Monday, December 30, 2013

Is it a Resolution or a Delightful Journey?

We've all done it.   The same year-after-year resolution on December 31 that somehow gets lost by January 15. Or the new resolution that never happens.  We commit to do something, for the moment, with good intentions.  It may be losing weight, changing our diet, exercise, finances, starting a new hobby. But why can't we make it stick?

Therapy: Watching the Female Cardinal in the Southern Winter Sunshine
First, I'm a nature photographer and not a psychologist.  Like everyone, I have a need for some type of therapy.  My therapy just happens to be in the fields, flowers and hanging out with the birds with cameras and lenses in tow.

Here's a few questions to consider.

What is the motivation behind the resolution?  Is it positive?  Does the thought of taking action bring a smile to your face or the dreadful sigh?

One of the most common resolutions I hear is "I am going to exercise so I can lose weight." Chances are, this one will not be sustained even though you know its needed.  Where's the positive?  Where's the fun?  Where's the traction?

Turn this around a bit.  What would encourage you to do an activity and stay with it?  What happens when this resolution is achieved?  Is it a one-shot deal or is it a lifestyle/hobby that you incorporate into who you are?  Can it be shared with a spouse, significant other, or friends?

For years, I wanted a camera but never purchased one.  I had resolved for years to get one and take pictures.  In retrospect, I didn't have a plan or motivation to take action on my resolution.

Create the Plan, Enjoy the Journey
My husband encouraged me by surprising me with a Nikon for Christmas two years ago.  I didn't take it out of the box and really use it until a few months later.  

It was a trip to the south with a personal commitment to learn the camera and how to capture images of what I really enjoyed, birding and nature.  I previewed my first images and the passion began.

It's not about 'having' to go out with the camera.  It's about making sure I take the time doing what I enjoy.  Nature photography is typically part of my weekend and if I'm lucky, sometimes part of my week. And yes, I have photography resolutions for 2014, and that's for another blog.

So 2014 is here.  What do you want to do this year that you haven't accomplished yet? What's the positive motivation behind it?  Remember, if you can't answer that question, it probably won't happen.  Then tell someone, involve a friend/partner and take action. Your next 'passion' may be waiting!
Happy Shooting!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

If You Could Wrap an Image of From Your Past & Put It Under the Tree, What Would it Be?

The throes of the holidays are upon us.  Schedules remain filled with tying up loose ends at work.  There's limited time to take care of planning meals, parties, shopping, wrapping gifts and heading off to visit family.

Slow down the madness for a just a moment.  Savor the ability to reflect.

Holiday Reflection by ©Sheen's Nature Photography

More than likely we can immediately recall the time we received a gift from the heart, someone's personal talent shared. The gift of that sweater 'we had to have' from our favorite store?  It may be one of our favorites, or, it may not even be remembered.

Sweet Face by ©Sheen's Nature Photography
Case in point?  Your favorite teacher.  They had the talent for encouraging you to think differently about something.  To this day when someone asks you "Who was your most influential teacher?", their name and memory erupts before even thinking about it.  Their ability to inspire was a gift.

Another may be a relative, a family friend, who spent their time with you, doing what you wanted to do instead of taking care of their own to-do list.  They were sharing a piece of themselves, their natural gift of story-telling, listening, teaching a hobby.

As photographers and those who enjoy photography, we share our images via websites, Facebook and other social media. This global reach provides many with views of the world that the majority will never see. Folks who may be housebound have brief escapes into beautiful places local and far away.

Many photographers offer the gift of knowledge and encouragement of our craft with our kids, neighbors' kids or local youth centers.

Your images of sports, nature, people are personal.

Because you take it personally, you may inspire others to reach within themselves to find their own talent and interests.   Your innate passion, time and talent can't be bought, but it can be shared.

And it can be one of the best gifts of their life time…and yours.

Happy Shooting and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hidden Gems….Polish them with Edits

It's a winter wonderland.  It's a beautiful sunrise.  Spring color rises from the abyss of winter.  Fall foliage or spring flowers radiate colors that would make Monet smile.

A Lovely Fall Day, simple RAW edits
Nikon 600, 14-24mm lens

There are times when you get home after a photography shoot that you load your files and what you thought was going to be great, wasn't.

It happens to everyone.
Sly Eyes, RAW Edits with Sepia effect
Nikon 5100, 55-300mm

Sure, our first reaction may be to ditch and delete.  We've done it many times.

Enter the world of creative edits!

A raining day?  Pull out some old images.

Not able to get out and go shoot due to your work schedule?  Take a break and review some prior images you haven't looked at in months.

Sitting on the couch watching football on a team you don't really care about?  Find those 'almost had what you were looking for.'

Lightroom and other image processing software offer many creative editing tools that can turn what you were going to ditch into interesting and quite usable works of art.

Recently we visited the The Outer Banks.  I had been picturing, non pun intended, in my mind wide-angel images of piers I wanted to capture with my new Nikon 14-24mm Landscape lens.

As a bird and flower photographer, most of my work has been with either the Sigma 150-500 or Nikon 105mm macro and a few other lenses.  Landscape photography presents a new horizon of learning (see my recent blog The Checklist….It's Not About What I'm Packing).  So when I returned from my first shoot on the pier, I was disappointed.  The weather was colorless and flat.  Winds whipped at 25 miles per hour.  My limited perspectives captured didn't leave a lot to work with.

Or did it?

A photographer in The Outer BanksDan Waters, that I had the pleasure of working with while there shared many professional tips and tricks.  One of which is that has a series of modules to assist in various types of targeted editing.

A Light Hits the Gloom on the Gray
Nikon 600, 14-24mm
The pier image mentioned earlier evolved in depth and emotional perspective with a few simple edits using Lightroom and  Nik Software Silver Efex Pro.

Here's to Happy Shooting!  If you can't get out today or tomorrow - then, Happy Editing!