By Brien Szabo
Photography is sometimes thought of as the ugly sister in art. Unlike other art forms such as painting, sculpting, performance art or even various design arts, photography is often considered a documentarian art form. Those perceptions don’t concern me, because I know it takes a certain eye and mind to capture moments that the other art forms seemingly eschew. I also know that not every aspect of photography has to be expressed in the documentarian form.
While shooting at a favorite location in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, I stood before this wide open field. It was a beautiful field; tall grass, green or brown, depending on the season, nothing more aside from the occasional small flowers that bloomed within. Its simplicity was its beauty and serenity. I stared into it knowing an image was there. What though? I had snapped shots in the past but they were always far from the essence of what the scene conveyed to my senses.
On this particular day, there was a solid breeze rustling through. I remember standing there watching the grass sway back and forth. Sometimes it was a gentle swaying or rocking. At others, when the wind picked up more, it was like a dance as the grasses whipped around in a passionate frenzy. It was on the gentle sways that I found myself closing my eyes and mimicking the motion. It was meditative.
During one of these moments inspiration graced me.
Photograph the movement!
In photography you can express movement by using long shutter speeds to create a blurring effect. That’s what I set out to do. By using various shutter speed lengths, I would trip the shutter as a wind came through.
Then another moment hit me.
Make it dream like.
For this I would use a diffuser filter. A diffuser simply softens the look of the image. Because this image was taken prior to the digital age, I had no idea what the results were going to actually look like. I could only imagine.
I felt good about the shoot. I felt that I had tapped into a creative flow of interpretation. When I finally picked up the film, I was more than thrilled. Not only was it expressive but I had also pulled off a painterly quality to the image. It resembled an impressionistic painting — something out of the Monet school of art.
The field is gone now. It was made into a pond. Yet, this image will always hold the spirit of that place. It acts as a reminder that creativity and inspiration aren’t always something that just appear out of the blue, but rather the result of quiet attention and intention. Inspiration and creativity open themselves up to you when you invite them into a moment. Your only job is to recognize that moment when it arrives. Grasp it, mold it, and then forever give it thanks.
Brien Szabo is a professional writer, speaker, and photographer, specializing in nature and travel. He has written for Nature Photographer Magazine and has been a contributor to webzines – NatureScapes.net and PhotoMigrations.com. His work and writings have appeared in magazines, books, calendars, commercials and other media. Closer to home, he has published with NJ Monthly, Adirondack Life, Running Press, and Down the Shore Publishing. Brien teaches several photography workshops and classes in the Somerset and Middlesex county area. To view more of Brien’s work, please visit http://natureimages321.com. Other articles on Cadigan Creative by Brien include: Remembering September 11.