tfttf733 – Shabby Luggage


Let’s listen in on Adam Savage’s podcast on how constraint furthers creativity. We discuss a contest and hear Thiago ask about setting up shop as a freelance photographer in Europe. Travis is interested in finding out how to travel with photo gear and Chris has a few words to say about that while he packs for his tour to Lofoten, Norway.



Upcoming events:
» Jun 2016: Lofoten, Norway
» Sep 2016: Donegal
» Feb 2017: Lake Baikal, Siberia
» May 2017: Svalbard/Spitzbergen
» Nov 2017: Bhutan
» all events

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Breaking Down the Creative Process

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about the creative process. When we talk about “creativity,” people generally end up putting themselves into one of two categories– creative or not creative. I’m always amused– and a bit leery– when people who consider themselves creative say that they have no creative process. That ideas “just come” to them. I’m not buying it. I can’t help but ask if ideas really do just come to them, or have they refined and streamlined their process to the point that they don’t even recognize it as a process? And if there really is a process, can someone who thinks they aren’t creative follow a series of steps that can help them become creative? The truth is, everyone has creative potential.

Graham Wallas (1858-1932) was an English social psychologist and co-founder of the London School of Economics. In Art of Thought – The Model of Creativity, written in 1926, Wallas broke down what we now refer to as the “creative process” into four distinct stages– Preparation, Incubation, Illumination, and Implementation. I’ve seen his approach described in several sources recently and over the years, but few ever seem to give any proper credit to the source material, espousing these thoughts and concepts as if they were original ideas. And so, Graham Wallas– this one’s for you, with my thanks.



It sounds simple, and maybe a bit obvious, but this first step really does lay the foundation for the entire process. Writers write, read, research, and revise. Musicians practice and rehearse. They listen to music– sometimes their own, sometimes that of their influences. Painters experiment with color and visit museums. They sketch. As a photographer, what are you doing to prepare? Do you have influences and inspiration? Do you look to other art forms? How will you nurture an idea once it’s formed? We all draw from different emotional resources, but one thing that every creative has in common at this stage in the process is that the steps can actually be pretty boring. We may enjoy walking through museums or scouting locations, and they may get the creative juices flowing,  but they are not the exciting part of the process. Preparation is, quite simply, evaluating your creative options and beginning to come up with a plan.


For me, this is where the fun begins– partially because half the time I don’t even realize it’s happening.  This is the stage where those first hints of a hopefully great idea are bouncing around in my head.  This is when I’m sitting in the car at a red light and happen to notice how the sun is hitting an object.  This is the stage when I’m flipping through a magazine  and an off-handed remark in an article brings the whole project into focus (no pun intended).  During the incubation step your conscious AND subconscious minds are working on the idea.  Wallas talked about the incubation stage being one where no real direct thought was given to the project or idea. Have you ever tried forcing an idea? It doesn’t usually work, right? Just like you sometimes have to take a break and clear your head, diverting your thoughts to other problems or projects– or to nothing at all– during the incubation stage may be just what you need for you to find yourself at…


This is the “A-hah!” moment.  When this moment hits, your creative urge is so strong that you just have to get the idea out of your head and into its medium (camera, canvas, paper, etc.)– usually to the point that you have no problem ignoring or losing track of everything else going on around you.  The biggest problem with my illumination moments is that they usually happen at the most inconvenient times (in the shower, driving, middle of the night, etc.). It’s going to happen when it happens. You’ve had all these preparatory elements bouncing around– incubating– inside your head that when they do finally snap into a coherent form, it’s almost like the wheels on a Vegas slot machine coming to rest in perfect alignment.


This is where your idea sees the light of day.  You’re taking conscious, positive steps towards executing your idea. Remember, though, that implementation in and of itself does not mean that your idea is going to be a success. This is also the point where a good creative begins to evaluate the idea and determine whether it was a good or bad idea.  Until you have something tangible to show for your idea, it’s almost impossible to decide whether this theoretical notion you’ve been nurturing through the process can be a success.  How many times has the idea or image in your head not matched the photo in your camera?  For every great idea, there are several I wish I’d never had.

