Established 1988

Category: Photography

Finding Your Creative Bent

judy portrait

Judy Griffin

Etobicoke Camera Club

Unfortunately there is no cut and dried approach or magic formula for developing creativity.  We are all different; the way we visualize and process the world around us. To some, creativity comes easily while for others it feels like an impasse.

The photographer needs to see beyond the ordinary and push the boundaries to develop new ways to capture and enhance images. Often a good way to start is to look at other photographers’ work to get ideas and then put your own spin on the concepts. Perhaps sign up for a course which specializes in creative photography.

Of course, the photographer has to have technical skill using the camera, but that may provide only technically competent images.  The principals of composition and design are there as the backbone to your craft, but sometimes breaking the rules can give you the creativity you seek.

The photographer has to be willing to loosen up and be playful. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try various ways to capture your subject, and use different techniques in your favourite digital editing software to make your images more imaginative and inspiring:

  • play with zooming, panning, and camera movement (rotating, swirling, swooping, etc.) to see the world in a new way. IMAGE – Autumn Gold


  • Use various shutter speeds to play with motion and see the effect. Long exposures for clouds and water can give a beautiful silky appearance.
  • try an unorthodox point of view to present your subject,
  • use different lenses and focal lengths to change the perspective and relationship of elements in your image.
  • use different apertures creatively to alter the depth of field and the sharpness in your images.
  • be alert to the potential of subject matter for post production in an altered way. Try to imagine what you might be able to do with a subject, graphic elements, or textures to bring an original and creative approach to your work.
  • play with filters, montages, texture layers, Ortons, and blend modes in your post production software to alter your images and give them an innovative edge. IMAGE – Midnight Rider


  • your planned day may have been a bust, but there may be hidden gems if you are willing to look for them. Our planned photography was to visit an exciting area full of scenic and natural beauty.  However our vehicle was acting erratically so we spent a good portion of the day at a garage. While there, I noticed an interesting wall to photograph and thought about its wonderful potential. In post production, I played with ideas and allowed my imagination to create this final image of The Watcher.


  • don’t be afraid to fail! You can’t improve and expand your creative side if you never take chances and think “outside the box”.

Above all, enjoy the creative process and have fun with your photography.

Planning & Preparation

Tug boats in harbour at night,Tim Story

Latow Photographers Guild

When we hear a photographer talk about the planning and preparation that went into the creation of an image, we are likely to envision photography done in studios, planned interior shots or maybe a trip to a far off country. Indeed these types of photography require planning and preparation of the subject matter, but most photographers stay closer to home, shoot outside in available light and go looking for subjects to capture when they have time. Will planning and preparation help under these circumstances? Absolutely!

The tug boats are docked in the same area of Hamilton harbour 52 weeks of the year. How much planning is required to capture a subject this large, mostly stationary and easily accessible? How hard can it be? Unlike photography done under controlled conditions, I have little to no control over the elements for this image. Weather conditions, direction and type of lighting, subject placement and subject availability are out of my direct control. By understanding the impact all the variables will have on the final image will greatly increases my odds of capturing the image I want in an uncontrolled environment.

I wanted to capture the tug boats with a mood not normally seen by the thousands of people walking by on the Waterfront Trail every day. I decided a night shot would meet this challenge. For this type of night shot I am totally dependent on manmade lighting. I began to regularly visit the site after dark to see what lights were on and how they illuminated the subject, if at all. It was crucial the lights attached to the boats to be illuminating for the final image, so I turned to the people managing the tug boats I had met during the previous winter months. With some carefully worded questions I had an approximate date when the boats might be worked on at night.

I wanted the lights from the boats to be captured as reflections on the water, so winds have to be 5km or less in speed or the reflections will be lost in the ripples. Too much wind will also cause the boats to bob up and down resulting in a blurred image with the long exposure times used for night time shuts. All of the variables will have to come together the week on May 6-12, 2012 when they “might” be working on the boats It has been two weeks since I started planning and preparing for the actual moment and I haven`t even taken a picture yet!

Remember the only physical control I have over this image is the time of day I can visit the tug boats. It’s my planning, research and understanding of the photographic variables that will capture the image I have envisioned during the week of May 6-12. Finally at 1:36am on May 12 all of the variables came together, the lights were on and the entire bay was calm.

In the end it took roughly a month of patience and planning to capture the image I envisioned. Most of the time in the field was only minutes per visit to better understand the scenes variables with most planning being done from my  home. So yes, planning and researching your next photograph when you have limited time to spend in the field will show in the finished image.

The image was captured on a Nikon D800, in 14 bit RAW, at 200mm, f8, ISO 400 with a 6 second exposure on a Gitzo tripod, mirror locked up and the shutter was activated with a cable release.

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at



Easy Abstracts

Allan Flagel of the Don Mills Camera ClubAllan Flagel of the Don Mills Camera Club

Rarely do I ever walk past a puddle or pool of water without checking out the reflections on its surface.

If there is a slight breeze blowing, the gentle ripples can produce some amazing abstract designs. These lend themselves to colour images with blobs of luscious hues or black and white prints with interesting patterns, graphic shapes and lines.

The trick to getting artistic-looking results is to use the correct lens, filter and shutter speed. Here I am taking for granted that you have already had plenty of practice in honing your sense of seeing (not just looking) and that you have a good grasp of what constitutes a pleasing composition. These of course are prerequisites, before you even start walking around your reflecting surface, hunting for your image.

For you see, just very minor shifts in camera location can produce totally different results. In fact, every picture that you take of the moving surface of the water will be unique. It is virtually impossible to take two identical images!

  1. Correct lens: this would be a telephoto zoom in the 70-300 mm range. This makes it very easy to isolate many different great images.
  2. Filter: a polarizer is often used to reduce reflections, but here we are using it to just take the sheen off the surface, to intensify the reflection, colours and contrast. You should rotate the filter to get just the correct amount of reflection that you desire.
  3. Shutter speed: this is the most important part, to produce clean, crisp reflections and not blurry messes. Usually 1/250 s or faster is preferred. This also allows you to shoot hand-held for easier hunting while you are stalking your amazing reflections.

These abstracts have the feature that they can turn the most mundane objects into incredible works of art. This technique can also be used on reflections in shop windows, chrome on cars and curved mirrors.
Images can be totally abstract, with unrecognizable subjects, or just altered enough to be intriguing.

It is totally up to you and your imagination plus the conditions of course.

Having said all that, you can still have fun with a simple little P & S (if you don’t feel like dragging out all of the suggested gear above) as the pictures included will illustrate, taken while I was on holiday in the Caribbean.

Yacht Reflection

Yacht Reflection

Glass Roof

Glass Roof