Have fun

Back mirror

Back mirror

Whenever I read a book on creativity, I read: Have fun. Enjoy the process. I do have fun. The results of editing and blending pictures surprise me. Every tiny step, every tiny manipulation leads to another picture another atmosphere.

For the last creations I took pictures from my archives from the last year. I always think I want to have totally new pictures. Tomorrow I’ll go out with my tripod and my camera. It’s autumn here, yet it’s still not too cold. It’s a bit rainy here, but that’s OK. I’ve already a few location in mind.

At the arches in Utah

At the arches in Utah

At the arches in Utah

Title: At the arches in Utah

The landscape is from Utah, the pink rose leaves are from the Botanic garden in Portland. The sky was captured somewhere in the US. The picture of the model (myself) was taken at home. When I start creating a picture I often have an imagination, but at the end the picture is a surprise.

This above picture reminds me of the romantic painter Caspar Davis Friedrich.

15 minutes can be enough

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Fifteen minutes can be enough to create something new. This is an experience worth to remember. Sometimes I worked an entire day on a picture and the result didn’t please me. Today’s session was rather experimenting and I wanted to kill the time before dinner.

Congruence and simplicity

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Yesterday I went through my two websites. They are the roofs of all my online activities. It’s important that I like them. When I neglect them, how can I expect to have visitors there. A website is supposed to be inviting. I have a website for my yoga activities and a website for photography, which is this one.

Websites grow slowly. It’s very likely that one changes taste and insights. Yet all the pages on a website shall form a unity. One must have the impression that all the contents belong together.

My steps to a more congruent presentation:

  1. I have now the same templates for both websites. Squarespace offers the templates and I’m very happy with this company. The websites are easy to use and they offer many useful tutorials.

  2. I removed (almost) all the pictures that have nothing to do with my current focus: Yoga as a body art form. To let go is always a difficult task.

  3. The presentation of the pictures shall be congruent, too. If there is a frame around a picture, then all pictures shall have this frame in this gallery. It’s possible to zoom in up to 500 %. This should be large enough for those who want to see details.

Gallery #1 (first picture) has much more structure than gallery #2 (second picture). The size of the pictures differ a lot. It’s difficult to find the red thread. A frame would hold them together already.

A picture a day...

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….keeps boredom away.

I like the smell of freshly cut grass. It’s relaxing to sit on a blanket on green grass. In pictures I’m not convinced of this color. In combination with red it’s different. So, I tend to convert pictures with too much green into black and white ones.

Black and white a step further

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Black and white pictures are more intensive if there are not so many grey shades in the picture but true black and white. The shadow in front of me on the sand was rather impressive. I took the pictures by myself without self-timer. With one hand I held the camera. This determined the perspective. It could be interesting to work with a tripod. The pictures look almost abstract.

Three different light situations

  1. In the first picture I took a linen to have a rather even and bright background. I shot with the light. Behind me was a window. The effect is that I’m evenly lighted.

  2. In the second picture I have back light. This is ideal for silhouettes. The body side that faces to the camera is shadowy. It’s possible to make the body brighter. The effect is that the background is almost blown out and very bright. It’s almost exhausting for the eyes to look at the picture. White parts always get attention from the viewer, which can be distracting. I could work with a second light source or a reflector to brighten up the body. Yet the background will remain very white, which I experience as almost aggressive. It’s hard for the eyes. There are no soft transitions from the background to the body. The form is clear though.

  3. The third picture is taken outside on a cloudy day. It would have been perfect if I had been there in the morning or in the evening. When shooting outside one never knows how the weather will be, light and weather are changing permanently. It can be sunny, rainy or cold, so that it can be difficult to perform yoga poses. This park is very nice, I’m not sure if I like the green. In combination with red it’s fine, but the color itself is rather dominating.

Light creates atmosphere in a picture.

For my purposes I prefer to shoot with the light (picture 1). I’d like to show the yoga pose. I think it’s almost a bit ugly if the skin is so shadowy. It can look even a bit dirty. The colors disappear when shooting with back light. To shoot outside is not always possible, but I’ll do this more often, because I like the light. I’ll look for locations that have a roof. A more urban location would please me more, I guess.

Next week I’ll look for backdrops and backgrounds/locations. Living rooms, beds, kitchens are too arbitrarily in a picture with the focus ‘asanas’. It adds a story for sure. But as it’s always the same living room, the same bed, the same kitchen it gets boring rather soon.

My main purpose to take pictures of asanas is to learn. Pictures are a tool to improve.

My second picture is to show the beauty of practicing yoga.

