Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Put the Equipment Down and Re-Energize Your Creative Juices

I just returned from a two week hiking vacation in Yosemite National Park; my first introduction to this incredible California site.  A hiker's dream and immensely looking forward to the trip, a dilemma presented itself as I was packing.  With the desire to truly have a vacation I contemplated the pros and cons of taking my heavy, cumbersome professional camera and lenses.  Or not.  Although the tripod was mandatory for any long exposure work, I had already decided to eliminate that option early on as the tripod was just too much gear that compounded the transport of hiking backpacks, trekking poles and whatnot.

So the question was either to take the professional equipment or be a free spirit hiking the trails and more mobile with just my iPhone.  After much turmoil I ultimately decided to really take a break from "seeing as a photographer" and truly enjoy being in the moment of such glorious, breathtaking scenery.  The iPhone would serve as a form of documentation of sorts; something to jog my memory for future Yosemite trip planning.  And if lucky enough, I might consider capturing a handful of truly mesmerizing images if the spirit moved me.

Which brings me to this point.  I thought I was crazy for even thinking of leaving all my equipment at home, but taking just my iPhone was absolutely the perfect decision for me at this time.  Without the expectation of seeing compositions in everything I looked at, and over-engaging my right brain I was free to essentially be in the moment and embrace a personal and soulful connection with favorite place!  I had previously been reading several sources whereupon the thought of not bringing my professional camera was first introduced to me as an option.  It reinforced my opinion that one needs to put the equipment down every once in a while to re-energize the creative juices and give the right brain a bit of a rest.  The ability to just look about and see the wonder without the expectation of composing an image for a client, juried exhibit or whatever was immensely freeing.  The iPhone truly served as a source to capture something of true interest so the hiking remained the primary driver of where I went and what experience I encountered.

Jack Pine at Olmstead Point
© 2014, Joanne Scherf

That said, this image is one example when I was moved to capture something.  It's even more interesting to me as I discovered later that I actually shot a "double exposure" without knowing it.  I'm guessing that the "double" is actually a close-up of the granite floor I was climbing on at the moment that accidently merged into a double image of the Jack Pine tree.  This "mistake" made the image more interesting by adding an element of texture that kicked the aha response up a notch.

It's also a great example of a previous blog posting where I discussed the Chinese concept of wu wei (oooo-way) or Trying Not to Try - The Science of Spontaneity.  Wu Wei is all about an internal sense of effortlessness, effectiveness and being unselfconsciousness.  Basically, quiet the mind and be open and mindful to spontaneous possibilities.  Oh yes, the Jack Pine image also reinforces the theory that failure is success.  Without me mistakenly making a double exposure image I never would have created such a beautiful image of a lone tree on the summit of Olmstead Point.

Bottom your mind and go out once and a while without your equipment and be open to the discovery of mistakes.

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