Tag Archives: mindful photographer

Mindful photography and a photomarathon – join in!

This week I was invited to take part in a photomarathon – I’d never heard of one!   A friend is doing one in Cardiff soon and wants to train, so we are doing a practice this weekend.

The deal is this, we will have six hours to produce six pictures.  Sounds ok so far!   However, each of these six pictures will have to conform to a different theme that we will be given at 10am.   Since it’s just the two of us, we are actually choosing them ourselves – I am going to do a random book search and look for phrases that jump out at me on Saturday morning (if I do it any sooner, I will start to plan my pictures which I don’t want to do).      Lee is supplying three and I am supplying three and we will order them alternately.

But…. and this is a big but, the pictures must be taken in order, with no processing.  The idea is that at the end of the six hours, I have just six pictures, in order, on my memory card, which I’ll show Lee (and he’ll show me his and no doubt we will have a little discussion about them too!).

I am very excited about this, it challenges the very essence of the way I photograph.  I seldom go out with a subject in mind, I take lots of pictures that appeal to me, I come home and process them (not much, but I do crop into pictures a fair bit, I will sharpen, boost the colours or make them monochrome.)  I won’t be able to do any of that except the monochrome because I have that function on my camera (luckily!).

It’s going to be hard work but I will post the results here on Sunday (if I have recovered sufficiently!).

When Lee does the full photomarathon in June he will have 12 hours to produce 12 pictures!   That is quite a feat.

Stalking my husband on the shores of Portsmouth Harbour!
Stalking my husband on the shores of Portsmouth Harbour

Lee is the mindful photographer who taught me so much in January when I first got a proper camera.  I will, with the restraints of the above rules, endeavor to be taking the pictures mindfully.   This, I interpret as:

  • Going to an area to photograph – usually I do not have a subject in mind, but I might be in a particular mood and want to reflect that.
  • I wander around and soak up the area, I might sit and breathe and relax – I practice mindfulness anyway so it is not too hard for me to zone in and focus on ‘now’.
  • I become aware of the beauty and interest around me.  Things start to catch my eye (Lee calls this ‘receiving’ a picture).
  • I take some pictures.
  • When I am happy that I have captured what it was that appealed to me, I move on.

If you want to know more about mindful photography, I recommend Lee’s site: Photential  or see his twitter stream @Photential – we are still looking for people to join in on Saturday!  (We are not geographically close so we are not doing this together in person, so it doesn’t matter where you are – I’m in Portsmouth and Lee is in Swansea).   Get in touch!

The picture in the header was taken over the weekend in Gosport.   I was walking through an industrial estate to get to a beautiful peaceful beach and this caught my eye…. “Rotation”.   The second picture was actually taken about 50ft from the first.

Ailsa

Photo challenge Day 11 – oops, I missed a few!

I have been busy with other stuff…. and I realised just now that I hadn’t picked up my camera for a few days.   So what’s going on?!   The weather has been lousy and I think I am so obsessed with light and shadows that on a dull day I just don’t see anything that makes me think “Quick!! I have to take a picture!” – so I haven’t (I really feel strongly that you cannot force these things, it will come or it won’t).   Also, since starting to paint seriously again after a few years of pfaffing around, I guess my creativity is split at the moment!

Anyway, today is gloriously (and unexpectedly) sunny and I was in the middle of upholstering the chairs when I looked out of the window and these shadows really called to me.    I love the mix of shapes on the fence, and then the texture of the fence behind.

I also love black and white in photographs – my art work is always extremely colourful but with a camera  I think I prefer the simplification that black and white brings.   It strips everything back to shape and texture.

I feel like I am really in the groove at the moment with having ideas and trying them out.   I am saddened that it has taken two months off work before the fog really started to clear but happy that it has – I knew it would come back at some point!

More tomorrow…. 🙂

One a day photo challenge – day 6 – got my paints out!

Day six, I am quite impressed with myself for getting to nearly a week without cheating.   For six days I have taken one picture only, no deleting, and posted whatever I took.   I can’t say it’s been high art but it has been very interesting.   I have found it hard, not the bit about finding my subject for the day, they always jump out at me, but only taking one picture of it.  Normally I would set about trying to capture what I saw by trying different angles, different crops, different exposures etc.

