.  This sometimes reveals some colors, shapes, or textures that are interesting that I couldn’t see with my landscape-reality-goggles on.  It can help me find new angles on a scene, and it can help me find something new to highlight in the image.

Another way I get out of a rut is to force myself to use a different lens.  If I’m shooting wide angles, I put on the telephoto for awhile.  Or, maybe I grab the macro.  Sometimes I head out for the morning and force myself, regardless of the location, to use at least four different lenses.  It’s not about getting portfolio-worthy shots.  It’s about getting outside my comfort zone, experimenting, re-learning something I once knew.

Here’s an image I took in my dining room a few weeks ago.  I cut a peony and set it up in a vase with a nice white background for a high key image.  I was working with my Speedlight 580EX which can be controlled remotely with the 7D.  This was an experiment in off-camera flash and a lesson in managing the flash from the camera using TTL.  As I began to try new lighing setups I also turned it into an experiment with my macro lens with extension tubes.  I learned a lot about my equipment.  And, I liked how I was seeing new things in the peony.  With the extension tubes, I stopped shooting a flower and started to look for shapes and light and composition.

Trying new lenses and new techniques helps me look at the world in new ways

NOTE:  Before I get a lot of comments about the color.  I also did some post-processing.  The peony was white or light pink.  With the flash, it was basically a black and white image.  By chaning the white balance and applying split toning in Lightroom, I was able to create a soothing balance of colors.

  1. Lovely lines, very sensual. I think the blue tones were a good choice. Very informative posting, it is hard to get out of a rut and I’ll keep your ideas in mind next time that happens….. like maybe tomorrow 🙂


  2. What an inspiring post! I love interpreting your words as metaphor in non-photographic terms. I like to take my reality-goggles off as much as possible.


    1. Thank you, Phoebe. I agree that taking the reality-goggles off applies to many facets of life. I’m glad you enjoyed it.


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