In his book ‘Welcome to Oz’ Vincent Versace says that practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent! Perfect practice makes perfect. This should be familiar to anyone who’s learned how to play a musical instrument. Practice builds muscle memory that can be hard to unlearn once established.
I think that the same can be said for patterns of behaviors, the rhythms and routines of life. It’s certainly true for the way that I approach photography and change is hard to do.
The Maine Islands workshop that recently attended with John Paul Caponigro marks another step in my evolution as a photographer. I’ve heard many times before the importance of ‘working the scene’ and frankly thought that I was but now realize that I’m not working hard enough. The challenge that I’ve set myself is to go ahead and make the obvious image but then make something more creative and keep pushing until I have 6-10 distinct images. Easier said than done! Even though I set out with the intention of doing that what I ended up with was not too much of a departure from what I’d done before. Breaking old patterns of behavior is tough but certainly worth the effort.
I continue to work through the images I captured at John Paul Caponigro’s Maine Islands workshop. I have plenty to work on!
One of the topics for discussion was the use of graduated neutral density filters. With a well captured image the tools available in Lightroom and Photoshop make this type of filter redundant. However, I’m not ready to give up my filters just yet. I will usually take a number of images with and without the filters and see which I like the best. Even with the expensive ‘neutral’ filters from Singh-Ray, under the conditions I usually photograph I get a pronounced color cast. Sometimes I like it, sometimes not so much. The image above was taken without a filter and then processed in photoshop to add a digital neutral density filter.
I’ve been developing a series of images exploring the juxtaposition of motion with stillness. I’ve shared some of those images here previously. More can be found on my main website here. At John Paul Caponigro’s Workshop I spent time trying things that were on the fringes of what I would normally do.
One of the images that I made that I quite like is shown above. It fits into the general idea of what I have been trying to achieve with my Still Motion series and yet is a departure. This image was made on Monhegan Island on a misty morning, with very limited visibility.
Last weekend I was at John Paul Caponigro’s Maine Islands Workshop. The workshop appealed to me because it was based in a part of Maine I hadn’t previously explored and it was an opportunity to work with John Paul. For the uninitiated, John Paul is a fine art landscape photographer whose work often blurs the line between photography and painting. I was initially more familiar with his work as a master printer since he was referenced by many of the photographers I have paid attention to. After poking around on his website I realized that JP could be the photography mentor that I have been looking for, someone who could help me become more like me.
I was more than a little bit intimidated in signing up since I felt that John Paul attracted people that were already very good and were pushing to be more creative. I really needn’t have worried. John Paul’s relaxed demeanor helped to foster a very supportive environment that made for good weekend.
As an added bonus Kevin Ames was part of our group. I was familiar with Kevin through his book ‘The Digital Photographer’s Notebook’ so this was real surprise to get a chance to meet him and see him in action. Kevin has a great sense of humor and was fun to be around. He’s also a great resource for imaging possibilities in photoshop which came in very handy. I’m looking forward to bumping into him again.
The subtitle of the workshop was ‘Illuminating Creativity’, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise that at each of the shoots John Paul gave the group an exercise – shoot a photograph that’s a noun, make the postcard image and then make a more creative one. What this did was to shift my thinking. I have a specific project that I am working on that I half thought I would come close to finishing at this workshop but what actually happened was that I tried a lot of things that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I made some images that I like, I have a few ideas that I will pursue further and I have a better sense of why my duds are just that duds.
It was an odd sensation but I came away from the workshop feeling the same way I did when I got into graduate school – an ending but also the first step on a grander adventure.
Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the eastern seaboard and as such is one of the first places to view sunrise. This means an earlier start to the day than usual, even earlier in the middle of the summer. The image above was made last weekend on my third visit to Cadillac mountain. The first time I barely knew how to turn my camera on. By my second visit I knew how to turn the camera on but didn’t know where to point it – I was however in great company. The intro to this Joe McNally video was shot at the Moose Peterson DLWS workshop I attended on the day we visited Cadillac Mountain. On my third visit to Cadillac Mountain I had learned more or less where to point the camera and I was again in great company. This time with John Paul Caponigro‘s Maine Islands workshop, a challenging but fun few days. More about that soon.