Ellen Borggreve: Blog https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog en-us (C) Ellen Borggreve (Ellen Borggreve) Sat, 18 Sep 2021 13:32:00 GMT Sat, 18 Sep 2021 13:32:00 GMT https://www.ellenborggreve.com/img/s/v-12/u604846624-o183470639-50.jpg Ellen Borggreve: Blog https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog 90 120 The Sketching Photographer https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2021/9/the-sketching-photographer The one thing that is stressed in the lifelong ongoing education of painters, draftsmen and animators alike is to sketch...always, anywhere, any place, any time. Sketching sharpens the vision, it focusses the eye onto everything that is of value to conveying the emotion of a scene, the essence of it. 

The Sketching PhotographerThe Sketching PhotographerA photographer's success rate can not be measured in a percentage of successful images, but in the times he or she is willing to accept failure. Growth comes from being prepared to try new things even if they might fail

Photographers though often put down their tripod, preferably at eye level and then shoot a scene and walk away. Most of the time in a hurry to catch that ever elusive light. Most photographers want to get the shot and move onto the next one, because time is limited, good light is rare and so photography becomes a rush job. I would argue that making the most of the light, might just be a question of staying in one spot and to go beyond that first obvious shot of a scene.

The way towards more knowledge and therefore being a better equipped photographer is by building on this first shot. How can you be sure it is the best one if you have not tried other viewpoints, lower or higher angles, other lenses, different focal lengths? Can you know for sure that this is the only image worth creating without having given it plenty of your time and attention?

In photography it almost seems to be a bad thing if someone were to approach it as some kind of sketching. Sketching though is a necessary step in the process for painters and draftsmen. I know it was for me when I was a designer. I would have thought through a new design extensively, but everything started with sketches...Profile sketches mostly, in which figures were like silhouettes, trying to establish the right posture, the best shape and balance.

The SpellThe Spell

This image was taken with a fixed focal length lens (the Lumix S Pro 50mm F1.4) just because I had once again told myself that fixed focal lengths don't work well in a forest. This image is the unedited version, nothing has been done to it except for adding the watermark in Lightroom.This was the second image I took of this tree that day....the first one from a slightly different angle. This one turned out to be the better one. I kept shooting this scene and have several 28 mm shots and verticals of this one as well.

This is how I approach photography as well. Something draws my attention, I try to figure out if what I see can be translated into a good picture and sometimes it just is not. Something that looks incredibly beautiful to us, simply can't always be translated into an image that works. It happens and if it does not work I let it go. If there is a promise of a successful photograph in there I will look at it from many angles and then decide where to put up my tripod. Even after setting up, I will move it a few centimeters to one side, or the other side, adjusting the height of the tripod or the angle of the camera. I can spend quite some time fiddling around with my tripod until I find something that works. I take sample pictures, my sketches, decide it they convey what the essence of the scene is and stay with the scene whilst asking myself if perhaps another lens might tell the story better or a different aspect ratio.

I build on the sketch pictures and learn from them. I therefore can't understand that some people like to measure a photographer's success by the amount of keepers as a percentage of the amount of pictures taken. The more time I spend with a scene, the more I start to understand it and get in tune with it and the better the results will be. I don't care if I have 20 keepers of different scenes from a morning's photography. I care about learning, evolving and I do this whilst sketching with my camera, making drafts. I am quite sure that by putting down my tripod in 20 different locations I might get pictures that to the outside world might look like keepers, but to me they might be superficial. I like to experience one scene in depth and only move on until I think I have at least given it my very best. I might after all be wrong about the best angle, the best lens....I might have become prejudiced from years of experience of photographing similar scenes. 

RememberRemember

A scene that I thought I knew how to photograph to its advantage.... until the light was working against me in the direction that I thought this scene worked best. I spent 20 minutes trying to find a spot where the tree was backlit and was not showing specks of light on the trunk. Then faint sun rays started appearing. I would not have even shot this scene like this if I had had the voice of experience take over and if I had gone home, because the light was too harsh. 

I might have convictions that limit the possibilities that are actually there. "This is always the right angle, this is usually the right lens, this is the right light, this is how this works best". How can I ever be sure unless I approach each scene, even those that are very familiar to me, that I have photographed time and time again, with a fresh perspective as if I see it for the first time. Experience is a wonderful thing, but it can make you put self-inflicted limitations on the options that you really have. You might think that experience simply helps speed up decisions, but I dare say that experience taught me that speeding up decisions leads to stagnation in creative growth. Dare to prove yourself wrong once in a while. If you find yourself thinking : "I don't have much time to begin with, so I want to make the most of it photographically speaking in the sense of shooting as many keepers of different subjects in the little time I have", I do understand. I was there, I rushed around for a while to get as many keepers into my Lightroom catalogue as I could. These days I am happy to approach things more slowly, more thoughtfully. After all, I live the life of an artist and an artist wants to pour herself or himself into her or his work. How can I do this if I am in a rush to get the highest amount of keepers? I might be able to photograph a successful image within a minute especially on foggy mornings, but...it would be superficially successful. It would be a "this is how I know I should photograph a scene like this" image. I want an image that is the result of a challenge which is always, always better than staying in the comfort zone. Growth comes with failures and successes, but failures that are the result of challenging oneself are most definitely more successful to me than a so-called successful photograph that I was able to take on auto pilot. 

Art is a process, one in which the artist meets the subject and the evolving artist sees the subject with new eyes and dares to not play it safe, dares to question his or her convictions, dares to disagree with one's earlier choices of how to approach a scene. Don't let experience become the reason you start limiting your options and never let knowledge gained be the reason to not develop any further. 

Sketching is a way of becoming acquainted with a scene, approaching it loosely at first, working on the best possible way to convey one's story at that particular time....until the artist has changed, has evolved and the story that is to be conveyed becomes different as well. 

If you enjoy my essays and work, please consider supporting me by buying my eBook The Magic of Forest Photography.

Today I am super pleased to also be able to announce new workshops and there some dates left for individual workshops as well. More information on my workshops page and for my Dutch spoken group workshops you can visit this page

Join Newsletter BannerJoin Newsletter Banner

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) photography photography tips https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2021/9/the-sketching-photographer Fri, 17 Sep 2021 13:30:37 GMT
Interpretations and Perceptions of the Landscape https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2021/7/interpretations-and-perceptions-of-the-landscape Photography is often mistakenly believed to be a factual representation of what is. Different types of photographers hold different beliefs as to how factual it should be and discussions on this subject often end up being rather heated. I think that as we have been given the opportunity as a living being to create and to not just exist, this discussion is not that interesting. There are no laws about how one should create and each and every one of us has boundaries we will not cross, but we have to accept that our boundaries are ours and we can not impose them on others. Our boundaries are not laws which are set in stone.

Interpretation and Perception of the LandscapeInterpretation and Perception of the LandscapeOur interpretation of the landscape is what shapes our view on reality. Even the purest of photographers can greatly influence the interpretation of reality by the choices they make in their compositions

With that said, I disagree entirely that photography is always true to facts, even in images that are believed to be pure photography. What is fact after all? I am always amazed how something simple as a childhood memory of a trip abroad can be totally different from a sibling's recollections. I remember and interpreted facts totally different from my sibling. We were both there and still my interpretation of what I saw was in no way similar to hers. 

This can be explained by understanding that people who have totally different personalities and likes and passions, interpret scenes and facts differently. Even though photography is thought to be rather limited in creative self expression as opposed to painting, the limits are only those we believe in. Photography is done by human beings and human beings interpret scenes which are filtered through their own beliefs, likes, dislikes, experiences, background, personality etc. etc. We interpret and perceive, we hardly ever really see facts. I sometimes wonder how we might know what a fact is, because we can not ever rule out our human brains. Might an elephant not see something different than we do, just because his brain works differently? Would he ever believe himself to be grey, even if he had access to words?

Old Oak Trees In Slight MistRhythm and RhymeOak trees on a misty autumn morning

I am digressing, but merely to make the point that factual representation is largely a myth. We can not ever rule out that how we perceive something might not be a fact. We stand in the landscape, we perceive something, that might or might not be colored by imprints in our brain of images we have seen of a similar scene, we compose a scene and in composing, we interpret. 

This is why I do not believe in composition rules. Composition is a personal way of arranging elements so it matches the vision we have. It might be rather helpful to know some basics of composition, but art is and should be about personal expression. The entire point is that we all have different interpretations of what we see and experience and that it is up to us to work with this, rather than against it. 

The arrangement of elements, the choice of lens, a viewpoint, choice of aperture and shutter speed, choice of under- or overexposure; these are all choices that come from a personal interpretation. These are choices that have been available to photographers for a very long time, but they can have a great effect on the representation of reality. We can influence the way scale is perceived in an image by choosing a wide angle or a telephoto lens. We can extract little scenes from its chaotic surroundings by zooming in on a detail. What would have been factual in that case? The chaos or the detail? Someone with an eye for detail might be totally absorbed by details that no one else notices and this shapes this persons reality. 

I have a picture that I once cut out of a newspaper. It was a picture of a very young boy who was very thin....his ribcage clearly visible. He only wore a pair of underpants and in the background there was nothing except a huge fire. I always believed this to be a very poignant scene of a boy in front of an inferno. Imagine my surprise when years later I saw that same picture and read the description. It was in fact a picture of a boy in front of a festive bonfire. If the photographer had chosen to include other people surrounding the bonfire or if he had chosen to use a wider lens, I might have seen the actual context of the image. Was this photograph true to facts or not? Was it reality or not? It was reality, but the choices made by the photographer made me interpret the scene very, very differently from what was actually happening. I have several newspaper cuttings of scenes that were photographed in a way that the story that the image conveyed was entirely different from what was actually happening. This is how photographers can influence the story they tell about reality and influence how we interpret a scene, even journalists...

We more or less have to live with the idea that what we believe to be facts have been filtered by our individual brains and I think this is something we need to embrace. Rather than thinking that just because someone else is successful with a certain type of image and this is the way things should be done, we should accept that his interpretation is his and that we have a unique vision which we can share. In The Netherlands a fictional girl called Loesje (it was more like a movement actually) produced posters with texts that were ubiquitous in the late 1980's. One of the posters said : Be Yourself, There Are Already So Many Others.

I believe that we were not put on this earth to walk in someone else's shoes, we are not here to be anything but ourselves. Being unique and more importantly, knowing what makes us unique, makes up the foundation of creative self expression. Let us understand that we all have our own boundaries in what we believe is acceptable in art and not impose our boundaries on others. Art is and should be free. This is one of the greatest privileges of human kind; self expression, the expression of the self. 

There is delight in knowing that someone else is seeing things differently, it should not immediately make you doubt your own interpretation or perception, it should not make you doubt your choices, your compositions, it should just be an acknowledgement of the great variety in human interpretation and the very reason for staying true to yourself. What is deemed successful, which is mostly linked to its level of popularity, is probably not the kind of success we should be after. There is nothing quite like the success of having created something that is a result of your personal interpretation. This in turn asks of you to be mindful of how you filter reality. It is a summons to Know Thyself

My boundaries will be different from yours and mine have shifted quite a bit. They are however not a judgement on other people's process of making images, they are much rather an indication of what I am most passionate about.  

My boundaries are put up around my dedication to craftsmanship and a love for truly experiencing the moments that I turn into images with my camera. My camera is my way of becoming more immersed in those moments. The moments are what count and I am fully aware that it is my interpretation of that moment that I am capturing with my camera and I would not want it any other way. I want to put in the effort to witness the moment. 

Being aware of your interpretation of a scene, a moment in time, is crucial to creating photographs that are true to you. If your way of seeing differs greatly from others', this is no reason for self-doubt nor a reason to adjust your work so it fits in more with what might be popular. It is in fact a reminder that the miracle of life on this planet is that we are all unique and that being like others is exactly what we should not strive for. Be yourself....Dare To Be Different

Join Newsletter BannerJoin Newsletter Banner

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) fine art photography landscape photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2021/7/interpretations-and-perceptions-of-the-landscape Fri, 02 Jul 2021 11:46:48 GMT
Advanced Lightroom Colour Control https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2021/7/advanced-lightroom-colour-control This is a tutorial that has been a long time coming. As I often review pictures for workshop clients I see quite a lot of pictures that look very muddy after post processing. Many clients wonder why about the reasons for this issue and rather than explaining this to each person individually, I think it is wiser to make a tutorial, so this can be of value to more photographers, or so I hope.

Advanced Colour Control in LightroomAdvanced Colour Control in LightroomHow to separate colours in your images in Lightroom using HSL, Calibration, White Balance and Color Grading Most of the time a muddy effect is caused by not having enough separation in colours and a lack of contrast in the raw image and then applying global colour adjustments  to the image. Rather than explaining this in words, I am going to show you a picture that is nothing special, but serves the purpose of explaining what colour separation is.

This picture was taken on a dull winter's day. As is often the case on dull winter days in a forest, the colours all look more or less the same. The problem is that our brain does not spot this, as we believe moss to be a certain kind of green and the trunk a certain kind of brown. If we however choose the colour picker in the HSL panel of Lightroom and put it on the moss, we can clearly see that it is actually mostly yellow. In fact....all colours in the image have a majority of yellow in them. If we were to edit this picture and use global colour adjustments we affect all colors equally. If we were too warm the picture up, the moss that now has a very, very slight percentage of green in it, will become even more yellow and the percentage of green will be even less. This means that all colors will end up looking more or less the same, especially since this picture was also taken in very dull and flat light, which means there is very little contrast.

By clicking on the little circle looking like a bullseye we select the targeted adjustment tool and as we hover over the moss, we can see the yellow hue being highlighted, which means that it is predominantly yellow, even though our brain tells is that it should be green. If I drag the tool up I move the sliders in the panel to the right and if I drag the tool down it moves the sliders to the left. I want the moss to be greener and so I place the tool on top of the moss and drag up. Now we can clearly see that by dragging the tool, two sliders are affected, which means there are two hues present in the colour of the moss ; a large amount of yellow and a small amount of green. By dragging up, the sliders moved to the right and so the green hue in the moss is being moved towards cyans and the yellow is moved towards green. This means that the moss will start to look greener. I am also going to affect the hue of the dead foliage which is of course also mostly yellow and has a bit of orange in it. 

The picture has now already lost a bit of its muddy look.

It is good to realize that a global adjustment like white balance can make the separation of colours easier. If I add blue to this picture, the blue will make the greens more cyan and the yellows more green and this will come in handy. So I made this image cooler by using the white balance sliders. In this case I used the white balance colour picker and fine-tuned it afterwards.

I adjust the colors in the HSL panel again and end up at these settings, but pay no notice to the absolute values, as they will be different for each image

I also make some adjustments to the saturation of the individual colours to balance things out The next thing I do to affect the colours in this image is to use a very little used panel in Lightroom which is Calibration. It is actually incredibly useful to affect the colours in an image. In this case I need to use the red primary slider most of all, because it affects the type of red in the image and I want to move away from that dull colour towards something more vibrant. Adding red to the green moss will dull them down even more and so I use this slider to liven the scene up a bit. To prevent the shadows in the image from also going green, which would reduce colour separation again, I move it ever so slightly to the magenta side. Don't underestimate the power of this little panel that very few people actually use.
After these steps I have now created a picture with more colour separation, which does not mean that this is the finished picture, but this provides a better base to now work upon. The greens look quite green and perhaps slightly too much so, but this was done only because I know there will be steps that I will be taking now that will warm the image up again. By having green greens, I prevent them from blending in with the yellows once I start to color grade this image.

In October 2020, Adobe exchanged Split Toning for Color Grading, which is an amazing panel that gives you loads of control over the colours in your images. Rather than to use it for really funky and artistic effects, I am going to use it to bring some life into this image, which the raw image clearly lacked. The main panel looks like this, but I never use the main panel with the three colour wheels as this is quite fiddly. I move straight over to the shadows, midtones and highlights panels than can be accessed by clicking on either of the circles to the right of the triangle of circles next to adjust
This is how the colour wheel looks. You can see that the shadows are selected and that no change has been made. The grey ball on the right side of the circle shows us that a shade of red is the starting point. The circle in the exact middle means there is no saturation for this colour and this means no changes were made. If you click on the little fold out arrow below the circle (to the right) you can see the values. The way I work is to drag up the saturation slider up first to about 20 and then drag the hue slider to see what colour would suit the image (in this case the shadows). After that I adjust the saturation to taste

You can see that I have chosen a warm colour. Dragging the sliders will move the ball in the colour wheel and you can see by the placement of the ball that the saturation of the colour used is rather low. My midtones get a slight adjustment with green with a very low saturation The next step is quite important, because even though the sky was dull, I know from experience that once I take this picture into Photoshop to do some extra adjustments to the contrast, all of a sudden the blue in the sky, which is not visible now, will pop up and attract the attention. I don't want the viewer's eye to go to a contrasting colour on the top of the frame if the main point of interest lies elsewhere. This is why I add yellow to the highlights. Yellow is the opposite colour to blue on a colour wheel and this means they neutralize each other when mixed.  I also add a global adjustment to the hue in the last option of this panel

This is how the picture looks after the colour corrections. Again, I use this picture as the base for further editing in Photoshop, so this is not the finished image as I would present it. 
And this was the before picture again

The fun thing about color grading is that it also works on blacks and white images 

I do hope this tutorial has been of value to you. I often try out colour corrections on a virtual copy in Lightroom, which can easily be made by selecting the original raw file and then press the cmd and ' keys or ctrl and ' on windows. This creates a virtual copy which you can then easily compare to other edits of the same raw file. 

Below is the picture after I have taken it to Photoshop where I added curves layers applied locally and where I added a custom Orton effect.

Even though I dislike always plugging my eBook, I need the sales to continue writing tutorials and essays for you, so if you want to know more about how I take my forest images, please consider purchasing my eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography. It would be a great help. If you want to read more about my work as a photographer and would like to receive more valuable content, I would love it if you subscribed to my newsletter. I will give you a free eBook called Let Your Photography Tell Your Story as a thank you for your subscription.

Join Newsletter BannerJoin Newsletter Banner

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) Lightroom tutorial https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2021/7/advanced-lightroom-colour-control Fri, 02 Jul 2021 07:47:00 GMT
The Pitfalls Of Chasing Perfect Conditions https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2021/6/the-pitfalls-of-chasing-perfect-conditions Landscape photographers tend to chase the perfect light, the light that will lend to the scene a sense of glory that otherwise would not be there. We all think we know what those perfect conditions are. We have al heard the call of the splendrous sunrise or sunset, we have all checked weather apps religiously for the best possible times and conditions and many times we have come home feeling disappointed because the fog did not manifest, sunrise was hidden behind clouds or sunset was cut short by rain showers. 

The Pitfalls Of Chasing Perfect ConditionsThe Pitfalls Of Chasing Perfect ConditionsThe negative implications for your photography of just wanting to work in perfect conditions far outweigh working with the conditions that you get, even if they are not perfect.

A couple of weeks ago I started teaching individual workshops again and soon everything felt like I have never even stopped due to the pandemic. I simply love teaching. We started very early in the morning, just after sunrise, just because in a forest harsh light is difficult to work with. We did not have any real fog though, which is something forest photographers crave. In workshops you need to work with the conditions you get and on one occasion, the light was very harsh and on another it was pouring down with rain for hours and hours and hours. 

These were not what we would call perfect conditions, but fact is : they kind of were the perfect conditions, because these were the conditions that we had to deal with. An early start ensures soft light for at least a little while and admittedly it is my favourite part of the day. The forests are waking up and they still belong to their animal habitants. Bird song fills the air and it feels like the most alive moment of the forest of the day. Everything is calm and there is usually not another living human soul out there. These are my perfect conditions...

Rhythm Of The Falling RainRhythm Of The Falling Rain

A spring forest in the pouring rain. Lumix S1R with Lumix S Pro 70-200 F4 at iso 2000. The conditions were very far from what one would call perfect, yet this is one of my favourite images of this year 

Photographing in pouring rain raises challenges and it is certainly hard on workshop attendants, because it is hard enough as it is to learn forest photography, let alone if you need to constantly watch out for water on the camera, on the lens and shoot at ridiculously high iso's because it is so dark. At other the sun is harsh and this brings challenges of its own. 

I am guilty of chasing the fog, I used to drive miles and miles to where the fog, ever elusive, was forecasted to be. Most of the time, the forecast was wrong and I would drive on hoping to find it. In the mountains I would drive up and down when low clouds would drift into the forest only to see it dissipate before my very eyes as soon as I arrived. Of course I often succeeded in taking pictures in the fog, but I would feel rushed, because I wanted to make the most of these fleeting misty moments. I know all too well that in a blink of an eye, it will disappear.

Generally speaking it is believed that the best conditions help produce the best pictures. As time went on I came to disagree with this. I take my best pictures when I take my time, not when I am rushed. Sometimes I get lucky and can work in the fog for hours, but most of the time this does not happen. Fog however is just one of the ways to reduce chaos in the forest, it is not the only one. It is also not the only way to get atmospheric images.

GroundedGrounded

Another picture taken during a workshop just after sunrise in very windy conditions which is always challenging in a dark forest and calls for very high iso settings to accommodate a faster shutter speed, which still did not freeze all the motion in the leaves. Lumix S1R with Lumix S Pro 70-200 F4

The true splendor of a spring forest can get lost in the greyness of mist. Mist dulls colour, reduces contrast and saturation and this might not at all be the best way of telling the story of a Spring forest. Pouring rain might in fact be a perfect condition for photographing the lushness of a forest in spring. Rain can also bring out lines that would otherwise look like distracting elements.

On days when the sunlight is harsh,  you usually get a few hours of warm and softer light after sunrise. Who is to say that this light could not be just perfect for a scene? 

By limiting yourself to the rare occurrence of fog, you deny yourself hours and hours of practice, you also deny yourself the act of working in a slow and focussed way, going beyond the surface. Chasing the perfect conditions might in fact be the worst thing you can do for your future enjoyment of photography. If photography is your hobby, than the act of photographing is what it is all about. If you photograph landscapes, it is all about the act of photography and spending time outside enjoying nature. I assume that landscape photographers, amateurs and professionals, should love the landscape, nature. When I see stressed-out photographers pass me by in a forest where I am prone to hanging around on a few square meters, I do wonder however if these people with this hobby, are actually enjoying themselves. It seems to me that many are just happy when the conditions are right and the result is pleasing. This of course implies that many times they will be quite unhappy photographers. 

The happy photographer is one who does not feel like he (or she) and Mother Nature both have to give a top performance whenever he shows up. A happy landscape photographer is one who is happy in the landscape. It sounds so simple when I put it like this, but nonetheless I regard this to be becoming quite rare amongst photographers. The genuinely intrigued photographer, not thinking of possible social media success, but totally immersed in making images of something he or she is passionate about, knows that time spent in nature is never in vain. 

A World AnewA World Anew

No fog on the early spring morning in May 2021, but a picture that would not have looked so intriguing in foggy conditions. It would have been impossible to retain any depth without a vanishing point of the little stream. Lumix S1R and Lumix S Pro 70-200 F4 and B+W Polarizer

Teaching has taught me that photography happens when you show up with the intention of enjoying yourself and a craving to learn new things. The learning itself is enjoyable and is a necessary step in the process of improving. Excellent conditions don't necessarily make excellent photos or photographers. Excellent photos start with the willingness to learn, to practice and to enjoy the process. They start with a deeply felt relationship to the subject, they are rooted in passion and commitment. 

It all starts with joy and passion, not with forcing your will onto the landscape and being frustrated when things don't go according to plan. This is nature, this is the landscape, it does not bend to our expectations, it just is and it is perfect in so, so many ways that there is always an opportunity to seize. Don't limit yourself to deeming situations as impossible to work with. Start to think in possibilities rather than limitations. The knowledge gained by showing up in spite of the conditions is very valuable and it opens up possibilities that you might never have thought of.

With this said I leave you till the next essay, which is in the pipelines already. I write these essays to be of value to you and I feel I can add more value to you spending my time writing and photographing than being on social media. If you'd like to support me writing these essays and if you'd like to learn more about forest photography I humbly suggest to you my eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography. Your purchase helps me putting out free content like this essay and tutorials.

And for more interesting tips and tricks I can recommend my newsletter. To thank you for subscribing to my newsletter you get a great eBook for free...

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) landscape photography photography tips https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2021/6/the-pitfalls-of-chasing-perfect-conditions Tue, 22 Jun 2021 10:12:28 GMT
Framed: The Edges Of The Image https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2021/4/framed-the-edges-of-the-image A lot can be said about composition in photography, but often the frame itself, the aspect ratio, is forgotten when composing. Very often the sensor of the camera defines where the edges of the frame will be without the photographer questioning if this is the best aspect ratio for the subject.

The Edges Of The Image, Aspect Ratios In PhotographyThe Edges Of The Image, Aspect Ratios In PhotographyThe aspect ratio you choose for your images has a huge impact on the composition. Choose one wisely and your pictures will be stronger as a result

A few months ago I read an essay by a photographer, who absolutely detests the 2:3 aspect ratio, which is the ratio that is being widely used by a number of cameras. I can't argue with him not liking the aspect ratio, because I feel that just like everything else in life and photography, this is one of those things that is very subjective and dependent on the photographer's way of seeing . I did however find reason to disagree with his statement that no painter ever chose to use this aspect ratio. I immediately felt this could not be true. I have a huge library of art books and set to work on calculating the aspect ratios of the paintings in these books. After one evening I already knew that 2:3 had indeed been used by many painters, but by the second evening I found that someone like the world renowned JMW Turner had canvases made specifically in this aspect ratio. Many Flemish painters had used this aspect ratio as well as German and Dutch painters in the Romantic era. 

After I had calculated the aspect ratio of  hundreds and hundreds of paintings I was satisfied knowing that 2:3 was not just a technical aspect ratio introduced by the 35 mm camera, but that it had been used by painters, amongst which some who actually favoured it. 

A picture that demands a horizontal frame because of the trees that are bending to the left and right part of the frame. This adds to the dynamic lines and shapes present in the scene

The entire research had made me think though. Was I being lead by the aspect ratio set by my camera, had I been wrong to never doubt where the edges of my frame were? 

To crop after the capture was not really an option if I wanted to know if I could compose images in another aspect ratio and so I put one of my cameras on the 1:1 aspect ratio, which I believed to be the most impossible one for forest imagery. The reason that I believed this to be true is that trees sort of dictate the frame by being wide branched (horizontal) or being tall and vertical. I certainly do not see in squares, but thought I'd force myself to think in squares. 

A 1:1 aspect ratio picture of a forest path that works because this frame leaves out parts of the forest on the left of this frame that were not adding anything to this scene and it also nicely excluded most of the sky, which is something to be aware of when photographing bare trees

One month passed and I must admit that I struggled to make squares work. In the next month I put both my cameras on different aspect ratios to see what would happen. I went out in all kinds of weather, mostly unfavorable to forest photography, just to satisfy my curiosity. 

To make images in a different aspect ratio, means to look at a scene differently, which is why I chose to set the cameras up to "capture" either a square or a 4:3 rather than cropping in Lightroom or Photoshop after the fact. As I shoot in RAW and the sensor size does not change, the RAW files stay intact, but the crop is being saved in the metadata and so the crop is being transferred over to Lightroom upon importing the files. By clicking the crop tool, the entire 2:3 image becomes visible again. 

An example of a 4:3 crop

 

I had loved and used the 1:1 ratio before. As a matter of fact, in 2011 and 2012 I almost exclusively made square images.  I did not photograph forests at the time though, but I did make images of landscapes that to this day continue to come to mind when I think about my most creative time as a photographer. Having loved squares before made me determined to try to like them again and after a few months of struggling with it, I started to see differently, which was why I started this experiment.

Rocky RoadRocky Road
What I feel about this subject is this : I have noticed that my natural way of seeing things does not suit certain aspect ratios very well and I suspect this is the case for everyone. I tend to not like 4:5 ratios even though many of my favourite photographers use it with great success. I also tend to not like 4:3 very much either and I feel I can have an opinion about this as I used to work with 4:3 sensors many years ago. I have noticed that I love squares......sometimes.....for some subjects. I love them for images with not too many elements in it, for more minimalist photographs. I also love them for different kinds of trees, the smaller and quirky ones. 

 

I do believe however that some subjects dictate the frame. Very tall trees with the interesting branches starting high up don't call for horizontal images or squares. They beg to be photographed as verticals. Forest scenes in winter, when large patches of sky are visible in the upper part of the frame, might suit a horizontal or square frame better though. It all depends. 

Frozen FellowshipFrozen Fellowship

This would happen if I cropped this image into a square in Lightroom. I would loose bits of the composition that I think are vital to its success. If I had tried to make a square image of this scene in the field, I would have had to choose a different focal length, found another point of view and placed the elements in the frame in a way that the important parts would be included in the frame. This image begs to be a vertical though as these trees are interesting over their entire length. Choosing a horizontal frame would have included too much mess in the frame and a square frame just does not look natural in this case

Cropping afterwards is very different to capturing images in a different aspect ratio, because you need to lay out the elements differently in a 2:3 compared to a square. You need to design the picture to suit the ratio and this is a great way of learning as it forces you out of your comfort zone and to see in a different way. Choosing the right aspect ratio is sort of finding the right box to fit around the distribution of elements in your frame so they can be presented to their advantage and suit your way of seeing. 

I would suggest you try for yourself which aspect ratio feels natural to you. If you can not set your camera to another aspect ratio, you can always craft a frame from black cardboard and put it over your LCD screen. I have done so for the 4:5 ratio as this one was not available as an option in my camera. Try it for a few weeks at least and see if you start to see differently. If nothing else, it is a very nice experiment that can get you going if you are in a bit of a creative winter rut. 

More about my experiments in photography and background information of recent images is made available to subscribers of my newsletter. Please consider subscribing if you would like to get more inspiration delivered to your inbox.

If you'd like to learn forest photography in all seasons, you might want to consider purchasing my eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography. Doing so will support my writing these articles on my blog.

Join Newsletter BannerJoin Newsletter Banner

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) composition photography tips https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2021/4/framed-the-edges-of-the-image Thu, 01 Apr 2021 06:22:34 GMT
Life After Social Media: The Return Of Creativity https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2021/4/life-after-social-media-the-return-of-creativity It has now been three months since I left Instagram and Facebook and since my iPhone is no longer my loyal companion. In fact, I replaced it with a fixed lens camera that is as analogue as a digital camera can be. 

Life After Social Media: The Return of CreativityLife After Social Media: The Return of CreativityLife after social media for me meant more freedom to create without the pressure of having to live up to the expectations of followers and keeping a constant looking feed.