Use what you have

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Today I walked to the lake that is very close. A lake in the background is always nice, I thought. I had no tripod with me and also no remote control. Only my camera hang over my shoulder. I removed the strap and put the camera on a bench. I used the self-timer in the camera to take some pictures.

Sometimes a camera is enough. It’s not necessary to carry around all the fancy gadgets. It’s nice to have. Yet it’s possible to be creative with much less.

If I put a book under the camera I could have changed the frame. A book or a journal is always in my handbag.

A last attempt to save a picture - rules to judge the own pictures

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Playing around is part of the process to create pictures. But one must also know when it’s enough. Sometimes sketches are just this and nothing more. They will never become an awesome picture

This time I turned around the picture to show more lightness. I didn’t like to hang there. Now I fly high. To have the floor on top of the picture looks off.

It’s difficult to hav a critical view on the own pictures. One cannot forget how difficult it was to create it. Often a lot of time is invested. To hang on that bar was exhausting. I feared to fall. I felt like a hero because it was so cold on that day. All this is of zero interest for the viewer.

Rule #1: Forget about the effort and time that was put into the creation of the picture. Only the result counts. The picture is convincing or it is not. The story behind the picture is of second importance.

Rule #2: Wait and day and one night (or even longer) and then get back to the picture. The initial emotions cooled down in the meantime. It’s possible then to have a more neutral view. This requires a lot of discipline at least for me.

Rule #3: Know what the subject is. Know what you wanted to express with this picture. Some pictures might be nice but they don’t show what was intended to show. I’m a huge fan of the written word. It’s good advice to have a journal that documents the journey to an eye-catching picture.

Rule #4: Have a list of criteria that makes a good picture for you. Such a list could be:

  • Is it technically as wished?

  • Do the colors communicate the intended atmosphere?

  • How is the composition? Are there leading lines? Which rules are applied? If not, why?

  • If people are involved, I always check the expression of the face and the skin.

This list can be much longer. More important than a long list is to apply it. Wink, wink.

I won’t print this last version. Soon it will be buried and sleep between other pictures that live better in the dark.

Printing

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It’s the responsibility of the artist and not of those who print when the printed picture is on the wrong paper, has the wrong size. It’s not the first time that I wanted to get my pictures printed on dem paper and I got them on glossy ones or the other way round. One must check the results.

Today I got another picture printed. When I returned home I realized that it was printed on another paper than the pictures that I got printed yesterday even though I mentioned that I’d like to get the same paper like yesterday. Nobody wants to have 5 different papers in a portfolio. I even explained my project and why I need the same paper. I had asked the last time, but I didn’t insist enough to get an answer about the company who produces the paper that they use and the thickness of the paper. I wanted to have glossy paper in addition.

Everything that could go wrong went wrong already:

  • I got the wrong paper size. I was told that the one who would frame it can cut it. But I want to put the picture in a file.

  • I got dim paper instead of glossy one.

  • Each time the thickness of the paper was different.

As said it’s the responsibility of the artist to communicate correctly.

This is the second print company that I try. The first one was expensive beyond imagination. It took 3 weeks till I got one picture printed and then it was printed on a paper with a wrong size. On the sides of the picture was a tiny white rim.

I know now why I avoided this last step. To get to prints is a stony path plastered with mistakes. It’s a trial and error adventure. It can get expensive and time-consuming.

One must probably distinguish between print companies and copy shops. Printing companies have different clients. Most people probably want to get a few copies and go to a copy shop round the corner. They want to get the diploma printed i.e.. Advertising companies might go to different print companies that offer a higher standard. They might not be interested in printing a single picture every week. The printer of the copy shops are usually of high quality these days. Yet a copy shop has different expertise than a company that offers fine art prints.

Hahnemühle is a leading paper company. I consider to buy my own paper. Hahnemühle also offers high end boxes to store the pictures. That way I can at least control a tiny part of the printing process.

Sketching

I started a new series. It should be about levitation. Very soon I interpreted the topic much broader. I wanted to show lightness in yoga.

Sketch 1:

  1. A picture is finished when it’s printed. To find a good print company can be a challenge on its own. The first decision that I had to make was about the size of the picture. This is in my opinion the first step, especially if a picture shall become part of a series. If a picture shall get framed and this is usually the case there must be a rim around the picture. I decided to go for Din A3. The picture itself shall have a size of 20 x 30 cm. I adjusted the picture in Photoshop. First I created a new canvas with the size Din A3. Then I adjusted the picture to the size 20 x 30 cm. Then I moved the picture over the canvas and centered it.

  2. The printed version of the sketch 1 made me realize that the filter that I had used made my face look like dead. The skin of the face shall never look bluish, yellowish or reddish. I knew I had to edit the picture again.

