Inspiration

Improve your photography in 2019

Yellow Arrow

With the new year at our doorsteps, it is time not only to revisit our creative achievements of the past twelve months, but also to think about how we want to evolve photographically in  2019.

What is it that you aspire? Do you want to expand your creative view by exploring a new genre? Are you looking to improve the technical aspects of your photography? Do you want to study the masters? Have you been sneaking around that new camera or other piece of gear that you hope will jump-start your motivation to shoot better pictures or simply shoot more? Or are you seeking some recognition for your work, beyond the friendly comments of the peers following your blog or your social media accounts?

Whatever it is, this is a good time to set yourself some photographic goals for the new year. Time has never been better.  Excellent cameras have become very affordable and the latest smartphones are 24/7 companions that allow everyone to do serious and high quality photography wherever you are.

Focus on education, not on new gear

With the growing numbers of aspiring photographers, the amount of educational and inspirational information has vastly increased. Photography magazines, how-to books, websites and blogs provide a wealth of technical knowledge and inspiration for just about every genre of photography that you can imagine, and most of those resources are free. Thanks to this resources, improving  the technical and artistic aspects of your photography is not difficult at all if you learn to differentiate the wheat from the chaff. And if you want to take your education a step further, invest in either a web based training made available by professionals or join an in-person photography workshop, which will give yourself also the opportunity to build a network of peers. All this requires much fewer investments than a decent piece of gear and will definitely help to improve your photography more than buying the next generation camera body or a new lens.

Find a new genre you want to explore

Think about if you want to explore an area of photography that you haven’t yet practiced. Landscape, portrait work with available light or strobes, boudoir, street photography, macro, wildlife, fashion, travel, documentary; there are plenty areas to choose from. While all of those genres seem attractive, some come with caveats that are not easy to overcome (e.g. getting yourself models for portrait/fashion shootings, getting up in the middle of the night to catch the golden hours of landscape photography),  so the genres that eventually attract you will narrow down themselves. And if you really want to become good at something you need to focus. Most great artists / scientists have been or are specialists of some sorts. Sure there are exceptions. Bryan Adams is a great Rock Star and also a well-known photographer, but in music he focuses on Rock and in his photography on portraits and fashion.

Shoot, shoot, shoot

I’m sure you have heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s Book “Outliers: The story of success” in which the author writes extensively about the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to achieving world-class expertise in any skill, is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing the correct way, for a total of around 10,000 hours. I believe there is a certain truth to this thesis. So go out and shoot. The more you shoot, and try to implement the things you learned from studying the theory, into your practical photography, the better you will become. Master your gear and the technicalities first, then improve your creative focus.  Then your way of shooting will become second nature, you walk through your days with a “photographic eye”, picturing in front of your eyes what your lens would see. You fall into repetitive patterns that will also show in your images, will eventually show your style.

Find Inspiration

There is nothing wrong by finding inspiration in other photographers work. Browsing Instagram, 500px, flickr and the likes lets you find lots of images that attract you visually or even from a technical point of view. This goes also for finding inspirations in photography magazines or books. Once a genre attracts you, you can research it in more depth by finding image sharing platform users, websites or blogs that focus on a particular genre. Compare images, find common elements in images “that turn you on”. Identify the names of masters of the genres that attract you, look at their published images and books and study their work in more detail. There is nothing wrong in trying to replicate their work for yourself in order to understand and master their techniques. Then use the acquired skills to create your own variations or take it to a complete new level. Have faith in yourself of developing something new out of “external” inspiration.

Go out and shoot – and shoot what you want to shoot

The best goal for the new year is simply to go out and shoot.  And shoot what your heart tells you to shoot. Shoot for yourself, not for an audience. Shoot the scenes that you yourself want to capture, where your senses tell you to press the shutter because something in front of your lens stirs your emotions. Don’t take images because you assume they generate lots of likes on the social networks or image platforms. Repetitively capturing what inspires you personally is the best way to find a focal point for your photography, discover the style of images that are satisfying for yourself as a creator, an artist. And the best motivation to go out and do more photography is when your own results “turn you on”.