Life after social media is surprisingly calm and creative. Many hours are spent quietly doing research for books I am planning to write, more hours are spent on studying compositions, reading, walking and making images oh....and sleeping. 

Over the past few months it became even more clear that I want to make images for me, because want, no: need to make them. I really missed the days where creativity soared, where my photography was free and inspired. Where the burden of so much knowledge and experience had not yet weighed down on spontaneity. I spent quite a few hours locating the images that I consider to be free of pressure and must admit to feeling slightly unhappy to see how experience and lessons learned has had its effect on creativity. 

Examples  of snapshots from 2011 with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone 4s, perhaps unpolished and not the greatest pictures, but spontaneous, playful and intuitive

Experience might be positive, but it can also lead to hitting a creative plateau. You become the photographer who knows how to take a relatively good image almost without much thinking and somewhere along the line you loose the experimentation that is such a vital part of being creative. You get to a point that you don't want to risk making a mistake, you are so busy getting all the details right, analyzing all the elements, that you risk losing "the soul" of the image. The intuitive response to something that speaks to us can easily be analyzed to death by too much rationalization.

Now free from the pressure of having to post pictures on social media, I also had the freedom to fail, to make images that might be bad or different or both. I also had the freedom to make images outside of my niche, which is supposedly a sin on an Instagram profile.

I love forests, I make most of my images there, but not all. I live in an area that is more like a wetland area on the banks of a river. I love the early morning light on the river, the steam floating over the surface of the cold water when the sun hits it, I love the trees on the river banks looking dramatic in raging storms. I love how water changes the landscape constantly. When the river floods, it takes over the meadows and the fields close to my home. The water reflects so much light that the atmosphere becomes brighter, the trees look like they are floating and then, the water recedes again, some of the landscape has been changed forever as a result even though life simply picks up where it left off. 

Unedited image from the 7th of February 2021, not a forest, but a group of trees in my local wetland area

In February we got snow, we got so much of it that driving was impossible. We simply could not leave our house by car and at first this felt like a nuisance. I had also conveniently cut in my hand with a bread knife in such a way that driving was not much of an option anyway and so I had to stay close to home. I waded through the snow that was well over knee-deep here and in a lot of places even made me sink into it up until my hips, but I was determined to take pictures. Of course, I tried to find some trees in the snow, because this after all is what I do. What happened instead was that the snow prevented me from going much further and I took pictures of the surreal snow dunes. The pictures turned out quite minimalist and abstract, because well, there was nothing there except snow. Some people hated these pictures, because they were not "me". What they meant was that these pictures did not fit in with how they thought of me. The me they see, might not come close to the me that I believe myself to be. Most of my favourite photographers create minimalist and quite abstract images. I love the clean and uncluttered look of their images, the stillness captured in a minimum of elements. 

Abstract image of the snow dunes of the 8th of February. This was the only way to really tell the story of how unreal the landscape was looking with this vast amount of snow that we had

I took the pictures during a snowstorm and this meant that the atmosphere was hazy and my footsteps disappeared behind me. It was as if this landscape, so close to my home (less than 100 meters), was completely new. Nothing looked familiar, the snow had taken all of the literal away from the landscape....bush, grass, water, river bank, tree trunk....Nothing existed anymore just white snow dunes and just in some areas where the wind had not pushed the snow up to incredible heights there were some lonely trees. It was spectacular and even though I had initially been annoyed that I could not go to the forest when for once there was snow, it turned out that I learned more about photography a few steps away from my front door than I would have in the forest. If I had been successful in driving to a forest, my experience would have taken over, I would have probably built upon pictures I had made in the past or even repeated them in the snow. Now that I was unable to do this, I was forced to do something completely different.

Windswept snow on a frozen water surface during a snow storm also on the 8th of February 

The snowstorm was so bad at times that all I could do was point the camera down to capture drifting snow on the water surface that had now been frozen. It created strange abstract shapes and lines that looked like they were flowing. When the wind had died down I could capture this tree, which was the only one with its trunk still firmly above the snow. I love this little tree and had always wanted to make an image of it. I made a colour and black and white conversion of this image, but they have not been heavily processed. Instead they were very slightly adjusted in Lightroom to keep the subtleties of the atmosphere intact. 

None of these pictures might ever make it into my portfolio and that is totally fine by me. The experience of being in this bizarre landscape, which looked nothing like I had ever seen before, with incredibly high snow dunes which made walking impossible, was the reason I went out with the camera. I stood there at first trying to take a more familiar picture, something I am known for, but what struck me were the bizarre and abstract qualities of the landscape. It looked unreal to me and this was the impression I had, so that made me decide that  I would make an image that was true to that impression. 

More about my experiments in photography and background information of recent images is made available to subscribers of my newsletter. Please consider subscribing if you would like to get more inspiration delivered to your inbox.

If you'd like to learn forest photography in all seasons, you might want to consider purchasing my eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography. Doing so will support my writing these articles on my blog.

Join Newsletter BannerJoin Newsletter Banner

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) social media https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2021/4/life-after-social-media-the-return-of-creativity Thu, 01 Apr 2021 06:22:17 GMT
Ending The Numbing https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2021/2/ending-the-numbing "How much life do I exchange for followers and likes?"

This sentence persistently showed up on the pages of my journals over the past few years, nudging me to find an answer to this question, urging me to take action. Taking action took a long, long time, but when I did...it resulted in a life lived with a sense of meaningfulness, a sense of purpose and dedication to those things I value the most.

Quitting Social Media...Ending The NumbingQuitting Social Media...Ending The NumbingQuitting social media gave me back a life worth living, resulting in a reinvigorated ability to focus, more inspiration, less distraction and much more peace of mind and autonomy.

By the end of 2020, I knew there was only ever going to be one solution for ending this continuous feeling of missing my self (not as in : myself). Social media had got in the way of deep thinking, of eloquente writing, of creativity, of continuously improving my vision and craftsmanship in photography and of peace of mind and happiness. As these things are my highest valued priorities in life, it all of a sudden felt like I was leading a life that was no longer mine. Because activities like reading, learning, creating and writing whilst challenging your mind to go just a little further every time, are most likely to be activities that might induce a state of flow, which in turn leads to more happiness, it goes without saying that numbing my mind did not feel that appealing to me anymore.

Besides that, I have always been very wary of popularity driven activities, which I have always believed to be slightly hazardous. I have always laid my faith in craftsmanship, self expression in words and visuals and challenging myself. Smart phones have met with my equally suspicious attitude towards them from day one, as I have not seen anyone actually becoming smarter from using them. Also, I don't wish to be disturbed all day long everywhere I go. I wish to do the work in this lifetime that I feel I was meant to do and this involves hours and hours without distractions, it involves as much peace of mind as is needed to be able to fully engage with a landscape that I am photographing or just experiencing and it involves adding value as much to others as to myself.

Frozen FellowshipFrozen Fellowship

I used to be the child that read all the books in our local library. When I ran out of children's books, I went onto reading non fiction books, about all kinds of subjects from professional gymnasts to geology, before also moving on to books for adults. I was so eager to learn. My dad recognized that he needed to challenge me and gave me essays from high school students to score when I was only 10 years old. My grandmother in turn installed in me a love for the extraordinary in the ordinary, an eye for incredibly magical phenomena in nature and this all laid the foundation for the person that I turned into. 

My reality was very worrisome though and to prevent my mind from going through endless cycles of unhappy thoughts, I learned to fill the voids between school hours and household chores with learning, creativity, paying attention to nature, reading and writing. These activities added value to my life all through my life. Social media also fills that void where unhappy thinking can take over, but it does so by numbing your brain through endless scrolling, chatting and liking. This mind-numbing to fill the void results in a distracted mind though, which grows ever more incapable of focus and deep thinking and ultimately incapable of feeling anything at all except the unhappiness that we attempted to numb and that grew as we started living in a world of comparison that no one knows the rules of and where no one can ultimately win.

Social media (or should I say : my use of it) diminished the quality of my life to such an extent that on January 3rd I had had enough. 

I switched off my phone, I took it upstairs, put it in a drawer and recommitted myself to reading, learning, writing and photography. I did not post to social media anymore and even though I had attempted to stop for years and never quite succeeding, I did not fail this time. It was not hard, because I had decided that I had to put myself, my mind, first. I had a goal to achieve in those hours not spent with a phone in my hands, the goal being to retrain my brain to focus and to give me back the words that used to come so easily. After two or three days, someone recommended Cal Newport's book Digital Minimalism to me, saying this book was exactly about what I was doing.

Reading it was not becoming convinced that I was on the right track, it was recognizing that what I had been feeling all along was indeed true. The restlessness I felt, the anxiety, my overstimulated brain by thousands of fragments of not important mind-numbing information and images, that in turn responded to this by not being able anymore to read for more than a few minutes, not being able to absorb texts that I studied and also not able to find the right words to express myself, because what needed to be expressed was out of reach, hidden behind a veil of distractions. 

IcingIcingA thin layer of snow adding a touch of icing magic to these ancient beech trees in a Dutch woodland.

I had noticed in the past few years that more and more the count of followers and likes became to be like a new currency, with people valuing it so much that they were willing to steal and copy accounts, like mine. I thought about this new currency and came to the conclusion that users highly value having this currency on their Instagram accounts', like money in a bank account, but that the currency you pay with for this count of followers and likes is attained by giving your attention and time to Instagram (or Facebook, Twitter etc). Your attention and time make up the hours and quality of your life and so you exchange life for some abstract amount of followers of which a large number is not even real.

In the last weeks of 2020 I had to spend hours every day reporting fake accounts that copied my profile, my content, my profile picture and others that stole my work and then accused me of stealing theirs. Then the daily actions of blocking numerous people who were perverts, scammers and those who use my account to converse with others about things that had nothing to do with me or my work.... I lost sleep over it. I lost control over my focus, I lost out on life because I was busy protecting myself from those who deem popularity more important than honesty, respect and reliability.

Furthermore, I became more and more startled about what is happening to nature and also to the originality in art due to people's endless striving to post a picture that would hopefully win them the jackpot (i.e. get a high amount of likes). There is an "anything goes" mentality, because the image and its possible impact on one's popularity has become more important than being authentic and to being respectful towards other photographers/ artists and nature, the latter being what worries me most. Nature, the thing that drives photographers to make images has become a means to an end, something that can be used up just so a picture can become popular, just so the photographer can add followers to his account. It makes me feel quite sick in all honesty.

This all lead to me wondering why I was spending so much time on platforms intended to rob me from as much time and attention as possible, when I could be living my life according to what I hold dear.

I set out to make a list of my most valued activities and states of mind. I weighed the benefits of social media against the value (not to be confused with monetary value) that would come from dedicating my time (and life) to those priorities and came to the conclusion that I really value being of value to others as well as to myself. Being of value to others by writing essays and teaching, by making images that convey my vision, is my preferred way of doing so and so this blog and my newsletter will be the place where I will be creating content that will hopefully be of value to you. New pictures will be posted on my website as soon as they are ready to be posted. They will be posted without the slightest consideration if they might be popular.

Curiouser and CuriouserCuriouser and Curiouser

My efforts will stay true to the principles of the Nature First Alliance, of which I am a member, which can be summarized by saying that not one single image is worth destroying nature for, that there is a responsibility that comes from sharing images and then mentioning their locations. You might have only 1000 followers, but your work might be seen by someone who has 250000 followers who in turn shares the location with his or her followers and not all of these people have the wellbeing of nature in mind. 

I have seen this happen to a spot that I was asked to not disclose. I did not, but people found out anyway and even though there are signs there that explain that you must stay on the tracks because rare plants that only exist in this area need to be protected, photographers were trampling the rare plants to get THE shot the last time I visited. It broke my heart, it really did.

These are the consequences of social media use that made me decide to back out. At this moment I have not made up my mind if I will be gone from there indefinitely, or not. Fact is though that I feel happier than I have been in years. I have reclaimed my life, because it is mine, because my father's words " Stay True To Yourself" are ringing in my ears. I have to live up to the opportunity that I received by having been given life in the first place. The prize of my life for more followers is too high, the prize of my attention and mindless distraction too steep to ever be worth it.

My newsletter is at the core of my wish to be of value to others. In the very near future subscribers will be getting content on a monthly base that will not be published on my blog. This is my way of expressing gratitude to those who support me. This blog will be the home of my essays and musings and my website the home of my images, prints and eBooks. 

If you would like to subscribe to my newsletter, you can do so here (scroll down to find links to books and organizations mentioned in this essay)

Join Newsletter BannerJoin Newsletter Banner

Links from this article

Cal Newport : Digital Minimalism

Nature First; The Alliance For Responsible Nature Photography

If you would like to support my work and would like to learn forest photography, please consider purchasing my eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography. It would be highly appreciated

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) inspiration social media https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2021/2/ending-the-numbing Tue, 16 Feb 2021 11:26:07 GMT
2020 Moments Of Magic https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/12/2020-moments-of-magic Photography has always been my escape from the sometimes harsh reality and my tool to help me find a more magical side of reality. After my world came tumbling down this year, it was harder than ever to pick up my camera again and see beyond the heartbreak, to regain my belief in the beauty of life itself.

After months of sorrow and grief the moment came to go into the forest again and take pictures, but it felt like the spark inside of me had gone. This spark, this ignition, is what I live for and I felt like I had lost the most important part of me. Something whispered to me urging me to go to the places where the heartbreak was most tangible, for when I was to find magic there, I would be able to find it anywhere. In time, the feeling of illumination returned. My photography changed, but it is more personal than ever. I had to dig deeper to find enchantment and when I did, the results were different than in the past few years.

This is what is beautiful about art, about fine art photography (if one wishes to make that extinction). Life shapes the artist and then the artist creates. Life shakes the artist and the artist creates from a new insight, from a new sense of self. It is an evolution that holds within it the essence of life, which is always evolution. I love this about art and artists. Artists work with something which can not be copied, they work from their unique self, their unique experiences and circumstances. It must not even be attempted to replicate it, because to copy this is to see the surface of a work and then rob the soul from it.

This year was about a full return to square one for me. It was a year of reconciliation with the past, with what had happened. It was a year of learning to be brave enough to stand up against the ever growing hunger for popularity on social media. I choose authenticity. I choose to have the courage to capture my own perspective on reality.

Living and creating is one for me. Life simply looses its luster without the ability to create. This year eventually brought me back to creating from the raw essence of me, which is always, always, looking for the magical side of reality. My dad told me to always stay true to myself and ever since he passed away, I have tried to live up to this even more so than before. I refuse to live up to the demands of social media, I refuse to live a life that feels false to me.

If life is to mean anything, it must at least be true. I will not be creating sunbeams that were not there, nor will I be replacing boring skies for exciting ones, for pure fear of missing these magical moments in person. Photography for me is art, it is the art of a moment. I am not a purist in any way, but I am not giving up moments of excitement just to have a popular picture without working hard for it. The reward is bigger if the effort has been greater.

If I have to return somewhere 10 times to get that one picture the joy is overwhelming when finally things line up. The joy of having witnessed something magical far exceeds the image itself. This is photography....Witnessing and capturing moments of time when magic is unfolding in front of us, to remind us that this planet is beautiful, that life is so worth living and that magic is still out there for those who choose to see it.

May you witness many magical moments in 2021, may your mind be open to discover enchantment and may your trust be in the essence of you when you are creating.

My most memorable magical moments of 2020 captured in photographs...

January...

SilhouettesSilhouettes Winter DoldrumsWinter Doldrums AppearanceAppearance

Summer... UnraveledUnraveledUprooted trees forming a narrow pathway through the forest EntrancedEntrancedAncient trees with exposed roots in a misty fairytale forest WonderwoodsWonderwoodsGnarly oak trees with twisted branches at sunrise in a spring woodland setting Moods of Silver GreenMoods of Silver GreenA painterly scene of birches in the drizzly mist with the first signs of autumn showing in the background. EvanescentEvanescentUprooted beech trees lining a hollow path in a rainy woodland
©Ellen Borggreve 2020

Oak ArcadeOak ArcadeOak trees arching over a woodland path on a misty summer morning. Veluwezoom, Netherlands

Autumn

Fall of the MagiciansFall of the Magicians Giants From The PastGiants From The Past LeprichauniaLeprichaunia

Winter

The Myth Of Mostly MistThe Myth Of Mostly Mist Ghosts from the PastGhosts from the Past

I really appreciate your support and hope that if you want to learn forest photography, you will consider purchasing my ebook The Magic of Forest Photography

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) 2020 retrospective https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/12/2020-moments-of-magic Thu, 24 Dec 2020 10:21:30 GMT
Fear of Failure as My Loyal Companion https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/12/fear-of-failure-as-my-loyal-companion No matter how much fear of failure has stopped me in the past of doing what I wanted to do, these days I regard it as a very loyal companion. It is there for me all the time just to give me a sign when I am about to do something that is beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone. It is my alarm system when it thinks I am about to do something I have not done before, that might therefore hold the risk of failure and even worse danger to my wellbeing.

Fear of Failure as My Loyal CompanionFear of Failure as My Loyal CompanionLetting fear of failure be your tour guide in life will make you miss all the editing things that can be found outside your comfort zone. Instead of trying to treat it as an enemy, you can work together with the fear of failure if you know what its motives are.

It is an overreacting companion, I can tell you. It regards a lot of things as being dangerous to my wellbeing and is extremely fond of the emergency break. It also likes to keep me safe rather than happy and it thinks that safety is found in the things I have always done. It has little wisdom, but screams loudly. 

I can tell you now, this companion has been very, very prominent as a tour guide in my life when I was younger. What a great tour guide this is….Just when I was about to see something exciting and new, it pulled on the emergency breaks : “Noooo, can’t go there, might be risky, might be terribly dangerous, might cause trouble….let’s just walk the same circle again and again. We might get dizzy, but at least it is safe”

Later I realised that this alarm system is actually quite a good sign that I am about to do something that I love, which is evolve and grow. It is a terribly good indicator that I am about to do something that is exactly what I should be doing, because without the risk of failing, I would be doing the same thing time and time again, I would not learn anything new, I would not become the best version of me….ever. 

It wants to keep me confined in what I know and has marked this as safe. It definitely does not take into account the bliss that comes from failing a few times and then succeeding. The bliss that comes from doing the work, sometimes the hard work, putting in the hours to learn, to challenge myself, to stumble and fall and then get up again. Do you know that exhilarating feeling of something succeeding that has failed numerous times before? That feeling of doing something in spite of the fear and making something happen? This fear is a fear that I am willing to deal with, because I am not willing to live without growing and evolving.

The Timeless PlaceThe Timeless Place

Fear of failure kicks in when curiosity finds something new for me to try. I find curiosity to be a better tour guide than fear of failure, but fear of failure is most definitely the best signaling post that the borderline of the comfort zone is coming near. Outside of it there is the possibility of growth and failure. I find growth to be massively more interesting than boredom and so I take this fear as a sign that I am about to do something that holds the promise of growth. 

I don’t want to sit watching a promise of growth from a distance, I don’t want to be its secret admirer…to live is to grow….to expand. I will be about to do something I have not done before, fear of failure immediately kicks in and says: “Maybe you should learn a bit more about that, you are not good enough to even try that yet. You will never be good enough actually….” This is fear of failure playing the not-so-nice friend. It has the intention of keeping me safely confined within the borders of the comfort zone, but it does not hold into account that true happiness from achieving something that you have not been able to do before by far outweighs being (what it considers to be) safe. 

My entire life I have been the kind of person who does things in spite of people telling me I can't or even because people tell me I can't. I don't accept limitations put upon me by others. Most of the time don’t even listen to myself, but fear of failure had a faithful listener in me. It knows where my weak spots are and knows exactly what will stop me in my tracks. 

Last Days of AutumnLast Days of Autumn

Fear of failure still comes in and tells me : “you might just be an imposter, perhaps you really have no talents whatsoever” It does so mostly at times that I am just about to do something that will bring me the most joy. I now take this negative voice as a sign that I am on the right track. It is the clearest sign I know that I am about to do something that holds this promise of growth, of doing something more authentic.

It does not like authenticity much. It much rather does things like everyone else. It will much rather go for the popular thing than the authentic thing. It whispers in my ear: “Don’t stand out, you’ll not be accepted, you’ll be ignored, you’ll be nothing or less….” And then I know for sure that this thing that I am considering, is worth doing. 

It is my loyal companion, it signals when things get exciting, we are friends for that reason. I know it wants to keep me safe, but I don’t agree with its interpretation of what is safe. I disagree about the direction that it wants to send me in (backwards), I trust my judgement about the direction. 

Authenticity is what leads me. It means that the work I do reflects who I am. It means that I will not do things that do not feel right even though they might make me much more popular. I was made this way for a reason and this reason is that I should be exactly who I am and use my skills and talents in a good way in order for me to grow and to help others to do the same. If I was meant to be like someone else, I would have been someone else. 

LeprichauniaLeprichaunia

I am the introvert who loves teaching. I am the fearful artist who is stubborn enough to not trust her fears. I will trust authenticity instead…who I am….where I want to be. This has been my tour guide in the past few years and life has certainly become more exciting since I started to question the truth in the words that fear whispered or screamed out to me. 

It is an alarm system that has gone a bit bonkers, which really does not have any intelligence or powers to look into the future, it can only ever be an over-reacting friend who likes everything to stay the same. Let fear stay in that comfort zone whilst you extend its boundaries, whilst you follow the call of authenticity and inquisitiveness. There is an entire world out there.

 

If you like my work and want to try your hand at forest photography, please consider purchasing my eBook The Magic of Forest Photography. This way you can help support my work in this year in which my income and that of so many other artists has evaporated. 

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity creativity coaching photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/12/fear-of-failure-as-my-loyal-companion Tue, 08 Dec 2020 14:47:41 GMT
Originality and Authenticity https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/9/originality-and-authenticity Whilst I was working on an individual masterclass in the past few weeks and talking to several people about authenticity in photography, I once again noticed that originality is perceived differently by different people. Some photographers I talked to were adamant about wanting to be different and others are relying on expressing what naturally spoke to them in the strongest way.

Originality and Authenticity in PhotographyOriginality and Authenticity in PhotographyThe difference between wanting to create something that is different and creating from your unique vision in order to achieve originality in photography

I must admit that I too started out wanting to create something different. When I was still a soft sculpture artist, this was absolutely vital in order for me to  be able to make an income. Making something that has been done already would make my creations sit on the shelf, which was something I simply could not afford to happen. I was very aware of what others in the field were doing and made sure that my work was different from theirs. Creating something that had not been done before became a jumping board, but I had to still stay true to my own style. Collectors were counting on me staying true to my style and would drop me instantly if I had changed that. If I had only focussed on being different, just for the sake of being different though, my work would also have been all over the place. It was a balancing act of still creating recognizable work and creating work that was significantly different from other artists work. Sometimes I failed in convincing collectors that it was still recognizably my style and I had focussed too much on creating something different.

EvanescentEvanescentUprooted beech trees lining a hollow path in a rainy woodland
©Ellen Borggreve 2020

Wanting to create differently from others is rooted in what others are doing. If you are not careful you are not expressing yourself anymore, but you are expressing the opposite of others. This means you more or less rely on what others are doing and then you must steer in another direction again and again. You risk creating work that is different, but looks random and lacks your own signature.

I think that it is essential to understand that we all already have a unique way of seeing, just because we ARE unique. There is only one of you out there who is exactly like you. No other person can have the exact same way of seeing, because they don't have the same talents, the same personality and preferences and did not have the same experiences and circumstances. If you were to count up what goes into your way of seeing, you will realize that it consists on numerous little particles that come together in a very special brew. 

I think you can only express yourself well if you know your own self. Creating from this self and having confidence that your own way of seeing is already unique tends to take the pressure off creatives. There is no need to twist your back whilst finding an infinitely original but weird angle for a picture just because you have not seen it before. 

Hazy Shade Of Late SummerHazy Shade Of Late SummerMisty woodland scene with oak trees on an early autumn morning

If you become aware of your preferences and the why behind these preferences, you will learn to trust your way of seeing. You will understand that creating unique pictures comes from expressing your unique way of seeing. Your vision and style will develop from there. This is also not something to force into being. You ultimately will find your style, because it will feel like the most natural way of expressing yourself . 

We all go through this fase of going a little bit overboard when we want to develop a style of our own. The subtlety will come with time, with experience. There is no substitute for knowledge, hours of devotion and experience. There are no shortcuts to developing a style and ....this process will probably not ever stop. It comes naturally when you discard some choices made when taking a picture or whilst editing and get a preference for other choices. The process continues when you build on those choices and preferences which reflect your way of seeing. 

Even though a style can not be forced into being (well it can, but this is hardly ever authentic), it is infinitely helpful to become aware of your preferences and not care about popularity or fitting in. If you strive to be popular, you will have to force yourself to create in a way that is liked by the masses, but...something that is popular now was already created in the past. What I mean is that for something to become popular someone must have had an idea, that took time to be adopted and accepted and would then have been followed by others who start to do the same thing. 

WonderwoodsWonderwoodsGnarly oak trees with twisted branches at sunrise in a spring woodland setting

What I would like to say to you today is to steer away your focus from wanting to be different and innovative, to just staying true to yourself. Put in the hours of devoted attention, learn about your equipment, gain experience, practice, take pictures of the things that make your hart sing, know yourself really well and trust your way of seeing and express this in the strongest possible way. Put your trust in your own unique way of seeing.

As always....if you would like to support my work I would highly appreciate that. This will help me to keep publishing free tutorials and articles on this blog for you. 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) originality self expression vision https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/9/originality-and-authenticity Tue, 01 Sep 2020 12:38:34 GMT
True Nature https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/7/true-nature The expression of the unique self in photography or any other kind of art is really important to me. It is one of those subjects that immediately gets me into gear or climb on my soapbox. Lately I received quite a few messages and comments expressing a certain amount of surprise that my pictures had not turned dark and gloomy with all that has been going on in my life. This in turn surprised me as it had never even crossed my mind. I thought this was worth thinking about for a while. After all, I am all about expression of oneself in one's art...

Expressing Yourself In PhotographyExpressing Yourself In PhotographySelf expression in photography is often believed to be a way of conveying your emotions visually, but do they define who you are and are they therefore the only way to express your unique self in photography?

What it all comes down to is that my emotions of sadness, grief and despair are just emotions that I HAVE. They are not who I AM. Yes, I have been experiencing dark and raw emotions, but it has always been very clear to me that they do not define me. Emotions come and go. Happiness is a fleeting emotion and so is sadness, even though the latter one likes to linger a bit longer. They however have very little to do with who I am and how I look at this planet.

I simply refuse to be disenchanted. This is not the result of some kind of escape to fairyland, but the simple truth is that there is not just one reality. If lead by my emotions only, yes....my reality would have felt dark and gloomy. Reality on this planet though always has a flip side. Of all the dreadful things that happen and that you can see on the news every day (which I don't watch), you could just as easily find just as many wondrous and miraculous things. It is a matter of what you focus on which reality is more true for you.

EntrancedEntrancedAncient trees with exposed roots in a misty fairytale forest

Even though life was hard for me since my earliest childhood, I have never ever lost my connection to the side of reality that fills me with a sense of wonder. This is how I see this planet. I am not using the word "world" as you might notice. To me world is what humanity inhabits, earth is this incredible planet with all its spectacular manifestations of life and geological processes. 

I think that if your photography is to be like a journal, in which you process feelings, thoughts, experiences and emotions, this is a form of self expression. I tend to process things on paper, I write an awful lot. Photography for me is more about being true to my true nature. Emotions might colour it slightly, but probably more in the opposite direction of the emotions. 

The Realm Of The Rooted TreesThe Realm Of The Rooted TreesBeautiful old beech and oak tree with exposed roots in a green summer forest

A few weeks ago I went to the famous Speulderbos again. It was forecasted to rain the entire day and that was fine with me. I was stressed out over all the things that I had had to process and deal with and I needed some peace and quiet. I walked into the forest, the stress was gone, the darkness that veiled my brain was lifted and I felt stillness. This is what the forest does for me. I can't feel sad in the forest, I can't help myself but feel enchanted within minutes. I was almost alone that morning. The rain kept falling, it must have been dreary for everyone else, it was still and wondrous to me. When I walked back to the car I passed a woman on a bench. She was crying, I walked quietly passed her, thinking : I came to this place with the same emotions, yet....my sense of wonder took over instantly and put the emotions to the side...

This is why my pictures might even become more serene, more filled with wonder, because somehow I feel more connected to that than ever. One of the things most worth protecting is a sense of wonder. I think I have always been inclined to see reality like this. It is who I am. A sense of wonder breaks through repetitive and useless thinking, it puts sadness and grief aside, because those emotions are usually fueled by thoughts and thoughts simply don't coexist well with a sense of wonder. 

Whatever we choose to put out there, let it be something authentic, let it come from within. Let it not be contaminated with the desire for the work to be popular. Let it be pure, no matter if you are expressing your deepest feelings, opinions or who you essentially are. Let it be something that you're invested in, deeply and wholeheartedly. Let it be something you care about and about which you have a story to tell in your own visual language. Let a sense of wonder be your guiding light. 

As always....if you would like to support my work I would highly appreciate that. This will help me to keep publishing free tutorials and articles on this blog for you. 

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) inspiration photography self expression https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/7/true-nature Tue, 21 Jul 2020 08:51:55 GMT
The Other Side Of Inspiration https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/6/the-other-side-of-inspiration It has been a long time since I last sat down to write a piece, since I was able to do so. Whilst the world around me changed completely, whilst planes were kept on the ground, companies had to shut down and people were confined to their homes, I was trapped in what felt like hell without an emergency exit. Utter shock upon hearing the worst possible news about my dad....a huge brain tumor...months of hardly any sleep that followed, my dad's passing on Mother's Day, just 17 months after my mum, whom he had taken care of almost my entire life. 

The Other Side Of InspirationThe Other Side Of InspirationAccepting the fact that you don't feel inspired when life has hit you hard...What if there is simply nothing to be said or expressed in your art

I felt numb, almost without the ability to feel anything except being bowled over. People told me over and over again how this was simply not fair...how this should not have happened to me, how we had been through too much already with my mum's illness. All I could say was that it is simply not up to me to decide what is fair, it is not up to me to control what can not be controlled. Who am I to say that this should not happen? It happens, it happened, it is reality. Reality is what it is, not what we think it should be. 

My brain shut down and only let grief trickle through when I least expected it...Grief, when it comes, it bowls you over, it undoes you, it unravels you. That what used to make up part of your identity is gone. This leaves you with a vacuum...now what? A vacuum of total non-identity...Can one create from that?

