Creative Imaging Workshop

Your work is to discover your work and then with all of your heart give yourself to it. – Buddha
You don’t see things as they are.  You see things as you are. – Talmud
Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way. — Edward de Bono

Charles Bowers offered members of two central Maryland Camera Clubs the opportunity to work with him and each other out of his home studio to discuss, practice and expand the creativity of their images.  A dozen folks took him up on the offer, 7 from the Baltimore Camera Club.  We will meet approximately monthly and had our first meeting in January.

As you might expect for the first meeting, we introduced ourselves, showed a little of our work, went over the rules, and got our first assignment.  We had filled out a survey of topics of interest before class, and composite images were high on the list so that is where we started.  We were given a Base-Layer-imagebase image and six other images. The rules were that we had to use the base image, should use at least three of the others, and couldn’t use any outside images.

So I worked on the assignment, Dropboxed several different attempts, and got some comments back from Charles after a couple of days.  The comments were helpful, but indicated that I had not adequately achieved my intent.  Charles reasonably suggested that the cross was too big, and the white birds should have some detail.   I was trying for a “surrealistic”Base-Layer-imageV2 image and that apparently did not come through.  I started to write back, and then stopped, and asked myself whether I really knew what surrealism was. So before potentially embarrassing myself, I looked up surrealism.

And this is the real point of this rather extended narrative:  That I stepped away from a narrow focus on photography and looked into the history, background and thinking behind the kind of art I thought I was doing.  That has broadened and deepened my thinking about my personal vision, where I might go in the future, and what skills I might want to sharpen.


This insight alone has been valuable.  I bought a used book on Dali, one of the more famous surrealists and will continue to broaden my horizons.  Google+ has a Surrealism and Fine Art community with amazing images that will really stretch your mind, which is what creativity is all about.

So I took most of Charles’ comments and lowered the clouds so the top wasn’t cut off, moved the peasants up in the picture so they had feet.  Left my “ghost” birds as they were, and added an even larger cross shadow pointing right at the peasants to try and indicate, in a dream-like way, the relationship between religion, spirituality and a rural way of life.  Given the limitations of the assignment, I am reasonably happy with this result, but still have time to add more ideas.

As always, comments are welcome.

In Defense of Desktops

But sometimes, when all our energy goes into progress, acquisition, and productivity, it leaves a huge emptiness of the heart.  —  John O’Donohue

I work part time for a company that helps businesses or government develop sustainable solutions to business challenges, so I often think for myself about how to act sustainably in my life.  At this time of year electronics are widely advertised and people are often eager to trade a perfectly acceptable device in for the newest version, despite the cost, the lack of a real need, and the hassle of transferring data.  Buying a eSATA card for my desktop, got me thinking about the fact that I have had my desktop since 2007, but it is still perfectly serviceable, despite higher software requirements because it can be upgraded easily and inexpensively.

The popularity of desktops has greatly decreased in the face of cheaper, more powerful laptops, but I hope that manufacturers will continue to make desktops available for three reasons:  (1) it is much cheaper to upgrade a desktop than buy a new laptop, and (2) despite the increased capabilities of laptops, desktops still provide more processing power per dollar, and (3) given the environmental impact of computer technology we should use them as long as practical and then recycle or reuse them.  The money I don’t spend on computer technology I can spend on lenses and travel.

I bought a Dell T3400 workstation in 2007 and it is still going strong, because it provides space and opportunity to inexpensively upgrade and add connections.  I have:

–  Doubled the memory from 4 to 8 GB.
–  Increased the speed and capacity of my C:/ drive by putting in solid state drive or SSD (which is amazingly fast and really worth the cost of about $150 depending on size).
–  Added USB3 ports for faster downloading.
– Added a more effective wireless card.
– Added an eSATA port (just recently, which got me thinking about this).

I did everything myself except for the SSD installation at relatively minimal cost — certainly much less than buying a new laptop to keep up with speed and storage demands.

Planned obsolescence of laptops is certainly advantageous to manufacturers, as is making it expensive or difficult to upgrade, but is it in your interest?  All that said, I do have a laptop and would be hard pressed to get by without it.  Nevertheless, I will likely replace my desktop when it is necessary, rather than getting by solely on a laptop.

Your thoughts are welcome.