Monday, October 30, 2017

Where to find inspiration for your photography

Admit it, at times you find yourself in a bit of a creative rut, not knowing what to do next. It happens to the best of us and many artists can testify to experiencing times when their creative juices are flowing as they used to. Writers call it 'writers' block' and it even has it's own Wikipedia entry at

Photographers are not immune from such experiences. I would venture to say that the more you specialise in a particular genre the more likely you are to go through times when you just don't know what to do. Some folk get around this by sticking very tightly to a theme such as a photo a day. The strict confines of the theme mean they just need to go out and find one photo opportunity and they are done. Others of us my try to branch out from our existing genre so if we are a street photographer we might try still life as it's so different and we are really starting off fresh.

Whatever your genre of photography and however long you have been at it, I'd recommend examining the work of other photographers or even other artists (such as painters or sculptors). You will always, in my opinion, find something to inspire you when you explore the work of others. This may be because they are exploring a genre you are unfamiliar with or because they approach a genre you are familiar with but from a totally different angle. It may be their technique that inspires you as much as the subject matter.

So, why not get out there and check out the work of others. You can do this by visiting galleries and exhibitions, by reading books (especially ones out of print from your local second-hand bookshop - also cheaper than new books!) or by perusing online communities such as redbubble or bloglovin

You can also sign up for e-mags on photography. Just search Google or check out Inspired Eye by clicking the image below (affiliate link - if you click on it I will earn a tiny amount if you sign up):

Inspired Eye photography magazine

Why I love autumn and why it's great for photography?

I don't know about you but I have my favourite season (it's autumn) and there's a reason why. I don't like it too hot (anything over 30 degrees Centigrade is too much for me) and I don't like it too wet. Autumn is just about right for me, at least here in the UK.

I love autumn for other reasons too. I love the changes we see in the environment, the leaves changing colour and then carpeting the ground with trees transformed into weird and wonderful graphic shapes. I love the crisp mornings with lots of sun and blue sky. I love it even more when you get the morning mist and the low sun sending sunbeams through the trees or obscuring valleys.

I could go on but I am sure you get the picture! So, what will you be shooting this autumn or have you already begun? If you have a blog or online gallery why share a link in the comments and let others see the fruits of your labour. I might even do a mini review on this blog!

So, what tips can I offer to help to help you get the best out of autumn as far as your photography is concerned? Here's a short list:

  1. Get up early! I find this the most difficult as I am more of night owl but early mornings as the sun is rising provide great opportunities for fantastic shots, especially if the mist hasn't cleared.
  2. Wrap up well as it can be quite chilly in the early morning. However, chilly means more chance of mist and fog and therefore possibilities for that iconic shot of sunlight streaming through the misty forest!
  3. Take a tripod if you want shots with good depth of field as the light levels can be quite low. If your camera has good image stabilisation then you may get away without a tripod but a small, light and portable one can offer more creative possibilities.
  4. Check the times of sunrise and sunset and plan to be at your target location in good time to find the right spot and have plenty of time to set your shots up. 
  5. better still, use an app like The Photographer's Ephemeris® (TPE) which can give you all sorts of useful info on where the sun will rise and set in your location. For more info on the app, visit the publisher's site here:
  6. Be patient. Take you time and be willing to stand around waiting for the right moment or maybe even to have to come back another day if things don't pan out.
  7. Make sure you are familiar with your camera and its settings. Know in advance what settings and lenses you are going to use. If you have two camera bodies it will be useful to have one with a wide-angle attached and the other with a zoom lens, say 70-210mm (35mm equivalent).
  8. If you are hoping to catch some shots of wildlife then you will need a longer lens, say a 300mm or longer. Deer can often be seen about in forests during the early morning and make great subjects. However, they can be very nervous and prone to move away from the least noise. Also, you may need other equipment so as camouflage clothing or even a postable hide.
  9. Experiment - maybe you are a landscape photographer who likes to take wide shots. Why not try some macro shots of plants such as fungi or fallen leaves with ice on them?
  10. Finally, learn from others. Check online forums and galleries. Sites like Flickr and ViewBug are great to look at what images make a great photo. Learn techniques from others, either online or at your local camera club.
Hopefully you will find these tips helpful. Do post in the comments if you have images to share that are autumn related.

Finally, check out my Patreon page and if you want support me you can subscribe from as little as $1 a month! There are rewards for regular supporters so be sure to check them out too.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

How to become a Patron

I have almost reached a milestone on this blog in that I am nearing the 100,000 page views mark. At an average of around 1,000 - 1,500 page views per month I should reach in about 6 months. That's not bad for a blog started 7 years ago. The best month was back in March 2012, when I had 4,779 pageviews.

Over the years I have asked myself why I write this blog and to be totally honest I have not been too sure at times. Sometimes I post something to basically air my views on whatever topic it happens to be. Other times it has been to share my experience of something, such as a new piece of software or hardware. Still other times it's been to share something I have learnt, whether it's a tip for getting the best out of a piece of software or using vintage glass on your modern digital camera.

Some people blog to make money and indeed there are some bloggers who manage to make a half-decent living from their blog(s). I am not one of them and I am guessing most of you aren't either. Still, the the idea of making money from blogging is certainly attractive.

However, I have decided to plough a different furrow. I have joined Patreon as a creator. If you haven't heard of Patreon, it's a way for creators to get support from patrons. Its proving to be a popular way of getting an income for one's creative work and is used by an increasing number of artists, bloggers, musicians and non-profits.

