My Backyard Project



As I wrote in my post Finding Bearing some weeks ago, I have been in a bit of creative standstill lately. As I wrote a few posts later, I was slowly finding my way back again and bit by bit replenishing my creative well. So far, though, I haven’t really done much work photographically speaking. I have been working on other projects—among other things I have been writing quite extensively.

But I wanted to get started with my photography again, and I decided to return to my old project; photographing my backyard. A photographic project doesn’t have to take place in a far away location, in strange environments or in exotic cultures. It can be right outside your doorstep—as my backyard project literally is. I don’t even regard myself as a nature photographer, but this project is more for me an opening to experiment without restrictions, pushing myself further, testing out approached that are new to me. As such my backyard project is perfect, as it’s always there, I have no expectations or clients demanding anything in particular, and it’s also very limiting, physically and mentally, which is always spurring the creative force.

As such, these are some of my first photos trying to get out of my creative rut. I am not completely satisfied, but I am opening myself up to the flow of energy again, and finding my way back into the groove. Spring—as is the season where I am right now—is of course an explosion of colours from flowers and foliage coming into life. However, I decided to not go for the obvious, but rather work around and experimenting with more subtle aspects of the backyard. These are a few of the photos I made, they are not in any way extraordinary, but they add some variation to the project as such as well as function to bring back my creative streak. If you are interested, you may find more about my backyard project in these posts: My Personal Challenge, The World from the Backyard, Instagram my Backyard, Out of Comfort Zone and Challenge and Expand.

Facts about the photo: It’s hard to give a general description of the photos, but they were all taken with a Canon EOS-5D and various lenses such as 16-35 mm and 24-105 mm. I processed first in Lightroom and then started to work with many layers in Photoshop, combining them in various ways.




80 thoughts on “My Backyard Project

  1. In my opinion, Otto, you turned some everyday plants/flowers into spectacular mysteries and your creative rut can clearly be seen! Very exceptional the colour of the flower number 3. Many thanks and very best regards Martina

  2. You still have that creative genius within you, Otto–the first and third photos, especially. Even on a good day, my photos don’t turn out like that! 😀

  3. Love that 3rd image. It’s one of those compositions that draws your eye in to the frame searching for familiarity and then enjoying each shape and colour tone as your eye moves around.

  4. I am also trying to find my way out of the creative doldrums. Spring is coming…slowly…and yesterday I took some photographs in the little park next door to my building (the closest thing I have to a backyard). None of them captured anything I wanted to keep or even try to work with. But I know this too shall pass and I will keep trying! Thanks for your continuing inspiration. Your backyard project is such a good idea. The last photo above is my favorite – there’s a hint of mystery about it that I love.

    1. The creative doldrums are just a part of the creative path. Every so often we run into them. But they will pass—as you say—and even if you weren’t happy about the result from the park yesterday, just doing it will slowly get the inspiration back. Keep photographing, and suddenly things will change. And spring is usually a very good motivator for photographers. 🙂

  5. Good to see your photos and to read your words that every artist may need to find their creative “…well” again. Thank you for sharing a dryer time. And your suggestions on how to nurture yourself back into a creative wellspring- we hope!

  6. I find a couple of these very remarkable. The first one the green textures that seem endless. No beginning. No end. I could look at it and become come following the textures. The first one that appears after the writing is stunning and I would love to see that hanging on my wall.

  7. I really do enjoy seeing what you consider ordinary, Otto. I do understand what you’re referring to when you photograph from your own backyard. I think you have such an incredibly good eye and the result is so transformative. Each of these is really special. The layering is so interesting and I really love the last one. The lighting is incredible. I can’t imagine how you captured it! 🙂

    1. I am not sure how exactly I did it. And when you work with layers like this it’s more trial and error than setting out with a clear purpose. Thank you for the lovely comment, Debra,

  8. I’m very glad to hear you feel you’re finding your way back Otto and where better to start the journey than in your own backyard. I love the way you have worked with layers to create these images Otto. Creating something beautiful and interesting from, on the surface, very ordinary subjects is definitely a challenge and one that you’re clearly mastering!

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  10. Photographing the familiar is an excellent way to practice finding things (and looking at things) in a way you’ve never done before. Looks like you are off to a great creative start!

  11. I really think your backyard photos ARE something special!
    I like fine abstracts – they “break reality” in a creative way for me and show new perspectives…..
    Like yours 😉

  12. As soon the page opened and I saw the first photo, I said almost out-loud- “Wow”. Then I scrolled down and I was even more amazed. Afterwards, I continued with the reading section. I agree with you about the location of photography. It could be anywhere and the subject could be anything or nothing. I loved your photos, Otto! I have never used Photoshop for my photos (only Picasa for basic editing), and now I’m thinking to download Photoshop. 🙂

    1. I am glad you liked the photos. Thank you for the lovely words, Nandini. Photoshop is still the best tool for editing photos. It might not be the fastest and the most intuitive, but nothing can beat it when it comes to what you can accomplish with a photo editing application. But it takes some taken use to and has a bit of a steep learning curve, just so you know. 🙂

  13. I love the concept of the backyard project – it’s one I use very frequently, partly from necessity but mostly from choice. Among other things I believe working within a limited space encourages us to look carefully, particularly regarding such aspects as shape, texture and relationships between objects.,

  14. I’m glad you’re returning to this theme. I enjoyed your past yard photos and I especially like the first one in this group. So happy for you the creative juices are flowing again. I’ll look forward to seeing what you come up with!

  15. Mycket glädjande att du återfått skaparlusten Otto. Superfina bilder, nr 1 blir min favorit. Så roligt att du tar dig tid att jobba med lager på lager och bara är i skapandet utan krav. Själv ger det mig stor glädje att se hur bilderna växer fram och förändras under processen/resan.
    Må så gott!

  16. Have you ever seen leaf-cutter bees? They cut grass and leaves into uniform pieces to build their nests, and they often choose small vents on boats as prime locations, so I get to watch them a good bit. Your first photo reminds me of their work. I might even title it, “To Bee or Not to Bee.” 🙂

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