The WanderersThe WanderersUprooted trees who have a distinct resemblance to ents in a fairytale forest

Of all the things that I know to be true about creativity, I know that it starts with some kind of emotion that needs to be expressed. Like one of my photographer friends said: "You can work with emotions, either positive or negative, but you can't work with numbness." He was right, I could not work from numbness and there was very little I could actually do to get out of that state. There was no way to control any of this and so...I accepted that I had nothing to share, nothing of beauty to give, no words of encouragement or teaching to post.

I had to accept that I did not feel like creating, writing, teaching or even seeing people. I withdrew into my own universe, because I know that there is only one person that I need to connect to in times like these and that is to myself. With the knowledge that underneath the numb surface, life itself is still there and life in its essence is something that wants to grow, that seeks the light to start flourishing.

For artists and creatives this situation is one that they fear the most. A vacuum, a life without itinerary, numbness beyond belief....Can one simply create in spite of that? Well, you can, but if there is no you to express, the resulting work will miss your soul.

PlethoraPlethoraA beech tree in the forest backlit by nature's own stunning scattered sunbeams on a summer morning

The only thing that is worse than not feeling creative is trying to fight the feeling: "I should be creative, creativity is supposed to help overcome grief, I should overcome this asap, I should get back to my life."

The beauty that you can find in these kinds of situations is acceptance. Simply accepting that you have nothing that can be expressed at this time, that just for now there is nothing that can be said.

Acceptance means you just let it be, the numbness, the lack of inspiration, the feelings of disconnectedness. Not even waiting for it to end, but being open to the moment when it does end. And then one day a little spark of curiosity, a tiny urge to write, a quick thought of taking a picture comes up and you stand up and follow where it leads you. You might be forever changed and you might also not be able to find back the person who you once were and are therefore not able to create the same kinds of things, but this is not a bad thing, this is in fact the thing that makes life utterly beautiful....it wants to grow, evolve and flourish. 

And so, after many months without even touching my camera and wanting to write, a little hint of a spark returned. It started to lure me back to the life I hold so dear. Nature started calling me back, curiosity began to creep into the little cracks in grief and words also wanted to be written again. My father wrote that I should stay true to who I am and to be happy. In this curiosity, in my photography and writing lies my true nature and so I am here....showing up when inspiration wants to be heard and taken seriously. Back to my old life is no longer an option, it does not exist anymore. Back to my true nature however is. 

And so I tentatively picked up my camera again, drove to the forest, started taking pictures. I felt that I must have lost "it" for sure. The first two times that I went out I still felt like a robot relying solely on compositions and techniques of the past. The third time however, I noticed that I did not want to go home, that I wanted to stay, that I had been working on a photograph of one a small group of trees for one and a half hours and the vacuum that I had felt for such a long time, started being filled up again with joy and a zest for life. The pictures in this post are the result.

UnraveledUnraveledUprooted trees forming a narrow pathway through the forest

What my photography will grow into is yet uncertain, it can only be seen in retrospect, but I am willing to let it change and take me where curiosity leads me. With the numbness gone, inspiration has a chance to grab hold of me once again. There is now something to express, there is a me to share again and I will let my photography do the talking for that which is beyond words.

 

My book Woodscapes can now be bought in the Dutch bookstores (Dutch language), but if you are not Duch and would like to learn all about forest photography, my eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography will help you on your way

If you want to learn all about my painterly edits and learn about my entire process from capture to edit of 3 pictures, you might be interested in The Recipes

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity coaching inspiration photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/6/the-other-side-of-inspiration Thu, 25 Jun 2020 15:38:24 GMT
Lightroom Basics For Forest and Landscape Photography Part 3 https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/4/lightroom-basics-for-forest-and-landscape-photography-part-3 Even though many people might think of Photoshop first for colour toning their images, there are many ways that this can be done in Lightroom as well. Today I want to talk about colour in Lightroom and how I approach this.

Lightroom Basics For Forest and Landscape Photographers Part 3Lightroom Basics For Forest and Landscape Photographers Part 3Even though many photographers rely on Photoshop for colour toning their images, Lightroom also has many options available for this purpose. In this tutorial I am showing you several ways of affecting the colours in your images.

I am going to choose another picture for this tutorial, because this picture has a lot of different kinds of colors in it. I am going to start in the HSL panel today. You could just drag the sliders back and forth, but the way I approach it is, by first deciding what the picture needs in order for it to look like I envisioned.

This picture has many different colours in it, but because the contrast in the raw file is very low due to fog, it might not be that obvious. So the first thing I am going to do is drag the Vibrance slider in the Basic panel all the way to +100. This way I can see more clearly which colours are most dominant in this image and what colours to keep in check.

What I am seeing now is that the greens on the tree are yellowish in tone, there is definitely some cyan in the greens in the background (probably small pines) as well as some cyan in the highlights, there is orange in the leaves and there is some magenta in the foreground. I know from experience that if I am going to add contrast I will make these colors stand out more and this scene will change into one that will not convey the stillness I am after.

This is where vision comes in. For striking colours, you might need a colour contrast, which is achieved by using colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel. It is however not a good idea to have too many contrasting colours in a picture, or it will become too hard to "read".

In my case I want my pictures to look still, which is why I often opt for colours from the same family in my pictures, an analogous colour scheme. I also opt for colours that are not too saturated, because saturated colours are striking, but if I am after a painterly image with a peaceful feeling, vibrant hues are not what I am after.

This is where the Hue Saturation Luminance (HSL) panel comes in....

I am adjusting the colours in a way that they don't contrast as much anymore and that the number of colours is reduced. With the Vibrance slider still all the way up to 100 I adjust the hues.

What you can see is that I tried to even out the difference between the yellows and the oranges, by adding more yellow to the oranges and more orange to the yellows. The greens in the background that had a distinct amount of cyan in them are toned down by adding yellow as well. This means that all the green colours in this picture are now more similar. 

You can see the result in the picture above. This still has the Vibrance slider all the way up. I reduce the saturation of the Aqua (cyan), because I know that they are clashing with the oranges now. I might want cyan in the entire picture later, but I'd rather start with a toned down version of cyan in the background, because any blue or cyan that I add will make this pop even more. This is the brightest bit of the picture and having a saturated colour there will be quite distracting.

I put the Vibrance slider back to zero and start on the contrast in the picture. I add this as described in part 1.

I reduced the colour temperature to give this picture a cooler feel. I took this picture when the blue hour was starting, so there was quite a bit of blue present in this scene. You can see that adding contrast made the cyans in the background more prominent and I am reducing those in the HSL panel again.

I am going to show you what else can be done to add colour and mood to pictures in Lightroom. Last week I showed you the power of the Tone Curve in Part 2 of this series.Today we are going to use Split Toning. What this does is add a colour to the highlights and shadows separately. If you would like to visualize which colour is going to be added, you can press Option or Alt whilst dragging the hue slider to the right. The moment you let go of the Alt of Option Key, you will not see any colour anymore, this is because the saturation is set to 0 by default. When you have picked a hue, you can then drag the saturation slider to the right to introduce this colour into the highlights or shadows. The balance is meant to tell this tool how many tones in the image you want to be affected by the shadows slider or the highlights slider. Dragging to the left means more tones (luminance values) are going to be affected by the adjustments you made for the shadows and dragging to the right will include more of the luminance values for the adjustments you made for the highlights.

In this case I aded a turquoise colour with a low saturation to both the shadows and the highlights. I could have also added it to just the highlights and dragged the Balance slider all the way to the right, which would have looked similar. 

Now I am going to show you what happens if I add a bit of colour contrast to the picture. This means I am going to choose a shadow colour that is more or less on the opposite side of the colour wheel. You can see what happens now. The shadows are warmer and the highlights are cool.. You might ask yourself what the use is of me reducing the cyans in the image first before adding is to the entire picture now. The answer is that this turquoise colour would have stuck to the cyans and made it look very saturated, which is not what I wanted.You can see that I will need to adjust the saturation of the turquoise again anyway.

Let's try something else. I picked a colour blue with less cyan I it and pushed the highlights slider to the right to include more midtones in the adjustments made to the highlights. I picked a warm colour for the darker shadows like the trees in the from, This helps with the separation of foreground and background as well. Obviously, the colour is a bit too much, but it can always be reduced by reducing the saturation of the highlights.

Just to show you how powerful Split Toning can be I have made another radical adjustment. Now it emphasizes the autumn feel of this image more than the time of the day. 

Another way to affect the colours is by choosing a colour profile that suits your image. By default it is set to Adobe Color. This is not as bad as it used to be (especially for Sony cameras), but I prefer to use a profile for my own camera.
Click on the arrows next to Adobe Color to get a drop down menu and then click browse. The profiles that will show up in the dropdown will be different for you if you use another camera. This picture was taken by the Panasonic Lumix S1 with the V-Log profiles added to it, so you can see these profiles popping up under camera profiles in my case.

There are lots of profiles available these days, just scroll down to find even more. If you hover over the presets without even clicking on them the result will be showing up as a preview. Clicking on one will select it.  Here you see a selection of Lightroom profiles called Modern

I chose Camera Cinelike V, which I usually choose. For my previous cameras I would choose the Sony camera profile Camera Deep. The Landscape presets often have way too much contrast and or saturation in them, so I avoid them as much as I can.

If you still need to make some adjustments to the colours, you can do so in the Tone Curve panel as described in Part 2 of this series.The adjustment below resulted in the following picture...

This tutorial was meant to give you an ideas of what options are available to you in Lightroom regarding colour adjustments. I have shown you some pretty extreme examples just to show you clearly what these options can do. 

Below is my picture as edited in Photoshop...

I edit my pictures mostly in Photoshop. It has more tools available for precise adjustments and it has many more options for creative editing than Lightroom The picture that you see above looks like this when edited in Photoshop using one of my painterly edits. If you want to learn all about how to create these painterly effects in Photoshop I can recommend my eBook The Magic of Forest Photography: The Recipes. In this eBook I go to great lengths explaining each step of the capturing and editing process of three pictures.

If you want to use this time to learn forest photography, I have an eBook that will teach you how to capture beautiful forest pictures. Your purchase would be highly appreciated

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) learn photography Lightroom Lightroom Tutorial photography tips https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/4/lightroom-basics-for-forest-and-landscape-photography-part-3 Wed, 01 Apr 2020 13:36:47 GMT
Lightroom Basics For Forest and Landscape Photography Part 2 https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/3/lightroom-basics-for-forest-and-landscape-photography-part-2 Welcome to part 2 of my Lightroom Editing series. We are moving on to the next panels in Lightroom to further refine the picture that I started working on in part 1 of this series.

Lightroom Basics For Forest and Landscape Photographers Part 2Lightroom Basics For Forest and Landscape Photographers Part 2It is often believed that nice edits come from great filters, actions or presets. In this blog post I discuss the power of the Tone Curve in Lightroom

Even though I usually don't use the curves panel in Lightroom, because I find it easier to work with in Photoshop, Curves play a huge part in my editing process.If you master Curves, you can go a very long way. Today I am not going to make this too complicated, but I am going to show you just how much moving the line in this small graph can help you get the look you want in your picture. 

Let's get started! This is how the picture looks like after the work I did in part 1. If you missed this, click on the banner below to read this tutorial first.

Link to Lightroom Basics Part 1 Ellen BorggreveLink to Lightroom Basics Part 1 Ellen Borggreve

In the Develop Module, just below the Basic panel, you'll find this graph called Tone Curve. If you can't see it, press on the white arrow on the right side next to the words Tone Curve. My Tone Curve panel looks like this. 

If yours looks like this, no worries.

Click on the little icon showing a curve in the bottom right corner to change it to the point curve. To make our own adjustments, the point curve must be set to Linear instead of one of the presets that Lightroom has available. Now that we are all set, let's see what the Tone Curve can do...

I am editing with a certain look in mind, but just for the sake of showing you how truly powerful a Tone Curve can be, I am going to show you several options. Let me start by telling a bit about how adjusting this Tone Curve works. At this moment, there is a line and two dots. One dot at the bottom left of the graph and one at the top right. The top right represents the whites and the bottom left the blacks. Just for the sake of helping you understand which part of the Curve represents the shadows, darks, lights and highlights as Lightroom calls them I am showing you the look of the Tone Curve in the Region Mode. I clicked on the little icon with the curve in the bottom right of this panel to show you this.

You can see the graph is divided in 4 equal parts underneath. If you hover over the line without clicking it you will see that a word pops up explaining which part of the curve will be affected. It is easiest to remember that what Lightroom calls darks are the darker midtones and the lights are the lighter midtones. 

Now that we know this, I am switching back to the normal point curve. You can see the word RGB below the graph. If we adjust this curve it will affect the luminosity and contrast. If we choose another channel, we will also be affecting the colours and colour contrast.

Let me start by showing you a very simple effect in the RGB channel that many people are looking for in their images. I am going to show you the matte effect as created by the use of a Tone Curve. By moving the point on the bottom left straight up, the deepest shadows will open up which gives a matte effect. 

To make this effect even moodier you can also move the white point (the point on the top right) down. Now....this might be great for a picture that has a little more contrast, but is probably not the way to go for a very foggy picture with a lack of contrast.

If at any point you feel unhappy with the curve you are creating, right click in the graph and choose flatten curve and you are back to your starting point. 

If we are not after a matte look, but after more precise contrast than we could achieve in the Basic panel, we move the points on the curve so that the difference in luminosity between certain light values is becoming larger. This is what contrast is. A slight basic s curve is what is used often to create this. This looks like this and what I actually did was making the difference between the shadows and highlights greater by moving the highlights slightly above the the line and the shadows a bit below the line, which leads to more contrast.You simply click down with your mouse on the line on the left quadrant, drag the point down a bit and then release. Then click on a point on the line the the right quadrant to affect the highlights and move the point up a bit and release.

There is a better way of doing this though by clicking on the little target adjustment tool on the top right of this panel. Now you can click and drag up or down in your picture. I undo the s-curve I just made and start again.

I usually lock tones in place that I don't want to darken or lighten first and then make very slight adjustments. I do this by clicking on an area that I don't want to get any darker by making sure I don't move my pen or mouse whilst clicking. In this case the darkest tones of the picture are in the bottom right corner. Making them any darker would turn them into black, which is not what I want.After I lock this point into place I look for a spot of the tree that is slightly higher on the graph (more to the right on the line) and drag up. This has the effect of brightening the dark midtones whilst keeping the shadows intact. This therefore leads to contrast in the darker tones of the image more than in the lighter tones. As I had set out to make the tree on the right stand out more, this makes perfect sense. I add one more point on the line to make sure the brighter parts of the image don't get much brighter as I want this to be a moody image and that is it for this tone curve.

Be careful when moving these points as it can lead to very wonky looking pictures if your adjustments are too extreme. I am moving to the blue channel now. In the colour channels, you can add colour contrast. Let me show you what this does and then undo it. In the Blue Channel moving the line down will add yellow to your image and moving the line up will add blue. This can be an excellent way of giving your image colour contrast. You can see what an S curve did to this image. It added yellows to the shadows and blue to the highlights. The colour channels also affect the luminosity, so keep a close eye on this.

Everything you know about mixing colours applies to these Tone Curves as well. If you add yellow to shadows which are blueish in tone, they will look more green. The reds of the fallen leaves on the forest floor turned more orange due to this adjustment. I am going to undo this adjustment by right clicking in the curve on the points that I added and choosing "Delete Control Point". Let's make an adjustment that makes more sense...

As you can see I moved the point on the bottom left ever so slightly to the right, this adds yellow to the darkest tones. I also move the point on the top right to the left which adds blues to the brightest tones. I then moved a point in the shadow part of the line ever so slightly down back to the original line restricting the yellows to just the darkest tones in the image and I clicked in the brighter part of the image to adjust the blue tones slightly. To see the difference that the tone curve made to this image, you can simply toggle the button in the top left of the Tone Curve panel. In this case the total effect of these two curves that I made is quite significant as you can see.

Before the Tone Curve Adjustment

After the Tone Curve Adjustment

The blues have a slight magenta hue in them. This we can adjust in the green channel. The opposite of green is magenta. Moving the line up adds green to the picture and moving the line down adds magenta. I can also see that a bush on the bottom left of the picture is way too green due to the yellow we added to the shadows. I am going to counteract this by making a very slight adjustment to this curve. I make the shadows ever so slightly more magenta and the highlights a tiny bit greener.

Now in the red channel this all works much the same. Moving the line up adds red, moving the line down adds cyan. I tone down the colours a bit by adding some red to the brightest tones and I lock the other tones in place. 

Now this picture has a lot more contrast and the tree is standing out more than earlier. In Part 3 of this series we are going to look at some ways to affect the colours a bit more. 

I hope this tutorial has helped you see just how much this little Tone Curve can do. It is capable of making very powerful changes to your images, so try it out. If you don't like an effect you created, you can always undo it. I decided to go back to the RGB curve and make a slight adjustment locking in all the brighter tones, because the contrast was slightly too strong for my taste.

This is how far this picture has come by using just the Basic Panel and the Tone Curve in Lightroom....

Straight out of the camera

After editing in the Basic Panel and the Tone Curve Panel in Lightroom's Develop Module

If you liked this tutorial and would like to learn more about how to create painterly effects in Photoshop in a clearly illustrated step-by-step way, please consider purchasing a copy of my eBook : The Magic of Forest Photography: The Recipes. In this eBook I describe everything there is to know about 3 pictures. I explain the entire process starting before the capture, to the composition and choices I make whilst shooting to the editing and painterly effects in Lightroom and Photoshop. Your purchase would help support me, which would make all the difference. 

Thank for reading this tutorial and I hope you'll be back for Part 3 

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) Editing Tutorial learn photography Lightroom https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/3/lightroom-basics-for-forest-and-landscape-photography-part-2 Tue, 24 Mar 2020 08:53:38 GMT
Lightroom Basics For Forest and Landscape Photography Part 1 https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/3/lightroom-basics-for-forest-and-landscape-photography-part-1 Whilst so many of us are confined to our homes at the moment, many photographers turn to their picture archives. If your archives are anything like mine, there are huge amounts of pictures in there, that need editing.

In Part 1 of this Lightroom series, I will try to inspire you to get more out of Lightroom and to take away a bit of the overwhelm felt by so many when starting to edit. I believe that education is vital, because knowledge helps you create the things you wish to create. Learning how to do something for yourself, helps you make well thought through decision when editing, rather than having to rely on presets or actions. I also believe in inspiring and motivating people, which in these times is more important than ever. Spend some time learning new things, trying out things....It will help you steer clear of anxious feelings or worries. Let's get started!

Lightroom Basics For Forest and Landscape Photographers Part 1Lightroom Basics For Forest and Landscape Photographers Part 1It is often believed that nice edits come from great filters, actions or presets. In this blog post I discuss how editing with intention can be done very effectively in the basic panel of Lightroom Some photographers only do basic editing in Lightroom and then move on to use a couple of filters. Others skip Lightroom (or Camera Raw ) altogether and go to Skylum's Luminar 4 or something else, others do the entire editing in Lightroom and than there are those who, like me, optimize their pictures in Lightroom to keep the maximum amount of data available in our files before moving on to Photoshop.

For those who don't have a lot of experience with editing in Photoshop, this massive piece of software can be pretty daunting. Layers, adjustments, cloning, blend modes, brushes, masks, selections and filters....It all looks like you should know all about this before your pictures can ever be amazing. Let me tell you that Photoshop might have a plethora of options available, but if you learn to use a few options well, you are well on your way. Let me tell you about those in another blog post.

Today I want to show you that a lot can be done by using the sliders in the basic panel of the Develop Module in Lightroom. The same options are available to you in Adobe Camera Raw, but it is laid out differently. I am going to start with a foggy picture that looks incredibly bland without any editing. 

The starting point

This picture was taken in very foggy conditions and the contrast is very low. The exif date are as follows : iso 100, 70 mm, F/11, 0,6 seconds and this picture was taken with the Panasonic Lumix S1R and the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 70-200 F4 with a B+W high transmission circular polarizing filter.

Many people believe that it is a good ideas to just use everything there is and this will in the end lead to a magical image. I find it much better to edit with intent. This means that I start with a clear idea of what the picture needs and I make notes of how to get there. In this case I know I want the picture to have a cooler white balance to convey the feeling of a moody, cold winter's day better, I want the contrast to improve, especially in the tree on the left, there needs to be some added depth, because the dense fog and the use of a telelens compresses the fog to such a extend that it flattens the scene a bit and I also want the picture to look really moody. When I took this picture I had encountered a few people who all felt uncomfortable in this foggy forest and even I felt the slightly unnerving atmosphere there. This is something I want to convey in the picture. 

Original White Balance

 

Now that I know this I am going to get started with this list...First I am going to fix the dull white balance and make it slightly cooler. To be able to see clearly what the effect will be of shifting the temperature and tint I temporarily move the vibrance slider all the way to the right. This makes it easier to see which hue is most apparent in the picture. After finding the best colour, put the vibrance slider back to zero. Keep in mind that a warm colour would convey an entirely different mood than a cool colour like this.

Whilst adjusting the temperature and tint slider I can clearly see that a green tint is becoming too dominant and I reduce this by moving the slider toward the magenta tint (to the right). You can clearly see how using the vibrance slider gives you an excellent indication of what tones are the most dominant ones in your image

The new white balance looks like this

Time to work on the contrast. Most people immediately turn to the Dehaze slider but let me show you what Dehaze will also do to your image.

You see that the colour shifts. Dehaze was originally created to remove atmospheric haze. The kind of haze that you see in the distance when you are in the mountains. It is a blueish kind of haze that is corrected by this slider by adding contrast and....warmth. In a picture where you don't want the colors to shift though, Dehaze is not the best option. I use the black and white sliders instead. Here you can see that this leaves the colors intact. 

Adding contrast will also saturate the picture more and to counteract that I will make a quick adjustment in the HSL panel to tone down the blues.This will only affect the blue tones and keep the rest of the colours intact. If I were to reduce saturation in the basic panel all colors would look dull. 

Use the target adjustment tool indicated by a circle with an open dot in it at the left side of the word Saturation to drag in your picture. Drag to the right and the saturation will increase and drag to the left and the saturation will decrease

Fog also softens the details and I opt to bring some fine details back by adding a bit of texture. To not make this picture looks harsh I bring down the clarity slightly, because the contrast that this adds looks quite unnatural in foggy images. I constantly keep an eye on the histogram when making adjustments. If you click on the little arrows above the histogram they will show you were clipping occurs. In this case the picture is slightly underexposed, which is what I wanted as this was a dark and moody atmosphere that I don't want to ruin by raising the exposure. 

This histogram shows there are no true highlights in the image (the values to the right are missing). This is how its should be in a forest on a dark foggy day, so I would advice against stretching out the histogram all the way from the left to the right if you like to keep the atmosphere intact

I would still like a bit more contrast. The contrast slider is not a slider I use a lot, but in this case it helps make the tree stand out a bit more. I counteract the darker shadows a bit by raising the shadows slider and I raise my highlights to add a bit more separation between the shadows and highlights. 

It is a lot of going back and forth. The contrast slider made the shadows too dark and so I chose to open those up again and sometimes bringing the blacks down and the whites up requires an adjustment to the exposure and saturation. 

I hope this gives you a little inspiration for your editing. In part 2 I am going to take you through some other panels and options in Lightroom's Develop Module. I hope to give you some new inspiration twice per week on my blog in the upcoming weeks, so please come back in a few days to find a new tutorial. 

If you want to learn how I edit my pictures in my signature painterly style, please consider purchasing my eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography : The Recipes. You would help me out tremendously in these times of a huge loss in income due to the COVID 19 crisis. If you would like to learn all about photographing forests, I can recommend my eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography

 

 

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) Editing Lightroom https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/3/lightroom-basics-for-forest-and-landscape-photography-part-1 Sun, 22 Mar 2020 13:21:30 GMT
The Photographic Plateau: When The View Is Bleak https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/2/the-photographic-plateau-when-the-view-is-bleak When starting out most photographers face a steep learning curve which starts by learning about the techniques behind capturing that perfect picture, which is sharp and straight, then moving on to learning about things like aperture and shutter speed and then to things like composition. We learn rules, exceptions to rules, about what is supposed to be the right light and then at one point, we can do all this pretty well and are able to produce pictures that are appealing and technically perfect. 

Some photographers are perfectly happy knowing that they can produce good or even excellent pictures, others start to struggle when photography can be done on auto-pilot. When everything becomes easy and you find yourself just automatically taking the same types of steps over and over again, you perhaps start to feel bored or overly critical of your work and sometimes even feel depressed that you can't seem to escape this plateau.

The Photographic PlateauThe Photographic PlateauWhen taking technically and aesthetically pleasing pictures is no longer enough and being comfortable in your ways is making you feel uncomfortable.

In some cases it could be you are just a perfectionist and always find fault in your work. In other cases it is an unease with taking pictures of what is there rather than taking pictures of what lives within. You might feel you are creating images that look interchangeable and the longer you look at your work, the more bleak the view gets. You start doubting everything you do and it feels like you are no longer moving ahead but perhaps even backwards.

That is when frustration really sets in and you think you might have just lost it completely. The thing is....you might just have done exactly that. The rules, the techniques, the knowledge and the opinions of others usually don't leave much space for your own voice. Your work may well have lost its spontaneity somewhere along the learning curve. This is actually quite normal and can often be seen with artists who attend art school as well. They start with their own voice, loose it somewhere along the way whilst learning all they have to learn and then have to find it back again to leave their own footprints in the art world.

Winter DoldrumsWinter Doldrums

Being able to produce on auto-pilot, when you intuitively know what to do, might look appealing, but it is like being on auto-repeat, repeating what you have learned and what has proven successful. What if you feel you just can't seem to get past this phase of unease?

This being uncomfortable with the comfortable serves a purpose. It tells you that this no longer fits the bill for you. Yes, you might feel like you are going backward as you start making different kinds of images and push yourself into unknown territories. This phase is necessary to be able to break free and to start expressing yourself more in your photography in a way that your pictures tell more about you than the subject you are photographing.

I think that the emphasis on having a style of your own is perhaps not even that helpful. You can be on the plateau and have a style of your own and still feel your pictures don't tell your story. Style is the way you present your images. This might be very recognizable to others, but a style can be invented and then become a comfortable way of producing images if they are well received. 

Photography as a way of expressing yourself is therefore not at the core about style. A style that helps convey your vision is definitely one of the components, but if it is pursued as a goal on its own, the story might be overseen. A story comes from a vision and this vision comes from you. You don't find a vision, because you already have it, you are just not aware of it perhaps. Each and everyone of us has a specific way of looking at the world and this does not only translate into what we create, but probably also in many other aspects of out lives.

Goblin WoodsGoblin Woods

It is the connection to this vision, connecting all the dots that together make you see the world in your own unique way, that will help you leave the plateau fase. This however does not mean that this is in any way going to be a comfortable route to take. If you let go of what you have learned and start expressing more of yourself and your way of seeing in your photography, you might feel that your images are getting worse, that they don't prove to be so popular or that people respond negatively. People are creatures of habit and followers like your images based on what you have been doing up until now. This means that they like what is in the past. At first they might struggle with what you are starting to create, but I can tell you that you will start attracting people of the same "tribe". 

If you feel your images are getting worse, you might feel tempted to go back to the same old thing that you could do on auto-pilot even though it was not that self-expressive. What looks worse to you though is the new foundation you are building on. Your vision is now your starting point and as you break free from the comfortable phase where you could just produce pleasing pictures consistently on auto-pilot, you are now going to feel uneasy. 

This kind of unease means you are growing though. The unease you feel when you are in the plateau phase means you are stuck. I don't know about you, but I'd rather be uneasy growing than uneasy and stuck. Hang in there, because the reward is that you will start taking pictures that you feel connected to and that you will feel really proud of. Once a picture you create clicks with your authentic vision, the pride you feel goes way beyond getting outer rewards.

Dance At DuskDance At Dusk

A vision is not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it is simply how who you are affects how you look at this world. Becoming aware of this vision and then being able to translate this into your photography can be a daunting process and many times it will feel like taking one step forward and then two steps backward or a return to the plateau. No one ever said this is supposed to be easy, it isn't and I think it should not be. Rewards are so much greater if you have had to make a real effort. When something has been challenging and difficult and you have really had to work hard, it is so much more rewarding when all of a sudden it clicks....and it will at some point click, believe me. This process is of great value on your way to create images that express who you are or what you want to share. It is by far the most fulfilling thing in an artist's life and leads to a greater personal satisfaction from your work and therefore greater self-confidence. 

For the Dutch readers amongst you, I have good news....I will be teaching a masterclass about vision and self-expressive photography at Pixperience 2020 Wowscapes. Tickets to this masterclass are limited so book yours now. I will be teaching a very inspiring interactive masterclass on how to translate a vision into storytelling pictures. Click here for information about the masterclass and click here to order tickets for Pixperience Wowscapes

Another exciting bit of news for Dutch readers is the introduction of a new book (a real physical book, with paper pages....yay! ). This book is available through Pixfactory (the publisher) and will be available at a special pre-order price until the 29th of March. To secure a copy, please click on the banner below.

For my English readers I have the equally amazing eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography if you want to learn all about forest photography. Your purchase will make it possible for me to keep delivering free content on my blog, which is something I absolutely love to do

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) inspiration photographic vision self-expression https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/2/the-photographic-plateau-when-the-view-is-bleak Tue, 11 Feb 2020 15:44:52 GMT
Twenty Nineteen In Retrospect https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/1/twenty-nineteen-in-retrospect Twenty nineteen ended weeks ago and it was a blazing fast year for me. A year in which the death of a loved one casted long shadows over my mood, my priorities and my work as well. It was a year in which I taught many workshops, made numerous new friends, wrote a few books and had very little time to take pictures just for me.

After one last book was finished just in time, I found myself quite unable to express anything worthwhile and I granted myself a few weeks of nothingness. Most of the time in these periods without "should do's", I find some kind of clarity and this then becomes the base on which I build in the time that follows. I felt I needed some clarity to redefine what is important to me in life. The demands of social media not matching my personality, caused me to reconsider what I did want to spend my time on. 

2019 In Retrospect2019 In RetrospectHow unintentional changes in my photography lead to greater self-expression

For 2 weeks I filled my time with nothingness, but if you do nothing for long enough and you have switched off the phone and tv, you tend to turn to the things that are essential in your life. I turned back to the pictures of 2019 to take another look at what had happened. A few weeks earlier I had grouped a few favourite pictures in a folder and compared them to the pictures I chose as favourites of 2018 and I felt disappointed at first, quickly followed by a feeling of bewilderment, because something had changed and it had not been intentional. 

