Monday, February 10, 2014

My Nemesis

by Dotti


Winter has always been my photography nemesis. For others, it may be another season but I'm a wimp in cold weather {and so is my camera}. Typically in winter, we don't get a lot of snow, thus, I always find my inspiration waning, it seems to disappear as quickly as the daylight. And that right there, my friends, is part of the problem! In addition to the shorter days, the sun can be so elusive during our winters. Since I have a strong dislike for shooting in artificial light, this is a real problem. What’s a gal to do?

I’m glad you asked because this year, I actually thought of some new ideas and today is your lucky day because I’m going to share those ideas with you. Now, I’m not claiming these are original, I’m just saying the light came on for me this year. {Pun intended.}


1. Get a new lens or resurrect one that you’ve neglected for a long time.

Although I have always loved my 50mm f/2.5 compact macro, I found that it left something to be desired in some low light situations. Oh, yes, I have the Nifty Fifty, too {50mm f/1.8} which I got soon after I got my first dSLR and it’s a good little lens. But this year, I decided to get the 50mm f/1.4. Friends … it has opened up a whole new world for me. It has not been off my camera since it arrived from that big box store on the internet … y’all know which one I mean. All of the photos in this post were taken with the 50mm f/1.4, some in very low light.  
       

2. Let the light in your windows.

This winter I realized that even on a grey day, a window with the blinds, shutters or curtains pulled open can create a beautiful sidelight for still life photos. In fact, in some ways, the grey days are better because the light is softer than bright sunlight, which even with window covering can create ugly hot spots. I use my kitchen counter or moveable furniture such as chairs, small tables, even the piano bench to take advantage of window light wherever I can find it.


3. Take an online class.

While I’ve done this before, this year I combined it with my new lens. I did Kim Manley Ort’s ‘The 50mm Project’. Well, that and my new lens got along together like a house afire! It seemed that more and more creative ideas presented themselves to me by working these two things in tandem.


4. Buy some flowers.

One of the things I miss most in winter is color. So, once my Christmas decorations come down, I make certain that I have fresh flowers from the supermarket in my house at all times. This not only lifts my spirits, it ensures that I have something to keep my camera happy if the weather is too wretched to go outside. As one of the readers on my personal blog said, it’s like I have a color of the week each week.

Although everything outside seems to be either grey or brown {not my favorite tones}, Leigh pointed out last week, if we look a bit harder, we might just find something of beauty out there in the frozen tundra. {My tundra is still too frozen to try that but I plan to!}


5. 'If it's red, shoot it.'

This is one of my favorite quotes {and I’ve lost the attribution} because I love red. Well, now, it just so happens that our theme for February is RED. So, if you see some red, shoot it! And then share it on our Flickr page.


And finally, just shoot through it. This winter, I’m in the midst of a 365 project that I began on July 1. So I have to find something to shoot every day. It’s been a lot easier using some of the ideas above. And you might already have a boatload of ideas that you use to keep your photography engaged during the months when you’re most challenged by less-than-ideal weather. If you do, please, please share them with us in the comments section. After all, we’re all one big happy family here at FOL and we’re all able to inspire one another.

PS – Yes, I love tulips.


17 comments:

Sarah Huizenga said...

I will have to remember the 50mm 1.4 for Christmas this year :) Aren't you glad you started your 365 in July and not January. I started mine in September, makes a big difference to have some months of outdoor shooting under your belt before the snow comes.

AFishGirl said...

Great post, Dotti, and shots and words of wisdom. Nodding emphatically to all you say. It's snowing as I type this.... I know.

kelly said...

you hit the nail on the head with these suggestions dotti. i'm right there with you!

Katie said...

beautiful photos, dotti, and wonderful suggestions. one thing i did over christmas break, was to sit down and brain storm little prompts that i then wrote down and put in a little tin bucket that i have near my desk. now anytime when i feel "stuck", i just pull a prompt from my bucket and then work with that. it really opens up the creativity. another thing i did just this weekend, was to write 5 photographic goals that i want to accomplish this year and have THAT list posted to my monitor to remind me. it's the little things like that that get me through this grey time of year.

Carol said...

