Joy of Creating

The joy of creating is resident inside each of us to some extent, and manifests itself in a variety of different ways. Some of us express ourselves through designing and building physical structures. Inventing recipes and cooking. Painting. Sculpting. Storytelling. Writing. Composing photographs… and a host of other pursuits.

Creating something can be an intensely personal and inwardly rewarding experience. Whether we make any money or receive accolades for our creations is a moot point. Losing oneself in the creative process and allowing ourselves to flow with our energies of inspiration are sufficient rewards.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/5.6, 1/60, ISO-200, handheld in-camera focus stacking

All artists require tools to create. They need not be shiny and new. Sometimes the best tools are well worn from use, having provided many years of faithful service. They are known to the artist and trusted in terms of how they respond to the execution of creative instincts.

As photographers we appreciate the camera gear we use. Over time we learn the nuances of how it performs. Our cameras are trusted partners in our creative journeys. Sometimes our creative expression leads us to use different technologies that help bring to life the images we see in our minds. This can sometimes lead to new tools being introduced to our creative process.

During a recent visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens I noticed the flower illustrated in the image above. It stood out as it was in harsh, direct sunlight and was surrounded by dark shade. The combination of high contrast and delicate petals intrigued me. In my mind’s eye I saw the blossom more subdued and emerging softly from the darkness. It was a metaphor for our journey of self-discovery.

I had my camera already set to perform in-camera focus stacking, so my main objective was to achieve the right amount of underexposure to create a feeling of emergence. I locked in my ISO at 200 and chose an appropriate aperture of f/5.6. My camera was set for 10 focus stacked images using a focus differential of 5.

It was important to select the correct focusing point to help ensure consistent depth-of-field. I studied the blossom and selected a petal that was about 1/3 of the way into the flower.

As I incrementally underexposed the blossom I noticed how the petals on its perimeter became even softer in appearance in terms of receding into the background… yet at the same time revealing more details in the highlight areas. That further strengthen the metaphor of self-discovery… which for many of us tends to be an incremental process.

There was a feeling of excitement and anticipation as I captured this image. The moment I viewed it on the rear screen of my camera I knew I would only have to make some minor enhancements in post.

When I returned home I opened up the in-camera focus stacked jpeg in DxO PhotoLab 4 and applied one of my Custom Presets… “flower macro”. Slight adjustments to the exposure were made using the Selective Tone and Spot Weighted DxO Smart Lighting tools. I then added a touch of Microcontrast to bring out the petal details a bit more. A jpeg was then exported into PhotoShop CS6.

I used the Levels tool to darken the background while adjusting the brightness of the blossom. A small amount of burning was required to eliminate some faint hints of background shapes. The image was then finished in Topaz Sharpen AI with a very minor tweak. All of these changes in post were very quick to perform, only taking a few  minutes including computer processing time.

The detail explanation provided about the flower image featured above was added to help illustrate that the joy of creating can encompass a range of our skill sets. All of which are brought to bear to facilitate the vision we have in our mind’s eye.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/2500, ISO-2000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3840 pixels on the width, subject distance 6.6 metres

Sometimes the joy of creating is envisioning the capture of a very precise moment in the life of another living creature.

OM-D E-M1 Mark III + M.Zuiko 14-150 mm f/4-5.6 II @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/7.1, 1/800, ISO-200

Recognizing beauty in the simplicity of life.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 244 mm, efov 488 mm, f/6.1, 1/250, ISO-1000, handheld in-camera focus stacking, full frame capture, subject distance 1.4 metres

Or bearing witness to a living thing in their environment.

Olympus OMD-E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, f/3.5, 1/200, ISO-2000, subject distance 245 mm, handheld focus stacking used, out-of-camera jpeg adjusted in post

The joy of creating isn’t necessarily found the acquiring the latest and greatest equipment. I have three guitars that are all at least 15 years old. They are distinctly different from one another. Acoustic. Electric acoustic. And electric.

Each has their own unique sound which I enjoy. I play all of them quite poorly… with the same relative lack of talent. My favourite is my acoustic guitar which was built in 1976. When life affords me a limited time to play, it is always the one I choose.

The joy of creating isn’t found in comparing our talents to others, but rather by being immersed in our own creative process. It’s where we find personal expression and growth.

A note of thanks to one of our readers… Antonio… for providing a moment of inspiration.

Technical Note:

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files or out-of-camera focus stacked jpeg images using my standard approach in post. This is the 1,228 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

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