The pictures of previous years being warm, colourful and inviting and those of 2019 being different. After having given it some time, I recognized a more introverted quality in most pictures. The colors more subdued, the contrast less pronounced and the moods more still, these pictures might not have been steered in this direction fully intentionally, but they were probably more self-expressive than ever before.

My background in design and art means that I am usually very intentional about what I want to create. The circumstances that I encountered in this past year were such that I was unable to plan, I had to just let go of any expectations and work with that. That was a shock to my system who loves things that are carefully considered and planned meticulously. The result of this was that at first I was quite unhappy with my work, as it had not turned out as planned. In fact nothing turned out as planned. This however lead to me taking pictures more intuitively and therefore these pictures were more about the real me than all the pictures I had ever taken before. They were no longer the crafted images of scenes that I had long visualized before they were ever made. They were pictures of my response in that moment to those scenes. They are reflections of who I am. 

I am by no means giving up my analysis of my images, not about to let go of intentional photography, but I have learned that forcing your will unto something is not a prerequisite for self-expressive photography. There is the self that wants things to be a certain way and there is the quiet self underneath who will hardly show itself when suppressed by the self that wants everything to be perfect and according to plan. 

The pictures show below are my favourites of twenty nineteen. They might not be what I had envisioned at the beginning of the year, they might not have met my ridiculously high standards, they might not be perfect, but they are at least "me". I can be happy with them knowing that they did indeed mark a step forward, I had just envisioned "forward" differently. My taste in photography changed in the past year, because I myself will not be the person I was in the years previous. My photography is catching up with those changes in taste and is slowly starting to reflect this. 

My vision still unchanged...I am still looking for stillness in a world of wonder ©, but the way that I express this has changed. From the deep vibrant saturated colors, to the more subdued and slightly more introverted moods. The way that I translate this vision into pictures has changed and this for me is what is forever fascinating about being an artist. 

 

 

Destination FallDestination Fall DancerDancerFairytale scene of a dancing beech tree covered in moss in a rainy, foggy forest

Fine Art Photography by Ellen Borggreve
Silver DawnSilver DawnTranquil autumn scene of floating trees on a lake on a misty morning

Fine Art Photography by Ellen Borggreve
The Gnarly TreesThe Gnarly Trees The Dreaming TreesThe Dreaming Trees A Moment's StillnessA Moment's Stillness

 

If you would like to learn more about forest photography or if you would like to learn how I edit my pictures, I have two eBooks that will help you. Your purchase will help me to continue writing free content on my blog which I love to do.

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) best pictures 2019 inspiration self expression vision https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2020/1/twenty-nineteen-in-retrospect Tue, 28 Jan 2020 09:23:30 GMT
Photography ; Mastery And Creativity https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/12/photography-mastery-and-creativity Like many arts, photography has a technical aspect and a creative element. Even though we might strive to improve our skills, our craftsmanship, with the ultimate goal of mastering photography, it is quite as liberating as it might appear.

Photography; Mastery and CreativityPhotography; Mastery and CreativityStriving to master photography is definitely a worthwhile goal, but it an also crush the soul of a work if you focus solely on perfecting your craft

There is of course nothing wrong with perfecting our craft, mastering the technical aspects of photography, that will lead to technically or even compositionally good pictures. I always strive to improve my skills, I analyze my work, I ask myself questions about the pictures that I like and don't like, but what I have noticed is that trying to become a better photographer does not automatically equal becoming a more creative or more self-expressive photographer.

Whilst seeing improvement in my work might make me slightly more comfortable than not seeing any improvement at all, I can't say that having mastered a skill is really that fulfilling. After all, mastery is not something that is that easily defined, it does not have strict boundaries, yet when you feel you have mastered something, this can actually form very tight boundaries and stifle your creativity.

The Dreaming TreesThe Dreaming Trees

In the end of the year many people look back at what they have achieved in the past 12 months. Many are scrutinizing over the question if they have in fact improved, achieved some goals, something that is at least measurable. I can totally sympathize with those who feel uneasy when looking at their pictures and feeling they might have hit a plateau and have not been able to get past it. Somehow they have become accustomed to a certain way of working that had worked for them before, they have tried to perfect it bit by bit, but this kept them from moving on.

If the emphasis is solely on improving your craft whilst forgetting to give the same priority to self-expression and creativity, you might end up perfecting the aspects of your craft that you were already able to do, but growth is in trying new things and following your curiosity. You could compare this to a painter, who is painting over the same painting again and again, trying to perfect it and destroying the soul and creativity of the initial painting in the process. If he had started a new painting, following some new creative urge, he might have learned new things instead of perfecting his old way of working.

Breaking through barriers often comes from simply listening to those nudges that spark your curiosity. "What if I did this? What if I tried that?" Self-expression is not a constant, as there is no constant self to express. We evolve, our vision evolves as a result and therefore self-expression evolves. If we stay stuck in the process of perfecting our craft, we keep our eyes on the past. We look through our catalogues feeling miserable because we are just not "there" yet. We don't even know where "there" is, we don't know how to get "there", but we do know that we feel rather or even very unhappy with the perceived (lack of) progress. 

The Silence UnbrokenThe Silence Unbroken

No matter how useful it can be to look at past work and analyse it thoroughly, it can lead to staying stuck in past work; trying to improve that work, rather than following the call of creativity. The problem is that once you have reached a certain level of craftsmanship (I am not sure if I like the word mastery all that much), this can create a comfort zone that is hard to break out of. If you have done things that had a certain level of "quality", you simply are less likely to risk falling flat on your face. You feel that people have come to expect something of you, but in fact, you have come to expect something of yourself and will rather stay stuck in perfecting old work, than moving out of the comfortable level of craftsmanship that you have reached.

Creativity is playful, it is soul work. Perfecting a craft is analytical, it is rational. These two can work together perfectly, but it is very important to understand that perfecting your skills will probably not lead to the kind of fulfillment that you thought it would. Your photography can become boring or frustrating to you, it is no longer coming from a deep sense of passion and dedication, but from willpower and fear. 

The one thing that is more detrimental to your photography than not feeling good enough, is feeling bored. What is considered "good" by the outside world, pictures that might bring you awards, likes and accolades, may still be boring to you. I noticed this when I was looking at this year's pictures, which I must admit were way too few. I have been teaching a lot this past year and my mind was burdened by the loss of my mum. I found it hard to create and I can see that this has had an effect on my photography. My connection to inspiration left me for a while, I could not reach it and did other work trusting that inspiration would at one point return to me. When I look at the images of this past year, I can see that my heart was not completely in it, that I had not given myself time to be by myself and just experiment. The picture that got me the most likes, is the picture I dislike the most. I can honestly say that that is the picture I feel least proud of of everything I have taken in the past 3 or 4 years. 

No matter how popular it is, it is simply a picture that feels out of sync with who I am. Being happy with the work I create comes from expressing my true self and being in a state of connection to my soul and nature whilst I am capturing the picture. I can even go as far as saying that if I feel totally blissful when photographing, I know that I will feel more proud of the pictures I am taking. It has to come from that bliss, not from willpower, for the work to have soul.

Don't crush the soul of your work by only focussing on mastering your craft. Art is not supposed to become a forced effort of translating willpower into a visual. It is supposed to be a free form of self-expression. It is supposed to come from a source of bliss and inspiration. Force has no place in art and creativity. Soul however does.

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspiration mastery perfectionism photography tips https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/12/photography-mastery-and-creativity Tue, 10 Dec 2019 13:43:36 GMT
Photography Beyond The Comfort Zone https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/10/photography-beyond-the-comfort-zone A deliberate journey into unknown territory Photography Beyond The Comfort ZonePhotography Beyond The Comfort ZoneHow to embrace the uncomfortable nature of venturing outside our comfort zone, get off auto pilot and to accept failures as part of progress

What started out as a trip to France turned out to be a journey way beyond my comfort zone. I must admit that I am not much of an admirer of that risk free place. I would even go as far as to say that I try to avoid spending much time in it and rather challenge myself than float comfortably on the waves of what I know already. Before going on this trip I had therefore made the very deliberate decision to not use my favoured 70-200 lens in the forest, but a standard lens instead, which turned out to be the 24-105 lens.

The Gnarly TreesThe Gnarly Trees I knew that this would force me to make different compositions and to change my perspective, so to speak. I would have to try harder and this was something that I was seeking. I needed to get off auto-pilot for a while. 

This was a brilliant idea and I can highly recommend it to any photographer to just steer clear from your favoured lens for a few weeks and use another lens instead. It will do wonders for your creativity.

Get Off Auto-Pilot By Photographing With A Different Lens For A Few Weeks

The only “problem” was that I had not just decided to use a different lens, but I had also just bought a new camera and had switched brands and systems. Literally every piece of gear was new, nothing was familiar. And if there is anything that I have learned over the years, it is that I am not just very reluctant to buy new gear, but also that a change of gear gets in the way of my creativity. 

A Moment's StillnessA Moment's Stillness

For the entire time that I have been a forest/landscape photographer I have worked with one camera brand and one type of camera. I had grown used to it in the time that I was learning this type of photography. I could use it blindfolded. It had however become unreliable and I chose to switch to another camera system. Even though I spent days studying the manual, trying to remember where everything was located, I of course had not had time to get to really know it.

Having a camera that you can operate without thinking about it, is an essential element of creative flow

As if this was not far enough outside my comfort zone, the weather conditions were really challenging as well. No matter what, I wanted to take pictures and so I found myself photographing in rainclouds and storm winds. I usually don’t like to take pictures when it is windy outside, let alone when the wind force is over 75 km per hour, but it turned out that this was what nature had in mind for us and I simply had to deal with it.

Torrential rain had the effect of me not really getting into my creative flow. I was struggling to keep the camera dry as well as keeping my tripod stable and finding the right buttons on the camera as well.

At one point I felt like I had totally lost IT. Whatever the elusive IT used to be, I was pretty sure it was not there anymore. This is not an unfamiliar feeling. I have been a professional artist long enough to recognise these bouts of loss of confidence as temporary obstacles. I know that it passes, but for some reason I could not shake the feeling in those weeks in France.

Lullaby Of TreesLullaby Of Trees

Only when I came home I realised that I had taken a trip far out of my comfort zone. I had made life pretty difficult for myself and even though this was partially my intention, I had not quite expected how much of an effect it has on your creativity if you don’t know your tools inside out.

Venturing this far out of my comfort zone lead to failures…many of them. Using a different lens lead to different types of pictures. A comfort zone does not just exist of a preferred and known modus operandi, but also of the results that you can predict to get. Through the years, your eye has become accustomed to seeing “your” compositions. If you do something different, your brain will not recognise this as yours (and therefore safe) and will want to discard it and get back to base level (which is safer). Evolution made us want to steer clear from any risks to keep us safe, unfortunately this effect is also apparent in a creative process in which taking some risks will lead to progress and new ideas.

Venturing out of your comfort zone will lead to failures, which in turn are necessary for progress

After a week or so, I was able to look at my recent pictures without the emotional “I have totally lost it” response and saw my new pictures for what they were. They were clear representations of me not being the same person and therefore the same photographer I was one year ago, when I was visiting the same location. A vision is not stagnant, it is in constant movement. Last year life was different, I was still oblivious to what would shake my world up a month later. Here I am now, still photographing forests, but no longer the same person.

I had not just taken new gear and a new challenge, but more than anything I had taken a new version of me on this trip and I had expected her to perform the way she did last year. It is a very good reminder to accept what is, to let go of the past and to know that progress comes from taking risks and failing. It is crucial to accept failures, not judge them. To learn from them and then move on. To not make this personal and instead of having created something you consider a failure, to start feeling you are a failure. 

It is not comfortable outside your comfort zone and it might give you the urge to run back to where things are predictable and safe, but progress involves being uncomfortable, letting go of what you already know and go beyond what you thought you could do. It involves making work that is not good, because this teaches you more than any good work you make in the auto-repeat mode. 

In all honesty, this trip was probably the one where I learned the most and had the most opportunities to grow. I might not have become particularly fond of torrential rain and storm winds all of a sudden, but I have learned to deal with what I was given and that is what it is all about.

The pictures in this post were taken in the past few weeks with a Panasonic Lumix S1 and a Panasonic Lumix S 20-105 F4 lens. They were processed using my usual workflow as explained in my new eBook : The Magic Of Forest Photography: The Recipes

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) comfort zone inspiration photography tips https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/10/photography-beyond-the-comfort-zone Tue, 15 Oct 2019 13:52:55 GMT
The Importance Of Revisiting A Location https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/9/the-importance-of-revisiting-a-location If you have read my blog posts for some time, you already know that I am a big believer in revisiting a few locations over and over again. I think that some people think I simply don't know about other locations and keep sending me suggestions, but there are huge advantages to knowing a location well, which can only ever be the case if you go to this location time and time again.

The Importance Of Revisiting A LocationThe Importance Of Revisiting A LocationGoing to the same location time and time again does not have to be boring. In fact it will add more depth to your photography when you get to know a location really well.

You might also know that I am also not someone who really likes to go to locations where photographers stand side by side to take the epic shot. I simply don't like to work surrounded by other photographers, because it prevents me from getting into a state of flow in which I can almost respond intuitively to the landscape. I need both the intimate knowledge of a location and that state of intuitive responding to my surroundings to take my best and most authentic pictures.

I prefer to know a place really well to the degree that it feels like home to me.  First visits can often be overwhelming. When you see something really beautiful for the first time it is harder to get to the essence, at least this is the case for me. Yes, I can take the tourist shot and I can probably take it in good light as well, if I am lucky, but all I want to do is take pictures based on my interpretation. I can't do that on a first visit.

The more I visit a location, the more I see and the funny thing is that even places that I know extremely well, change in appearance because through the years I have become attracted to different things. With changes in taste came a shift in what I see. Different things stand out to me now even compared to what stood out to me 6 months ago. 

A picture I took on the 31st of December 2016. Even though the path is beautiful and the conditions were good, I made a lot of mistakes whilst capturing this, mostly because I took the obvious shots

ShelteredShelteredA painterly storybook photo of a path lined by low oak trees on a misty morning

www.ellenborggreve.com
On 2017 I took this picture in which I managed to get more to the essence of this path and told its story much better than in the year before

Close To HomeClose To HomeA forest path lined with oak trees in warm autumn colours. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

This picture was taken on the 16th of November 2018. I remember this day very vividly. The colours were splendrous, autumn was in full swing, but my heart was heavy at that time. I had just had the most awful news and had great trouble focussing. I felt like I could not find a picture that spoke to me and thought I had completely messed up that day. It turned out that I took some pictures that I really liked.

Saga Of The Obscure TreesSaga Of The Obscure TreesVery foggy forest scene of a path with oak trees.

Fine Art Photography by Ellen Borggreve

This picture was taken a few weeks ago (September 2019). It is the same path, but again a very different composition

AmbianceAmbiance

And another picture of the same path taken in September 2019. Over the past three years the pictures have become as much my story as the story about this path. 

Recently I spent a day scouting for an upcoming workshop. I was very surprised that in this forest, which I know extremely well, I all of a sudden saw things that never caught my attention before. This is a natural consequence of evolving, but also of knowing this forest so well that I can look beyond the obvious. I thoroughly enjoyed my new view on this forest and it looked entirely new to me. 

SacredSacred

The obvious pictures in this location are the tree-lined lanes and paths. I have taken many pictures of this location through the years, all of them featuring these magnificent paths

The Mid-Woods DawnThe Mid-Woods DawnFairytale scene of ancient beech trees in the light of dawn in a Dutch forest.

Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

A recent picture taken very close to the previous picture. An entirely different picture and scene and one that I feel is much more "me" than the pictures I have taken in previous years

 

I know that my approach to photography leads to visiting less locations and I am fine with that. I don't have a bucket list and I don't particularly want to create one either. I am perfectly happy delving a little deeper every time I visit a familiar spot. These locations have become like friends that I visit all the time and find interesting every time I see them. 

Below I am showing you a couple of series of pictures that I have taken in the same spot, sometimes within a few metres of each other in different conditions, seasons and light. I sometimes challenge myself to see what kind of compositions I can come up with in one spot. This is incredibly useful to train your eye, to learn about composition and distractions and give you a sense of the unlimited possibilities of just one place. 

Stream Of DreamsStream Of DreamsDazzling sunbeams in a Dutch forest

www.ellenborggreve.com
AutumnsfereAutumnsfereThe atmosphere of an autumn morning when the light gets filtered through the golden leaves on the trees

www.ellenborggreve.com
Memory LaneMemory LaneAn old Dutch estate forest lane lined with oak trees on a foggy fall morning. A painterly fine art photograph of a typically Dutch scene by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com
Shadows and LightShadows and LightGolden rays of sunlight behind dark beech trees in a Dutch autumn forest creating a play of light and shadows

Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

So, if you like a little challenge, I suggest that you...

1. Revisit a location that you know well and see if you can find different compositions or revisit a location you know well in very different conditions

2. Choose a spot and then see how many compositions you can come up with. Don't just put down your tripod and place the camera on it...Try a lower or higher point of view, choose a different lens...or...turn around. The latter one being a very important tip. If you are photographing sun rays for example you are inclined to just look at those and never look behind you. In my new eBook The Magic of Forest Photography: The Recipes I edit two pictures taken on the same day on the same path, one looking in the direction of the sun rays and that other one in the other direction. The atmosphere is very different. 

Just for fun, another series of pictures that I took of the very same trees

Oak FrameOak FrameOak trees in a fairytale forest setting photographed on a misty morning. A scene of stillness

www.ellenborggreve.com
Arch formed by oak trees in winter landscapeFramed by FrostOak trees covered in snow and hoarfrost forming a natural arch in a winter landscape on the Veluwe, The Netherlands. Fine art landscape photography by Ellen Borggreve. www.ellenborggreve.com

Print available at Werk aan de Muur (click on picture)
Oak trees forming an arch in a white winter wonderland scene on the moors of The Veluwe, The NetherlandsWinter FrameVertical image with a natural arch formed by old oak trees in a misty white winter landscape on the moors of the Veluwe. Fine art landscape photography by Ellen Borggreve. www.ellenborggreve.com

Print available at Werk aan de Muur (click on picture)

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) learn photography location photography tips https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/9/the-importance-of-revisiting-a-location Fri, 20 Sep 2019 11:48:03 GMT
The Painterly Effect https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/9/the-painterly-effect My pictures have a painterly feel to them and I am often asked what kind of filter I use to create this kind of look. There is no quick answer to this and so I decided to write this blog post in which I will give you some insight into what goes into a painterly looking photograph.

5 Tips For Painterly Photography5 Tips For Painterly Photography

1. It all really starts with the right kind of light. I prefer foggy mornings, overcast days or rain for my type of photography. Soft light means there is also less contrast and this helps to achieve a more painterly effect. If you look at paintings from the Romantic era, you will probably notice that there are hardly any true blacks and true whites in these paintings. They have less contrast and this is why it all starts with taking a picture in soft light. 

To the left the raw file of a picture I took one week ago and to the right the edited version. You can clearly see how the painterly effect was already captured in the raw file, because I photographed in foggy conditions

2. You might have learned that a histogram looks great when its mountain touches both the right side and the left side of the graph. This might be true for very punchy, contrasty pictures, but this is not the right starting point for a painterly looking picture. I try to edit my pictures in Lightroom to look quite flat with as many details in the shadows and highlights preserved as I can. I will pull the blacks to the left and the whites to the right if the picture was taken in very, very foggy conditions, but more than anything...I want the edit in Lightroom to be aimed at preserving data. Adding contrast too early in the process will lead to loss of details.

Saga of the Obscure Trees Raw FileSaga of the Obscure Trees Raw File Saga Of The Obscure TreesSaga Of The Obscure TreesVery foggy forest scene of a path with oak trees.

Fine Art Photography by Ellen Borggreve

Another example of a picture that already looks painterly straight out of the camera. Left is the RAW file, right the edited picture. You can see I applied contrast very locally and not throughout the picture to keep the softer contrast in the background intact (this technique is also explained in my new eBook)

3. Painterly pictures don't often have punchy, harsh details. This means that I often reduce clarity in Lightroom rather than add clarity. You need to know your equipment. In the case of my Sony cameras and lenses, I knew that the 24-70 mm F2.8 GM and the 55 mm F1.8 Zeiss Sonnar T* lenses both delivered very crisp images, that I often found to be a little too harsh for my liking. In that case I reduced clarity a little. 

4. Prevent over-sharpening your pictures and mask the output sharpening from areas that don't need sharpening. In the case of my forest pictures, I often only apply the sharpening to the trees and never sharpen the leaves on the ground as well as the grass. I have recently switched to Topaz Sharpen AI for all my output sharpening and I must say that this strikes a really good balance between sharpening and reducing blur. (I am not in any way affiliated to Topaz, I am just telling you what I use at this moment)

Another example of a painterly looking picture in which I made sure the details were not over-sharpened. The entire process from capturing to post-processing of this image can be found in the eBook The Magic of Forest Photography: The Recipes

5. An "Orton" effect. I don't use the Orton effect in just the old fashioned way. I have played with it and with the ingredients that go into the Orton effect (a Gaussian Blur filter in a specific kind of blend mode), I have created many painterly effects. There are just so many ways in which you can build up an effect like this. I explain three different painterly ("Orton") effects in my new eBook. I don't believe in actions and presets, I'd rather explain to you how I build up these effects, so you can learn how you can build your own, which will suit your picture best. Many actions are not suitable for all kinds of pictures and may leave your pictures look very otherworldly. I think it is far better to learn how to create these effects and play with the ingredients yourself. I have explained every painterly effect step by step and with detailed screenshots in this eBook.

In the eBook I walk you through the entire capture and editing process of three pictures, amongst which is this one: Tribute To Fall

Here is the RAW file and then the final edit as shown in the eBook

The other two pictures in the eBook have different painterly effects applied to them, but they could also easily be used for a picture like this. Here is the same picture with the two other painterly effects

This is where Photoshop excels. You can achieve so many effects in so many different ways. If you learn how this is done and you play around with this, you will soon become confident enough to create all these effects yourself. If you are afraid all that playing might affect your original file, simply go to Image-> Duplicate in Photoshop and play on a duplicate of the image. 

You will always have to apply a Gaussian Blur filter on a new layer. You can do this by pressing cmd +alt + shift + E on a Mac and ctrl +alt +shift +E on a Windows computer. 

Your lens choice, the time of day in which you capture the picture, the focal distance, the colour contrast, contrast, the colours, the saturation and so many other things go into creating painterly images. But it all starts with taking the picture in the right conditions. No filter, Photoshop action or Lightroom preset will ever be able to help you achieve the effect you see in my pictures, if you take pictures in harsh light. 

The eBook I am referring to in this blog post is now available. You can find it by clicking on the banner below...

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) learn photography painterly photography photography photography tips photoshop https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/9/the-painterly-effect Mon, 16 Sep 2019 14:19:04 GMT
Photography Is Not A Competition, Nor Should It Be https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/8/photography-is-not-a-competition-nor-should-it-be Even though there are photographic competitions, photography itself and art in general is not a competition. In the creative process there is no finish line, no competitors, no comparison. All creative endeavours are in their essence subjective, personal and incomparable. Yet the modern digital reality has created this sense of urgency and competition which I feel is hugely detrimental to art.

Photography Is Not A CompetitionPhotography Is Not A CompetitionPhotography is not a competition, not should it be. I think the beautiful thing about art is that it can't possibly be compared or judged based on objective criteria. It is by its very nature subjective and this is exactly how it should be.

Social media platforms have made people believe that likes and followers are really important. They have algorithms that will decide if you are "interesting" or not within the first minutes after you post something. I have a problem with using the word interesting for things that are liked by the masses in the shortest amount of time. Very interesting things that are innovative, creative, artful and deep need more time to be understood and so they typically don't get a great number of likes in those first few minutes. 

Yet, this word interesting is used and as an effect many photographers and artists who are very talented have become insecure about their work as it is not as popular as other people's work. First of all, we must make the separation between popularity and quality. Even though sometimes these two things can come together, it also very often does not. I am not by any means implying that those who are popular don't take good pictures, but what I am saying is that it is very dangerous that popularity is now being equalled to mastery. 

The perception nowadays is that if one has hundreds of thousands of followers, one must be the very best in one's craft/art. This however is not self-evident. Social media have made many of us believe that in order for us to be successful, we must be popular. We have been fooled into believing that this number tells people something about how good we are, how worthy we are, how successful we are and the flip side of this is that an incredible amount of people is now feeling unworthy, unpopular, not good enough and unseen. 

As soon as you start to get the feeling that you need to catch up with those who are successful, you will start to give up your own uniqueness. It will lead to comparison, to adjusting to the taste of the masses and mimicking things that are generally liked. In the process of chasing after more popularity, running towards a finish line, you will loose yourself. You will loose your authentic way of expressing yourself in your art. You might then win a trophy, but at the cost of expressing what makes you you in your art.

And this is what art is all about. For art to be art there needs to be self-expression. The way you see things is unique to you and can't be compared to anyone else's, not should it be. Art is not like a sporting event, where you can win by defeating others. In art you can build on what you learn from artists who are willing to share, you can be inspired by them, but in self-expression, at one point the others must also be irrelevant. 

Try to remember that popularity does not equal mastery, being successful or making meaningful art. Let me explain this in another way. Do you assume that if a car is hugely popular, that it is also the best car? It might be liked by the masses, but there will also be a lot of people who don't like it. Will it be the fastest car? The most innovative car? The most interesting car? Can you see how this does not hold up? 

I do sometimes enter my work into competitions, but I pick the pictures that represent me best, pictures that have meaning to me. If they are not picked by judges, I really don't care. If I feel like I could improve on my work, I will do my very best to build on my own work by constantly learning new things, by making growth and inspiration priorities, but I am not willing to compromise my way of expressing myself in order to win. It would not feel like winning anyway if I had entered work that did not fully represent me.

There is no finish line. The only trophy that has any meaning is the joy that comes from creating itself, from being in nature, getting to do what you love. This is something that is often taken for granted, but from personal experience I can tell you that it is the greatest gift of all; being able to do what you love...Your story will be forever changing, as you grow, learn and evolve. Start with passion and dedication and be willing to forever be a student. Let other artists be who they are, celebrate what makes them unique and don't look at them as people you need to beat. There is no objective way of deciding who would win anyway. Self expression can never be objectively compared and therefore there can not be a competition. Stop comparing yourself to others, you will never be happy if you do. 

PS I just published a new eBook which is called The Magic Of Forest Photography: The Recipes. This eBook walks you through the entire process of three images from my initial thoughts before the capture to the finishing touches in Photoshop. I explain every single step in great detail with not just extensive descriptions and the reasons why I take a specific step, but also numerous screenshots, so you can see exactly how I make my signature signature edits

The Recipes: The ultimate digital forest photography workshop

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creative confidence creativity photography photography competitions photography tips https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/8/photography-is-not-a-competition-nor-should-it-be Fri, 30 Aug 2019 10:16:17 GMT
Lightroom's Texture and Clarity For Landscape Photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/7/lightrooms-texture-and-clarity-for-landscape-photography If you have the latest version of Lightroom (Classic), you might have noticed two things. First of all, Lightroom (Classic) no longer has the CC (for Creative Cloud) added to the name. This is because Lightroom is now only available through the Creative Cloud.

Lightroom's Clarity and Texture For Landscape PhotographyLightroom's Clarity and Texture For Landscape PhotographyIn the 2019 version of Lightroom (Classic) a new slider was introduced; the Texture slider. What does this slider do, how is it different from Clarity and how can you sue it to achieve different types of effects in landscape photography

The second thing that I am sure you have noticed, is that there is now a texture slider. This was originally designed to help out people like portrait photographers to speed up their workflow and have high quality skin smoothing done in Lightroom instead of having to do this work in Photoshop. 

This means it was originally designed to have Texture reduced, which would smooth the skin out. You might suspect the opposite effect to behave a lot like the Clarity slider, but there are a few differences. 

I could get all technical and talk about the frequencies on which these two sliders work, but I think it is best to remember that Clarity will make a picture look grungier, because it also affects luminosity (contrast) and saturation. Texture affects the smaller details and has a much less grungy effect. 

So, even though this slider might have originally been designed for skin smoothing, how can we use it in landscape, or in my case, woodland photography? I am going to show you the effects in a picture that has quite a lot of texture in it, which is this winter picture with an oak tree. This picture also has a dusting of snow on the branches and the trees on the left. This means we have different sized textures in the image and I was curious to see what the difference would be between clarity and texture.

Here is the raw image with just the color profile added (Let me make clear that I would absolutely remove the dark spot on the left in Photoshop)

Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Winter Tree 1Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Winter Tree 1 First…let’s add some texture by sliding the clarity slider to +50. This is a setting I would never use, but this is just to illustrate the difference in both effects. You can see that the picture has more contrast in the midtones. The shadows are darker (look at the shadows in the background), the highlights are brighter and the details are emphasised. The snow looks pretty harsh instead of nice and soft. The bark of the tree now looks very grungy indeed.

Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Winter Tree 2Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Winter Tree 2 I have reset the clarity slider to 0 and am now going to add Texture by taking the Texture slider to +50. You can see the difference. The effect is more subtle and it appears to be working on smaller details than the Clarity slider. Pay attention to the snow on the trees on the left. You can see that it handles these small snowflakes very differently than the Clarity slider. Again, this is not a value I would normally use, but it makes the difference quite clear.

Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Winter Tree 3Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Winter Tree 3 I am also going to show you what a reduction of both values would look like, because in many cases, if you want to keep a dreamy atmosphere in your images, you might want to reduce the clarity or texture. The first picture has the Clarity reduced to -30 and the second picture has the Texture removed by -30. 

Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Winter Tree 4Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Winter Tree 4

Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Winter Tree 5Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Winter Tree 5 As expected, a reduction of Clarity also affects saturation and contrast, just like it does when you use the positive effect. So it makes the colours look more pastel and the shadows and highlights even out. 
A reduction of the texture slider smooths things out, but does not affect the contrast and saturation and colour. I must admit that it looks a bit artificial in this kind of picture, which is surprising as the opposite is true for the positive effect. Also…in skin smoothing a reduction of clarity looks more unnatural than a reduction in texture, but in this landscape (woodland) image, I find that the opposite is true. I think this is, because it works on the smaller details (like the snow) more than on the larger details. 