Bringing it All Together

Obviously, we’re not talking about flow charts or checklists. Each of these “steps” is really more like part of a gradient– soft edges overlapping as you move from dark to light. As you know from your own experience, sometimes this process runs start-to-finish in the blink of an eye, but it can also take weeks. You just never know. While they may not always be clearly defined as you process each idea or project, it can be extremely helpful knowing what they are and how to identify them. Being able to recognize where you are on a creative journey can often be the confidence boost you need to see something through from preparation to implementation.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Breaking Down the Creative Process

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Ignore The Naysayers. Go Create Stunning Images

There has been a spat of posts and articles recently extolling the storyline that “Photography Is Dead!” or “Creativity Is Dead!” or both. And then some. The articles I have read rightly point out that more people have cameras and are sharing images on the likes of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And that most of those images are not some form of art (the food you ate, a self-portrait (or ‘selfie’ as they are colloquially know) or yet another sunset, etc…).

They also point to this deluge of images as something that is dragging down photography as a whole and beating the creativity out of the art form. They point to the overall averageness that this mass use of the medium has created.

But I think they are missing a point.

While there are exponentially more people taking photos these days thanks to phone cameras and cheaper, instant digital cameras in general, this is in no way killing creativity. If you’re reading this on DPS then you are someone who wants to learn and improve your photography skills. And that’s my point;

Even though the masses might be churning out average images that don’t inspire, and far more of them today than just 20 years ago, this in no way stops someone who sees photography as an art form from creating beautiful, inspiring art.

What this mass use of the medium has done is only highlight what was already there; That the masses, on average, are average at any given art form.

This is nothing new, but it is made far more obvious because of the ability to share any image with the online world as a whole at any point in time. For instance, most of us are average, or below average in my case, drawers or sketch artists. It’s only because drawings are not as easy to be shared over the internet as a photograph that this fact is not brought to our attention. If every pencil had built-in wifi and out sketches were posted online in real-time, we’d have sketch artists complaining about the “deluge of average” instead of photographers.

To use an analogy, it would be like saying that because cars are mass-produced and, to a certain degree, look the same, that there are no more extraordinary cars. No more creativity in the automobile industry. But that is blatantly false when a look is given to manufacturers like Ferrari, Bugotti, Tesla, Lambroghini and others. Not only that, right now, some place on this planet, there is a man or woman in their home garage who is crafting a custom car unlike any you have seen.

Or better yet, look at motorcycles. Not only can I not really tell one street rocket from another, or one Harley Davidson from another, there are major production TV shows dedicated to the art of building beautiful, creative street machines.

I see a lot of cars and motorcycles while driving the highways around LA. A lot. And I can’t tell you how many Toyota Camrys or Chevy Cruzes I have seen. But any time a custom motorcycle goes by or any time I spot a barely-legal, wedge shaped ‘super car’…those moments turn my head and drop my jaw.

And for you, the learning photographer (a group that will always include me as well), that is your lofty goal. Not to be mired in the hoopla that prices paid for images are dropping through the floor and creativity is therefor dead (the business side of photography in the digital age is another discussion altogether). Your goal is to create head turning art.

If you want to rise above the sheer volume of average photos and get your photography noticed (either for profit or vanity or just to show the world how beautiful or scary it is) you need to be creative and create something worth noticing.

In the end, realize those people telling you creativity is dead and that photography is dead are spending time, like me right now, at a keyboard NOT creating beautiful images that inspire and rise above the din of mediocrity. They are only extolling their opinion about their single-person viewpoint of a huge art form and that things aren’t the way they use to be or how the author wants them to be.

You need no one’s permission to be creative or to produce stunning art. Ignore opinions that tell you creativity in any art form is dead. They are just opinions.

Need some inspiration? Click here and here and here and here and here and here.

Grab your camera, any camera, and go create.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Ignore The Naysayers. Go Create Stunning Images

Studio Lighting: Unravelling the Complexity of Multiple Lights

As one gets started in studio lighting I think it is pretty common to get over ensconced in the lighting scenarios. It is funny because everything you read tells you to start with one light until you really start getting a feel for how to shape, angle and manipulate it with purpose. Most of us end up getting lost in multiple light set-ups struggling to find proper lighting solutions. I was not any different.

Soon after I got started, I found myself using 4-5 lights in every setup and then getting frustrated with the nuclear explosion of light that was going off with each shutter click. It makes me laugh now, because at the time I was solely focused on getting light on the subject, background and in most cases everything else in the room that was touched by the mushroom cloud of illumination. I did not understand the importance of shadow, shape, depth and form.

