Sunday, February 24, 2013


Inspiration - The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative: "flashes of inspiration".

We can all use a little inspiration to push us out of our rut when it comes to the art of photography.  When I look back at my photos I see a theme that appeared years ago when I first started taking photos seriously. My photographic subjects tend to include mountains, lakes, streams and waterfalls.  I love the silky smooth look of long exposure photos of waterfalls.  I get up long before sunrise to get to a lake when the surface is smooth as glass and creates a mirror reflection of the landscape.  Mountains are just powerful and majestic.  I even have photos of mountains reflecting in small puddles of water in southern Utah deserts, which is not easy to find.

I will keep taking photos of these subjects because they are what I enjoy being near.  However, sometimes my theme feels a bit like a rut.   According to, a rut is "a fixed or established mode or procedure or course of life, usually dull or unpromising."  I need something that will mentally stimulate me to do something creative and push my photography out of that rut and into new areas.

I've found a few things that have helped me:
  • Try some other areas of photography, such as sports, architecture, events, or abstract subjects.  I've done all of these and have learned something each time that helps me improve my skills as a photographer.
  • Spend time with other photographers.  Go out with a friend or group that enjoys photography.  Everyone will have a slightly different style and will approach a subject differently.  I almost always find myself saying "why didn't I think to try that?" when shooting with others.  The best opportunity to get this experience is in a local camera club.
  • Take a class.  I've found photography workshops have been the best investment when it comes to improving the quality of my photos.  When you're considering what photography equipment to upgrade, spend your money on the one between your ears.
  • Study the work of other photographers.  Similar to shooting with others, looking at others photography and thinking about what makes their photos great is an easy way to be inspired.  There are several that I follow online including Ian Plant, Joseph Rossbach, Marc Adamus, David DuChemin and the photographer I admire most - Bill Fortney.
 I recently treated myself to a new book that I hope will provide some new inspiration - Ansel Adams in the National Parks: Photographs from America's Wild Places.  The other day June was telling our son Tim about the book and correctly identified Adams as my favorite photographer.  I'm hoping that by reading this book and studying the photos I'll be inspired to try some new things when I'm out.  I gave that a try yesterday.

While driving the Blue Ridge Parkways with my friend Harold Ross (see point #2 above) we contended with overcast skies, bare trees, brown and gray colors.  We were looking for opportunities to photograph trees in dense fog, horfrost on the trees, tunnels, waterfalls, etc.  We didn't have much luck on these subjects, but on one stop we were treated to some interesting combinations of mountain ridges and fog in the foothills below us.  I tried to apply some of what I saw in the latest addition to my library to these subjects.   Here's a few of my attempts.

Near the end of our adventure we drove into a foggy section.  By the time we got out and set up each of us got one or two shots before the fog blew out.  

I've got a lot of improvement that I need to work on in my photography.  I'll keep working on new ideas and staying out of the rut.

Where do you get your inspiration?

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