Sea Blue Lens

Breaking Through


The next lesson in my Journey of Fascination is called Creative Breakthroughs. My first reaction was, “I don’t think I’ve ever had one.” I believe that my photography has improved over the years, but it seems to me that it has been a gradual process, rather than anything as dramatic as a “breakthrough” — especially a creative one. There has never been anything that has propelled me in a totally different direction with my photography.

But then I started thinking about it and a few things did come to mind.

One I recalled was my move to Maine. A new environment stimulates new output, and what a gorgeous new environment it was. I felt lit up as I attempted to capture the fresh things I saw around me. Soon after that, I got my first digital camera. Suddenly I could take all the pictures I wanted, at no cost, and just delete any that didn’t turn out. Also, it was a very small camera and I began carrying it with me everywhere. I’m in another new environment now, and again am excited about exploring its photographic possibilities.

First photo with Canon Digital Elph

First photo with Canon Digital Elph (SOOC)

Another was signing up for my first Find Your Eye course. I learned a great deal from the lessons. But that wasn’t the real breakthrough. In order to keep the photo journal that was required for the class, I started this blog. I connected with fellow FYE-ers and even random strangers, and for the first time ever, began to put my work (and myself) out into the world. Literally the WORLD. Making those connections, getting feedback and encouragement about my work, and seeing the work of others has inspired my photography and my life. I want to photograph more, and better, and to release it into the wild.

First photo published on blog

First photo published on blog

One of my happiest creative breakthroughs came with the discovery that giving up seriousness and expectations of perfection can actually improve my photography. I’ve mentioned it a couple of times before — that time when I forgot to make sure my camera was in the bag before meeting a friend for a photoshoot. I didn’t even have my small backup camera with me. So I pulled out my iPhone and started taking photos with it. I didn’t expect to get anything good out of it, but hey, I was there, so why not just have some fun? In spite of its limitations, or maybe because of them, I had a blast and got some of my favorite photos ever.

First photo from (accidental) iPhone photo walk

First photo from (accidental) iPhone photo walk

Recently I had another breakthrough when I took a couple of classes from Kim Klassen on post-processing with Photoshop Elements and Lightroom. I’d been using Photoshop for years, stumbling along with it on my own. Just a couple of lessons with Kim and I learned things that amazed me. I don’t know if it was a breakthrough in creativity, but it sure revolutionized my processing.

Fun with Photoshop

First Photoshop assignment: Learning layers at long last

My latest breakthrough actually happened as I was working on our lesson on Contrasts. I did my photo walk and downloaded the images to my computer. I was so mad! They were not sharp, despite being taken in bright sunlight at very fast shutter speeds. Every single one was just soft, even though my camera is supposed to have one of the best picture qualities out there. I was totally fed up. So I started researching, looking through manuals and online forums, and guess what? I discovered I wasn’t the only one with that problem, and there are camera settings to fix it. So I tried variations on those settings, taking test photos, downloading and comparing them, and then I went out and redid my photoshoot. Now I’m getting the nice sharp images I’ve been looking for all along. A breakthrough in creativity? I don’t know if that will be the result, but now I’m a lot more eager to get out there and see what I can make the little beastie do!

It may not be Art, but at least it's not fuzzy.

First photo, second time around. It may not be Art, but at least it’s not fuzzy.

So I have had and I hope will continue to have breakthroughs. Are they Creative Breakthroughs? I guess only time will tell. But one thing Kat said really rang a bell with me: When I go out and try to force it, it doesn’t happen so much.

Here’s to letting it happen. And maybe just encouraging it a little bit!


10 thoughts on “Breaking Through

  1. There is a huge difference between Encouraging and forcing — I think you hit the nail on the head. You have helped me think about my creative break through, thanks. I love your first blog photo — wonderful sky! And your new header is beautiful!

  2. I love the pace at which you succinctly expressed your feelings of breaking through. I think you hit upon something. You look at those two words and can interpret as something one suddenly discovers or experiences. BUT it is really a PROCESS that slowly can occur. I hope many read your posting as you slow the expectations down to being realistic. To really feel like one is accomplishing, takes time, trial and error…such as your camera. You are surely on the right track in developing your photographic/artistic skills. Thank you for sharing. smiles: sharon

  3. There are so many things you have said here that I like, that I can identify with. I also like Sharon’s comment and agree that this is a process, a journey. Yes, along the way we can have those events that move us along more quickly or change our direction, but then there will be more of those events along the way.

    The last image, and your story of how you found a solution to those soft images, really sums up in a beautiful way what you have learned, what has helped you move forward in your process.

    And I’m so glad that we connected in that first FYE course!

  4. It sounds like learning new things is one of the things that drives your creative breakthroughs! I loved reading about all of these. And yes, I think changing how you do post-processing can definitely be part of a creative breakthrough. Learning a new tool that helps you better express yourself? Perfect!

  5. I had a break through the other day. I was reading and they had a column by Nikki Gardner who is writing a book and you can read her first chapter. I am writing a lot of ideas down now in a journal.

  6. Wow! For someone who didn’t think they had any creative breakthroughs – you certainly did! I loved reading about how you started and what big changes have come along on your journey. I like seeing your “firsts”. I’m so glad you took Kat’s classes and started this blog and became part of my online community. My world is better for it.

  7. I had the same thoughts about creative breakthroughs. I think mine came quietly like yours did! I love how you document each step with a “first” photo! Your words are very encouraging to me. I want to move faster than I do. You’ve made me realize I just neet to enjoy the journey through photography no matter how long it takes me. Would you mind sharing how you solved the softness in your images. It seems I have to adjust the contrast on every single image I take! I would love to hear what you found out!

  8. Awesome shots! Can I please have those settings for sharp photos? That kinda drives me crazy too.

    Oh, and I miss that little Elph too – that was a great little camera, all 1.2 megapixels or whatever it was. 🙂

  9. Great post. Loved reading about your journey – Kat and Kim’s courses were major breakthroughs for me too and I love what you say about giving up seriousness and expectation of perfection – that has made a massive different to my photography too.

  10. That sweet little footbridge. I’ve taken that a few times, but can not yet seem to capture that quaint quality you have. I too think connecting with FYE and finding a nice circle of fellow bloggers, and especially a neighbor (wink, wink) have helped in exhange of ideas. I think there was one lesson that we found we were shaped by what we see in other’s work, even if we don’t know that it’s happening.
    I hope whatever setting you’ve found breaks you thru to more cool “stuff” out there. I’m sure it will. And if it gets to sharp you can use your layering skills, add apple blossom pear tree rosey baby mirage texture and soften it up a bit. You know it’s true! ; )

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