Maturing with studio lighting takes time and patience, and always remember that each light should have a specific purpose. Understanding how to build the lighting with intent in mind takes plenty of practice and a fair number of mistakes and experimentation. Just remember to keep an open mind and never stop learning from both your successful and failed attempts. So, let’s get down to business and walk through a more challenging lighting set-up being mindful of the reasons and rational for each lights use.

Creative Winter-106(sRGB-websize)


In pre-planning for any shoot it is always good to have some structure and direction to the idea or concept. Some focus, no matter how vague, will always be helpful. Understand what sort of mood, feel or emotion you hope to portray and have some insight into what you want presented in your final image. In the shoot presented in this article, the overall theme was a creative portrait based on the beauty of ice, winter and cold.

This already set most of my color palette to blues, whites, silvers and other cooler tones. I also wanted to give a feeling like the model was being seen through a pane or block of ice and knew I wanted some crystal like texture incorporated. Simply put, I needed a lighting set-up that would maximize the crystalline texture, but that would also provide a flattering light for the model. Sounds simple right?

Lighting Plan

Let’s think through this lighting for a moment. In order to light for texture, one needs to light from the side so that the light skims the texture and creates shadows that give some shape, depth and form to the surface. Great! We can side light our crystalline forms. Oh but wait, if we side light the model we are likely going to see every blemish, hair or imperfection on the skin and either are going to resort to a lengthy saddle-sore ridden editing session, or have a very unflattering photo of our model.

How can I get a nice beautiful light on my model? I know, butterfly or clam shell lighting provides a very flattering look and has a way of smoothing out the complexion. Awesome! But wait, if I front light the texture, I will lose the depth and form of the crystals. Quite a conundrum, huh? Well, at least it provides a framework to help me set-up my lighting. I want some sort of combination of side lighting and butterfly lighting that will accomplish both of my needs. Lets break it down in a diagram.



All make-up and styling was performed by the amazingly creative Dina Bree. The model, Leslie, was shot against a blue seamless background through a piece of plexiglass that had been treated to create a crystalline or frozen texture. White and silver confetti was released over the model during shooting to gain an effect as if snow was falling lightly.

I had two strip boxes, one on either side of the plexiglass skimming the surface and providing some side lighting to the model. The key light was a diffused beauty dish that was placed directly above the plexiglass and angled down at the model and positioned so that it would not spill light on the textured surface. My fill light was a 7” reflector with blue gel bounced off of the floor beneath the plexiglass up at the model again trying to avoid spill on the plexiglass. I knew I wanted both the textured surface and the model in sharp focus so I chose a very small aperture at f/16 to gain a large depth of field.

Thus, I had found a pleasant combination of side lighting and butterfly lighting to accomplish my goals within the original framework I had outlined.

When I conceived the idea for this shoot, I have to admit I was not sure if I could pull it off effectively. I knew the lighting would be tricky and that it could take some subtle changes or modifications as I progressed through the shoot. I also knew that it could be a complete disaster with an ultimate failed result. Either way it was going to be a great learning opportunity. Lighting with intent and purpose is critical as you move into multiple light set-ups. Planning and understanding the need for each light serves to unravel a lot of the complexity encountered in studio lighting scenarios.

Also, don’t be afraid to experiment within the set-up. This final shot was a fantastic accident as I decided to turn the key light off for some production shots and I got a whole new look and feel to the image. Take your time and think it through and make sure you have an idea of where you are going before you start. There is no need to fly completely blind. Be confident, clever and calculated and you will soon find that you can amaze yourself and satiate that starving creative beast inside you with a nice healthy meal.

Creative Winter-314-Edit(sRGB-websize)

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Studio Lighting: Unravelling the Complexity of Multiple Lights

tfttf596 – Ultrawide Creative Juices

Chris takes a look at the lighting at the German parliament in Berlin, Steve has a question on ultra-wide lenses and how to compose with them, and we’ll look at an important way to keep your creative juices flowing: mix … Continue reading

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6 Ways to Enhance Your Creativity

No matter what your artistic interests, whether photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, etc., the underlying force behind your work is creativity. It’s much easier to talk about technical aspects of photography as it’s a tangible skill, unlike the more mysterious intangible skill of creative thought.  While every art form is unique unto its own, harnessing one’s creativity is a universal skill.