I started thinking about this and thought that perhaps you can have the best of both worlds by combining the sliders and I raised the texture to +20 and reduced the clarity by -35. This looks pretty good to me actually. The fine details are crisper and the slightly larger details and the contrast and saturation become less emphasised. 

Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Winter Tree 6Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Winter Tree 6

You can also use both the texture and the clarity slider as a local adjustment in Lightroom, which is usually the best way to work in Lightroom anyway. 

Let me show you how that would look. You can see that I used a radial filter which I inverted and I also used the range mask in color, sampling the tree, to create an accurate mask. I chose +25 for Texture in this case. 

Now I am duplicating this same radial mask by placing my cursor over the pin and right clicking and choosing duplicate. Then I uncheck the invert box and I put all sliders back to zero by double clicking on the world “Effect” on the top of the panel. Then I reduce the Clarity for this area to -35%. I choose the brush in the radial filter, click on “alt” to make it erase and I erase the effect from the branches of the main tree. 

Now I click on done. Now I have emphasised the tree on the right by adding Texture and I made the rest of the image less texturised by decreasing the Clarity. To show the difference, here is the picture with the effects applied in an overall adjustment again and the picture with the local adjustments below. 

Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Winter Tree 6Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Winter Tree 6 Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Winter Tree 7Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Winter Tree 7 It is a matter of taste which one you like best, but you can see that these sliders could give you a wide range of effects when used separately or combined. 

Just to help you understand which details are affected by the Clarity and Texture sliders, I have also picked a waterfall picture raw file. This will clearly show which slider will effect the moss and the water texture more and which one will empasize the rock detail. 

First...this is the raw file with camera profile added

Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Waterfall 1Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Waterfall 1

Just like with the previous picture I adjusted the Clarity to +50 first

Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Waterfall 2Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Waterfall 2

Then I reset the Clarity and adjusted the Texture to +50. Look what this does with the water, it looks like hard pencil stripes now. 

Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Waterfall 3Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Waterfall 3 I reset all sliders and chose -30 for Clarity

Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Waterfall 4Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Waterfall 4 And after a reset I reduced the Texture to -30 . Here you can see the opposite effect, the texture in the water is softened more than in the picture with the reduced Clarity

Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Waterfall 5Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Waterfall 5

Then I entered  +20 for texture and -35 for Clarity for the picture below. The water looks pretty harsh and because the Texture slider affects the smaller details more, you can clearly see that the small leaves in the top right are looking a bit too crisp for my taste.

Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Waterfall 6Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Waterfall 6 Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Waterfall 7Lightroom Texture Clarity Tutorial Waterfall 7

And for the picture above I dialled in -30 for Texture and +20 for Clarity. The water looks smooth, the smal details are softened, but the somewhat larger details are emphasised. 

This, I think, gave the most interesting result.You can clearly see how the Texture slider emphasises the moss (the smaller details) and how the clarity slider gives more depth to the water, because it adds contrast to the midtones. Clarity also empasises the highlights and shadows more. Both effects look dreamy, but in a  different way. I actually really like the effect in the picture above, the water did not start to look harsh, because the Texture was reduced and the larger details jump out. 

(Below the picture of this waterfall edited with Luminar 3 and Photoshop CC 2019)

OverflowOverflowAfter the massive amount of snow of this past winter melted away, this waterfall looked spectacular. Fortunately the mist that had been covering everything from view lifted somewhat creating this soft and idyllic scene Would it replace the use of Photoshop for me? No...I really like how the effect of the two sliders combined can make a picture look rather dreamy, but Lightroom just can't compete with the cleaning up options in Photoshop like the clone stamp tool and the healing brush. Also, I like to build up effects in layers and the painterly effect that my pictures are known for, is built up in several layers. 

So yes, this is a really nice addition and I will most probably use it, but I can't see this replace the effects I like to create in Photoshop.

I hope this little comparison between Clarity and Texture gave you some clarity about when and how to use them.

If you would like to learn more about forest photography and learn how I edit one of my pictures step by step, please consider purchasing my eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography

If you'd like to receive regular updates and receive my FREE eBook, click on the banner below

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) landscape photography learn photography Lightroom Lightroom article Lightroom tutorial photography photography tips https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/7/lightrooms-texture-and-clarity-for-landscape-photography Tue, 23 Jul 2019 13:12:25 GMT
Camera, Craftsmanship and Artistry https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/7/camera-craftsmanship-and-artistry Photography appears to be the only art in which the tool is believed to be the magic-maker. The number of times I am asked about my camera and lenses can not be counted. I am more than willing to share which camera I use, but the importance that is given to the tool is something that bemuses me. 

Camera, Craftsmanship and ArtistryCamera, Craftsmanship and ArtistryThe camera is often believed to be the one responsible for making great pictures. In other art forms it is totally unheard of that the tool would be considered this important. Craftsmanship and artistry, the human factors in what makes up an image, are often forgotten as the most important elements in photography. Instead of purchasing yet another new camera, find out if you need to invest money and time in yourself instead.

I come from a soft sculpture and design background. What I made, was made by thread, needle and sewing machine. No collector ever asked me which sewing machine I used to make my creations....not once. I am pretty sure the same will be true for fashion designers, painters, potters and almost every artist I can think of. My sewing machine was simply the machine that was easiest for me to use and that could handle the demands that I had. That was it, this machine can't make magic on its own.

The same, you would think, is the case for the camera. So many people believe though that it is the camera used that is responsible for the picture. The camera, I hate to break it to you, is a tool. It is a very intelligent tool, it is an amazing tool, but it only works in the hands of those who know how to use it. It won't take pictures without someone handling it. My camera is one that must unfortunately be retired soon. I have no real desire to replace it, because it worked for me....it does the job perfectly and if it had not been for the ever more occurring errors, I would not have even considered it. 

Forest Of VelvetForest Of VelvetGroup of brittle and fallen moss covered trees in the dense fog in a small woodland area in the mountains.

When I read the reviews of the cameras I am considering to be my next one, I read things like : "If you are a landscape photographer, you need the 42 MP sensor." That of course can not be true. When there were no 42 MP cameras, landscape photographers were also taking pictures that were wonderful. The latest and greatest camera might be amazing, but it is not needed to be able to take impactful and meaningful pictures. My camera is just a tool...I chose this one because it could do what I wanted it to do and in a way feels intuitive to me. I hike a lot, so I like lightweight equipment. I have a 24 MP camera, because I don't like to wait for my computer to process huge files and I very rarely crop images. I see the world more zoomed in than others and so I like to use a telephoto lens, but am not at all interested in buying the fastest one, because I don't use it at wide apertures. What I would like more than anything from a camera is that it keeps working for longer than today's cameras seem to be designed to do. I would like to not have to replace it every few years. I bought a very high quality sewing machine once and it worked the entire 20 years that I used it 8 hours per day. It will probably still work when I am 81. 

The next component of photography is craftsmanship. I am often believed to not care that much about craftsmanship, because I discuss mostly artistry and creativity in my posts. The truth is that I am deeply passionate about craftsmanship. I think it is an absolute essential and incredibly important. First of all, I study camera manuals for months, so I know exactly what my camera can do and I believe that many people get rid of a camera, because they simply don't know what their current camera is capable of. 

FlowFlowA quite minimalist composition of a waterfall and the dark wet surrounding rocks

I am also totally dedicated to learning. I have learned all about camera techniques, about all that makes up the technical side of photography, about light and how to read it, about composition and I took many classes to learn Photoshop. I think that this is so much more important than a camera. I believe in being dedicated to your craft as well as your art. The reason why I don't discuss technique in my blog posts and articles very often is that you can find this information anywhere. I always suggest that people just take classes to learn the craft of photography and to embrace being a student and be prepared to stay a student forever. Craftsmanship is what you need to bring your vision to life. Don't skip learning about technique, light and composition just because you are in a hurry. 

The last component and the most important one is the photographer with his or her own artistic vision. This is what you are trying to translate into images if your goal is to take pictures that go beyond documenting a scene. This is at the heart of a good photograph. The camera is the tool, the photographer brings forth the art and craftsmanship helps the photographer translate his or her vision into an impactful photograph. The camera being the least important of the three. Artistry requires self knowledge. If you know who you are and how you perceive the world you will be able to express yourself in your work. Julia Cameron puts it incredibly well in her book "The Artist's Way" : "Chekhov advised : "If you want to work on your art, work on your life." That's another way of saying that in order to have self-expression. we must first have a self to express"

Fairytale Forest CreatureCreature of HabitA beautiful characteristic tree covered in moss in a misty woodland scene.

Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com

This means spending time on finding what it is that makes you you. If you, like me, write morning pages( also an idea proposed in the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron) you will know that it is highly likely that you find yourself on these pages. Not the person that goes out in the world and adapts, strives for acceptance and respect, the one who simply wants to be seen and fit in...but the person beneath this. The person that is in fact not like anyone else. It might take bravery to bring this out in your art, but if you don't, what would be the point of creating. Re-creating is not your purpose as a unique human being. Be brave enough to be yourself, to claim what makes you different and make this the leading light behind your art. No camera will ever replace this and no matter how technically skilful a picture might be, if there is no vision underneath it, it might be an image of a pretty scene that is well composed and taken in the best light, but it will not have your story imbedded in it. 

So rather than thinking you need the latest and greatest camera, spend time learning your craft and getting to know the source of your art, which is you. Know thyself...Don't aim to do better at the same that everyone else is doing, because then the source of your creation would be other people's visions. Focus instead on bringing what makes you different into your work.

If you are interested in learning all about photography, please consider purchasing my eBook. Your purchase will support this blog.

The Magic Of Forest Photography Masterclass eBook by Ellen BorggreveLearn how to take better pictures in the forest, how to take advantage of seasons and weather conditions, what equipment to use and how to edit your pictures

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity creativity coaching learn photography photography photography article photography essay photography tips https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/7/camera-craftsmanship-and-artistry Mon, 01 Jul 2019 13:37:43 GMT
The Art Of Being Unique https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/6/the-art-of-being-unique The Art Of Being UniqueThe Art Of Being UniqueHow embracing what makes you unique help shape your photography and art. In the past few weeks I have been tidying up so much that even Marie Kondo could be jealous of it. It is my natural response to loss, I could not tell you what the psychological explanation for this phenomenon is, but this is what I do. Whilst tidying up I found my painted moodboards that I made many, many years ago and one of them was called Dare To Be Different and another The Art Of Being Unique. 

This has obviously been something that I have always believed in. I have to admit that I had to believe in this, because in school I was isolated and bullied for being different, which was a result of me being sensitive and always worried about my mum's wellbeing who had been ill with a debilitating disease from my earliest childhood. It was there where I learned to distrust group behaviour and to be able to be my own unique being. At one point I gave up the need to fit in and embraced the not fitting in. It has become a way of life for me in a way and in that way I can be grateful that this is the result of my childhood.

Reading this title of The Art Of Being Unique again, I thought it did not quite hit the nail on the head. There is no art in being unique, as we are all unique, but....there is art in embracing what makes us unique and putting this into the things we create. It is the purpose of creating, which means bringing something new into existence. In this way, art does not come from being unique, but from translating our unique being into creations that somehow tell our story.

OverflowOverflowAfter the massive amount of snow of this past winter melted away, this waterfall looked spectacular. Fortunately the mist that had been covering everything from view lifted somewhat creating this soft and idyllic scene

Tidying up is an invitation to introspection, or so I have noticed. Whilst sorting my things out, I found delight both in removing things that gave me bad vibes and finding those little treasures that evoke a sense of wonder in me. This quest for being in wonder has also been with me my entire life. I still love to find things in the most improbable places. It is what gives me the greatest sense of delight and fills my heart with joy.

The things that evoke this sense of wonder will be different for each person. I can revel at a stone with fossils in it, whilst you might think it looks utterly boring. The very things that speak to us are sort of a gateway to our unique being. It is hard to define what makes you unique if you try to use words and try to excavate your brain for uniqueness. It is those little things that hold the clues.

Fairy ParadiseFairy ParadiseParadise scene of a stream with arched trees covered in moss looking lush on a rainy Spring day

What you might consider insignificant preferences are actually signposts to how you perceive or how you wish to perceive the world. My preferences and background made me into who I am today and all of this is weaved into my pictures. My distrust of group dynamics is translated into seeking stillness in locations away from hot spots, my seeking refuge from reality is still very present in my fairytale-like pictures and having grown up with a parent who had a debilitating disease has taught me to never ever give up on your dreams, if you have the opportunity to pursue them, to work very hard for the things you believe in and to seize the moment, because it will never return.

Recently someone asked me where I find all of these fantasy forests. As I don't feel like locations are mine to share and I also don't want the responsibility of getting to decide which locations to make popular just by geotagging my images, that are seen by many thousands of people leading to possible destruction of fragile areas, I have to reply in honesty that I find them everywhere. My entire philosophy, if one can call it that, is to find stillness and magic in areas that are not popular. I find the tiny scenes, sometimes no more than 7 by 3 meters and I blissfully spend time in these areas for hours before the right way to take a picture is revealed to me. Having said that, I only ever go to areas that I call home. So it is not a question of where to find a fairytale forest, but how to find the fairytale in a forest.

Quote Ellen BorggreveQuote Ellen Borggreve"It is not a question of where to find a fairytale forest, but how to find the fairytale in the forest" Quote by Ellen Borggreve Through The KeyholeThrough The KeyholeA group of beautifully twisted oak trees covered in moss in dense fog

I don't feel the need to hop on an airplane and look for other possibly fantastic places. I am perfectly satisfied with standing in wonder of a small scene that changes in appearance in the "right" conditions. I have had people ask where this wonderful forest was, when I had actually taken a picture of trees on a parking lot. I think Roald Dahl's quote "Those who don't believe in magic will never find it" is very true. I also think that those who do believe in magic will be able to find it anywhere. 

I had to believe in a magical side to reality, to put my trust in being enchanted by what planet earth has to offer, rather than what the world's sometimes grim reality. The world is the place humanity inhabits, which in this case happens to be Earth. The unfortunate thing for this planet is that humanity, being only one of many life forms, has decided in its infinite wisdom that it may rule over every other manifestation of life on Earth and also consume all of Earth's magic only to dispose of it as if it means nothing. I care deeply about Earth, but humanity has me worried. 

The EldersThe EldersA group of very old and brittle moss covered trees on a very atmospheric, moody morning which created a fairytale scene

The enchantment and stillness I seek are vulnerable. I really hope that people who need to find the same kind of stillness, who feel the need to seek healing in nature, who want to find solitude and a place where they can be free from worries just for a while, to escape from the world, can still do so in the years to come. That people who create from deep within, from their own unique being and with humble respect for this planet, will still be able to hold onto what makes them unique and to create from this place instead of trying to fit in. It is not an easy thing these days when platforms like Instagram give off this feeling that in order for you to be something you must be liked by the masses. I am here to tell you that you are already enough and being popular will not make you more so. Hold onto your truth, find it, do some soul-searching, find out what makes you you...what makes you unique and put this into your art. Remember that innovation will never be found in doing the same as everyone else. 

Bring something new into existence, something only you can. This world needs more of it.

If you enjoyed this blog essay and my work and would like to learn more about taking magical pictures in forests, please consider purchasing my eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography. Your support is greatly appreciated.

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity coaching inspiration learn photography photography photography article photography style photography tips photography vision https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/6/the-art-of-being-unique Wed, 12 Jun 2019 12:00:48 GMT
The Need For Connection In Photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/5/the-need-for-connection-in-photography As I was typing out the title, I started to wonder what connection would mean to people in the context of photography. Would the first thing coming to mind be the wifi connection of your phone or perhaps the connections on social media made by sharing images? I am guessing that for some of you this might be exactly what came to mind, but I am actually referring to a very different kind of connection. A connection that I fear might get lost entirely if we are not mindful of it.

The Need For Connection In PhotographyThe Need For Connection In PhotographyWhy being disconnected from the internet might be just the thing you need to connect more deeply to the scene that you are about to capture, which can result in photos that go beyond the obvious

The connection that I want to discuss is the connection to your subject, to the landscape, to life, to "reality". If self expression in photography is your goal, if you want to express your impression of a scene, it is important to tune into the scene. Let me explain this in a way that you might all be able to relate to. Let's say you are trying to tune into your favourite radio station, but the frequency you picked is off just a bit and you hear an awful lot of noise. You can still make out some of the music, but the main thing you'll hear is the noise. I challenge you to filter out the noise completely and just hear the music. I think very few people will succeed. I know I won't be able to do this, because I will most probably only hear the noise and get more and more agitated by it.

Link to The Magic Of The Moment Blog PostLink to The Magic Of The Moment Blog Post If you are in a beautiful landscape and your goal is to make a picture that does justice to how you perceive the scene and the impact it has on you, you need to connect to your surroundings. After connecting, you'll be able to see beyond the mere surface of the landscape and things will start to stand out to you. The things that stand out to you, are those you feel more connected to and this is how you start to see beyond the obvious.

Fairytale forest scene with vibrant greensJunglebookLush, green Spring forest with grey beech trees and rocks covered in moss in a mystical foggy atmosphere

This kind of connection is also one that is easily disturbed, just as with the radio with its wrong frequency. Last year I was photographing in a snowy forest and my phone went off time and time again. I completely lost my connection to what I was trying to create and was unable to find back my flow after that. This is when I realised that if I want to create, I need to tune into the creative process, the moment and the landscape completely and that my phone was adding the "wrong frequency" noise at times like that. 

Ever since that time I have hardly ever made those little video clips for Instagram Stories that I like to watch from other photographers, because the mere act of filming for social media gets my creativity off trail. The noise will make it impossible to make a deep connection with my surroundings. I will still be able to take pictures on auto-pilot; things that I have experience in photographing, familiar scenes. These pictures though will be an assembly of the elements in the scene. They will probably depict the following : tree, snow, fog, more trees....I however want to depict something else, I want the elements to be combined in a way that they might convey an emotion. I want the picture to evoke a feeling that people can relate to, like mysterious, mystical, still, peaceful etc. To be able to make a picture that does more than simply depicting tree, path, mist, I must tune in to the landscape. 

Storybook forest scene with piled up rocks and whimsical trees hanging over an ancient pathThe UnknownFairytale forest with rocks and whimsically shaped trees hanging over an ancient path

I must find the right frequency, so to speak. I want to be a part of the moment and of the scene, I need to become just the observer deeply immersed in the moment, so I can more clearly see what stands out to me and how I can tell the story of my impression best. 

Link To Step Up Your Photography By Capturing Storytelling Images Blog PostLink To Step Up Your Photography By Capturing Storytelling Images Blog Post These days, when I am out and about making pictures, I always numb all my apps on my phone except my....phone. If I am in the forest and I would get into trouble, I might need to make a phone call. I however don't want to spend time on any apps or messages when I am creating. I love social media for the real life connections they bring me through sharing my work and I feel it is only fair that if I connect on social media, I tune into that as well. For everything there is the right time and the right place. If I am creating, I am not connecting on the phone. I am connecting to my surroundings instead. If I am connecting on social media, that is my main focus at that moment. 

Birch trees in the mistFragile FrequenciesMystical spring woodland scene with delicate birch trees in the mist

Somehow it has become normal to be multitasking all the time and I think multitasking does not lead to better or more creative results. I would even go as far as to state that multitasking is a threat to real creativity and also to living and experiencing the moments that matter most of all. In the end, it will not matter if you had 1200 or 6000 likes on a picture on the day when you could have been totally immersed in the experience of seeing a wonderful waterfall or finding a secluded hidden spot. 

Try to connect to whatever you are photographing, find bliss in it and switch off your phone and switch on your senses. Look beyond the obvious, be connected by being disconnected and create from this place of deep connection. 

If you are interested in learning all about forest photography, please consider purchasing my eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography. Your support means I can continue writing these articles for you.

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity creativity coaching inspiration photography photography article photography essay https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/5/the-need-for-connection-in-photography Mon, 13 May 2019 08:53:31 GMT
The Photographer's Place In The Picture https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/4/the-photographers-place-in-the-picture Every now and then I get these comments on my images that read: "Is this even real?". As I am a photographer, who is aiming to capture the magical side of reality, one that is often overlooked by many, this question could simply mean that someone does not see how this could be real, because they have never seen anything like this in real life. Perhaps the commenters have only ever seen this in movies like Lord of the Rings. 

The Photographer's Place In The PictureThe Photographer's Place In The PictureWhy there is no such thing as one reality when it comes to photography and how a photograph is not just a 2 dimensional representation of that so-called reality

Still, these comments often give me a little sting, because whatever I do to my images....they are not composites, they represent how I perceived a scene. And then recently I was listening to an interview with a Dutch documentary maker. She had filmed a documentary about a true sportsman, but had focussed on this man doing domestic jobs, like folding the laundry. The sportsman was not amused by the way he was portrayed, but this was the image the documentary maker had got from this man's life. 

Forest in Fairytale SettingMid Winter DreamWinter wonderland in a foggy forest. Overhanging branches covered in hoarfrost and snow in a fairytale setting I started to think how different this documentary might have been if it had been filmed by someone, who was a sportsman as well. For sure, there would not have been an emphasis on the laundry folding in such a documentary. If this documentary had been filmed by a teenager who was into video games, you bet that this documentary would have focussed on yet another part of this man's life.

This is how photography works as well. An image is not just an objective pictorial representation of a situation or scene. It can't be. Even if a journalist takes a picture of a riot, he or she will single out one shot that tells the story, but only the story as perceived by the journalist, no matter how much integrity he or she has. I remember a picture in the local newspaper of a squat of a nearby castle. The police had come to raid the place and from what I knew myself (as this was not that far from my home) the situation was quite grim. 

The picture however depicted a young red-haired girl in a hooded black cardigan, the guy next to her wore a black shirt with a rather distinctive skull on it. He was taking the crusts off a large block of cheese. The sky in the background was spectacular and a fire lit up the face of the girl. I did not even care about the journalistic story behind this image anymore, the image was moving, it told an entirely different story than perhaps a police officer on duty that evening would have told you.

Start of Spring In Woodland On VeluweIn Good CompanyPainterly picture of a foggy woodland with pine trees and fresh greens on the Veluwe, The Netherlands What this scene not reality? Yes, it was...of course it was. My point is that every photographer has his or her own way of looking at this world and will pick out different things in what we think of as reality. Let me give you another example. At one point we bought a Honda, which is a small car brand in this country. There are not that many Honda's around. Yet, after we bought the Honda, we saw them everywhere. We added the Honda to our experience, our every day life and so our brain would just pick up on more Honda's. This does not mean a new reality was created, nor were there all of a sudden more Honda's in this country. Our way of looking changed and this is why we saw more of them.

Every photographer's way of perceiving was influenced by so many things in his or her life. Everything from the circumstances in which you were brought up, passions, the things your parents loved, the way you cope with things, the books you read, the music you like....it all makes you perceive "reality" in your own way. This means that there is no such thing as one reality. I might be looking at a scene and see something totally different than you and might take a picture of something that did not stand out to you at all.

Mossy Rocks And Trees In A Fairytale ForestWanderingFoggy fairytale scene with mossy rocks and tall trees in a forest in the north of France That is why photography is not just a two dimensional image of reality. It is a slice of a reality as perceived by a photographer, translated and interpreted with the help of tools like a camera, lens and later; post processing. 

If you are interested in learning all about forest photography, please consider purchasing my eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography. Your support means I can continue writing these articles for you.

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creative photography creativity learn photography photography photography tips https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/4/the-photographers-place-in-the-picture Tue, 23 Apr 2019 09:05:34 GMT
The Evolution Of A Photography Style https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/4/the-evolution-of-a-photography-style Evolution is one of the most elementary things of nature and of human nature as well. Outgrowing a past stage is therefore one of the most natural things that can happen, yet it scares so many artists. When we feel we are outgrowing our style, it brings up all kinds of worries and anxieties. We might be invested in what we are creating, we think others expect us to keep delivering the same kind of things or we are financially dependent on the signature look of our work. Our vision might have become more refined through the years, we have come to understand the elements of what makes up our vision more intimately and this may well result in a growing unhappiness with your work.

The Evolution Of A Photography StyleThe Evolution Of A Photography StyleWhat happens when you have found your style as a photographer, but you have started to outgrow it? How to evolve a signature photography style that you have become known for?

"If you are at that stage where you feel you are starting to feel confined by your style rather than being inspired by it, it is time to do some soul searching"
 

Whatever the case may be, if you are at that stage where you feel you are starting to feel confined by your style rather than being inspired by it, it is time to do some soul searching. In my experience, the feeling of confinement is overwhelming. I can’t really deal with that kind of emotion and being the solution oriented person that I am, I quickly try to find a way out of the confinement. I might try new things within the boundaries, but most of the time this leads to more frustration. Soon I start to feel like the only escape is to do something drastically different and this is when resistance is most likely to awaken.

You just know that you have followers on social media who like you for this specific thing you have been doing for years. They will probably not like what you are about to do, they might even stop following you. You might have a loyal group of clients who buy your work and they too might not like what you are about to do. You might consider doing something that is not particularly popular on social media at all and this might just be such a frightening concept to some (or most) photographers and artists, that they quickly go back to that confined safe space.

"You might be expressing an outdated version of yourself"
 

A photography or artistic style is not meant to be confining you though. If you are an artist, your art is a kind of self-expression. If you stay within the boundaries of your style, which you have outgrown, you are no longer expressing yourself, but expressing the demands of the outside world or , in the best scenario, you are expressing an outdated version of yourself. Something in your life might have changed, which affected you in a way that you changed as well. This might have lead to you not being happy with the work you have been creating up until that point. The self you were expressing has changed and this means your style will have to follow suit. This might bring up all kinds of fears, but for most artists it is very hard to stay inspired if they can not express their vision.

Link to How To Find Your Personal Photography StyleLink to How To Find Your Personal Photography Style

Painterly path through the forestOld RoutePainterly picture of an old road through the forest lined by oak trees. A serene storybook scene of an enchanted path in the mist.
Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

I believe in putting pen to paper and writing down exactly what it is that you don’t connect to in your work anymore. Then also write down which pictures come closer to the look that you are after and write down why these pictures speak to you more. It is certainly possible that your style changes a bit temporarily. You might have been affected by a tragic event in your life making it impossible for you to connect with the happy and vibrant pictures that you used to take. This stage might pass or it might not. Still, creating work that you don’t connect to, will make you feel bad and this is one sure reason for artists to get a burn out.

"Accept that you see things differently now and that you have outgrown some of your old style"
 

Accept that you see things differently now and that you have outgrown some of your old style. Evaluate if you can make older work fit in more with your new style. Usually there is one thing in your work that feels off more than the other parts. If you are lucky, it might be something that can be fixed in post-processing. Perhaps you really like saturated and contrasty images and they now make your eyes hurt. You can easily fix things like the saturation and colour with a new edit. Perhaps a picture needs to be cropped differently or it needs an entirely different exposure. 

Link to The Right Questions To Ask To Improve Your Photographic VisionLink to The Right Questions To Ask To Improve Your Photographic Vision

You can start working on those pictures that you think can still work with a new edit. Then start building your new style from those pictures you feel most connected to. Make note of what works for you and do more of that the next time you take pictures. This way your style will evolve without it becoming too daunting.

"We must accept the possibility of having to change direction"
 

What it all boils down to is that in order for us to stay happy and inspired, we must accept the possibility of having to change direction. We must come to terms with the concept of outgrowing one version of ourselves and being prepared to let go so we can more aptly express who we are in our work. This is what artistry is all about;  To not settle for capturing a location or even a moment, but to have the desire to capture our own vision of the scene. And if this vision has changed or become more clear,  you need to follow its calling, because to not do so would be a betrayal of your own creativity.

The Evolution Of A Photography StyleThe Evolution Of A Photography StyleWhat happens when you have found your style as a photographer, but you have started to outgrow it? How to evolve a signature photography style that you have become known for?

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity coaching learn photography photography photography style photography vision https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/4/the-evolution-of-a-photography-style Fri, 05 Apr 2019 12:56:36 GMT
Photographing The Winter Of 2019 https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/2/photographing-the-winter-of-2019 Winter Photography 2018/2019Winter Photography 2018/2019Gallery of pictures taken in the winter of 2018/2019 by Ellen Borggreve, Fine Art Landscape Photographer
www.ellenborggreve.com

This is a small collection of images I captured this winter. Unfortunately we had no more than three days of snow and Spring arrived very early, but I am very pleased that I was able to take some winter fairytale pictures on the Veluwe, The Netherlands. 