Use the new year to broaden your photographic horizons with an open mind. If you explore, experiment and work with dedication and passion, and if you are your own hardest critic, your photography will certainly improve and you will find and evolve your own style. Enjoy it as a journey, and don’t be afraid of any turns your photographic road will take.

For a quick start check out all my tips and inspirations around photography in my free Learning Center.

I wish you a great and creative 2019

Marcus

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Finally Weekend

Ball Python | 1/80 sec - f/4 - ISO 1600 - 57mm

Ball Python | 1/80 sec – f/4 – ISO 1600 – 57mm

You also have those weeks where the job that pays the bills gently surrounds you and gradually turns on the pressure in order to suffocate you? Like a majestic Ball Python (aka Royal Python)? Well, I did make it into the weekend, although barely. The Significant  Other and I will head into the mountains to visit good friends. Looking so much forward to it!

The photo of the snake I took just the other week when visiting the Biosphere in Potsdam. I post-processed it in Lightroom Classic CC to a high contrast black& white image to be added to my fine art wildlife series (I blogged about the how-to here).

Hopefully I find some time on the weekend to catch up with blogging!

Wish you a great weekend!

Marcus

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Instant Inspiration (24) – Fine Art Wildlife

 

 

Instant Inspiration (26) – Shoot an optical illusion

Ship in the Sky | Olympic Mountains | 2018

Ship in the Sky | Olympic Mountains | 2018

“Instant Inspirations” is my series for you if you look for something to overcome “Photographer’s Block”  or simply want to shoot something that you have never tried, or at least not recently. Episode 26 is about shooting an optical illusion.

The shot above was taken with my Olympus PEN-F and the mZuiko 40-150mm F/2.8. Image specs are 1/250 sec @ f/6,3 and ISO 200, with 150mm focal length (300mm full frame equivalent).

What do you see? A ship, crossing the sky like an airplane? Let me tell you, there are no flying ships in the skies above Washington State, even with innovative aircraft manufactures like Boeing in the area. But why is there a mountain, the clouds above, and then a ship?

I took this photo up on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. It shows the Juan de Fuca Strait below (the narrows between Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island), the sea fog near the shore and a some kind of freighter behind.

It is not always as it seems. Especially visually. Grab you camera, go out and look to capture an optical illusion. Please share a link to your results in the comments section.

Wish you a great Sunday

Marcus

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Instant Inspiration (24) – Fine Art Wildlife

Instant Inspiration (22) – Variations on a Billboard

Instant Inspiration (20) – Backlit Fountain

Instant Inspiration (25) – Foodporn

img_0553

“Instant Inspirations” is my series for you if you look for something to overcome “Photographer’s Block”  or simply want to shoot something that you have never tried, or at least not recently. Episode 25 is about shooting some quick “foodporn” with your iPhone. For some how-to, my workflow and more of my iPhone Sushi photographs continue after the jump… (more…)

Instant Inspiration (24) – Fine Art Wildlife

Java Leopard

Java Leopard

In time for the weekend here is episode 24 of my “Instant Inspirations”, my series for you  if you look for something to overcome “Photographer’s Block”  or simply want to shoot something that you have never tried, or at least not recently.

Today I want to inspire you to go on a safari. A fine art photo safari. Something everyone can do that has a zoo or wildlife park in the vicinity. All you need in terms of gear is a camera with a zoom. While enjoying a stroll through the zoo, look for wildlife in high contrast lighting situations. You are almost guaranteed to find such situations during any visit. Shoot with a wider aperture, to throw the background out of focus.

To find out how to shoot this type of scenes, a bit of post processing advice and some more high contrast fine art wildlife photos from my last “safari” continue after the jump… (more…)

Instant Inspiration (23) – Hidden Street Portrait

Flower Power

Flower Power | Nuremberg | 2018 | 1/10 sec @ f/4 – ISO 200

After my rather moody last post it is time for a colorful new edition of my “Instant Inspirations”, something for you to try to overcome photographers block or if you simply want to give your photography a new angle. The 23rd episode is for those of my readers who would like to get more into Street Photography, but are hesitant to shoot obvious street portraits of people or even asking interesting looking subjects to “make” their portrait.