The idea is that the creator posts their work or blogs about it and patrons (ie. supporters/subscribers) support them by pledging a certain amount each month or on the release, say, of a new song/video or other creative work.

So, I have now taken the plunge and created my own Patreon page here:

Some of the content will be public, meaning you don't have to be a Patron to access it. Much of it will be available only to Patrons who have pledged to support me. Don't worry though - you can become a Patron for as little as $1 a month. Yes that's right, just $1 each month.

The great thing about Patreon though is, that as well as you having the opportunity to support creators (like me!), you can also get rewards for doing so! Now each creator has their own set of rewards and these can vary from the intangible, such Google hangouts, private Skype calls or Twitch streams etc to actual physical rewards. I have a range of rewards including for the entry level of $1/month. In this case the patron will get a signed limited edition postcard from me, thanking them for their support.

There are, currently, six levels of reward, depending on how much you pledge each month. More info can be found on my Patreon Page.

Basically, I am offering supporters the opportunity to help me create art (photographs) and educational tutorials and videos. Ultimately, the aim is to produce images in limited editions, publish books and have exhibitions of my work. Ambitious  it is and I realise that without your support it won't happen. If you want to get early access to my tutorials, videos and posts about my work, with great rewards and the opportunity to get your name published as a supporter then check out my page today!
Become a Patron!
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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

How nice it is to be appreciated by others!

We all, from time to time, need to hear nice things said about us by other folk. Its even nicer when it's from someone we haven't even met! Now, you may be wondering where this is leading, but don't worry, I will explain.

Now, if you have followed my blog in the past you will have picked up that I am a keen photographer. You might even recall that I had my first camera aged just 8 and that my first 'proper' camera was a Halina Paulette Electric and it was birthday present for my 10th birthday. So, it follows that I have been at it (photography that is) for more five decades (I am now 60 - the new 40 folk keep telling me!). Taking that into account, it won't come as a huge surprise to you that I have built up quite a collection of images (at last count it was over 20,000 images!) though many of them will range from the mediocre to the downright rubbish! Yes, I know its a sad fact that I have been bad at keeping my images in some sort of order. I really do need to do some housecleaning as far as my images are concerned.

In fact, as I am practically retired I have much more time on my hands to spend sorting out my image library. However, as you might have guessed, more time means more time to take more pictures! So I am constantly adding to my library and I am probably fighting a losing battle as regards doing some editing and pruning of my library.

Well, now I have got that out the way, let us get down to 'brass tacks' as we say in England. This article is about being appreciated by others and in particular, folk saying nice things about my photography. So, let us get started.

I recently came across LensCulture which is an online photography community. Now there are many online photography communities online and I am a member of quite a few, such as Redbubble, Viewbug and Photo4me. However, LensCulture is a little different. How is different you ask? Well, I would say it's biggest difference from the others is that it is linked into other organisations such as galleries, publishers, schools, agencies, media, festivals, critics, curators, collectors, editors, students — anyone and everyone involved in contemporary photography. By the way, that last bit is a quote from their site.

I am not saying you should not bother with any other communities, far from it. However, I would say that if you are at all serious about your photography, you need to be a part of the LensCulture community. Most definitely and no this is not a sponsored promotion or an affiliate promotion. Nope, I am just convinced that your photography will benefit in so many ways you will wonder how you ever got along without knowing of their existence.

For example, there is the excellent inspiration you will get from other photographers' work that is shown on the site. Just check out the Editor's Pick in the screenshot below.

As well as finding inspiration for your own photography, there are competitions, blog posts (magazine) and portfolio reviews. Yes, you can have your portfolio reviewed by experts. This is what I did recently. I entered a competition and although there was an entry fee, it was a very modest one. If you entered a set of five images you got a free professional review of your entry images. 

I have to say, I was rather nervous about the whole process. It had been many years since someone other than family or friends had 'reviewed' my work and so I was worried that the reviewer would say (however kindly) that sorry, but your work is just average, don't give up the day job!

I guess, if you have managed to read this far you will want to know what the reviewer said. Well, I will share a few quotes and then at the end of this post I will share a link to said review. here is a screenshot of the review page:

So, what comments did the reviewer make? Well, here is one for openers:
There are some gems in this selection and not only in terms of the technique and quality.
That gave me a warm glow inside right from the start! They went on to make more in-depth comments on each image in my submission, such as:
I see a lot of great contrast and attention to detail, on the technical side I do not see anything lacking Steven, in fact you have some images that are technically outstanding.
You also ask if your work creates any impact, it does, some images I can see again and again they are so compelling.
Now I was really feeling encouraged and relieved that my submission hadn't been made whilst deluding myself as to my ability.

I won't quote the whole review but if you interested, you can read the review in full here. It will give you an idea of what to expect if you decide to submit work for review.

Finally, to finish off, you can also submit a larger body of work from review, with the possibility of being chosen for an exhibition in New York, as well as online exhibition that has a global audience of 2.5 million. In addition, all participants will be able to market and sell their prints with the help of our partners: OpenStudios, an online platform that helps you market your work and connect with buyers online, and PICTO, a leading photo lab based New York and Paris. There is a cost to this, but again it is a modest one.

The deadline has just passed for this year (apologies but I only realised this even existed the other day and had to rush to get my own submission in) but there may well be similar opportunities through the year, probably as part of another competition like the Street Photography one I entered.

So, if you want some encouragement and some unbiased review of your work, why not sign up with LensCulture, get inspired and get entering future competitions.

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