Snapping Out Of The Winter Doldrums With A Self-Assignment

May 4, 2015 § 12 Comments

"Cosmo Chillin'"

“Cosmo Chillin'”

Every time I hit a creative roadblock, which could come due to boredom, depression, or just plain creative laziness, I give myself a self-assignment.  Usually it’s going out with one lens and trying to capture something without the advantage of changing lenses to fit the situation.  This is somewhat easier nowadays with a zoom lens, but I used to do it with fixed focal length lenses years ago.  My favorite self assignment, one which I’ve done many times, is to go out in my backyard and find something interesting to shoot.  This is getting harder since I’ve been doing this for many years now…but that’s the challenge!  Since I’ve been shooting nothing but still life images the past few months, I decided to use natural light only.  One advantage is we have cats and a dog, and you can never tell when one of these guys or gals will do something interesting…you have to stay on your toes or you’ll miss something for sure.  I went outside yesterday (all of these images were captured yesterday) and decided to shoot our old stone ramp that leads up to our barn.  Sure enough, Rusty followed me up there and decided to do some “cat acrobatics”.  I shot the ramp with him and without him.  On the way back to the house, I saw my dog Cosmo just “chillin’ in the grass”.  I shot a ton of images of Cosmo and a bunch of cats, but edited them down to a couple for this blog.  When I was done, I went inside and sat down at the dinning room table to look at my results.  I looked up and noticed how the light was coming in through the door and creating some beautiful highlights and shadows.  While shooting the door, I noticed the basket of pinecones my wife put next to the door for decoration.  After a very tough winter due to illness, deaths in the family, and just a plain old nasty winter, grabbing my camera and wandering around shooting stuff like this gets me wanting to see what else is out there waiting to be captured!

"The Ramp"

“The Ramp”

"Rusty Standing On His Head"

“Rusty Standing On His Head”

"Basket and Pinecones"

“Basket and Pinecones”

"Old Kitchen Door"

“Old Kitchen Door”

Thanks for looking…any question, feel free to ask!


§ 12 Responses to Snapping Out Of The Winter Doldrums With A Self-Assignment

  • Cyndi says:


  • Cyndi, great to hear from you! Thanks!

  • Lewis Bearden says:

    Hey Jon.
    Nice photos. For the ramp shot, did you wait until the cloud was in front of the sun to shoot, or did it just happen that way? Just curious if you planned it and why.
    For the cat standing on his head, did you use HDR there?
    I like the shot of the old door.
    You have a very interesting property.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Lewis, thanks! On the ramp shot, I’m aimed towards the west, so we get lots of nice clouds, and the sun sets behind them in that direction. I did wait till the sun wouldn’t cast any flare, but on a day like that you only have to wait a minute or 2 till there’s new clouds. The shot of Rusty on his head was the same ramp, but from the other side. Getting down low gives me just sky in the back. If I stood up to shoot, I would get the street, telephone lines etc. Rusty’s facing the west, so the suns behind me and to my right slightly. There was no need for HDR, but I do use curves and levels in Photoshop. The old door is probably 100+ years old. The window has a dumb looking thermometer stuck with suction cups(really tacky) that I forgot to take off, so I eliminated it in Photoshop. We also have a newer brass dead bolt lock on the door, which was on the shot when I first posted my blog. I liked it because it caught the light nicely. My wife said it didn’t fit with the old door, and after she said that, It started to bother me…so I removed it in Photoshop too. 😀

      • Lewis Bearden says:

        Thanks for the details. By hiding the street, power lines, etc., it makes it look like you’re on a few hundred acres of land. Nice!
        It’s good that you removed the thermometer and overall, it was probably good that your wife talked you into removing the newer lock too. I think by removing those you actually added to the door. I like it – and I like Photoshop. 😉

  • Lewis, thanks again! If you go to my Facebook page, you’ll see the way the door looked before the changes.

    • Lewis Bearden says:

      Call me strange but I don’t use FB! Maybe you could put a group of before and after shots in your blog and include the door as one of them. Keep up the good work and thanks for the blog post. I enjoy reading them and reading what you have to say.

      • That’s a good idea for a future blog. I have included some before and afters in the past…time to do some more, and when I do, I’ll be sure to include the door shot!

  • Sandy Kuzmiak says:

    Jon – I so enjoy looking at your creations. I wish I could see the beauty in the simple things that you see.

    • Sandy, you will…just keep looking, before long your eye and mind will see things that will surprise you. I always look at the way the sun causes highlights and shadows. I also always look at shapes and angles. Thanks for looking!

  • Like always….beautiful images.

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