All good suggestions - but I also would encourage you to bundle up and go out! I used to be a couch potato in the winter, but skiing (badly) in my early 30's got me out there for the first time and I discovered that a snow covered world is absolutely beautiful.! It's the driving to work that's a bear - but if your on your own time and bundled up, playing Dr. Zhivago in your own back yard opens doors! But then again - I like still life also, and I love catching up on all those lists and goals. Like Katie, I have a little journal near all the chairs that I generally veg. in - not for journalling - but so that I can jot down prompt ideas when I get them. Because God knows, I won't remember them!!

Kim Stevens said...

Yes {shaking head}, to all of the above. And I have to say that here on the gulf coast it's even grey, a lot more grey than I'm used to (and colder too). The sun came out yesterday for about, wait for it....10 minutes...such a tease! I've also been digging into my cabinets for things to photograph as well as things that are sentimental to me. Been stacking things on a stool - on top of another cushioned ottoman - living on the edge so to speak, haha!

Kim Stevens said...

Ooops....I forgot to say that your photographs are the cats meow! prrrrrrr ;)

Susan said...

Great post, wonderful photos and suggestions! I have the winter blues myself when it comes to taking photos…no snow here either, just bitter cold! I like the idea of taking some online classes, Im reading some of Bryan Peterson's books which have helped a lot but I think hands on works better for me. Thanks for sharing!

Viv@within the Frame said...

Glad I'm not the only one who struggles this time of the year ...Love your shots..

terriporter said...

Well, I have no excises for having the winter doldrums! It's sunny almost every day and is going into the 80s this week. You would think I would be outside every day taking advantage of it. But I think you can get out of the habit of shooting and the less you shoot the less you shoot. Well, what worked to bring me out of those doldrums was surrounding myself with other photographers last week and getting out to shoot together. If you have the chance to get out with other people, you tend to feed off of each other. The joy comes back. I know it's not possible for everyone, and it's not even possible for me a lot of the time, but just those few days together have brought back the joy and now I'm back to looking for things to photograph and back to shooting every day. Dotti, your photos are so inspiring! If you can take such amazing photos where the light is scarce, I have no excuses! Heading out today to buy some flowers from Trader Joe's and they will be coming to the Flickr group for you all to enjoy! Thanks for this wonderful post.

sherrygaley said...

Really beautiful images, Dotti and wonderful suggestions. I'm glad you're loving your 50 mm 1.4. It is a little darling of a lens. One of my favorite ways to break out of the doldrums -- and they can happen even in nice weather -- is to take a class. I always learn something that I can use going forward and sometimes even get obsessed by a new thing...I'll now have to go look for some red ;-)

Linda/patchwork said...

Lots of great ideas.
I started a 365 this year. Already, some days it's been hard to find something to shoot. A day like yesterday..80 & sunny...is no problem. Lots of light...lots of things to shoot. Today, it's 40 and drizzly...gotta love Texas weather.
I need to try the open window idea, for light and set something up, on days like today.
I've been enjoying...and, admiring...your beautiful shots.

Linda said...

Yes, Dotti, I'm right there with you! Winter is not my favorite and it seems that even here we have had more than our share! Thank you for sharing these tips for inspiration to pick up the camera! New lenses are fun! I'm happy you are having fun with your new one! Lovely pictures! Tulips? Yes please!

cheryl Crotty said...

Yes, the 50 1.4 is an awesome lens...I also have the 35mm 1.4 and that is totally awesome also...so glad you found a new love...
Your photo's are wonderful here...I also signed up for Kim's 50mm class...I hope it's permanent access because I have not had time to get to it yet...
And my new Lens...for my birthday..24-70 2.8 all the way through...can't wait to see what that one does..
hang in, Spring is on the way.

Cathy H. said...

Dotti, you always bring us such colorful and beautiful posts! Wonderful suggestions, I'll have to save them for the summer, when I detest going outside where it is hot and humid!

susan said...

Dotti…your images are gorgeous! So, now I'm thinking…Dotti LOVES her 50mm1.4…hmmm. I think that's going to be one lens I'll be saving my pennies for. xo!

Deanna said...

Stopping by for a cup of tea and enjoying your lovely tulips with you would be pleasure enough to get me thru.

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