I had a profound thought about creativity when I was painting the fence at 8 o’clock this morning – but unfortunately I have completely forgotten what it was, which is annoying and I blame old age!

However, interestingly, I just got my paints out and did 3 paintings just now.    All rather experimental and I am not sure if I have anything worth keeping but I haven’t painted for months.     My paints are held in various ice-cream containers and I loved the way they tumbled onto the desk in all their colourful glory – as if to say “Here we are!  What are you going to do with us?”

So perhaps there is a certain amount of creativity in me and if I am not using it up on photography, it’s going to leak out into watercolours!

Unfortunately, I can’t take a picture of my finished pieces to show you!

I am very excited about tomorrow.  I have the chance to attend a workshop with two local street artists who I greatly admire – I have no idea what we will be doing, but just to meet them and learn from them is a huge thrill.   I will be taking my camera and I think, I will probably be breaking my one a day rule tomorrow.   The opportunity to go to the city, travel on the ferry and the train and mix with other artists in an urban setting will, I suspect, be too much for me not to capture.

I’ll let you know tomorrow!

One a day photo challenge – day 5 – a few frustrations!

It’s a glorious day here (after yesterday being so drab) and I have already seen at least a dozen things I want to photograph!   So I am feeling a little frustrated, but they are all things I could come back to – I think if I saw something that was a one off, then I would just do it 🙂

Trying to be mindful, I waited until something really jumped out at me and I loved the shadows of these little tête-à-tête on the wall – almost as much as the sunny daffodils themselves!

Channeling my creative urges into reupholstering some chairs and doing some craft-work today, and designing a new website, and…. too many things!   Agghhhh!

How did I ever have time to work?  How will I ever have time to go back to work?  Because I kinda know I am going to have to find a job at some point.    I’ve been volunteering at a local library, unfortunately what they need me to do is sit in a room and do nothing for two hours, which I find incredibly hard to do – so I am currently torn between my civic duty (I think it’s important to give back) and my sanity.

Enjoy the sunshine!

One a day photo challenge – day four

It’s a dull day here and I wasn’t expecting to see anything today – I relish shadows and reflections so much – everything looked rather plain.

Doing the mindful photography means that rather than searching for a picture, you wait for a picture to come to you – Lee calls this “receiving” a picture,  I think of it as the subject calling me “take me!! “take me!” – when it calls loud enough, I take the picture!

I was walking home after a couple of hours and saw this beautiful turquoise reflection in the lake near my house.

I can see the worth of doing this challenge it really makes me think about quality over quantity – I don’t want to waste my one chance!

One a day photo challenge – Day Three

No sunshine today, I was on Skype with my daughter who lives in South America and was caught by a glass bowl on my dining table that was reflecting the light beautifully.    Obviously I waited until my conversation was over before taking the picture!

I loved the way the light causes squirls across the coloured glass.

I even dreamed that I could only take one picture a day last night!

One a day photo challenge – Day Two

I am starting to understand the genius of this idea.   I was working in the garden this lunchtime and saw several things I wanted to photograph – but when you are limited to ONE picture a day, it gets tricky.   The old me would probably have spent a happy half hour snapping about 20 pictures and then come inside to process them and see what I had.    The new me has to decide beforehand what the hell to do!

Would it be the wonderful yellow daffodils against the newly painted green fence?

Or the shadows of the washing on the grass?

I was particularly struck by the pegs against the blue sky – I loved the colours, so sunny and optimistic and since it is the first time I have been able to hang the washing outside this year, I opted for that one.

First decision taken!  Then I had to carefully think about focus, angles, composition – all in my head before I clicked!

In the full sun it was hard to see if what I got was even in focus so I nervously came indoors to upload the picture to my PC – and I have to say I am very pleased with the result!

This challenge is totally changing my approach to photography, taking me out of my comfort zone and truly making me mindful of what I am doing and that is a good thing.

Thanks to Lee for the idea 🙂