There are some that might say you either have it or you don’t in relation to creativity, but the truth is we’re all creative. Every child makes believe at some point and lets their imagination run wild, and if I’m correct you were once a child. Creativity is a thought process and one that can be strengthened with practice and exercise. Below are 6 ways I like to get my creative mind working. If you have techniques that work for you be sure to add them in the comments.

1. Never Stop Thinking About Photos
Whether your camera is in hand or not conduct mental exercises to find subjects, mentally frame images and think through how you would capture the subject. Keeping photography constantly in mind is important in training yourself to think creatively. If your mind is primed for creative thought, creativity will have an easier time striking you.

2. Embrace Your Mistakes & Chance
It’s OK for chance or mistakes to bring something new to your attention. Always take a second look at your mistakes and see if it presents something new to the scene that perhaps you hadn’t thought to try. Not every mistake is a creative epiphany, but you’ll never have one if you never look.

3. Find inspiration
Whether viewing artwork at museums, in photo books or immersing yourself in nature, embrace the work of others including Mother Nature to help you see or think in new ways. When our minds are introduced to new techniques or ways of seeing our mindseye begins to expand its view fostering creative thought.

4. Break the Rules
Rules are great as they provide a roadmap of how things can be done or explain why we find something visually appealing. Once you know or have mastered the rules its time to break them. Creativity knows no bounds.  A great creative exercise is to intentionally break a rule to see how you can find a new way of viewing something in a manner that is otherwise “taboo”.

5. Have No Fear
Free yourself from the fear of what others might say if critical of your creative experiments. People by nature almost always have adverse reactions to new things particularly when they’re entrenched in thinking a more common practice is the “right way” or “norm”.  Creativity is the antithesis of a “norm”. Creativity brings a new way to present and see things. Never let norms and the attachment others have to them sway you from your creative exploration of the world before you with your camera.

6. Extract Yourself
Remove yourself from familiar routine and locations. Taking time to be away from the things that normally fill your day is a great way to obtain freedom for your mind to wander. Distraction free time allows for new thoughts and ideas to surface and most importantly it allows you to shape them into actionable projects.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

6 Ways to Enhance Your Creativity

tfttf523 – A Lesser Photographer

Photo: Martin Bailey Chris talks to C.J. Chilvers, writer of “A Lesser Photographer: 10 Principles for Rediscovering What Matters”, a manifesto about creativity in photography. Show Links: A Lesser Photographer – The Manifesto A Lesser Photographer – The Blog » … Continue reading

12 Ways to Add Randomness and Creativity to Your Photography

One of the wonderful things about digital photography is the creativity that you can engage in once you’ve got your image on your computer and in Photoshop. All kinds of effects can be achieved to make your shots look any number of ways.

But what about in-camera techniques for more creative and artistic shots?

Here are twelve fun in-camera hacks to experiment with to get more abstract and artistic shots – the results are only limited by your imagination!

1. Move your Camera

Every good photography course drums into it’s participants the importance of keeping your camera absolutely still while shooting to ensure fantastically sharp images.

Of course sharp isn’t always what you’re after and one way to add motion into your shots is to experiment with moving your camera while shooting. Here are a few ways to experiment with:

  • panning – a technique often used in sports photography.
  • rotate – ever whirled a child around you? why not do it with your camera and take a shot mid whirl.
  • camera throwing – not for the faint hearted – this technique involves a long shutter speed, setting the self timer, throwing your camera in the air just before the shutter is released and a safe pair of hands. It’s ‘extreme photography’ and can result in stunning shots (like the one to the right which was a camera throw shot in front of a computer screen) – as well as the need for a new camera.

2. Zooming While Shooting

Another way of getting a sense of movement into your images is to keep the camera still but to zoom in or out with your zoom lens while actually taking the shot.

While panning (above) injects a vertical movement into shots – zooming gives your shots a dynamic 3D look and feel.

Combine this with slow sync flash (see below) and you can achieve some pretty special results. Read more about the Zoom Effect.

3. Creative Focusing

One of the most common problems that I see in readers photos is poor focusing with photographers either focusing slightly in front or behind of the part of the image that needs to be sharp.

Why not take your focusing problems and make them worse by some creative focussing where you don’t just get it slightly wrong – but make your shots obviously out of focus.

This technique is especially effective when you either have a plain background which means nothing in your shot is in focus – or when there’s a secondary element of the image that you leave in focus with the main focal point out of focus enough for it to be obvious but in focus enough to still know what it is.

