Archive for the ‘Creative Process’ Category


Friday, July 11th, 2014


“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”

– Dalai Lama XIV

Rules can be useful. For example, the “Rule of Thirds” helps us create more dynamic images by placing the subject at the intersection of lines that divide the frame into thirds. Some rules, like the “Rule of Thirds” have come down to us as wisdom from generations of photographers. Others, embody lessons learned ourselves. Regardless of the source, it’s important to know and understand the rules we are explicitly and implicitly working under so that we can break them when necessary to achieve or even expand our vision.

This image is about breaking rules – two of my own rules. The first is “Don’t photograph flowers in full sunlight.” The second is “Always use a tripod for macro photography.” Both of these “rules” have served me well in the past, but not that day.

As I was walking back to the car after trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to photograph wild blue flax, I saw this backlit flax blossom against a background in shadow. I was immediately captivated. The blossom was in full sunlight, but the light was being filtered through the blossom and the background was the perfect foil.

I had the tripod in my hand, but didn’t use it. Setting up the tripod would have broken the spell. I was in the moment and it wasn’t a tripod moment. Instead, I used my 200 mm macro lens hand-held. The result speaks for itself.

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Engine 683

Friday, March 7th, 2014


I took this photo several years ago at the Colorado Railroad Museum. It’s an HDR image and, while the result was very nice, it didn’t move me. It looked like something I would have produced in the ’70s using Ektachrome slide film. Among other things, the blank blue sky was a killer. At the time, I tried several different treatments (including some texture overlays) but wasn’t able to come up with anything that I liked. Several weeks ago, I ran across the image again and decided to try a water-color-filled line drawing treatment. This didn’t work either; but, working with the image inspired me to try some newer textures. Things came together quickly after that and I’m very happy with the results. Persistence pays — and it’s especially fun to rediscover an old image with a fresh eye.

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Emergent Images

Friday, November 25th, 2011

This image was made while I was experimenting with Photoshop’s Polar Coordinates filter. This filter distorts the image in a circular fashion. I then duplicated the image and mirrored half of it back on itself. The starting image here was a picture of two Rose Crown flowers.

I’ve been wondering how to describe images like this one, the Canyon Spirits, and the Kaleidoscopes. Lately, I’ve been thinking of them as “Emergent” images. They aren’t necessarily created from some particular vision, they seem to emerge from the creative process. However, the particular combination of starting image, the details of the processing, and the selection process that decides what works and what doesn’t all combine to produce something that is clearly reflective of a unique vision. In that sense, images such as these are like those produced by the wet darkroom technique of solarization or Polaroid SX70 manipulations and transfers.

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