Using Your Notebook to Document Your Art Practice

I am an unabashed striver – I want to continue to learn and grow in everything that I do. I am continually looking for ways that I can push myself and my work forward. I’m finding that one effective tool for this is my notebook.

As I said here I have multiple notebooks that I use for different purposes. Perhaps the most important notebook is the one that I carry around with me which is the notebooks I have in the Paper Republic Grand Voyager Pocket. This notebook allows me to capture ideas in the moment, to note the things that catch my attention and could be useful later.

My notebook is a ‘sandbox’ where I can play – develop ideas, ask questions and generally go down rabbit holes. It is a place where I can reflect on the photographs that I’ve been making, the things that I’m noticing and the choices that I’m making. Are there connections that I didn’t recognize in the moment that with some time and space become apparent?

It’s a place where I can make notes on some of the composition and post-processing experiments I’m trying. This week for instance I’m trying out split toning again and also playing with using tree branches to frame subjects. One example is shown below.

My knowledge is fragile in these early stages and if I don’t write things down I am likely to have forgotten what I was trying when I look at the work later. The very act of writing, physically using a pen on paper also helps me to remember more effectively.

My notebook is also a good place for me to write about the other photographers and artists that I’m paying attention to and what lessons I’m drawing from their work. How can I apply these to my own work?

This is not an onerous process that takes ages – just a few minutes reflection when I have the time. More if I have more to say and the time to say it in.

I hope you are capturing your process and having fun doing it. I’d be interested in hearing about how you use your notebooks to develop ideas and projects.

Playing with Presets Redux: Black & White Preset Download

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When I originally wrote about using presets to explore the potential in my images I had intended on providing the final black and white preset that I made as a downloadable file. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite figure out how to do it. Should be easy enough right?

I continued to use the preset and have used it on all of my black and white images that I’ve posted here over the last few weeks, including the one above. Then finally I figured out how to provide the file.

Click here to download the preset and instructions on how to install it.

Installation of the preset is quite easy:

1. Open Lightroom

2. Navigate to the ‘Develop’ module

3. Find ‘User Presets’ in the presets panel on the left hand side.

4. Right click or control click on ‘User Presets’ to open a menu.

5. The menu has 2 options – New Folder and Import. Click import.

6. A file browser will open that will allow you to navigate to the preset you downloaded. Click on the preset you wish to import and then click ‘Import’.

7. That’s it! The preset should now be loaded into the ‘User Presets’ section of the Lightroom develop module.

To use the preset is easy enough. Select the image you want to work with, open the develop module (I usually just hit the ‘d’ key), under the user presets click on the B&W Preset. Done!

Of course sometimes you might be done, other times you might want to work the image a little more. The most common additional edits that I do are: apply lens correction, change the vignette – which is found under the effects panel on the right hand side, and to change the grain characteristics – also found under the effects panel.

You might want to do other things but I hope that this serves as a solid jumping off point. Let me know if you like this, how you’re using it, what works, what doesn’t. I’d appreciate the feedback.