4. Shoot from your Boots

Putting your camera on the ground and taking shots of your subject from that low angle introduces a completely new and often random point of view for your shots.

You (and the viewers of your images) will see the world from a new perspective, add interesting foregrounds to shots and even capture a few surprising subjects along the way.

This might mean you need to get down low (and get a little dirty) to frame your shots – or you might want to be a little more random than that and introduce luck into the equation and just hold your camera low and see what you get.

5. Over expose your shots

Experiment with different exposure levels.

Bump up your exposure compensation to the max and you’ll end up with brightly burnt out images.

This can be particularly effective if you’re photographing brightly colorful objects as you can end up with them on a background of bright burnt out parts of the scene.

Check out these examples of Overexposure for a little more inspiration.

6. Slow Sync Flash

This is a great technique for lower light shooting conditions where there is ambient light that you want to capture in addition to a subject that you’d like to light up with a flash.

Experiment with front or rear curtain flash for different impacts.

Learn more about Slow Sync Flash in our previous tutorials – Slow Sync Flash and An Explanation of 2nd Curtain Sync Flash. Also check out these amazing Slow Sync Flash images.

7. Get Up High – Monopod extenders and Kite Aerial Photography

On the other end of the spectrum to getting down low (above) is to get your camera up high and shoot down on situations. One fun way to do this is to attach your camera to an extended monopod (or a tripod), a long shutter release cable (or a wireless one if you have one) and start shooting.

This will help you to both photograph things up high (street signs for example) as well as to help you shoot down on scenes that you’d never have been able to see from above before.

This is particularly fun with a wide angle lens (a fish eye can be even more fun)!

Another more extreme technique is one called Kite Aerial Photography where you attach a camera to a kite and take shots from up high. The beach image to the right was taken with this technique!

8. Multiple Exposures

I used to love experimenting with multiple exposures on the same frame with my old film SLR. Many digital cameras don’t have the ability to do it – but if you’re lucky enough to have one that does you can achieve some fun results.

One way to do it is to take pictures of the same scene at different focal lengths or holding the camera on a slightly different angle. I find this is particularly effective on shots with a repeating pattern.

If you don’t have the ability for multiple exposures on your digital camera you can always get similar results in Photoshop using layers.

9. Go Grainy

There’s something about shots with lots of grain that adds an element of mood into an image.

Override your cameras ISO settings by boosting them right up to the maximum number available. The higher you go the more noise or grain you’ll get.

This can be particularly effective in black and white shots – especially when you blow them up for display.

10. White Balance

Experimenting with different white balance settings on your camera can inject different color casts into your images.

White balance settings are meant to be used to help you compensate for different types of lights (each type of light gives off different subtle colors). However, if you know what you’re doing you can really warm up or cool down an image quite a bit and get some lovely and creative images.

11. Master the Bulb Setting

At the slow end of many digital camera’s shutter speed settings is one often labeled ‘B’ or ‘Bulb’.

The bulb setting allows you to keep your shutter open for as long as you hold down the shutter release. This opens up all kinds of possibilities for creativity – particularly in low light situations.

The Bulb is great for capturing light trails (moving traffic at night, a friend drawing out a message with a torch or fireworks) but to get the most of it you’ll probably want to secure your camera with a tripod (unless you want to add camera movement into your shot as well).

At the extreme end of bulb settings astro photographers will leave the shutter open for long periods of time (hours) to capture star trails. To do this you’ll need a small ISO, small aperture and should be aware that on many cameras it’ll drain your batteries significantly.

12. Infrared

Infrared photography is an art of it’s own (it deserves it’s own tutorial – as it’s something I’ve not done much of I’d be open to someone writing me one) and can create some amazing shots (black skies, white trees, dark eyes etc).

Not all cameras can capture infra red light (although many can) but check your manual to see if yours is one of them. If you’re in luck grab yourself an IR filter which cuts out non IR light and start experimenting. Because these filters block out a lot of light you’ll need to use longer shutter speeds, probably will want to use a tripod and should select faster ISO settings.

The start and end of the day is a great time to shoot in IR.

Get more free tips like this from our weekly email newsletter. Also check out our Digital Photography School forum for a community of digital camera users who love to experiment with this type of stuff.

Post from: Digital Photography School's Photography Tips. Check out our resources on Portrait Photography Tips, Travel Photography Tips and Understanding Digital Cameras.


12 Ways to Add Randomness and Creativity to Your Photography