I am always interested to see where other people work, but I do not usually think to take pictures of my own work place. These spaces are not were I spend most of my time, but I have spent enough time here that it sticks out in my mind.
Last weekend, or more like a week and a half ago now, my wife and I went up in the mountains to a Young Life camp with the high school students we work with at our church. Not uncommon for an event like this a student took a trip to the hospital, and this time I was designated to go along as the responsible adult. The hospital visit lasted all night resulting in my complete exhaustion for the rest of the weekend. Why do I mention this? These five photos are my best ones from that weekend, and for each of them I really didn’t feel like shooting, but I forced myself to. After an all night stay at a hospital, I had reverted to survival mode, all I have to do is make it through the weekend, then I can sleep. But by forcing myself to shoot when I knew that I should, I created my best pieces. I have written here several times about re-learning. This is it again, I always hear people say “I take pictures when I feel like it”. But many of my best photos come from times when I don’t feel like it.
In an effort to simplify, one thing that I do not spend a lot of time in is post processing. Of course, I would like to learn to use Lightroom to it’s full capability, but for now, I have enough going on learning to take decent photos. I could spend hours on one photo in post processing (and I have) but since I really have no idea what I am doing, I am never sure that I couldn’t have gotten equivalent results by using the LR presets.
One day I was looking through a book of photos by Henri Cartier-Bresson and I learned that he never processed his own photos. While this is old news to many people, I couldn’t believe that some like HCB could trust half of his creative process to someone else! Then I thought, if he can give up control, why can’t I? So I did, and I haven’t looked back.
After I import my photos, I select all and convert them all to the same B&W preset that comes standard with Lightroom. Then in the grid view I am looking at what I think of as the digital version of a proof sheet, and I can go from there. Sometimes I will experiment with some of the other B&W presets, but for the most part I have one that I like and I stick with that. I will adjust the tone curve a little, maybe some noise reduction if I am shooting at 800, but I try to keep it really simple.
I feel that by placing this additional limitation on myself that I have really freed myself up to be more creative, in addition of course to the amount of time I free up by not parking myself in front of the computer. By shooting with one preset in mind it is like shooting with film, you can’t change mid roll, everything will come out in the end with the same treatment. I also get to know this “film” better the more I shoot this way so I can anticipate the results while I am shooting.
It has been a very busy few weeks for me, not leaving a lot of time for photography, or at least not as much as I would like. This week in particular I have felt like I am in a creative vacuum. This is my eighth week on the “lines” theme, and I am starting to feel it. Of course that was the whole point, to shoot something so much that I am forced to see it in a different way.
So it comes down to making time. It isn’t anything new or earth shattering, and I have written about it here several times already, but it is a lesson I keep learning time and again. Make time, even if it is only for a few photos. Make time to look at what is around you, and you see differently.