Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fix Creative Fatigue

I've been having a blast writing this column for Digital Photo for many years, offering mostly technical tips on digital photography and digital image processing. In the future, I'll continue to talk tech, but for now I'd like to offer some tips on a quick fix for those who have creative fatigue—photographers who feel as though they're in a slump and need some inspiration.
By Rick Sammon Published in Quick Fix
Fix Creative Fatigue

4. Learn lighting—from the master painters and by yourself

You can learn a lot about lighting from studying the work of the master painters. Observe how the masters used shadows and highlights by examining the main lighting elements in every painting and photograph. Try to re-create a masterpiece in your home. That's what I tried to do with my Girl with a Pearl Earring photograph, which was inspired by Vermeer's paining Girl with a Pearl Earring.

By the way, you don't need a fancy studio or lighting equipment for great lighting. I took my Girl with a Pearl Earring photograph in my office using one Westcott Apollo 28-inch softbox. A Canon 580EX II Speedlite was placed inside the softbox and triggered with a Canon ST-E2 wireless transmitter.

5. Think like an artist

A few columns back, I wrote about thinking like a painter. Well, you can think like an artist, too. For this image, I thought like M.C. Escher, who was known for—among other cool and mathematical graphic techniques—drawing images in which stairs were going up and down at the same time.

Here's how you can create this type of mirror image in Photoshop.

• Open a file.
• Select All and copy the file.
• Create a new document and drop in the file.
• Now you have two images that are exactly the same opened on your monitor.
• On the newer file, go to Image > Rotate > Flip Horizontally (or Vertically).
• On the newer file, double the Canvas size in one direction: Image > Canvas size. Now, you have a document that's half blank and half filled with your image.
• Go back to your original file and copy and paste it into your newer file. Align the images so the inner edges match up for a perfect mirror image.
• Try rotating the image, as I did, for different effects.

6. Go for a walk

If all else fails, go for a walk to find creative inspiration. After all, as Raymond Inmon said, "If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk."

Well, my friends, as always, I hope you have enjoyed these quick fixes. I'll see you all here next month at "Quick Fix."

Rick Sammon teaches photography, Photoshop and Lightroom around the world. You can visit with Rick at his website,

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