Sketch 2:

  1. The outer frame is now Din A3. I cannot make out why the picture has not my wished size of 20 x 30 cm, but it was so. I had to resize it and get it printed again

  2. I realized that my face was mini-blurred. Blurred is blurred. I had to reshoot my vision, only because of this mini blur. The wall in the background was in focus. Sometime it’s difficult to realize these shortcomings of a picture, because then it becomes clear that one has to repeat the entire process. The next day the weather had changed. There was no sunshine anymore, it was a grey day, which made the location even darker.

  3. It was such a challenge to do the exercises there. To hold my body was hard. I was not strong enough hold the pose for a long time. Soon my muscles got very tired. I couldn’t turn around the bar. This can be seen. I hang there. The pose has no lightness.

Sketch 3:

  1. The format of the frame and the picture is as I wanted it.

  2. The face is in focus.

  3. The form of the body has more dynamic and looks for me at least a tiny bit lighter.

  4. Nevertheless the picture in sum became too dark. Darkness is the opposite of lightness. My intention was to show exactly this: lightness.

Sketch 4:

  1. I consider to leave these sketches behind me. They were a good exercise, but nothing more.

Summary:

  1. Decide on the format.

  2. Print the pictures.

  3. Filters must be used very carefully when people are in the picture. Skin looks best when natural.

  4. Check what’s in focus and what’s not.

  5. What was the intention to create this picture? Is this intention translated visually in an appropriate way?

Yesterday it rained. Today it’s raining, too. It’s impossible to get to this location again. I call these shootings a warm-up. The corner is a bit too dark. I’m not trained enough to show lightness on that bar. I’ll move on to the next photographic adventure. Sometimes this is the best decision.

Yoga poses without touching the floor

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Usually this place with this gymnastic apparatus is deserted. Yet under the bar is no grass, so I guessed that people must use it. Today when I arrived for a photo shooting it was crowded. Children were playing there. It was fun to watch them. They were all courageous and strong. When they disappeared it was my turn to hang there.

It’s May and it’s still very cold. I had put on a white blouse and a Trenchcoat, but this wasn’t enough to stay warm. I didn’t like to give up today’s shooting and tried some poses. It was hard to hold myself. I feared to fall. My hands were so cold that, the bar, too.

I knew very fast that I had to return to that place to try another angle. I want to try more poses. It might be a good idea to get there in the early morning, when the light is different.

Checklist for the next time:

  1. Set a timer to shoot at least 30 minutes.

  2. Try minimum 3 different angles and camera positions.

  3. Have a list of different poses.

  4. Bring some different clothes.

  5. Change the camera settings

Yoga photography

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Today I experimented with a new backdrop. I got a white linen some time ago. I tried to fix it on the wall. A better solution must be found here. The heavy linen fell from the wall after 20 minutes. I decided that this was the end of the photo session.

I love to shoot with the light, without having a too distracting surrounding. To use a linen as backdrop is a good idea. I’ll look for different colors. With Photoshop I should be relatively flexible to create something new with such a neutral background.

Creating art means to experiment. Often it takes time to find locations, clothes, accessories….. but that’s how it is.

Wildlife photographer of the year

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The Historic National Museum London creates a yearly contest. It’s called ‘Wildlife photographer of the year’.

45.000 pictures were submitted. The photographers came from 96 countries. Only 100 pictures make it to this exhibition every year. The chosen pictures tour from country to country. At the time the exhibition is in Munich, Germany. I love animals, I had to see all these pictures of wild animals from around the globe.

The pictures were stunning.

Being a wildlife photographer means to have patience. Sometimes it takes days or months, perhaps even years to encounter an animal, that one wishes to photograph. Sometimes luck helps and the unexpected happens. A photographer could capture a bear in a village in Italy at night. This means to be present and to have a camera handy. Always.

I saw insects in that exhibitions, animals that live under water. I saw huge animals like bears, tigers and whales, others like the insects were tiny. Blow-ups could make tiny details visible.

A tiny part of the exhibition also showed the cruelty that human beings commit agains the animals.

What were the criteria of the jury to select a picture as one of the best?

They wanted to see a concept behind the pictures. One concept was to take pictures on eye level consequently

It was forbidden to take pictures in the exhibition. So I had to take my own wildlife pictures.

Usually the algorithm of a company is not known. This morning when I checked my flickr account, I realized that one of my swan pictures made it to ‘in explore’. This usually means that this picture gets a lot of likes and attention. Some photographers start to follow my account when this happens. I would have chosen the above picture for explore. The algorithm or perhaps real people (?) made another decision. The below pictures were chosen to be exhibited in that group.

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