It's summer again. Or so my calendar says. And, while it may not be warm enough for everyone to go skinny dippin' at the Ol' Swimmin' Hole, the weather is perfect for musing over nature. What better time for taking photographs than when life is in its yearly period of rejuvenation and growth!
Summer is the time to load your camera with inexpensive black-and-white film and let your imagination go. But there's a key to getting the really good shots. You must search them out. To prepare yourself, here's a series of simple exercises that should start the creative juices flowing.
1.-Load the camera with film and leave the focusing ring on the nearest point of focus. Aa you find an interesting subject, move close enough to produce a sharp image on the viewing screen. By leaving the focusing ring at its closest setting, you'll do the focusing with your body instead of the lens doing it for you. You'll force yourself to get nice and close to objects you may never have noticed before. You'll be seeing, not just looking at, the world around you.
Try this closeup exercise on doorknobs, branches, grass, earth, stone, flowers, shrubs, broken glass and anything else that strikes your fancy. You'll be surprised at how interesting things are closeup.
2.-Load the camera with a fresh roll of film and shoot only subjects with a lot of texture. All too often photographs ar flat and two-dimensional. It's impossible to add actual depth to a photo, of course, but you can add the illusion of depth by shooting heavily textured objects and the light playing off their valleys and ridges.
Photograph the trunk of an old oak or cedar. Or the weathered siding on an old, abandoned home or barn. Check sidewalls and concrete abutments that may have heaved and cracked. Take the camera to the beach after a heavy rain and see what the water has done to the sand.
Remember, you're looking for texture. Experiment with shooting the same subject at different times of day to see how the changing angle of sunlight alters the entire mood of the scene.
3.-Photograph reflections around you. Sometimes reflections can be annoying, but at other times they can add dramatically to the effect of a photograph. Trees reflected off the calm water can be very alluring. And, likewise, buildings reflected off marble. Or the reflections off an old pane of glass, or off the side of a car or its sideview mirror.
Sometimes it's possible to observe things in a reflection that you'd miss by looking directly at the scene. And you can adjust the camera angle for a nearly infinite number of shots-each more interesting than the last.
Each of these exercises emphasizes on point. There's more out the to be photographed than your best friend and his dog. Stop and look around. You'll be surprised at what you find. Devote just one roll of film to each of these exercises and you'll begin to feel the electricity flowing though your body. It's the electricity of creativity. It's what photography is all abouft.