Last Week’s Instagram

Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. Except for the technical details beneath the pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.

Facts about the photo: This photo was captured with my Panasonic Lumix LX-100 with the lens set at 34 mm (the equivalent of a full frame 75 mm), 1/1600 second and f/6.3. The photo was transfered to my cell phone and processed in Snapseed with the filter Drama, twice.

Posted in Creativity, Personal Work, Photography | Tagged , | 10 Comments

The Joy of Water

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Do you remember as a kid how water was like a magnet, how even the smallest puddle would be pulling you over, how any kind of water would instigate unrestrained playfulness? Do you remember how much fun and excitement water would spark in you? Of if not, do you today at least notice how kids of all kinds—as they indeed always have—cannot resist playing with water?

For some time now, I have been pondering about how human’s interaction with water so much is a picture of how we nurture our creativity. It starts with unstructured excitement when we are kids, excitement that just spurs our imagination, whether we talk about playing with water or other creative activities. In the beginning we don’t feel like we have to interact or be creative in a certain way, we act completely uninhibited and we don’t feel intimidated by neither water nor the creative process. Moreover, we don’t require anything but water itself—whether a bucket of water, a puddle or the ocean breaking on a beach—and then of course ourselves to venture into a imaginary world where nothing but play and joy exist.

Then as we grow older and mature some of that excitement vanishes for most of us, we «learn» how to handle water or creativity, how we are supposed to behave around water or photograph or draw or write or… you get the picture. Some of us even get completely estranged to water or the creative process. In worst cases, some even develop hydrophobia. We lose the playfulness and the unrestrained imagination that originally was set off by water.

Or, some go the other way. They start to explore water in more elaborate ways, start to bring in different tools in the interaction with water. We start out maybe in a small rowing boat, then maybe we discover the beauty of the underworld by diving, we learn to sail, or buy faster boats to explore shores further away—or just the speed we can travel over waters.

Either ways, I think we lose some of that pure playfulness close contact with water that the child in us so delightfully discovered in the early years. As grownups, either we stay away from water or we need all kinds of expensive machinery to explore it. We stand to lose that pure joy water used to trigger in us.

I don’t say that machinery is bad in any way. It can both expand the experience and be limiting. However, whether we find excitement in using a speedboat or a kayak or just swim around in the sea, I think it’s important to hold on to that first childish feeling of freedom and unrestrained playfulness that we so much enjoyed as a kid.

Water can be used in so many ways. It’s only our imagination that limits our interaction with water. We can play like a child with water, we can swim in water, we can use water to develop our competitiveness, we can use water to explore foreign shores, to experience speed or just the splash of sea in heavy wind. Just as creativity.

So maybe it’s time to reset our minds. If you want to develop your creative skills and abilities, maybe you should try to be more like the child you used to be. Explore water with no deliberate purpose, just be playful and have fun. Maybe you should let the child in you flourish, not let learned approaches of how things are supposed to be, restrain you. Let the child lose again.

Just to clarify. The use of water as a way of understanding creativity is nothing but a metaphor. By that, I don’t mean that anyone with hydrophobia, cannot be creative! I have a sister that have such fear of water that she will never enter into any water deeper that her knees—well hardly above her ankles. She even resist taking ferries because they sail on water. She is nevertheless one of the most creative persons I know.

So when was the last time you let the child in you play with water?

Posted in Creativity, Photography | Tagged | 54 Comments

Last Week’s Instagram

Høsten har kommet

Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. Except for the technical details beneath the pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.

Facts about the photo: This is a quadruple exposure that was processed in the app Pixlr-o-matic with the filter Sophia.

Posted in Personal Work, Photography | Tagged | 51 Comments

Collect and Save for Times of Sparseness

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In your creative endeavour, have you ever had the feeling that you are staring into a blank wall? Nothing is wanting to be expressed through you. You have no idea what to photograph. Or you have a blank canvas or a white screen in front of you, and nothing, absolutely nothing will make its way from your mind to the medium—whatever the medium is.

I am sure you have. As everybody who is engaging in a creative adventure, has. I, for one, certainly have many a time. Not long ago, I simply could not take one single photo, it was as if all of me simply didn’t want to photograph, every muscle resisting even the thought of bringing out the camera. My mind was empty. Nothing. Nada.

That’s when collecting raw materials comes in handy. Over the last year or so, I had written down ideas for photo projects I might want to pursue one day. Now I dug out that list and found an idea that could be worthwhile trying out, despite my lack of creative energy. Before I knew it, I was thoroughly engaged in the process.

We have all heard of writer’s block. It happens to not only writers, but anyone doing any kind of creative work. One way to get out of the rut is to collect raw materials whenever you encounter something that seems interesting. Then, in times of emptiness and standstill, you have a list of ideas that can help you back on the creative track again.

Creativity comes from making associations and connections, and toying with convergences of thoughts; seeing things in a new way—extrapolating, expounding, and using different perspectives that allow new concepts to be seen. All those processes begin with pre-existing materials that trigger new ideas. Raw materials.

Raw materials are words, images, objects, concepts, structures, and other stimuli already in existence that give you a place to start and banish the bewilderment of blankness. Raw materials seduce you to take something in your own unique direction by rearranging, modifying, using an aspect of, repackaging, tweaking, springing off of it, and adding your personal twist. These actions are some of the most effective ways of being creative.

Like Twyla Tharp, the renowned American dancer, choreographer, and author, points out: «Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable. Everything feeds into my creativity. But without proper preparation, I cannot see it, retain it, and use it.»