This time I will let the pictures do the story telling as I think the conditions were so magical that my words could not possibly add anything. All the pictures are available as prints at the moment. Click on the pictures to be taken to their specific print pages with many available options in sizes and substrates. I hope you'll enjoy this little collection (to which I will be adding more pictures as I go through my files)

Framed by Frost

Arch formed by oak trees in winter landscapeFramed by FrostOak trees covered in snow and hoarfrost forming a natural arch in a winter landscape on the Veluwe, The Netherlands. Fine art landscape photography by Ellen Borggreve. www.ellenborggreve.com

Print available at Werk aan de Muur (click on picture)

Under A Winter's Spell

Enchanting winter landscape with a path lined by oak trees still showing shades of autumn through hoarfrost covered branchesUnder A Winter's SpellEnchanting winter scene with oak trees with their last colours of autumn still showing through the hoarfrost and snow. Fine art landscape photography by Ellen Borggreve. www.ellenborggreve.com

Print available at Werk aan de Muur (click on picture)

Mishmash

MishmashMishmashWinter conditions with snow and mist in a woodland area with birch and pine trees on the Veluwe, The Netherlands

Frozen

Three small oak trees with whimsical boughs in a winter wonderland landscapeFrozenWhimsically shaped oak trees covered in snow and hoarfrost in a winter woodland landscape. A true winter wonderland scene on the Veluwe, The Netherlands. Fine art landscape photography by Ellen Borggreve. www.ellenborggreve.com

Print available at Werk aan de Muur (click on picture)

Winter Frame

Oak trees forming an arch in a white winter wonderland scene on the moors of The Veluwe, The NetherlandsWinter FrameVertical image with a natural arch formed by old oak trees in a misty white winter landscape on the moors of the Veluwe. Fine art landscape photography by Ellen Borggreve. www.ellenborggreve.com

Print available at Werk aan de Muur (click on picture)

Frozen Fairytale

Frozen FairytaleFrozen FairytaleWhimsically shaped oak trees in a snowy winter fairytale forest on a foggy December day

Fine Art Photography by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com

Winter Plissé

Ancient oak trees with snowy skirts in pure winter landscape in The NetherlandsWinter PlisséA winter scene with old oak trees covered in hoarfrost and snow in a white almost monochromatic landscape oozing stillness and serenity. Fine art landscape photography by Ellen Borggreve. www.ellenborggreve.com

Print available at Werk aan de Muur (click on picture)

Winter Painting

Painterly and timeless winter scene with pine trees and dead tree trunk in the snowWinter PaintingThe stillness and serenity of a white winter's day with snow covering the trees and fog softening the contours of the pine trees and birches on the moorland of the Veluwe.Fine art landscape photography by Ellen Borggreve. www.ellenborggreve.com

Print available at Werk aan de Muur (click on picture)

Pure

Silhouettes of birch trees in white foggy landscape of the moors of the VeluwePureThe silhouettes of birch trees that are covered in snow and hoarfrost in an almost monochromatic misty white winter landscape on the moors of the Veluwe, The Netherlands. Fine art landscape photography by Ellen Borggreve. www.ellenborggreve.com

Print available at Werk aan de Muur (click on picture)

Winter Whimsy

Little oak tree in white winter fairytale scene in a Dutch forestWinter WhimsyFairytale winter scene with small whimsical oak tree covered in snow and hoarfrost in a white winter wonderland on a foggy morning on the Veluwe, The Netherlands. Fine art landscape photography by Ellen Borggreve. www.ellenborggreve.com

Print available at Werk aan de Muur (click on picture)

Ice Canopy

Branches covered in hoarfrost and snow hanging over a tree lined path in a winter landscapeIce CanopyA misty winter woodland scene with a path lined with oak trees with their overhanging branches covered in snow and hoarfrost. Fine art landscape photography by Ellen Borggreve. www.ellenborggreve.com

Print available at Werk aan de Muur (click on picture)

Misty Winter Wonderland

Misty winter scene of a tree lined path with two peopleMisty Winter WonderlandTimeless winter landscape with snow and mist in a beautiful old forest lane lined with oak trees. Two people are disappearing in to mist. Fine art landscape photography by Ellen Borggreve. www.ellenborggreve.com

Print available at Werk aan de Muur (click on picture)

Winter Twist

Oak trees covered in snow and hoarfrost in winter forestWinter TwistPainterly image of whimsically shaped fairytale oak trees in a misty winter landscape with snow and hoarfrost. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve. www.ellenborggreve.com

Print available at Werk aan de Muur

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) fine art landscape photography fine art photography forest photography photography prints stillness winter winter photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/2/photographing-the-winter-of-2019 Fri, 22 Feb 2019 10:56:16 GMT
Low Contrast Photography And How To Correct It In Post Processing https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/2/low-contrast-photography-and-how-to-correct-it-in-post-processing Low Contrast Photography ArticleLow Contrast Photography ArticleLow Contrast Photography Article by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com/blog
One of the most asked questions I get is how I add contrast to pictures taken in very low contrast conditions like dense fog. This made me think it would perhaps be of use to many of you if I wrote an article about contrast and how you can fix contrast issues in post processing.

Low Contrast Photography And How To Correct It In Post-ProcessingLow Contrast Photography And How To Correct It In Post-ProcessingIf you take pictures in low contrast conditions like dense fog or snowfall, there are several challenges to overcome both in the capture phase as well as in post-processing. In this article I explain about low contrast, what it does to colours and the many, many ways to correct it in Lightroom, Photoshop and Luminar

The original meaning of the word photography is writing with light, but I would put that as:  writing with values of light. The difference between light values or colour values is what makes up contrast. 

As I was out taking pictures in a winter landscape covered in dense fog recently, I realised that all my pictures would either have high contrast when the fog would lift a bit or extremely low contrast if I were to use my telelens compressing the dense fog even more. What I mean by this is that in the snowy foggy landscape, trees can quickly turn into black silhouettes against white backgrounds, causing a high contrast with lots of blacks and whites. In the other example, the shapes would be barely recognisable against the background and would fade away. As the bright white of the snow reflects a lot of light, the fog was also close to white and properly exposed this results in a histogram with lots and lots of highlights and whites but hardly any shadows and blacks. 

Winter PaintingFine Art Forest Photography by Ellen Borggreve

It is the difference between the dark and the light values that makes you perceive an object. If you have ever got lost in the fog, you know that this is because you can't make out the familiar shapes and locations anymore, because the fog wipes it out. Very low contrast makes contours extremely vague and objects harder to recognise.

In foggy conditions, colour contrast is also really low. Colour contrast is all about colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel, like blues and yellows, reds and cyans and green and magenta. This contrast can be explained best by saying that these colours make each other pop, whilst colours that are close to each other on the colour wheel will give a more tranquil and lightly more muted feeling even if these colours are themselves primary and expressive colours. Fog creates a layer of grey over the colours making them look muted and dusty. In the case of fog in a landscape with snow, the snow will reflect so much light, that the mist will turn very bright as well and this will then create an almost white veil over the colours.

The best way of explaining what happens to colours in the mist is by simply thinking what would happen if you were to add grey paint to a colour or in the case of bright fog: what would happen if you added very pale grey paint to a colour? The denser the fog is and the lighter the colour, the more muted and paler the colours will look.

Another thing to remember is that we also see depth because of contrast differences. I always think this is easiest to explain by letting you imagine looking at  a landscape with mountains. The further back the mountains are, the less contrast they will have. This is because you are essentially looking through an atmospheric haze and there is more haze to see through for objects in the distance than in the foreground. This then gives us a clue that these hazier subjects are further back. The haze also makes the subjects in the distance appear more blueish in tone than the ones that are closer to you.

PosbankMorning SerenadeFine Art Landscape Photography by Ellen Borggreve

Contrast is what is needed for your camera or lens to perform its autofocus tricks. If there is hardly any contrast, it will be extremely hard for a lens to lock focus. This means that in these kinds of conditions, you'll have to rely on manual focussing. It is true however that a lens will perform better in bright low contrast conditions than in dark low contrast situations. In case of very gloomy foggy days, it is very hard to get a lens or camera to use autofocus and if it does manage to lock focus, you'd better make very sure it did focus correctly, because it is often a hit-or-miss situation. 

Contrast In Photography ArticlePureRaw rendering of Pure for Low Contrast Photography Article at www.ellenborggreve.com/blog Pictures taken in foggy conditions can come out looking incredibly flat as RAW files and something needs to be done to the contrast. There are so many things that affect the contrast though and I will show you the difference of the many methods of adding contrast and the possible downsides of specific methods. The picture above is an unedited RAW file with low contrast.

There are many ways to fix this and some of the most obvious ones might actually not be the right choice. Let's start in Lightroom. There are quite a few ways to add contrast in Lightroom CC and the most obvious one is using the contrast slider (which I actually hardly ever use). You can also add contrast by adding whites and blacks to the image or to make the highlights brighter and the shadows darker. Just for comparison's purposes I put them together in a grid for you. Obviously these are not values that I would use, but they do give an idea of what will happen.

Here is the original histogram of the raw file (shown above)

Original Histogram Low Contrast ArticleOriginal Histogram Low Contrast Article

Contrast In Photography ArticleContrast In Photography Article Another very obvious choice is to use dehaze. I have a problem with the dehaze option of Lightroom for several reasons. This option was originally meant to cut through the atmospheric haze that I just talked about in the example of the mountain view. The further away the mountains are, the hazier and more blueish they will look and dehaze corrects this. This means....that it also corrects the colour cast, which is why it is not great for adding contrast to pictures taken in dense fog. Look at the example below and you'll see what this option did to the original RAW file. It added quite a lot of warmth to it and there are now differences in colour cast in the image. There is another reason I really dislike dehaze and this is because I have noticed it tends to cause colour banding, even in 16 bit files. This is something that is very hard to get rid of and it can lead to severe colour banding in skies, but also in even coloured foggy areas. This is why I steer clear from using dehaze in Lightroom and I would typically stick to the blacks and whites method as I show in the grid above.

Clarity adds local contrast in the midtones only. This means that it has a different effect than the contrast slider which also affects the highlights. Clarity will typically render an image darker than contrast would, but it makes details sharper and more defined. It is very suitable for bringing out details. 

The next option is to use curves in Lightroom. We can opt to bring the black point and the white point in, which has a terrible effect as you can see, but you do not want to have true blacks and whites in a foggy image, so you would not take the curves' black and white points to the extremes. The other option is to create a slight S-curve, which darkens the shadows slightly and brightens the highlights, which is a method I often use.

Contrast In Photography ArticleContrast In Photography Article

Lightroom Curves Panel Low Contrast CorrectionLightroom Curves Panel Low Contrast Correction Lightroom Curves Panel Low Contrast CorrectionLightroom Curves Panel Low Contrast Correction

We can also add contrast in Photoshop. There are so many ways to do this that I could write many articles about it, but I will stick to explaining some methods that you might not have considered. The first method is to duplicate your layer and switch the blend mode to a contrast blend mode like overlay. All the blend modes in the sub panel with overlay mentioned on top are essentially contrast blend modes and some are very extreme. 

Now that you have changed the blend mode, there is more contrast, but you have also hugely increased your file size and this is why I do this differently. I add a levels or curves adjustment layer without making any alterations and then put the blend mode on overlay again. It has the exact same result, but without the disadvantage of a larger file. 

Next up is the wonderful curves adjustment layer in Photoshop which has some hidden options. Add a curves adjustment layer and alt or option click on "auto" which will give you four options to choose from. The dialogue box will look like this and some of these contrast options are really useful. I often use the Enhance Brightness and Contrast, of which I usually take down the intensity.

Dialogue Box Curves in PhotoshopDialogue Box Curves in Photoshop

I also often use the option to add a levels or curves adjustment layer without any alterations made and switch the blend mode to soft light, which works in a more subtle way than the Overlay or Hard Light blend mode as you can see...

By the way...if you make an S curve in Photoshop and you find it affects the colours in your image too much, change the blend mode to Luminosity. That way the change you made does not affect the colours.

Contrast In Photography ArticleContrast In Photography Article Contrast In Photography ArticleContrast In Photography Article

With all this explained, here is my preferred way of adding contrast at the moment. I have been working with Luminar for quite some time now and recently switched to Luminar 3 and use the filters Accent All, the black and white sliders and make a slight S curve in Curves. I find that Luminar 3 speeds up my workflow tremendously which is precisely why I love it so much and this method is not messing with the colours in the image either. Contrast In Photography ArticlePureRaw rendering of Pure for Low Contrast Photography article on www.ellenborggreve.com/blog Contrast In Photography ArticlePureRendering of contrast in Luminar 3 of image Pure for Low Contrast Photography Article on www.ellenborggreve.com/blog

As with so many things in art and photography, contrast is of course a matter of personal taste as well. If you however take the effort to capture images in low contrast conditions, don't spoil it by adding a ton of contrast, it will definitely affect the mood of the image. Also....if you take pictures in high contrast conditions, don't expect that you can change them into moody foggy pictures in Photoshop. This is just not going to happen. You can do a lot of things in Photoshop, but to add fog like you would see it in nature is quite impossible. I get this question all the time: "How do you make this fog in Photoshop?" My reply is always that no one makes fog like nature and this is what I work with. 

I hope this article helped you a bit to make an educated decision what sort of contrast you want to add. 

If you would like to learn more about photographing foggy forests, I can highly recommend my eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography

If you would like to learn more about capturing storytelling images, please sign up for me FREE eBook

 

Low Contrast Photography And How To Correct It In Post-ProcessingLow Contrast Photography And How To Correct It In Post-ProcessingIf you take pictures in low contrast conditions like dense fog or snowfall, there are several challenges to overcome both in the capture phase as well as in post-processing. In this article I explain about low contrast, what it does to colours and the many, many ways to correct it in Lightroom, Photoshop and Luminar

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) fog photography learn photography Lightroom low contrast photography photography photography tips Photoshop post processing tips Tips" https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/2/low-contrast-photography-and-how-to-correct-it-in-post-processing Mon, 18 Feb 2019 11:45:42 GMT
Winter Forest Photography: Tips, Ideas and Challenges https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/1/winter-forest-photography-tips-ideas-and-challenges Many photographers don't bother taking pictures in the bare winter forests unless there is a nice blanket of snow. The trees have lost their leaves, the sky is often grey and the atmosphere is not incredibly uplifting most of the time. Still photographing winter in the forest is amazing for many reasons and I have several forests that I only photograph in winter, because in the other seasons they are too overgrown to reveal the structures.

Winter Forest Photography: 10 tips and solutions to possible challenges and problems when photographing in the coldWinter Forest Photography ; Tips, Ideas & Challenges10 tips to make the most of winter in your photography and what to watch out for and how to solve problems when photographing in the cold.
www.ellenborggreve.com/blog

Let's start by giving you some ideas of what kind of pictures work great in winter.

1. Silhouettes of trees against a snowy or pale grey sky can be very impressive and the desaturated tones make for great minimalist shots

December DayDecember DayThe silhouette of an old dead oak tree on foggy winter day on the Veluwe, The Netherlands. The first snow of the season covering the path that leads into the woodland.

Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

2. When there is a dusting of snow and there is not a whole lot of it, look for trees with great texture in their barks, which hold onto the snow better. In cases like these I never photograph beech trees, but stick to acacias, oak trees and any other tree with a textured bark.

Frozen FairytaleFrozen FairytaleWhimsically shaped oak trees in a snowy winter fairytale forest on a foggy December day

Fine Art Photography by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com

3. Winter is great for forests with a lot of undergrowth, like bushes, ferns and grass. In most seasons it is very hard to take clean images in these kinds of forests, but then winter comes and reveals the structure of the forest. I especially love photographing forests like these on very foggy mornings.

Danse de la NeigeDanse de la NeigeBeech trees which appear to be dancing in the fog in a snow covered winter forest.

Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

4. Look for trees with whimsical shapes. A straight row of beech trees can look pretty uninspiring in the snow, but a group of whimsically shaped oak trees look amazing in winter. I actually prefer to photograph oak trees in this time of the year

Winter Tales IIWinter Tales IIWhimsically shaped oak trees in a foggy winter forest

5. Winter is also great for more gloomy pictures with dark atmospheres and grey days are also perfect for scouting in the forest, without harsh highlights and shadows to make assessing a forest scene almost impossible

MystifiedMystifiedA forest path in the famous Speulderbos, the forest of the dancing trees, on a misty winter morning

6. Hoarfrost....When frost and fog meet, the most magical things happen to trees and forests. If the sky is blue, try to find a single, remarkable tree and photograph it against the blue sky. On grey days, find some groups of trees in different sizes to add interest to the scene. I find that straight lanes with hoar frost are much harder to photograph in an interesting way, especially if the bark has turned black because of the humidity. Contrast will then get very high. 

Willow tree covered in hoar frost by a frozen-over lakeIcy DewWillow tree covered in hoar frost on an icy cold winter's morning in the Gelderse Poort, Gelderland, The Netherlands

7. Icicles....Last year I was photographing in the forest and all the branches had dripping icicles on them. It looked like a crystal fairytale. Icicles will also form in waterfalls, which makes them look quite magical

Fairytale oak tree with branches covered in iciclesIce OakCharacteristic fairytale oak tree with its branches covered in icicles in a foggy winter landscape

Fine Art Photography by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com

8. Winter light....I love the winter for its softer light during the day. In summer I sometimes get half an hour of the right light after sunrise, but in winter I can take pictures for hours if the conditions are alright.

9. Winter is also great if you don't like to get too much colour in your images. Forests are not just as chaotic in winter because of less undergrowth, but the colours are also very muted. If you are not into the lime greens of spring, winter is a treat.

10. Wind in the winter has less of an effect on trees than in other seasons, which means you can get away with longer shutter speeds. In other seasons wind is always a cause of trouble if you want to prevent watercolour effects caused by moving leaves.

Misty Winter WonderlandMisty Winter WonderlandWinter landscape with snow and mist in a beautiful old forest lane lined with oak trees. Two people are disappearing in to mist.
Print of this image:
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/misty-winter-wonderland-ellen-borggreve.html


Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

One other huge advantage of winter in this part of the world is that the sun does not rise at a ridiculously early hour of the day. 


Possible challenges:

1. Snow messes with your exposure. This means that you need to overexpose with a full stop (+1 EV) or more to keep the snow white. Keep an eye on your histogram though to check if you are not blowing out any highlights

2. Batteries run out of power really quickly. I keep some in an insulated wallet that I carry in the inside pocket of my jacket to keep them warm

3. Snow can suddenly fall down on you from branches. This is something that happens often and if the snow is melting, what can happen is that large amounts of snow fall  either on you or on your camera or both with the tiniest gust of wind. Look out for this and always cover your camera. I have mine in a plastic ziplock bag and I carry large microfiber cloths to wipe the camera off if it gets wet. 

Old beech trees in a foggy winter forestFrozen In TimeAncient beech trees in a very foggy winter forest

Fine Art Photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

4. Snow can prevent your camera from locking focus on your subject. It might instead focus on the nearest snowflake and this is not what you want. Keep this in mind and switch to manual focus instead

5. It can be pretty dark in a winter forest and so....you will need your tripod more than ever. I never photograph in the forest without one, but in winter it is even more important. 

6. When you go home, put your camera in the camera bag and leave it in there....Put the bag in the hallway, not near a source of heat and let it adjust to the the temperature. This will prevent condensation to build up inside your equipment. 

7. LCD screens can go funny on you. I have one camera that has issues with spider like veins building up in the corners of my LCD screen. Funnily enough its twin, the same camera, does not have this issue. Don't worry, the LCD screen will look perfectly fine again when it warms up.

8. A polariser is something to watch out for when photographing winter skies. They tend to look unnatural if you are not careful. If you can't decide, take one shot with and one shot without your circular polariser

FrozenFrozenWinter landscape in the Gelderse Poort with trees and houses covered in hoar frost in the Gelderse Poort, The Netherlands

9. Large gaps of bright sky attracting attention in forest pictures are always something to watch out for. In winter this is even more true. The brightest spot in the wrong place in your photo will ruin the entire image, so look out for these bright spots.

10. When photographing boulevards and lanes in the winter what often happens is that the right side of the picture has a blueish tone in the sky whilst the other side might be yellowish or white. This is hidden in other seasons, but I find it terribly distracting. What you can do in post processing is desaturate the blues, for example in the HSL panel. This most of the time is enough to get rid of any unwanted colour.

As you can see, winter has so much to offer from a photographic point of view. Buy some special photography gloves, make sure you stay warm and keep in mind that you will be standing still for longer periods of time, which means you might get cold quicker. 

If you would like to learn more about forest photography in all seasons, how to process foggy winter pictures and how to compose pictures in a chaotic place like the forest, I have written an eBook about forest photography called : The Magic Of Forest Photography (Dutch translation coming up soon)

Winter Forest Photography: 10 tips and solutions to possible challenges and problems when photographing in the coldWinter Forest Photography ; Tips, Ideas & Challenges10 tips to make the most of winter in your photography and what to watch out for and how to solve problems when photographing in the cold.
www.ellenborggreve.com/blog

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) learn photography photography inspiration photography tips photography tricks photography tutorial winter photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/1/winter-forest-photography-tips-ideas-and-challenges Mon, 14 Jan 2019 13:52:31 GMT
The Right Questions To Ask To Improve Your Photographic Vision https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/1/the-right-questions-to-ask-to-improve-your-photographic-vision Questions To Help You Figure Out Your Personal Style and Vision in PhotographyThe Right Questions To Ask To Improve Your Photographic VisionThe questions to ask to reflect on your past photography work so you stay on track, improve your images and stay true to your vision

I spend the last weeks of every year reviewing my work, reflecting on what photographs I have taken, what I liked and did not like and where I want to take my photography next. I do this to make sure that I stay on track and that my work does not become stagnant. For me, becoming stagnant equals becoming bored and I don't ever want to get bored with the thing that I am most passionate about.

Floating Trees In The MistAfloatFloating trees in autumnal atmosphere in a mere at sunrise. Vosges, France.
Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

A large part of photography, in developing your own style and working from your own vision, is reflecting. Not superficial labeling like: "I don't like this picture and I do like that one". This will not do you any good. Always ask why behind your likes and dislikes....Why do you like that picture and not the other one?  And don't be surprised if the answers are not easily found. 

Think about why you started photography in the first place, what made you pick up your camera, what is it that you wanted to capture, what made you fall in love with this medium? And also....are you still on track or did you start drifting?

L'Heure des FéesL'Heure des FéesMagical storybook scene of whimsical oak trees in a misty forest. Fine art forest photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

It is quite easy to drift away from your own vision and path. These days so many people follow what is popular on social media, that we have come to equal this popularity to quality or we start to thing that perhaps we should be doing something similar. There is a huge risk in this and we can see this happening all over the internet...Original photographers' work is being cloned by many others and before you know it, you see the same pictures popping up on Instagram time after time. We humans like to both fit in and be popular and social media feed on these two needs. I wholeheartedly believe though that we are not created uniquely so we can make clones of someone else's work. We are here to tell our own unique story. That said, it can be rather painful for people if they see others getting thousands of likes whilst they are left behind and then they adjust their work until they get more likes. At that point though, you are not the artist anymore, the popularity on social media is now dictating your direction and clouding your own vision. 

La Muse VerteLa Muse VerteA mystical and painterly forest scene of mossy beech trees in the mountains of France in the beginning of autumn. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

If you notice you have gone adrift, don't beat yourself up, simply re-adjust. Find out what you really want to capture and get back on track. None of us is completely immune to influences from others and the popularity game on social media. 

Timeless DreamsTimeless DreamsTypically Dutch autumn scene with a forest boulevard lined with old oak trees on a foggy day. Timeless classical picture inspired by the Old Dutch masters

Find the pictures you like best of the past year, compare these to your favourites from the previous years and see what this tells you. Is there something that keeps coming back? A colour scheme, an emotion, a mood, a type of composition? And why do you like these re-occuring things in your favourite images? 

Also look at things like the amount of elements in your frame. Do you like complicated compositions or minimalist images? 

Oak FrameOak FrameOak trees in a fairytale forest setting photographed on a misty morning. A scene of stillness

www.ellenborggreve.com

What I do next is decide what pictures I liked best from other artists or photographers in the past year. In my case this is usually someone who takes vastly different pictures than mine and this year my favourite picture (by miles) was a picture by an amazing fine art portrait photographer. I knew it the minute I spotted the image many months ago. I ask myself why I am so incredibly drawn to this image. This does not mean that I am now going to be a portrait photographer, but I love the mood in her pictures...Then I work from there....is there something I need to change in the mood of my images? What would make me fall in love with my own work? What elements would be crucial for that to happen? 

OaktoberOaktoberAn oak tree in autumn colours on a hazy October morning with sunbeams in the forest in the background. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com

And first and foremost....how can I create authentic, original work that conveys why I take pictures? Images that convey my vision? Have I been limited in any way in the previous year by a lack of knowledge on some level? Do I need to learn more? Have I cut any corners anywhere and just went for the easy shot? Let's be honest here....I really dislike cutting corners and going for the easy shot, but I can sometimes be guilty of this as well. Just because I sometimes become inspired whilst taking pictures and I need to spend quite some time alone with my subject before I start taking more original shots. Sometimes I only start really SEEING after quite a while. Then the good stuff happens, but that usually does not happen when I am not alone. 

The BygoneThe BygoneA beautiful Dutch forest path lined with oak trees on a foggy summer morning.
Fine art photography inspired by the old Dutch masters of painting by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com

My last and most essential question is always...do I feel passionate about what I am doing? Do I work from the heart, do I let my bliss be my guiding light? I think that only if you let your bliss be your guide, it is not only easier to stay true to your own vision, but it also pays off in better work. It is always tangible in art if the artist worked from a state of total dedication and a certain state of surrender to where inspiration leads him or her.

Woods of WhimsyWoods of WhimsyWhimsical looking trees in a foggy fairytale forest

Fine Art Photography by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com

This year I was not surprised to see that the top 10 most popular photos on Instagram were quite different from my own favourite pictures. I think that only 2 of them ended up in both top 10s. To me as an artist with a desire to improve....the most popular photos on Instagram don't matter though, only those that I myself am most proud of matter to me. I might listen to what people tell me about these pictures, but if their opinions don't ring true to me, to my vision, then I simply put these opinions aside. Hardly ever do they affect the choice of my favourite pictures.

Memory LaneMemory LaneAn old Dutch estate forest lane lined with oak trees on a foggy fall morning. A painterly fine art photograph of a typically Dutch scene by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com


My favourite pictures of this year can be found in this post, some of them were taken only a few weeks ago. My photo opportunities in 2018 were quite rare and far between. We rarely got real fog and even in France I did not get the conditions I had been hoping for. I did however take some pictures that I now consider my best ever and this is something I am truly grateful for. 

Green MysteryGreen MysteryWhimsically shaped beech trees in a mysterious mist atmosphere in a lush fairytale forest in the mountains in France Terra IncognitaTerra Incognita Here is my personal favourite picture of 2018...

Frozen FairytaleFrozen FairytaleWhimsically shaped oak trees in a snowy winter fairytale forest on a foggy December day

Fine Art Photography by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com
I hope you will have a wonderful year with lots of opportunities to let your photography grow into something deeply personal.

My eClass Your Vision Your Story is open for registration now and this class will empower you in creating from your own personal vision, without ever having to depend on examples of other photographers work, because you can trust the abundance of creativity inside of you. 

Prints of all of these pictures are available in my shop at Werk aan de Muur (France, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium) and Fine Art America (Rest Of The World)

Questions To Help You Figure Out Your Personal Style and Vision in PhotographyThe Right Questions To Ask To Improve Your Photographic VisionThe questions to ask to reflect on your past photography work so you stay on track, improve your images and stay true to your vision

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity coaching learn photography photography photography class photography style photography tips photography vision https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2019/1/the-right-questions-to-ask-to-improve-your-photographic-vision Fri, 04 Jan 2019 14:59:11 GMT
Get Motivated: 10 Ideas To Jumpstart Your Photography In 2019 https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/12/get-motivated-10-ideas-to-jumpstart-your-photography-in-2019 Many creatives suffer from a bit of a loss of inspiration in the winter months. The weeks before Christmas are usually not as quiet and peaceful as you would like them to be and on the first day of the New Year you find yourself with a list of New Year's Resolutions without the energy to stick with them.

10 Ideas to keep you motivated, inspired and passionate about your photography in the New Year without spending a fortune on new equipmentGet Motivated: 10 Ideas To Jumpstart Your Photography In 2019If you need some motivation for some photography resolutions for the New Year, this list of 10 ideas to rekindle your inspiration without spending money on new equipment will help you keep the passion for photography burning.

In situations like that it is pretty hard to get the creative juices flowing again. If you wait until after Christmas, your battery will probably be running low and that is not the right time to get fresh ideas for the new year. So, how can you start the new year without feeling you and your camera need to go into hibernation? Well, you start to think about the things that could spruce up your photography now. Don't wait until you're exhausted to start thinking about this, chances are you are going to be much harder on yourself in a state of exhaustion. 

So, I suggest that you dive into your photography wishlist now. Create one...Not the kind of list on which you put Camera A or Z, Lens Q or W, Location XYZ, but a list with things that you can stick to without having the excuse that you do not have the right camera, lens or that you can't go to that bucket list location. Start from where you are. Your starting point will be you...

La Muse VerteLa Muse VerteA mystical and painterly forest scene of mossy beech trees in the mountains of France in the beginning of autumn. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

I am giving you 10 ideas that will help you kickstart your photography in 2019.

1. Find your benchmark. What I mean by this is simply to find your best 10 pictures of 2018 (not those that got the most likes, not those that proved popular, but those you consider to be your best) and ask yourself which pictures you want to be your new benchmark and how you would like to see these pictures evolve or how you could improve on these.

2. Find a project. Projects are great to keep you motivated and they are a tremendous help in improving your photography. This is also very important if you are a professional photographer working for others. A personal project will keep fueling inspiration and will keep you from losing your passion. Find something that you are passionate about and make it into a project. It could be something simple like a colour, a location that is special to you, black and white photography, the changes of one spot through the seasons or choose one subject that you'll be photographing throughout the year. 

Misty Winter WonderlandMisty Winter WonderlandWinter landscape with snow and mist in a beautiful old forest lane lined with oak trees. Two people are disappearing in to mist.
Print of this image:
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/misty-winter-wonderland-ellen-borggreve.html


Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

3. Try something new! It is easy to get stuck in one niche and never move out of it, but I have found through the years that trying another kind of photography or creative project can lead to dramatic improvements in your own niche. I have done this throughout my more than 20 years of being a professional artist. I continuously take classes in niches that are not my own and some of them are not even remotely similar to what I am doing. The thing is that this helped me develop as an artist. I took painting classes, sculpting classes, drawing classes and of course 20 years of photography classes in every kind of niche you can imagine. Yes, I found out that portrait photography is not my cup of tea, but I still learned a lot from the portrait photography masterclasses that I took and I use what I learned in my work every single day.

L'AubeL'AubeA lonesome tree at sunrise with layered mountains on the background

4. Stop comparing to others. This is really important....Just stop comparing. Let's not all want to be the same, let's not all want to take the pictures of someone else. Let's just have complete faith in our own creative abilities. As soon as you start trusting your own potential and your own vision, you will see that your work will become more unique. Compare to where you came from, compare to the pictures you took a year ago and see where the path is leading you. 

5. Pick a mood....This can of course turn into a project, but this is also something that can inspire you on a daily base. Take something non-tangible like a mood and make it your starting point. I don't know if any of you are familiar with art journaling, but many art journal pages are made to express emotions and moods. I have always found this fascinating. As many of you know my work is themed around stillness in a world of wonder. Everything starts there, which is why I hardly ever have people in my pictures, except when they help convey the mood. Everything I do is about this mood that I am looking to capture. You don't have to pick one mood, you can also depict a different mood every week or so

The EssenceThe EssenceA moody misty morning on a forest path

6. Use photography as a way of journaling...I noticed in my own life that I might have all kinds of beautiful pictures of forests, mountains, villages, Venetian Carnivals, but very few personal pictures (and I mean, very, very, very few). This is how it works for many creatives, you make and create for others and are left with hardly anything that tells the story of your life. Take pictures that tell the story of your days, of your life...make it personal.

7. Find your style! Spend some time figuring out what you want your style to be like and what your vision is. If you work from your own unique vision, your work will improve much faster than if you keep being influenced by others.

8. Decide to be playful. Experiment a lot. Find new ways of looking at things. Every time you go out to take pictures, try at least a few things that you have not done before....change things up, choose a longer or shorter shutter speed, perhaps introduce artificial light, try a different aperture, use a different lens, work with filters, etc. etc.

