Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cold, Dry Spell Results in a Little Creativity

I've been in a photographic slump lately.  The winter has been long and harsh and I had little to no desire to be out in it this time around.  But with Spring coming on I'm itching to get out and start shooting.  In the meantime, I've been experimenting with flash indoors and have been trying to get the creative juices flowing.  It's been tough going, though.  I've got to work extra hard on being creative as it is and being in a slump really puts a damper on things.  

This slump has nothing to do with losing the passion for photography because that is as strong as ever.  The problem has been "what" to shoot since my desire to be out in the winter weather has been nil.  

This brings us to the photo above.  Mindy had asked me to shoot a series of photos for the vegetable broth she makes so she can post about it on her blog.  The final photo in this series (which has been carried out for several weeks now) was to be of a jar of the competed broth.  That's it.  I heard, "Will you take a picture of a jar of broth" and thought "boring" to the extreme.  I mean, I've done these kinds of shots for her in the past thinking I'm giving her what she's asked for but I have been very unsatisfied and unfulfilled with the results.  

This time when I heard, "Will you take a picture..." my next, almost immediate thought was of the photo above.  Just like that it was in my head.  Not all the particulars but the concept.  Cool.  This is not how my mind normally works but I like it. Anyway, I was home alone that night and got to work by pulling not one but three jars of broth out of fridge.  Next I grabbed a bunch of vegetables (the rejects of which go into making the broth), found a placemat to lay them on, figured out where to put them, and grabbed the camera.  

There wasn't much light as it was getting late in the day so I employed two Speedlights.  One was mounted on the camera and the other was placed behind the two jars in the rear.  After a few trial shots the off-camera flash was just too bright so I put the little plastic diffuser on it which helped, but not enough.  What to do?  I couldn't move the flash back any further because it was already laying right at the edge of the table and there was nowhere else for it to go.  I knew I wanted it up tight against the jars to illuminate them without throwing a lot of light elsewhere so what else can I do?

Then it hit me.  Onion skins.  Yep, it was that simple.  I had discarded some onion skins when cleaning the vegetables and that was all that was needed to complete this shot.  I placed a couple of the larger pieces in front of and around the flash head and took another shot.  The result is what you see above.  I liked it and was satisfied that it wasn't just a boring shot of a jar of broth.

But would Mindy like it?  Is it at all what she wants to post on her blog?  Sometimes what she likes and what I like are pretty different and since this was for her she usually has in mind what she wants the picture to look like.  When she got home that night she asked if I'd gotten the shot and I replied that I had and left it at that...apprehensive about her seeing it.

A couple days passed when she unexpectedly said, "I want to see the broth pictures".  Here we go.  The moment of truth. Will she like the final shot (above) or dismiss it out-of-hand?  I usually will have a few different angles and perspectives and what not of each photo in the series so she can choose what she likes best.  And this was a short series.  It wasn't long before she got to the photo of the final shot like the one above but without the rear flash in place.  I thought it looked fine if that's what she was after but I preferred the one with the flash.  Anyway, she made a soft sound that indicated she liked it (I think) and after pondering it a few seconds she hit the arrow key on the keyboard to see if there were any more photos to look at...and that's when she saw the one you see above.  Her immediate expression was, "Oooh!  I like that.  A lot."  

Ahhhhh!  The apprehension melted away and this was music to my ears.  

If this is a result of a dry spell I may wish for more dry spells...not.  I imagine this is something akin to writers block for those who write.  Not pleasant to go through, but maybe productive and better for it in the end?  Rather, my wish is for more creativity more often and on-demand.   How's that for a tall order?  

By the way, this is being posted before Mindy has written hers on the vegetable broth making process.  So, if you want to read that with the attendant photos provided by the links in this article give it a few days and then check her blog out.  Thanks for coming here and feel free to leave comment.