Afterexposure Photography

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Creativity and Challenge

I finished reading the photo.net series ‘Becoming a More Creative Photographer‘ last weekend, and today by happenstance I had a few minutes to shoot on the way home.

But what to shoot?

Lucky me, I had printed the entire series of articles, and left them in my camera bag. All I needed to was pick out an assignment from the articles and shoot.

Just for fun I had mounted a Soligor 135mm f/2.8 on my K20D as another ‘one lens for the day’ exercise before I left the house this morning. I hadn’t really done much with this lens since buying it a few weeks back in Toronto, and with winter light being rare as it is, I really had to shoot something today… I could feel myself getting rusty, not really shooting for a couple of days.

I was quite surprised by the results of the assignment and the lens itself (click for larger images):

Trapped

Pentax K20D, Soligor 135mm @ f/8, ISO 100, 1/1500

Pentax K20D, Soligor 135mm @ f/8, ISO 100, 1/750

Pentax K20D, Soligor 135mm @ f/8, ISO 100, 1/750

These aren’t going to win any competitions, but a few things stand out.

For starters, I do get a sense of the ‘3D effect’ that some people talk about with certain lenses from the first image. I had always written the effect off as just shallow DOF, but I think there is more to it… perhaps ‘correct DOF’ would be a better description, where most of the subject is in acceptable focus, and the not-subject areas are out of focus.

The other thing that strikes me about the first image is the richness of color. I don’t always get this from my Pentax 50-135mm lens, and combined with some users noting that Pentax lens coatings actually block some colors (like violet) perhaps there is something going on.

The other thing that’s somewhat interesting is the octagonal blade pattern that shows up in the out of focus highlights of the second image. I did play around with the greyscale mix in Lightroom a bit to make the individual highlights more even across their surfaces, but without the tweak I find the shape alone pleasing.

Now, the act of using ‘assignments’ like this might seem limiting or unnecessary; but I do shoot a lot, and most of the time it’s what I want to be shooting… in other words, it’s selfish. Applying a little external stimulus to the creative process can really show you where your comfort zone and limits are. As soon as you feel challenged or uncomfortable – or even more interesting – at a LOSS for a shot… that’s telling you something.

For me it’s interesting to see which of the assignments are a breeze, and which are a genuine challenge – and thus where I should be putting in more practice. Yes, I think that creativity is something that benefits from practice, especially when a lot of artificial equipment enters the equation, as it does in photography.

Oh, the lens? I bought it one weekend from an outdoor table at the St. Lawrence flea/antique market.

It was $5.

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