Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Time for a re-boot

There is no need to travel to other destinations for wildlife or landscape photography. Every day life can supply endless opportunities, if we take the time to look. Double Crested Cormorants along the LaHave River.
My disappointment at being turned down for a photographic experience I had applied for recently was quickly tempered by inspiration I received in the same batch of emails. I subscribe to a popular photographers newsletters, and the advice wasnt directed at just me, but it felt like she was talking to me nonetheless:

"I want to encourage you, no matter what negative thoughts you have going on in your mind, to do the thing you feel you cannot.
Never stop yourself from creating because of what the end product will be like. Good or bad, the experience is everything". Good advice from fine art photographer and visual story teller Brooke Shaden.

Every now and then I have to remind myself, and sometimes get reminded from other sources, that momentary defeat is not failure. If we dont fail at something now and then, maybe it just means were not stretching ourselves. I consoled myself by taking my dogs for a walk. 
 
I was rewarded by being reminded how special life is. My first interaction with nature that morning was seeing a small herd of deer bounding away through the dog park trails, perhaps the same group I photographed for a previous article. Walking along on one of the busiest residential streets in town, I was able to stop and watch two ospreys - one in a nest, and the other sitting at the top of a hydro pole fine dining on a freshly caught fish. I could hear a loons cry coming from the river. When we reached the river, I was rewarded by the beautiful sight of calm water, fog on the hills, and perfect reflections of the homes on the other side.

Sometimes I see more nature in a day living in town than I did while living on a 20 acre property in the country. It can be easy to take everything for granted, and I have to constantly remind myself to slow down and look around. Its surprising how much I can see if I take the time to appreciate.

And often times I am totally clueless about my surroundings. I was talking with a friend a couple of weeks ago, and telling her about the group of double crested cormorants that I had photographed while in New Brunswick. She told me that there is a group of them who hang out in a tree along the river right in the town of Bridgewater. So of course I headed out with my camera one morning to find them. Less than two kilometres from my home, I was amazed that I had never noticed them before. Apparently, this has been a favourite spot for them for years. Now that I know where they are, I see them every time I cross the bridge. The thrill hasnt worn off for me yet.

Its easy to take things, as well as people, for granted. Your home is just your home until someone else comes to visit and tells you how nice it is. Tourists visit us from other provinces and places around the world, paying for the privilege of seeing things we get to see every day.

Sometimes we just need a re-boot, a gentle reminder to look at things a different way.
I find I run into the same thing with my photography. I have been carrying a camera since I was a teenager which, I hate to admit, is more than forty years. I tend to take the same kind of pictures, and be interested in the same type of things, as I was when I started out with my hobby. Nature and scenic images are always my "go to". I do try to challenge myself by taking photo challenges with our local club, or forcing myself to use a specific lens for a period of time. But, like an old pair of comfortable jeans, its a lot easier sometimes just to slip into the familiar and do things the way Ive always done them.

No matter what your hobby or pastime, I think its good to shake things up now and then by getting together with other people who like doing the same things. Maybe just a group of friends, or a club of like minded people, or even a paid workshop or course. While attending formal presentations, I find I learn just as much through conversations with other people in the group as I do by the meeting itself. Seeing and hearing what other people do helps me think about things differently and gets my mind going in new directions.
Getting together with like minded people, or enrolling in courses and workshops, exposes our minds to new ideas and helps us improve our skills. A recent landscape workshop at Crescent Beach helped reinforce landscape techniques for a group of interested photographers.
I decided that my scenic and landscape photography needed a boost, something to bring back my passion for the genre, and my interest in creating new images. I signed up for a landscape photography workshop with Dublin Shore photographer Kas Stone, and one Saturday at the end of May found me sitting in a room overlooking the LaHave River with 10 other interested people. After several hours of classroom theory and beautiful examples, we headed to Crescent Beach with our tripods and cameras to put the theory into practice.

I discovered that its a lot easier to listen to someone tell you how to create a dynamic image than it is to actually do it yourself. Repetition is the key for my aging brain, so I will need to continue my practicing for a while in order for all that theory to become second nature to me.
 
Getting outdoors in all the beautiful Nova Scotia scenery is not a hardship at all, and even if you're not a photographer, its something good to focus on.

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