Twyla Tharp collects boxes with anything she finds interesting, no matter whether it’s relevant for her present project or not. If something attracts her attention she collects it. This is almost like magical boxes full of unresolved ideas, available for her whenever she needs something to spring off from.

We can all learn from Tharp. Anyone working in some creative way should collect raw materials. It can be objects, words, thoughts, yes, anything; the important thing is to collect them when you encounter them. Put them in a box or write them down in your notebook or on your cell phone. Immediately. Do not wait until your mind is empty and you stare at that blankness.

About her boxes, Tharp furthermore says: «A box is like soil to me. It’s basic, earthly, elemental. It’s home. It’s what I can always go back to when I need to regroup and keep my bearings. Knowing that the box is always there gives me freedom to venture out, be bold, dare to fall flat on my face. Before you can think out of the box, you have to start with a box.»

Do you have a box—literally or figuratively—that you collect raw materials in for later use?

Facts about the photo: The photo was taken with a Fujifilm X-10 with the zoom set 7.1 mm, equally to 28 mm for a full frame camera. Shutter speed: 1/400 of a second. Aperture: f/3.2. The photo was processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Posted in Challenging Yourself, Creativity, Photography | Tagged , , , | 79 Comments

Last Week’s Instagram

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Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. Except for the technical details beneath the pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.

Facts about the photo: It was captured with my Lumix LX-100 with the lens sett at 34 mm (the equivalent of 75 mm full frame lens), exposure at 1/2510 s and f/5.6. The photo was then transferred to my cell phone and processed in Snapseed with the filter Grunge.

Posted in Personal Work, Photography | Tagged | 51 Comments

Don’t Ever Postpone

Last Saturday I did an unforgivable mistake for any photographer. I was doing an assignment for a magazine, which basically was to photograph a researcher who has done a study about how multi national corporations evade taxation by moving profits and debts between countries. An interesting subject—and the photographing of the researcher went very well. No mistakes there.

However, during a break I noticed outside the building the shoot was taking place a person who had sat down on the curb. He had a bicycle that was painted in all the colours of the rainbow, clothes that were equally colourful, and he had a strong and firm facial expression. I thought he was a perfect subject for a photo. He looked like he was going to sit down and just enjoy the Indian spring, which had suddenly occurred over the weekend. It appeared he wouldn’t disappear within a short while.

So I thought at least—and now you understand where this is going. I planned to go out and ask to photograph him after the session with the researcher was done. That, of course, was the mistake. Although it didn’t take much time to round up the shooting session, while I was capturing the last few photos of the researcher, the colourful person outside had vanished. I hadn’t even noticed.

Bummer!

The morale is; never postpone capturing a subject that has caught your interest. Of course, I knew that already—bitterly—as this was not the first time I have made the mistake. Sometimes we human beings just don’t seem to learn. I should have known better. I shouldn’t have taken the risk, that the guy might not stay put until it suited me to go out and photograph him.

Sometimes it’s laziness, sometimes it’s just unawareness, sometimes it’s a time issue, sometimes it’s a misjudgement. Whatever the reason, it’s always sad to realize you have lost an opportunity to capture what might have become a great photo. So don’t ever postpone photographing something that captures your attention. Take the photo right away. Don’t wait till tomorrow—not even with a static subject. By then the light might for instance be completely different. Don’t even wait a minute, particularly with moving and changing subject. Now is the time to capture it.

I am sure we have all done the same mistakes. How about you, do you care to share your experience when you didn’t make yourself capture the best photo of your life?

Facts about the photo: The photo obviously wasn’t the one I missed. Anyway, it was taken with a Canon Eos 1 with a 16-35 mm lens, set at 16 mm. Shutter speed: 1/125 of a second. Aperture: f/6.3. The photo was processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Posted in Photography, Practical Tips | Tagged | 73 Comments

The Last Bit of Summer

Pat på vei langs High Divide

Pat på vei opp langs Bridge Creek

Mosegrodd granskog

Pat i leiren ved Appleton Pass

På vei langs High Divide. I bakgrunnen Mount Olympus (2432 m)

Pat plukker blåbær langs Bridge Creek

Solen står opp over leiren vår ved Lunch Lake

As the summer on the Northern hemisphere slowly turns into autumn, I have changed my location from Seattle, USA to Bergen, Norway, as I mentioned I would do last week. However, as I also mentioned last week, I had a last backpacker trip in the vicinities of Seattle before flying across half the globe.

This time we were exploring the Olympic Mountains on the Olympic Peninsula, west of Seattle, more specifically the area around the High Divide, the ridge that separates north from south and west from south on the peninsula.

The Olympic Peninsula is a rainy place, so much that the forest surrounding the mountains is a so-called temperate rain forest. However, those four days we were hiking around the Hide Divide, the weather showed itself from its best side. We had a couple of unusually clear and sunny days. Almost every day we would have a view of Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in the region, not something that happens most days in the region.

Needless to say it was a gorgeous trip, but also challenging. When you carry about 50 pounds on your back, hike maybe 10 miles one day, while starting out with a 2500 steep descent, only to continue with needing to climb 3000 feet again, it’s indeed quite demanding. However, by the end of the four days, you are really in good shape!

The photos following this post were all taking during this trip.

Facts about the photos: All the photos were taken with my Canon Eos 5D with either a 16-35 mm lens or a 24-105 mm lens. The photos have been processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Posted in Personal Work, Photography | Tagged , , | 77 Comments