For starts, you can try to shoot people who are engulfed in their every day business, unaware of the photographer aiming the camera at them. Obviously, using a longer lens (or zoom) does help not to get too close. But even with a wide angle lens, the camera up at the eye, you can wander through shops, bars or your local market, looking for interesting scenes, people, gestures, colors, patterns – and press the shutter when something catches your eye and gets your creative juices flowing. Move naturally, shoot, and trust me you will not be noticed.

Bar Work-3

Lost in Thoughts | 2018 | 1/60 sec @ f/5.6 – ISO 320

Try different focal lengths, apertures and shutter speeds. Experiment, shoot with the curiosity of a child. Have fun.

Share your results by posting links in the comments section.

For all other episodes of my “Instant Inspirations” as well as my “Street Photography Quick Tips” head over to my free Learning Center.

Have a great Friday

Marcus

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Liquid

 

Backlit Fountain Street Photography

Liquid” is the theme of the WPC Weekly Photo Challenge this week. So let it be wet! My title photo is a street photo from downtown Nuremberg.  The image was taken with my Olympus PEN-F with the mZuiko 14-150mm F/4-5.6. Image specs 1/250 sec @ f/5.6 and ISO 320. Have I mentioned before I am a big fan of shooting into the light? You just have to make sure you measure for the correct exposure, as back-lit images tend to be too dark, as the camera “sees” too much light, especially with matrix exposure metering. In these situations it is best to switch on center weighted or even spot metering and put your metering point(s) over the area you want to have correctly exposed. In this case I exposed for the hair of the girl, which had a great midtone contrast.

For a small collection of more liquid street-, landscape- and travel-photos I invite you to look after the jump…. (more…)

A Photographer’s Easter Egg Painting

Mountain Forest

Mountain Forest | Lungau | 2018

Approaching Easter Sunday, The Significant Other and the Kids diligently colored some Easter Eggs. I decided to work on a photographic Easter Egg for myself, trying a technique I read about on the web but have never explored so far. For a bit of how to continue after the jump…. (more…)

Good Friday

Mystic Mountain

Mystic Mountain | Lungau | 2018

The Friday preceding Easter Sunday is Good Friday,  a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, and Black Friday. 

We are spending Easter at a very good friend’s house in the Lungau region in the Austrian Alps. Not really the place for Street Photography, but the opportunity to capture some monochrome landscapes.

The weather was not all that great, rather fitting for the subdued mood of Good Friday. While the kids took to the slopes, the Significant Other and I hiked up the Weißpriachtal along the Longa River. Readers of this blog might remember my post about High Contrast Landscape Photography, where I took some Ansel Adams like images on a sunny December day in the very same valley during an earlier visit.

Today there were only low hanging clouds, nothing spectacular to photograph, so we just enjoyed the hike. Only when returning, I took my Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the 12-100mm F/4 Pro Zoom out of my backpack and shot a few detail shots of what nature gave me. Kind of zen-like. Probably nothing anyone apart from me would look at, but really satisfying me as a visual artist. I will share these images tomorrow.

My photo of the day was that of the mountain above us, in a brief moment when the clouds opened up and gave us a vista of a moody mountainscape. Perfect for a Good Friday.

Image specs are 1/640 sec @ f/7.1 and ISO 200, focal length 100mm (equals 200mm full frame equivalent).

Wish you all a great start into a hopefully splendid Easter weekend!

Marcus

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Rise/Set

Etosha Sunset

Etosha Sunset | Etosha | 2017

Rise/Set” is the theme of this week’s WPC from Word Press’ “The Daily Post”. This is a perfect challenge to send us all into a (hopefully) sunny Easter weekend. In Germany, Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays, so we have a long weekend ahead. Time to spend with friends and family, time for some photography. To see some sunsets (and a sunrise) from my travels around the world, continue after the jump…. (more…)