Do you sometimes look at all the bright, happy pictures that abound and think that life just isn’t that colourful?
Does the ‘cut your fingers on the sharpness’ photography that crowds your inbox make you want to retreat to the safety of your misty recollections?
Does the never ending shouting grind like dull toothache?
Are you looking for images with a bit of soul, a gentle spirit, a certain soft dreaminess to soothe a tired mind? Something more evocative, a reminder of a gentler time and pace of living. Something that doesn’t shout among the cacophony of colour but that insinuates subtly.
More than Just a Pretty Picture.
Just as music can wake us up with strident chords or send us drifting in quiet reverie, so our photography can do so much more than paint a pretty picture.
Waiting for the right light and technical perfection can blind us to the possibilities. Yes, we can look at all those pictures of resplendent far off places and awe inspiring destinations with admiration and and a touch of envy but we can also look deeper into the heart of a location by connecting with the world in all it’s moods.
Here’s a few pointers to unleash your creativity.
Fog and Mist
You don’t have to wait for that golden misty morning just after sunrise. Instead, get out on a thoroughly foggy or misty day at any time. These conditions are fantastic for creating mood and drama with colour and contrast minimised.
This shot was taken a short walk away from where I live. It was once the front lawn and grand entrance to a stately residence. The driveway would once have echoed with the rattle of hooves and carriage wheels. Ladies would have walked in gentile company, enjoying the view from the elevated location on the edge of Derbyshire.
Now there is just a reflection of a different age in the faded elegance of the Hall and it’s once proud history. The misty light with colours almost lost encapsulates that feeling.
Rain can be refreshing or cleansing. It can be the weather of renewal and reflection. It can also feel bleak aPictures of rainy days can express a gamut of emotions.
Puddles, drips, clouds, rain soaked streets. Colours may be muted as though seen through a veil or clear as crystal through their watery coating.
What does this single leaf left clinging to a branch dripping with rain speak of to you?
The next shot shows a reflection in a puddle. The colour from out of focus fallen leaves below the water talks of the passing of time perhaps things once remembered.
This next one is more hopeful, perhaps, with light drops enlivening the scene. The contrast between the linear pattern of branches and the soft muted effect of the trunk creates a different kind of image.
Motion Blur and Soft Focus
Photographers have long been looking for sharper and sharper images. For many, The Holy Grail seems to be all over focus, every part of the scene in pristine detail. However, we can also look at the artistic and creative effects of not following this criteria. Unsplash may not thank you for them, but the dreamy softness of these images can be very appealing.
This shot is one I almost threw out. But something stayed my hand. At the time I was on the sharp focus bandwagon and passed over it. But I kept being drawn to it, and as I so rarely get to the ocean these days, it seems more and more appealing.
I now love the dreamy quality, the feeling of time and motion encompassed in one image. The gentle colours and high key treatment add to the ethereal effect.
Making Mono Magic.
Changing to mono can entirely change the feel of an image. Instead of being attracted by colours and their interactions, the story has to be told by form, tone and contrast. Strangely, this stripped out format can make you look deeper and linger longer.
Over to You
It’s great to capture those images when the viewer goes wow.
When the colour and light create a beautiful image and you capture the magic, your heart sings.
But on many occasions that simply doesn’t happen. Be prepared to tell a different story. Get under the skin of your location and record all it’s moods in every weather condition.
Try new approaches and look for the unusual stories a subject may be able to communicate. Think of an emotion and try to capture it in an image. Capture power and drama but also gentleness and calm.
In a technicolour, strident world a whisper can hold more power and make you hear more than a scream.
Don’t worry if it doesn’t work at first, just keep practising until the images match your vision.
Here’s to inspirational and creative shooting :-)