9. Pick one lens or focal length. Don't think you now need to buy a new lens, just pick a focal length that you already have. Maybe you have a 50mm lens or a 24 mm lens. You could also easily do this with a zoom lens. Just pick one focal length and see what you can come up with. This is something that will force you to look differently. Make it a habit of picking one focal length and take pictures with it  1 day per week or every two weeks or perhaps one entire week. At one point I decided to  use a 70mm macro lens to take forest pictures for one entire month. That was a really interesting experiment. I learned a lot about every aspect of this lens and I knew all its strong and weak points by the end of the experiment and I ended up with some really nice pictures as well.

10. The a picture every day. Don't put pressure on yourself to take a perfect picture, but just take a picture every single day. You can do this for a year, but you could also decide to take a picture every day in those months that you usually don't take many pictures, which is usually the case in the grey winter months for many of us. Try to find the beauty in those grey days and take a picture every day.

I do hope this will help you stay motivated, inspired and passionate about photography in the New Year. What do you do to overcome a lack of motivation, a creative block or a loss of inspiration? Leave a comment, I'd love to hear your input

10 Ideas to keep you motivated, inspired and passionate about your photography in the New Year without spending a fortune on new equipmentGet Motivated: 10 Ideas To Jumpstart Your Photography In 2019If you need some motivation for some photography resolutions for the New Year, this list of 10 ideas to rekindle your inspiration without spending money on new equipment will help you keep the passion for photography burning.

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity coaching forest photography inspiration learn photography motivation photography photography tips photography tutorial https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/12/get-motivated-10-ideas-to-jumpstart-your-photography-in-2019 Mon, 17 Dec 2018 14:01:20 GMT
Vertical Or Horizontal ; Composition In Photography Part 2 https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/12/vertical-or-horizontal-composition-in-photography-part-2 Composition in photography is no more or less than finding a pleasing lay-out for the subject(s) in your frame that works best. This means that you are looking for the right distribution of elements throughout your frame, but what is right and what is wrong? There are many composition rules that might be helpful, but in the end it really comes down to you telling the story of the scene you are capturing in a way that is uniquely yours.

Photographic Composition: Vertical or Horizontal FormatsVertical or Horizontal Compostions In PhotographyWhen opting for a vertical lay-out in landcape photography can really help you tell a stronger story with your images and when a horizontal lay-out is the best possible way of capturing an scene Believe it or not, but your way of looking at a scene will never be entirely the same as mine and this is exactly as it should be. Your way of looking has been shaped over your entire life and has its roots in experiences, feelings, passions and interests. The brain simply has a wonderful way of overlooking stuff it does not want to see. 

Most people see the world horizontally and our cameras are designed in that same way, but does this mean that you always need to shoot horizontally? In portrait photography it is of course widely accepted to use a vertical lay-out, but you don't see it as much in landscape photography. This is because most of us will look at a scene in a horizontal way (I actually don't, which seems to be quite rare). 

MoodinessMoodinessVery painterly and atmospheric picture of birches lining a forest path on a beautiful foggy morning

www.ellenborggreve.com

In these days where we look at everything on our mobile phones, more and more vertical (4:5) pictures are popping up on Instagram and Facebook. This is because horizontal pictures take up less of the screen on Instagram and have a lower impact because of it. A vertical picture (and Instagram allows only the 4:5 ratio) takes up more of the screen and this has become the reason for many photographers to shoot either vertically for social media or to shoot horizontally and crop the picture into a vertical later.

I would suggest to approach the lay-out issue from an artistic point of view. The good thing about being an artist is that you can make all the decisions and if you make a conscious decision about the lay-out of your pictures, chances are that your work will improve.

Tribute To FallTribute To FallSpectacular light conditions when fog and sunlight met up with the brilliant autumn colours of November in this beautiful forest in the Achterhoek, The Netherlands. An avenue lined by oak and beech trees in their most colourful attire. Fine Art Photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

So how should you pick the "right" lay-out? Most of the time I ask students how they perceive a scene. As you know, I mostly work in forests in which case you should ask yourself questions like: 

~ What comes to mind when I see this scene? Does the scene feel enclosed or do I want it to feel that way? Is this a narrow path and do I want to emphasise that? Is the height of the trees the thing that made me grab my camera? 

In all of these cases it might be advisable to opt for a vertical lay-out

~ Do I want to make this scene feel intimate or overpowering? Most of the time I opt for horizontal for intimate scenes with lower overhanging branches and vertical for overpowering scenes. Is this path looking wide or narrow? Is the essence of this scene vertically directed or horizontally?

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

Let me explain the last question. There are scenes that are most definitely vertically oriented like a tall tree, or perhaps a small waterfall falling from high above, subjects that are themselves vertical in shape etc

L'Heure des FéesL'Heure des FéesMagical storybook scene of whimsical oak trees in a misty forest. Fine art forest photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

And then there are scenes that are definitely horizontally oriented like a scene in which someone is moving from left to right in the frame, you would usually allow room for this person to move in. Wide vistas are of course naturally horizontal in appearance as well and scenes in which you want to emphasise the the sense of space.

Floating Trees In The MistAfloatFloating trees in autumnal atmosphere in a mere at sunrise. Vosges, France.
Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve
OaktoberOaktoberAn oak tree in autumn colours on a hazy October morning with sunbeams in the forest in the background. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com

But... a lot of scenes can be perceived as horizontal and vertical and in this case I usually take pictures in both orientations. I love vertical images as they are more like I see the world, they can be more dynamic and you can include more of the scene from foreground to background in the frame. 

Here is an example of one waterfall and two lay-outs in which case one tells a way better story of this waterfall than the other. This is a waterfall that does not come from high above, the direction of the waterfall is not vertical and so the horizontal one just tells the story of this waterfall much better than the vertical picture which tells the story of high beech trees with a bit of water running below. 

In the following example both orientations work equally well, but one conveys a sense of height of these old trees and the other one has the emphasis more on the tree trunks

Autumn BeamsAutumn BeamsSunbeams in an autumn forest creating a painterly typically Dutch scene
www.ellenborggreve.com
AutumnsfereAutumnsfereThe atmosphere of an autumn morning when the light gets filtered through the golden leaves on the trees

www.ellenborggreve.com

And another example of a scene of which I like the horizontal picture just as much as the vertical one

SpotlightedSpotlightedCool winter light in the forest of the dancing beech trees, the Speulderbos on the Veluwe in The Netherlands. The dappled light lights up the remaining autumn leaves on the whimsically shaped trees
Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

If you need a guideline it is often best to use horizontal lay-outs to convey a sense of space, for obviously horizontally orientated subjects and to allow movement in the frame from left to right or right to left. It is also great for emphasising the width of things and in a forest it places emphasis on the trunks rather than the height of the trees. It is best to opt for a vertical lay-out to convey height, power, for vertical objects and to emphasise the narrow or enclosed nature of a scene and if there is more vertical movement (think of a waterfall for example). If the direction of your eye goes from top to bottom and back again, instead of from side to side...you need to opt for a vertical lay-out. I will explain this with the example of a bird of prey looking straight down at let's say a frog and it is grey cloudless day. The direction in which the bird looks is from the top of the frame to the bottom and this forces us to look in that same direction. If there is little else of interest in this scene (especially on this grey day), it might be wise to go for a vertical frame to emphasise the story of this bird looking down at this frog.

I highly recommend getting an L-bracket on your camera for vertical pictures, because it is very tedious to swivel the ball of your tripod into the vertical position and most of the time it destabilises the tripod. An L-bracket does not have to be very expensive and it will save your from so much frustration. They are camera specific, so you need to buy one that fits your particular camera model and make sure that you can still access your battery and card compartment. 

One last tip....I use the vertical format to shoot panoramas as well. Your camera needs to be exactly level though for this to work well and I sometimes go up to 7 frames that I stitch together in Lightroom or Photoshop, which is sometimes the only way I can capture a scene exactly like I have in mind. remember though that the file size can be huge, depending on the resolution of your camera and it can take a long time for your computer to process a panorama shot like this.

Photographic Composition: Vertical or Horizontal FormatsVertical or Horizontal Compostions In PhotographyWhen opting for a vertical lay-out in landcape photography can really help you tell a stronger story with your images and when a horizontal lay-out is the best possible way of capturing an scene

If you want to learn all about forest photography, I have an eBook called : The Magic Of Forest Photography that goes deeply into how to capture enchanting pictures, what conditions work well and also how I process my forest pictures.

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) composition learn photography photography photography tips storytelling https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/12/vertical-or-horizontal-composition-in-photography-part-2 Thu, 13 Dec 2018 14:02:40 GMT
Negative Space in (Forest) Photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/12/negative-space-in-forest-photography Negative Space In (Forest) PhotographyNegative Space In (Forest) PhotographyEven though many forest photographers voice having sky or a lot of negative space in their images, it is a crucially important part of a photograph. Including negative space or choosing to exclude it will have a dramatic impact on the story your pictures will be telling.
This blog post explains more about what to look out for and how to use negative space to your advantage.

Teaching workshops has made something very clear to me: most forest photographers are very, very scared of sky. I myself am very wary of bright patches in moody forest pictures, but it is important to know WHY you should be cautious of it. Forests are dark places and if you are setting out to capture an enclosed, intimate forest scene, one bright patch of sky will be tremendously distracting. It can ruin an otherwise good picture.

In the case of this birch lane I was very careful to exclude the sky surrounding this scene, because I wanted to make this look like an intimate path.

But...this does not mean that sky or other negative space in  forest and tree photography is to be avoided. Without negative space, your subjects would not have a shape. The surrounding area that is not your subject (it could be a blurred background, bokeh, sky, fog, water or a wall) helps define the shapes of your subjects and it will help you achieve a visual rhythm in your pictures. Trying to avoid sky or negative space at all cost can lead to pictures that look a bit claustrophobic with trees that look like they have been awkwardly chopped off. 

In this picture I included negative space because I wanted to emphasise the shapes of the trees. Negative space is the space which envelopes your subject and gives it its shape. Had I framed this tighter, lots of the character of the tree on the right would have been lost.

Now that winter has started, you can see the silhouettes of the trees because of the negative space surrounding it. Large areas of negative space can help make a subject like a tree stand out even more. Remember that a picture is all about the subject and making it stand out and removing all that distracts from what is most important to you in the frame. In some forest pictures opting for hardly any negative space will capture the essence of that scene best of all. In a dense forest one bright spot at the wrong place will ruin your picture. If you are taking a picture of a boulevard or lane lined with trees there is a rhythm of tree, negative space, tree, negative space, tree....almost like the keyboard of a piano. The shapes of the trees are defined by the sky or fog in between them. If you are going for an enclosed feeling, by all means use your telelens and get rid of the empty spaces between the trees, but if you want to emphasise the natural rhythm of this scene, having space in between the trees will definitely be desirable. It is all about what you want to capture in the end. If there is just one bright spot on one side of a path and it breaks up the symmetry.....you need to avoid it. If you have a bright spot in the end of the path, where the eye needs to go, this usually does not distract, but can even make the composition more powerful.

The EssenceThe EssenceA moody misty morning on a forest path Space between the trees to emphasise their shapes and the natural rhythm of the tree trunks and the open space

Tribute To FallTribute To FallSpectacular light conditions when fog and sunlight met up with the brilliant autumn colours of November in this beautiful forest in the Achterhoek, The Netherlands. An avenue lined by oak and beech trees in their most colourful attire. Fine Art Photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com
A similar oak lane picture,but zoomed in tightly, because in this case I wanted the picture to be intimate and all about autumn colours. Bright open spaces would have ruined the story that I wanted to tell in this image...

OaktoberOaktoberAn oak tree in autumn colours on a hazy October morning with sunbeams in the forest in the background. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com
In this case you could argue that the background is the negative space surrounding the main subject which is the red oak tree. Negative space does not have to be empty space, it can be a background that does not distract, but gives a sense of place and enhances the subject. In this case the hazy background contrasts nicely with the dark and colourful oak tree and it ties the scene together...

La Muse VerteLa Muse VerteA mystical and painterly forest scene of mossy beech trees in the mountains of France in the beginning of autumn. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve This is an example of a picture with hardly any negative space at all. I wanted to show the scene as chaotically perfect as it was and opted for this frame, rather than one with negative space (which could have been achieved by choosing a lower F stop and blurring the background in that way)

You might also like these blog posts: The Basics Of Forest Photography , Step Up Your Photography By Capturing Storytelling Images and How To Capture Magical Sun Rays

If you care about the shape of the tree, you need to include negative space, but you need to think carefully about this negative space. The picture is all about your subject and the negative space must enhance it and not distract from it. Let's say you are photographing a mushroom and you have a blurred background, but there is one extremely bright highlight in the background. This will automatically grab the attention. The negative space is not there to grab the attention, it is there to help direct the attention to the subject. Bright spots will always be the first thing a person sees (or contrasting colours). Let's now think about this mushroom again photographed against a bright sky. In this case it is surrounded by one area of brightness that has no shape and it emphasises the shape and colours of the mushroom. In this case it enhances the mushroom instead of distracting from it. 

Season Of Mellow MistsSeason Of Mellow MistsA painterly picture of a birch tree and a path on a glorious misty autumn morning
Fine Art forest photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com
In this picture I opted to include the sky because the pale blue contrasts with the yellow and emphasises the colour of the birch tree. Blue brings out the best of yellow and so this was a very conscious decision.

A rare example of loads of negative space in one of my photographs. In this case I wanted to emphasise the desolate feeling of this bitterly cold morning and a sense of solitude, which was achieved by adding lots of negative space around my main subject; the willow tree

Always ask yourself if your composition will benefit from having more negative space or removing almost every bit of negative space depending on the story you want to tell with the picture. But don't avoid negative space in forest photography at all costs. I would say that winter is the perfect time to think about using negative space more, to show the utter beauty of the tree silhouettes. Don't have your camera hibernate in the upcoming months, see if you can learn to see in negative and positive space (the positive space being your subject) and how one can bring out the best of the other. 

Learn more about capturing the magic of forests and trees in my eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography

Negative Space In (Forest) PhotographyNegative Space In (Forest) PhotographyEven though many forest photographers voice having sky or a lot of negative space in their images, it is a crucially important part of a photograph. Including negative space or choosing to exclude it will have a dramatic impact on the story your pictures will be telling.
This blog post explains more about what to look out for and how to use negative space to your advantage.

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) composition forest photography learn photography photography photography tips storytelling https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/12/negative-space-in-forest-photography Mon, 03 Dec 2018 13:45:25 GMT
The Magic Of The Moment https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/11/the-magic-of-the-moment One of the things that I am asked most often is about my way of working. Many people wonder how there can be room for spontaneity if my pictures are sort of prepared in advance.

Being Prepared To Capture Split Seconds Of MagicThe Magic Of The MomentHow being well prepared as a photographer still leaves plenty of room for spontaneity and dramatically increases your chances of experiencing and capturing magical moments.
Blog post on www.ellenborggreve.com/blog
I think that perhaps there is a misunderstanding that you are either a well prepared photographer or a spontaneous one and I think that one does not exclude the other.  I have been a professional designer/artist for the largest part of my life and this means that I think like a designer. When you design something you can visualise the end product and work your way backward to  the lines on the paper which will make sure that the finished product will look like the one you visualised. You know how to translate your vision into lines, shapes and steps that need to be taken to get to the desired end result.

In my photography I  work very much like this. I scout a lot of locations, those that I like, I will visit again and an image of how I would like a photo to look like, will take shape in my mind. Then I go backwards, thinking of all the elements and steps that would go into a picture like that. I think about when the light would hit the scene just right, when to expect fog or mist, what season would be best (and this is quite important, because the sun will rise in a different spot in  different seasons and this can make a huge difference) and what kind of composition I would need to get it right. I am extremely thorough in these preparations. Most of the time I will know exactly where I need to be to take the picture I would like to take, because I have taken test shots of the location. 

Floating Trees In The MistAfloatFloating trees in autumnal atmosphere in a mere at sunrise. Vosges, France.
Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

This is what happened with the pictures that I took of this lake. I went to this lake numerous times over the past few years, making sure I had not missed any possible points of view that could work. It took quite some time to get the right conditions, but I knew that once the night temperature would be very low and the forecast would say it would warm up quickly, I might have a chance of taking the picture I had been hoping for. And so, a few weeks ago, I was walking around this lake and all of a sudden saw a bit of mist forming and the sun was hitting the tree tops. I ran to the spot where I expected to see the magic happen and it did. At this point I just respond to the moment of magic. I hear and see nothing else than this scene and this is when I start working intuitively. A few days later I had the incredible luck to have something similar happen again. Autumn had transformed the yellows into oranges and I was able to take another picture of this scene.

Autumn HarmonyAutumn HarmonyFloating birch trees in a misty mere (lake) with the light of the rising sun lighting up the autumn colours.
Fine Art Photography in a painterly style by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com
And whilst I was waiting for the magical moment to arrive for the first picture, about an hour before the sunlight lit up the trees, I photographed this scene in shades of pastel...

Below is a picture that I took whilst scouting. This is not a picture that I had had in mind, but I would not have known that this scene would not work for me if I had not taken this picture. It is not a bad picture, but it was not what I was looking for

Fall PaletteFall Palette And this is another picture of the same magical morning of the first picture in this post. I loved how the fog enveloped the trees and to this moment I don't know which of the pictures I took is my favourite

AutumnsphereAutumnsphere So my way of working does not exclude spontaneity, it does not mean I can't enjoy the magic of the moment, but it means that I am prepared to capture the magical moment if and when it happens. If I had not prepared the picture, my chances of actually capturing it, would have been way lower.

You might also like : 

How To Capture Magical Sun Rays

10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of Autumn

Patience Pays Off In Photography

To learn all about capturing the enchantment of the forest in every season I recommend my eBook : The Magic Of Forest Photography

Being Prepared To Capture Split Seconds Of MagicThe Magic Of The MomentHow being well prepared as a photographer still leaves plenty of room for spontaneity and dramatically increases your chances of experiencing and capturing magical moments.
Blog post on www.ellenborggreve.com/blog

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity creativity coaching inspiration learn photography photography photography tips https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/11/the-magic-of-the-moment Mon, 05 Nov 2018 12:47:08 GMT
The Perfectionist Photographer https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/10/the-perfectionist-photographer Many people believe perfectionism to be a very positive trait. People who are perfectionists are perceived as hard workers, as very conscientious and as people who will go the extra mile. The thing is that perfectionism can actually have some dangerous side effects. It leads to all kinds of health issues, burn-outs, depressions, anxiety disorders and the list goes on.

The Perfectionist PhotographerThe Perfectionist PhotographerPerfectionism might not be your best friend as a photographer or creative. It stifles creativity and it even stops you from achieving excellence fast. Attention to detail in photography is highly desirable, trying to avoid all mistakes at all cost though will stop you from growing.

I speak from experience. I have been a perfectionist as long as I can remember. If I was playing the piano as a child, one mistake would make me start over again because I wanted the music to be unblemished and this would result in my starting over and over and over again, hardly ever finishing the entire piece of music. I would feel upset if I coloured outside of the lines, I would start a new school diary if I had scratched in it and I was even hard on myself about my hand writing. This behaviour inevitably lead to me being a perfectionist student and then the perfectionist artist.

Autumn EdenAutumn EdenA path lined by birch trees through the moors of the Veluwe, The Netherlands on a misty autumn morning.

Fine Art Photography in a painterly style inspired by the Old Dutch Masters by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

If you can at all relate, can I ask you if perfectionism has helped you move forward? It is one thing to strive for excellence, but another to keep waiting until the circumstances are perfect, the work is perfect and to destroy everything that is not. There is nothing wrong with striving to master your craft, this I feel is a positive trait. Perfectionism however is not.

Perfectionism stops you in your tracks. "Let's not start this project today, the conditions are not exactly like they should be...", you inner voice will whisper. "I can't make anything good, because I don't have the perfect camera, lens, computer or software", your perfectionist self will say...In short, perfectionism is stifling. It stops creativity from flowing. It stops you from creating at all, it keeps you from moving forward, it keeps you from evolving. Perfectionism is fear that you might fail, that something is not going to live up to your incredibly high standards.

Autumn HarmonyAutumn HarmonyFloating birch trees in a misty mere (lake) with the light of the rising sun lighting up the autumn colours.
Fine Art Photography in a painterly style by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

Perfectionism will not be ok with you learning to do something, it will demand you to be the best immediately. You are not allowed to be a beginner, you are not allowed to make mistakes. 

You might also like the following blog posts:

The Pursuit Of Inspiration

Turn Off The Voice OF Fear Of Failure

The Gap Between Where Your Are And Where You Want To Be

When I realised that perfectionism was not as great as I had made it out to be, I decided to plunge into the unknown realm of making mistakes, just creating for the sake of it, creating even when the conditions were not perfect. This made a huge difference in my life, because when before everything always seemed to be either on halt until everything would be just right or my efforts would feel very forced, now there was a flow in my life. 

I can not honestly say that I am no longer a perfectionist, but I am leaning more towards striving for excellence now, without expecting myself and all the conditions to be entirely perfect before I begin. Before I would go to the same exact spot over and over again until I got the picture just right (resulting in hundreds of pictures that were very similar), now I do everything I can to get it right, but then the result is allowed to be what it is. Yes, this does mean that at times I must live with taking a picture that I don't like very much, but this is ok. I write down what I don't like and build on that experience.

It is said that Claude Monet destroyed many of his paintings because they were not good enough according to his standards. I have been prone to doing this as well. Once I binned a soft sculpture that I had worked on for 48 hours because he looked off to me. My husband rescued him from the bin, locked him away and got him out after a week or so. This piece went on to win me multiple international awards. It is like perfectionism clouds your vision, it will always start to look for what is wrong and never for what is right. It will always find the smallest thing that is off and not the 99 % that is wonderful.

Oak Trees In Autumn LightA Fleeting GlimpseA sunlit forest scene with oak trees and pines in autumn Fine art photography in a painterly style by Ellen Borggreve. www.ellenborggreve.com

In the last few months I struggled slightly with what I thought was starting to look like a lack of inspiration, looking back I can see that it was not. I had inspiration in abundance, but perfectionism had found a clever new way of sneaking in disguised as an artist's block. I knew I was not really blocked, just very tired. I had loads of new ideas, but I thought the execution of them was not up to my standards, which is often the case when you are tired. I had a clear vision of where I wanted to take my photography, but I was not happy with the results and that made me stop in my tracks for a bit. It felt like I was blocked, but it was perfectionism. By writing morning pages every day, I noticed what was going on, I smiled to myself and thought that it really had me fooled and then I started to just create again, knowing where I wanted to go, but accepting that no journey is ever completed without taking steps. A step that is not perfect is so much better than no step at all. Progress is so much more helpful than not taking action. A good enough result is always better than no result. 

Yes, you can still have attention to detail, but you should not get lost in the details and loose sight of the whole picture. You can strive to be your best self, but you must allow yourself to be a student....of photography, of your craft and of life. I find that allowing yourself to always be a student, will lead to better results than demanding perfection from yourself. 

Floating Trees In A French LakeVessels Of DreamsA misty mere at sunrise with trees in autumn colours. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve www.ellenborggreve.com

To me the magical aspect of creativity is the willingness to take inspiration and be the tool through which something comes into being. Perfectionism kills the magic of the process and sometimes it destroys the soul of the resulting work. How much magic do you think is in a picture that I took one hundred times just to get the tiniest detail right? The detail might then be perfect, the soul of the work was crushed in the process. You might think that perfectionism is the way to achieve excellence, I am confident in saying that making mistakes and learning from them leads you to excellence much faster and it will not let you destroy your self-confidence in the process.

(Pictures in this post all taken in the past 3 weeks, prints will become available shortly)

If you are longing to learn more about forest photography, my eBook: The Magic Of Forest Photography might be just what you are looking for. I am also offering in person one-to-one workshops forest photography

The Perfectionist PhotographerThe Perfectionist PhotographerPerfectionism might not be your best friend as a photographer or creative. It stifles creativity and it even stops you from achieving excellence fast. Attention to detail in photography is highly desirable, trying to avoid all mistakes at all cost though will stop you from growing.

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity creativity coaching learn photography photography photography tips https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/10/the-perfectionist-photographer Mon, 29 Oct 2018 13:53:22 GMT
The Key To A Personal Photography Style https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/10/the-key-to-a-personal-photography-style Last week I was going over the pictures I had taken in France and this got me thinking of what exactly it is that is responsible for a personal photography style. This subject just kept popping up in conversations in the days after that and it kept me pondering on what exactly is the most important element of a personal style. The reason why this kept popping up is that I realised that even though I had taken beautiful pictures of a colourful sunrise in the mountains and all the necessary ingredients, that make up a successful picture were there, the pictures were just not "me".

The Key To A Personal Photography StyleThe Key To A Personal Photography StyleWhat is most essential in developing a personal photography style is the choices we make before we take a picture and even more importantly after we have taken it.

www.ellenborggreve.com/blog

Other people, who had been looking at my latest work, said the same thing about one of the pictures in last week's blog post. There was nothing wrong with the picture, but it did not fit in somehow and that is just so very true. I had had the same feelings about this picture, wanted to share the magic of the moment anyhow, but it had not been my kind of magic...

So, the question became....Is the most essential part of my photography style and vision the pictures that I choose to take or....the pictures I choose to share and add to my port folio afterwards? And this is where it became interesting, I am convinced that the pictures I choose to take make up a large part of my vision, but the essential je-ne-sais-quoi that others recognise my work by, comes into being by the choices that I make after I have taken the photos.

OaktoberOaktoberAn oak tree in autumn colours on a hazy October morning with sunbeams in the forest in the background. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com

The thing is that it is hard for a photographer to walk past a magical moment and not take a picture. You try hard to find a composition that tells your story best of all, you do your best to capture the enchantment of that moment, but afterwards, when you have uploaded the pictures to your computer, you might find yourself wondering why exactly you took that picture or that series of pictures. 

In my case I think I was so captivated by what I saw that I simply could not NOT take pictures of this moment of magic, simply because I had never seen anything like it before. In The Netherlands the nights are not as dark and the blue hour is not as indigo coloured as it is in the mountains and with pink fog floating under the mountain tops I was just taken over by the magic of that moment. It was so, so beautiful and I wanted to capture it. And don't get me wrong, I am glad I captured it.....BUT....these pictures now look totally out of place in my Lightroom catalogue. They look like they don't belong there, like they belong in someone else's catalogue. The mood was not mine, the colours were not mine, the subject was not even mine and I don't feel a connection to them now, after the magical moment has passed...

DaydreamerDaydreamerA forest path lined by tall beech trees on a hazy autumn morning in October. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com

So I decided to not add these pictures to my port folio and that I will not be sharing them online. There is nothing wrong with them, but I don't CHOOSE them and this is what I mean when I say that your choices afterwards are an essential ingredient to your style. This choice does not have to be that rational, even though I love to ask myself questions and review my images, but can be of a rather intuitive nature. You just feel that a picture is not you.

Even though I take a picture with my way of looking at the world in mind, I can still take pictures that afterwards feel like they are not "mine". These are the pictures that will not become jumping boards for the development of my photography. They are hidden in my archives and stay there. 

And then there are those pictures that you take and you just immediately know that these are the ones that will set a new and higher standard for your upcoming work. You feel that you have taken THE picture that you are extremely connected to. Strangely enough, I find these images the hardest to share as they somehow have most of my soul, most of what makes up who I am, hidden inside the pixels. They tell more than just my story, they are me disguised as a picture. 

Floating Trees In The MistAfloatFloating trees in autumnal atmosphere in a mere at sunrise. Vosges, France.
Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

Of course I do share these pictures, even though it feels like I am uncovering my soul and these pictures become a new base on which I build my style. This lead me to another interesting question. If I would have the Lightroom Catalogue of another photographer, would I not pick entirely different pictures to share? And yes, this must be the case. So, you see....a personal style is made up of many things....from lens choice, subject matter, time of day, weather conditions, colour palette, composition, likes and dislikes in general and your way of looking at the world and all of this comes together in what I call "your vision" when you take the picture, but even then....you will find you have taken pictures that are not representative of your own style. You create a picture and then you choose it or you don't. This choice determines if you will build upon this picture and it will determine how the viewer will perceive your body of work and your style. 

After this choice comes the post processing and perhaps the reframing (which I hardly ever do). I edit my pictures quite intuitively. I do know what I want a picture to look like when I take the picture, but I feel my way through an edit...If it feels off, I don't rationalise, I accept that it is off and that I need to change it. Something that feels off can never represent me. The choice of the picture in question though is so important to how the outside world will look at our work. Therefore I feel it is an important question to ask yourself when looking at your work : "Is this picture representative of me, my vision and style?" This question comes first. If a picture is technically and compositionally perfect, but it simply does not feel like "you", it should not be in your port folio. 

The crooked pathThe crooked path

This of course does not mean a style can not evolve. The funny thing is that I would not choose pictures for my port folio now that 2 years ago felt like they were totally me. I grew into my style a little bit more with every picture I took, setting new standards with every choice I made, raising my bar so to speak, only comparing to my previous work, not to the photographs of others. So a style does not have to become stagnant, but your intuitive feeling of what pictures represent you must be your guiding light. 

And so this is how a style is developed, created over time, one choice after another. The vision comes first, this is what you need to create a picture that captures how you perceive a moment that enchants or captivates you and then you determine your style by choosing which pictures to build upon, which ones to share, and how to edit them. 

My musings of this week made me even more determined to take new pictures almost every day, to build upon those pictures that I had chosen, to create images that I feel connected to, to bury my soul in pixels.

If you want to keep reading about how to find your personal photography style, you can find inspiring posts here and here

And if you want to learn how to take beautiful forest pictures that capture the magic of these natural fairytales, I can highly recommend my eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography

The Key To A Personal Photography StyleThe Key To A Personal Photography StyleWhat is most essential in developing a personal photography style is the choices we make before we take a picture and even more importantly after we have taken it.

www.ellenborggreve.com/blog

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity coaching inspiration learn photography photography photography tips https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/10/the-key-to-a-personal-photography-style Mon, 22 Oct 2018 13:42:14 GMT
Patience Pays Off In Photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/10/patience-pays-off-in-photography As I am sitting here reflecting on the past few weeks that I got to spend in the mountains in France, I keep thinking about the light and how it affected my work and my work pace. For my forest photography, the conditions were challenging to say the least. The light was harsh and bright, even in the early morning and this made it almost impossible to take the kind of pictures I so love to take. The days that we saw a bit of fog floating over the mountain tops I became rather obsessed and chased the fog for hours only to find it dissipate as soon as I had put my tripod down. The very few times that I managed to catch a minute of fog, adrenalin took over and I worked hastily, because I just knew that the next minute it would be gone. This however is not a recipe for success...

How Patience Is Essential To Taking Better PicturesPatience Pays Off In PhotographyHow being patient is key to improving your photography

www.ellenborggreve.com/blog

 

At one point I got fog and it stayed, but it was not in the place where I could take my kind of pictures and I found myself running around (quite literally) and then all of a sudden observed what I was doing and said: "Stop....slow down....what is it that you want to express in your pictures?" This question made me stop in my tracks and I realised I was chasing fog even when the location was all wrong for my kind of work. I took a deep breath, put my cameras in the bag and decided to go where the fog was not. 

Gates of DawnGates of DawnA painterly scene of an intimate rocky forest path at the beginning of autumn. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

Funnily enough I did get fog when I went out to capture landscape pictures. Not the kind of fog that hangs around in forests (no such luck), but beautiful floating fog beneath the mountain tops. The views were just so spectacular that again I had to slow down, in order for me to stop being too trigger-happy. It was all just so magical and it is very tempting to just keep clicking away, partly out of fear that this magic will not last.

ReveilleReveilleA deep indigo and pink sunrise in the French mountains with a tiny beech tree with behind it a sea of pink coloured clouds mostly covering up the Swiss alps

It always pays off to be patient and to keep in mind what makes up a picture that will feel like it is yours. Sometimes this means putting your camera away and stopping yourself from taking a mediocre shot that will become buried in your Lightroom archives, sometimes it means just taking a breath and walking around until you find the best composition, even if this means you can take less pictures. A full memory card with pictures that you are not proud of is always a worse scenario than a memory card with 10 pictures that you are really proud of.

Birch In Autumn AtmosphereStill October MorningPainterly picture of a birch in the mist and pouring rain on an early October morning. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

With conditions being far from perfect (well they were perfect, but not for my kind of photography), we decided to scout a LOT. We hiked for many hours every day just to see if we could find spots that I could come back to later. I took test pictures, I tried out compositions, I experimented more than I usually would, because I knew that these were all just scouting pictures. These pictures are important, as they prepare me for the next time. I learn from these pictures and they make me grow as a photographer.

La Muse VerteLa Muse VerteA mystical and painterly forest scene of mossy beech trees in the mountains of France in the beginning of autumn. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

In the end I ended up taking pictures in the pouring rain, which to me is the next best thing after fog. I have ziplock bags in my bag at all times and slip them over the cameras and when I take the pictures I wrap the cameras is microfibre cloths to keep them as dry as possible. The pictures I took in the rain were mostly well prepared. I knew the locations well, I had scouted them often in the past few years and I had seen the pictures I wanted to take in my mind's eye years before I was able to take them. Rain however was also a very rare and short-lived thing in our weeks in France and so I came home with less pictures than usual, but a few of those were exactly what I had been hoping to take for years. And this is how patience and perseverance paid off in the end. I would have loved to take more pictures that I am really proud of, but know that I have outgrown many of the pictures that I loved to take less than a year ago and this means that I keep coming home with fewer pictures on my memory cards, but more pictures that I feel connected to. 

AfloatAfloatThe atmosphere of an autumn sunrise over floating birches in a misty mere.
Fine Art Photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

Photography, and nature and landscape photography in particular, is a game of patience and perseverance. It is waiting for nature to line up the conditions in some magical way that tells the story of a spot in the best possible way. It is all about being prepared to capture that moment of enchantment when it happens and being flexible enough to adjust if things don't go as expected.

If you are in need of some autumn photography inspiration, you can find some in this blog post

If you want to know all about the right conditions for forest photography and the very, very wrong ones....when to take pictures in the forest and how, I can highly recommend my new eBook: The Magic Of Forest Photography

How Patience Is Essential To Taking Better PicturesPatience Pays Off In PhotographyHow being patient is key to improving your photography

www.ellenborggreve.com/blog

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) inspiration learn photography photography photography tips storytelling https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/10/patience-pays-off-in-photography Wed, 17 Oct 2018 12:19:31 GMT
The Pursuit Of Inspiration In Photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/the-pursuit-of-inspiration-in-photography Do you ever feel like you somehow lost connection to inspiration? That the times you felt truly inspired feel like distant memories? I think all creatives go through this from time to time and even though I have been a creative professional for well over 21 years and I know how to spot the signs early on, it still creeps up on me if I have been particularly busy.

The Pursuit Of Inspiration In PhotographyThe Pursuit Of Inspiration In PhotographyMost photographers reach a phase of dwindling inspiration. As inspiration is an essential for creatives, it is important to know what to do when you feel the first signs of a loss of inspiration

This time I had been writing for many months and everything felt like it was flowing easily and for that reason it was rather easy to just keep going. I forgot that to restore my inspiration and energy, I do need to take pictures and when I felt my inspiration dwindle a few weeks ago, I took action immediately. The summer had been too warm for me and proved too much for the moorlands as well and so my usual subject for the beginning of September was not as appealing as in previous years and this meant I had taken way less pictures than I usually do. Inspiration however is essential to an artist and so something had to be done....fast...

Pine trees at sunriseIn The Morning LightPine tree forest catching the golden light of sunrise on the Veluwe, The Netherlands

www.ellenborggreve.com/blog
The way I deal with this is that I withdraw from social media for a while, because it adds noise to my mind and this is something that I definitely want to avoid if I want to reconnect to my inspiration. I made myself go out to take pictures even when the conditions were not the ones I prefer. I scouted a lot, visited new locations and photographed things in new ways, with different lenses, in the rain or just waiting for one minute of golden light. In short, I shook things up, stepped out of my routine and let myself just play around without any expectations of taking masterpiece photos. I know from experience that this is key to reconnecting with inspiration; to disconnect from perfectionism.

Within 2 weeks I felt like I was bursting with photographic inspiration again. 

I usually take pictures on my own, I prefer it that way. I can't really create if I am not alone. This is true for most introverts, I believe. But this past Monday I met up with my friend Inge Bovens to photograph together. We had never met in person, so we did not quite know what to expect. It could not have turned out better though (well maybe if it had been super foggy). Not only was it like I had just met a kindred spirit, but I actually loved seeing our different approaches. She responded quickly to a bit of haze, I lingered a bit longer before I set up my tripod, carefully avoiding being in her frame. It made me look even more carefully than usual and this meant that I took a picture that I really like. 

This is that picture

MusingMusingA path lined with ancient oak trees in a forest on the Veluwe, The Netherlands. A painterly autumn woodland scene in the style of the Old Masters. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com

This all lead me to think again about the importance of shaking things up thoroughly if you are to stay inspired. You have to be willing to step out of what feels like routine, perhaps even as a rut and you have to let you of perfectionism. Do things differently, visit different locations or look at familiar spots with new eyes, find new angles, take pictures with a good friend, find a kindred spirit you can talk to about things you feel passionate about, grab another lens....just shake things up on a regular base and you'll see that inspiration will come back to you. 

Read more about ways to stay  inspired in this blog post
 

Did I take lots of picture I liked? No, I did not. I did however take lots of pictures that I can build upon, that I can learn from and one or two might end up in my portfolio. The only point of the past few weeks though was reconnecting to my inspiration and this worked out splendidly. For that reason I will focus entirely on taking pictures for a few weeks and I will be back after that with new inspiring blog posts. 

Autumn FernsAutumn FernsAutumn woodland scene of ferns, trees and wisps of mist and sunlight.

www.ellenborggreve.com/blog
If you want to get lots of forest photography inspiration I can highly recommend my masterclass eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography

The Pursuit Of Inspiration In PhotographyThe Pursuit Of Inspiration In PhotographyMost photographers reach a phase of dwindling inspiration. As inspiration is an essential for creatives, it is important to know what to do when you feel the first signs of a loss of inspiration

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) inspiration learn photography photography photography tips https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/the-pursuit-of-inspiration-in-photography Wed, 26 Sep 2018 13:06:10 GMT
Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of Autumn https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn For many landscape and nature photographers, autumn is their favourite time of the year. The colours are stunning, dewdrops make for magical macro photos, the nights are colder and this increases the chances of fog & sun rays and the light is getting softer and warmer. 

Now that autumn has started it lures photographers back to the forests, waterfalls, landscapes and moors. If you could do with a little autumn inspiration, I have 10 fall photography ideas for you.

Fall Photography:10 ways to capture the magic of autumnFall Photography:10 ways to capture the magic of autumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

1. Fungi! Take pictures of fungi a little bit earlier in autumn when the fallen leaves are not yet hiding them from sight. You can use either a macro lens or a telephoto lens. Try to pay attention to the background. Most of the time it is best to have some distance between the mushroom and the background, so you can throw the background out of focus. Also make sure your mushroom does not merge with another object in the background and make sure you compose in a way that the background does not look chaotic. Choose an aperture that will have your main subject in focus and which is wide enough to blur the background. Of course you can also opt to take picture os mushrooms with a wide angle lens that can focus at close distance. This will then be a picture of a mushroom in its surrounding, but from an unusual viewpoint. This requires a relatively tidy scene though.

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

2. Paths and roads...Paths can look magical in autumn, especially if there are different kinds of trees in one path. I particularly like to take pictures of alleys in this time of the year, because the fallen leaves hide the asphalt and give it a much more natural look.

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

AutumnAutumnThe splendour of autumn in this painterly picture of a forest path on a foggy morning Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

3. Colour Contrast...This is the best time of the year if you like high colour contrast. Red or orange leaves against a blue foggy background, yellow leaves floating in water that looks blue, berries against evergreen colours. Keep in mind that over-exposing washes colours out and slightly under exposing will saturate colours more

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

Land Of DreamsLand Of DreamsThe famous dancing beech trees of the Speulderbos forest in the Netherlands on a foggy morning when autumn met winter
Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

4. Colourful landscapes...Landscapes can turn into colourful quilts in autumn. The warm light around sunrise and sunset makes these colours even richer. If there is a lot of glare after the rain, you can use a polarising filter to get rid of it. This will also saturate the colours more.

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

Shades of Hazy PurpleShades of Hazy PurpleAtmospheric picture of a magical misty sunrise over the blooming moor

www.ellenborggreve.com

5. Fog...The nights are getting colder and this means that the chances for fog are increased. Look for the dew point and humidity levels. When the temperature reaches the dew point during the night and the humidity levels are high, there is a great chance on fog

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

6. Sun Rays...When the trees still have their leaves and the humidity levels are high in the early morning, the sun might form amazing sun rays if you are lucky. Don't give up too soon, sometimes a cloud covers the sun and you could miss out on a wonderful light show if you walk away too soon. Read more about capturing sun rays in this blog post

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

7. Water...Fall colours reflect brilliantly in still lakes; fallen (floating) leaves make great points of interest in waterfall images; leaves in shallow puddles are great abstract subjects...

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

8. Beautiful Light... The light is warmer and softer in this time of the year. Take advantage of the light around sunrise and sunset and look for opportunities to backlight autumn leaves which will make them look like sparkling gemstones. 

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

 

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

9. Stormy skies...Autumn means more storms and this means that you can expect more dramatic skies. If you want to emphasise the drama of the clouds opt for a short shutter speed to freeze the shapes of them. A long shutter speed will take the drama out of it. 

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

10. Dark and moody pictures (spiderwebs, dew drops, dark misty woods) Fog can be incredibly dense in autumn and sometimes it is extremely dark in the forest because of it. These are great conditions for dark and moody pictures. Make sure you use a tripod in the forest, check for wind and adjust your shutter speed and iso accordingly ( if you want to learn all about this, I can highly recommend my Masterclass eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography  ).Usually there is not much wind in dense fog, but I have photographed in dense fog in a mountain forest with a lot of wind and this meant I had to opt for fast shutter speeds and higher iso's that I would usually have opted for. If you want to read more about mood in photography, I can recommend this blog post

Fall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnFall Photography: 10 Ways To Capture The Magic Of AutumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

If you want to learn how to capture the magic of forests in all seasons, check out my beautiful Masterclass eBook The Magic Of Forest Photography

 

Fall Photography:10 ways to capture the magic of autumnFall Photography:10 ways to capture the magic of autumnAutumn is one of the best times in the year for photography. Colourful leaves, magical mushrooms, foggy mornings, sun rays, blooming moorlands, warm light...All of them begging to be captured in enchanting pictures. Here are 10 ways to capture autumn's extravaganza

https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) autumn autumn photography Ellen Borggreve fall fall photography inspiration" learn photography photography photography tips https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/fall-photography-10-ways-to-capture-the-magic-of-autumn Wed, 12 Sep 2018 13:46:55 GMT
Step Up Your Photography By Capturing Storytelling Images https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/step-up-your-photography-by-capturing-storytelling-images Storytelling is inherent to being human. Ever since we started to populate this planet, we told stories. Even before humans were able to speak, people told stories by drawing in caves, later by telling the tales of our ancestors to the next generation, in songs, in writing, in myths, fables and fairytales. Some stories were meant to remember things that were of great relevance, that were part of our history, that were part of our heritage. Stories to teach us right from wrong or to be guides so we knew how to behave and how not to. Other stories were meant to entertain us, to tell to children at bedtime. No matter what kind of stories, they give us some kind of reference, a context. If we don't see a context, a story, we tend to get bored with what we see or hear quite quickly.

Step Up Your Photography By Capturing Storytelling ImagesStep Up Your Photography By Capturing Storytelling Images6 Different kinds of storytelling you can use in your images to step up your photography dramatically
https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/step-up-your-photography-by-capturing-storytelling-images

In photography we have the unique opportunity to capture very short-lived moments or moments that we have preconceived, but they always exist in that short time that our shutter stays open. This is when you need to capture the story you wish to tell in your pictures.

There are different kinds of storytelling in photography. There is storytelling in documentary pictures, in scenic pictures, in emotive images,  in the decisive moment, in preconceived conceptual images and in fine art photos. No matter what kind of pictures you take, make sure you give thought to what you are trying to say with your image.

1. In documentary photography you try to tell the story of a situation or location in the strongest possible way. You try to capture into one image (or a series) what the essence is of that situation or location. This is particularly true of course for sports photography and journalistic photography. A sports photographer will want to capture  the story of an entire game or contest in one picture. This picture is taken in a very short amount of time and you need to be able to preconceive when the elements will line up in a way that tells the story of this situation or location best. 

2. Scenic (landscape and travel) pictures can also be documenting, but in this case you want to ask yourself what the context of your subject is. If you are capturing a mountain scene, what will tell the story of this location best? What elements are essential in this scene? Let's assume you are on a mountain road in Switzerland, you get out of the car, because the view is so spectacular. In the case of you wanting to capture what you see, ask yourself what elements in this scene are essential in telling the story of this spot and your experience of it.

Red SeptemberRed SeptemberBirches on the moors of the Veluwe, Te Netherlands in the autumn of 2018. The drought turned the blueberry bushes into striking red colours whilst there are only paths of lilac heather showing.

Fine Art Photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

3. Emotive pictures tell a different story. Good portrait and wedding photographers are masters at this. I am going to give you an example. Let's say that you are photographing a shy and introverted girl, you would not be telling her story by making her jump in the air with her arms spread out. If you did, you would not have captured the essence of this child and when she grows up and finds this picture she will probably not recognise herself in it. This is something you definitely want to prevent. In the case of emotive pictures your story's source is the essence of the other person or the essence of a relationship between two people (or animals of course)

4. The decisive moment. This is where Henri Cartier-Bresson comes in. He was a brilliant photographer and a master in capturing the moment in which something happened in combination with the right elements (like shapes and lines and light) in a setting that would strengthen the story of what happened. He took pictures with fast shutter speeds, so he could freeze moments in time that were in every single way contributing to the story of the fleeting reality. His pictures told the stories of the essence of that one moment. This takes a great deal of skill, focus and intuition, because you need to anticipate when the moment lines up with the compositional elements of a scene. I can highly recommend looking up his work and thinking of the story of a split second. 

5. Preconceived and conceptual images start their lives in the imagination of the artist. They are built in the mind first and then captured with a camera. These are often pictures that are taken in a studio or a specific (rented) location. This kind of pictures tells the story that the artist wants to tell. For example an artist might want to capture the dark and the light side of human characters and plan a scene with the same person with two totally different expressions and outfits. The image is then built up in the exact way that the artist has preconceived

Moorland Path With BirchesFall ForetellerA enchanting path with birches through the moorland of the Veluwe, The Netherlands at sunrise. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com

6. Non-conceptual fine art pictures that have an artistic vision as their guiding light. In many kinds of photography you are dealing with elements you can't quite control, like in landscape photography for example. If you are a documenting photographer you ask yourself what the essence of the scene is and then you take the picture. In the case of a personal artistic vision being your guiding light, you ask yourself when the location will look the way that matches your vision and style. This is quite often a hit or miss approach, because many times you will find yourself in a location and the situation is not the way you had hoped for and sometimes this means not taking the picture, or trying to match the picture to your vision as good as possible. In this case the question is: How do I want this scene to look, when will it look the way I want it to, what elements do I need to have in this scene so it tells MY story? You see that the difference in documentary pictures and this kind of photography is that the first kind starts with the location and the question what will best convey the story of this location, in the second kind it starts with the photographer and his personal vision.

 

If you want to read more about this last type of storytelling in your photography, I can highly recommend these 4 blog posts: Let Your Photography Tell Your Story Part 1, Let Your Photography Tell Your Story Part 2, Let Your Photography Tell Your Story Part 3 , Let Your Photography Tell Your Story Part 4

 

Moor BirchesMoor BirchesFragile birches in a misty moorland scene. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com

This week I wanted to push myself a bit and try to capture the essence of September, this is also an approach of telling a story, but this falls in the last category. I ask myself what September means to me personally and then try to capture that in conditions that match my style. This September is different though. The moorlands that usually turn a wonderful deep purple suffered tremendously from the drought and the blueberry bushes are red instead of green. This makes the essence of this year's September quite different than I am used to. Not all of the pictures in this post will end up in my portfolio, but I found it a refreshing way to rekindle my inspiration. What is the story you are going to tell with your pictures this week?

PS If you sign up for my newsletter, you receive a free copy of my eBook : Let Your Photography Tell Your Story

Step Up Your Photography By Capturing Storytelling ImagesStep Up Your Photography By Capturing Storytelling ImagesThe different kinds of storytelling you can use to step up your photography dramatically
https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/step-up-your-photography-by-capturing-storytelling-images

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) learn photography photography Photography Tips Photography tutorial storytelling https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/9/step-up-your-photography-by-capturing-storytelling-images Wed, 05 Sep 2018 09:46:47 GMT
How To Capture Magical Sun Rays https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/8/how-to-capture-magical-sun-rays How To Capture Sunbeams In The ForestHow To Capture Magical Sun RaysSun rays make every forest scene looks enchanted and magical. How to photograph these heavenly sunbeams, when to capture them, what lens to use and what conditions to look out for...

www.ellenborggreve.com/blog
Pictures of sun rays always speak to people as they look like they came straight from heaven. The most asked question I get though is how I create these in Photoshop, because many people can't believe they are real. I had trouble understanding how forest pictures with sun rays came about as well, because I thought I had never seen them. Having grown up in the middle of the forest, I know that I must have seen them, but took them for granted or did not register them for one reason or another. After I started photographing in the forest, I found myself hunting for sun rays, because I wanted to experience that magical light show as well. Soon I realised that I just had not seen them very often, because I simply had not been in the forest at the times that they are most likely to occur.

Suivre La LumiereSuivre La LumiereSunlight piercing through the fog on a forest path

www.ellenborggreve.com
AutumnsfereAutumnsfereThe atmosphere of an autumn morning when the light gets filtered through the golden leaves on the trees

www.ellenborggreve.com

So... when can you expect to see rays of sunlight and how do you capture them? If you know when to expect them, you're half way there actually.

1. Check the humidity levels religiously. I have an app called Weather Pro which gives quite a good indication of the humidity levels. Sun rays only appear when the humidity levels are high and the sunlight is being filtered through leaves or branches 

2. Rise early. Humidity levels often drop fast after sunrise and so your best chances on capturing sun rays is early in the morning when the humidity levels are above 90 %

Stream Of DreamsStream Of DreamsDazzling sunbeams in a Dutch forest

www.ellenborggreve.com

3. The best times to capture sun rays is when the trees have leaves, or in a pine forest in the winter. There needs to be something that scatters the sunlight (in a sky you can only see sun rays if they are scattered by clouds). You can only see the sunbeams in one direction,  more or less towards the sun. If you  are facing the other way, you will not see them.

An example of a picture I took with a 24-70 lens to emphasise the sunstar effect.

4. When sun rays appear, you can use a telephoto lens to capture them (trying to move closer won't work, they will appear to evaporate the closer you get). If there are many sun rays and perhaps a sunstar as well, choose the lens that creates the nicest sunstars. Usually you can find this kind of information in lens reviews. In a case like this I always choose my 24-70 lens. A telephoto lens will compress the rays making them more obvious. A wide angle lens (or a phone camera) will not do the best job if you want eye-catching sun rays.

Sunshine ShowerSunshine ShowerDelicate and dazzling rays of sunlight mixed together in the painterly forest path scene

www.ellenborggreve.com

5. Choose a reasonably small aperture (high F number), because the sun rays are not that close to you usually and you need them to be in focus as well as your subject (most of the time trees in the foreground ) and not become blurred out. If you have your lens set to F4 or F2.8, the rays will become very vague.

 

If you want to learn to capture the magic of the forest; the mystical moods, misty paths, enchanting sun rays, the fairytale feel, the colourful seasons and the beautiful silhouettes and see how I edit a foggy forest picture from start to finish....please check out my new master call eBook: The Magic Of Forest Photography. It is available at a special introduction price for a limited time only

Masterclass eBook : The Magic Of Forest PhotographyLearn to capture forests at their finest; capture their mystical moods, misty mornings, fairytale scenes, colourful seasons, magical sun rays, winter stillness and their intrinsic enchantment. Learn to edit by a start to finish tutorial in which I explain the entire edit of a foggy forest picture step by step https://www.ellenborggreve.com/the-magic-of-forest-photography-masterclass

 

How To Capture Magical Sun RaysHow To Capture Magical Sun RaysSun rays make every forest scene looks enchanted and magical. How to photograph these heavenly sunbeams, when to capture them, what lens to use and what conditions to look out for...

www.ellenborggreve.com/blog

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) forest inspiration learn photography photography photography tutorial https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/8/how-to-capture-magical-sun-rays Mon, 27 Aug 2018 10:09:46 GMT
How To Find Your Personal Photography Style https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/8/how-to-find-your-personal-photography-style First of all; what is a photography style? This is the way I define the difference between a vision and a style. Your vision is your personal filter through which you see the world. This filter has been under construction your entire life. The experiences you had, colour the way you see the world. It colours the way you perceive certain circumstances. Let's say that you were a child who loved to swim, you swam in gorgeous spots, your parents took you to the beach and you have such fond memories of this. But what if you almost drowned in the sea at one point and you had dreadful moments in the water. This event will affect the way you look at water. Also, your personality will definitely make up a large part of your filter. If you are the careful and introvert type, perhaps big crashing waves are something you feel less attracted to. If you however are the thrill seeker, you might see a promise of something great in large crashing waves, where the careful type might see danger.

Find your own signature look in photographyFind Your Personal Photography StyleThere are many things you can do to speed up the process of developing a personal photography style. Tips for developing a consistent signature look for your pictures

Your way of seeing the world also greatly relies on your likes and passions. The little things that you really like and have perhaps always liked together, will make up your vision for the largest part. Finding out the reasons behind those likes and passions and connecting the dots will lead to you being able to put your vision into words. This is hugely helpful in then conveying it into something wordless again like photography . (I know this sounds weird, but trust me, it really helps)

A personal style however is the way in which you convey this vision consistently throughout your photography. It is sort of a signature that tells people that it is your picture. A style can consist of several things like a specific point of view (like a super wide angle view of the world), it can even be a specific type of lens (like the Meyer Optik Trioplan lens that creates a soap bubble bokeh), it can be a set of colours or conditions that continuously come back in your work (like a photographer who only photographs in rainy conditions), it can be the type of scene you take pictures of, but usually all of these things are then combined with a unique way of editing that makes this style completely your own. 

A personal editing style comes with time. You try out several things and at one point you will notice that you keep going back to one specific workflow that will make your work look and feel like yours.

So, the first thing you need to do is to find out your unique vision. This lies hidden in your likes and dislikes, your passions and dreams. To give you an example....I have always loved the magical side of nature and this earth. I was totally captivated by minerals, fossils and caves. So, the things I liked were the stones, the colours, the crystals, but the connection with many other of my likes was the magical side of reality. This is how I look at this world. I just love to be enchanted even by the smallest things.

Painterly path through the forestOld RoutePainterly picture of an old road through the forest lined by oak trees. A serene storybook scene of an enchanted path in the mist.
Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

When you find out what your personal vision is, you need to find out what subject matter suits this vision. In my case nature and the forest was an obvious choice. You need to find out what will capture your vision best.

Then before you take the picture you need to stop and ask yourself if you are really taking the picture that you want. What is attracting you to this scene? What is it exactly that you want to capture? Is your point of view the best to capture it? What lens would help you tell your story better? What aperture and shutter speed would help you tell your story? Are these the best conditions for this picture? The best season? What kind of light do you like in this scene?

Whimsical fairytale forest sceneTwists and TurnsAn old forest road with whimsical oak trees on a misty winter morning. Twirling branches and twisted trunks give this path a fairytale appearance. Fine art photography by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com

(why do you think I opted to take this picture in the winter instead of in the summer?)

Let's say that we are looking at the sea and it is quite tumultuous. If you love the drama, you opt for a fast shutter speed to capture the textures of the crashing waves. If you love the sea because it makes you feel calm inside and this is the story you want to tell, you choose a long shutter speed. This is the way you can start taking decisions that will tell your story better & convey your vision more effectively.

You take the picture and perhaps re-take it if you spot an even better way of capturing the scene. Try out different settings to see what works best for you and also take a look at your white balance.  I always try to get my white balance spot on when I take the picture, because I really don't like looking at a picture on the back of my camera in colours that are different than what I am seeing in reality. I can change it later, but then I don't know exactly how it looked anymore and how I wanted it to look.

After you have taken your photos into Photoshop, Lightroom or the editing software of your choice, ask yourself what you like about the image and what you don't like ,write a little review like I talked about in this blog post

When you figure out how you would like your picture to look, you can work your way back in your mind and see the steps you need to take to get a picture to look like it is truly yours. The way this works is like I did with this picture... (this is the unedited raw picture converted to a jpeg)

Develop a personal photography styleForest LaneA before and after of this misty forest lane picture taken in the winter on a very gloomy day.
Besides from the choices you make when capturing the image, the editing decisions and process help determine a personal style in your photography.

The fog was incredibly dense, so I want more contrast. I decide how I want to add contrast (and some ways are way better than others). The dense fog also flattened the scene a bit too much, this means that there is little depth in it and I want to add that back in as well. This has to do with the use of a telephoto lens which compresses the fog a bit more, making it look more dense than it is in reality, which can sometimes be extremely useful (if there is little fog and you want to emphasise it). I also think that the picture now lacks colour a bit too much. Fog is like a grey layer, it adds grey to colours and the more fog, the more muted the colours will become. I know that the colour of the original raw file is not as warm as I like it to be. These decisions are the starting point of my post processing. By having tried a lot of different things, you learn why things work and why other things don't. This is incredibly useful, because when you know why something works, you know when to use it and this will speed up your workflow tremendously and take a lot of trial and error out of the process. I obviously had some dust specks on my sensor that I also had to clean up in Photoshop (sensor dust shows up immensely in very foggy pictures)

Once I have laid my personal preferences over the image in post processing, it now looks more like a picture of mine. If you consistently choose ways of editing that represent your taste and preferences, this will develop into your own style. One extra tip.....wait a little while before you post the picture on social media. Look at it again a few days later and see if you still like it as much. Reviewing really is the best way to speed up the process of developing your own style. 

Develop a personal photography styleForest LaneA before and after of this misty forest lane picture taken in the winter on a very gloomy day.
Besides from the choices you make when capturing the image, the editing decisions and process help determine a personal style in your photography.

PS The entire editing process of the picture above is described in my upcoming photography class (available by the end of this week). 

Finding your own vision and expressing it in pictures that have your name written all over them, is something I deeply care about as it is so incredibly empowering to be able to trust your own way of seeing and make an idea become reality. My class Your Vision, Your Story helps you to create from your own vision with confidence and makes it crystal clear how you can best express yourself in your pictures

Find your own signature look in photographyFind Your Personal Photography StyleThere are many things you can do to speed up the process of developing a personal photography style. Tips for developing a consistent signature look for your pictures

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity creativity coaching inspiration personal photography style photography photography coaching your vision your story https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/8/how-to-find-your-personal-photography-style Mon, 20 Aug 2018 14:01:46 GMT
Are Social Media Destroying Your Self Confidence? https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/8/are-social-media-destroying-your-self-confidence Last week I wrote a post on Instagram about the effects of social media on self confidence. I got so many responses to this that I decided I would write a blog post about this.

It is ever so easy to forget why you joined a thing like Instagram when you're a few weeks in and start seeing the posts of large accounts. You probably joined to share what makes you happy, to share wonderful moments you captured and all of a sudden you feel like you have ended up in a rat race. You see the accounts of people with a large following, in fact you are starting to feel like everyone is more popular than you and very quickly this wish to share your photos ends up becoming a confidence trap.

When social media destroys your self confidence5 ways to stay confident on social mediaDoes being on Instagram sometimes make you feel like you are invisible? Do you feel less than others with large accounts? Does the popularity of others make you feel worthless in comparison or does it make you doubt if your work is any good at all? In this blog post I explain how you can prevent yourself from falling into the social media confidence trap
www.ellenborggreve.com/blog

You start to think your work must not be good enough, or perhaps you are doing something wrong, because feeling invisible can be extremely painful. You start posting more, look at how others are working, start to unconsciously emulate their approach, all to heal this pain of not being worthy or visible.

You have unknowingly started to equal the amount of followers with your value and the value of your work. Your confidence now all of a sudden depends on this amount of followers and this means that you feel worse and worse every day, except perhaps for a few short lived moments when all of a sudden you gain 100 followers over night

Rays of sunshine in the forest pathSunny Summer MorningAn enchanted misty morning on a forest path with rays of sunshine coming through the oak trees. A fine art photography in painterly style by Ellen Borggreve www.ellenborggreve.com

I fell into this trap too a few years ago. I thought my work was worthless if it got so little attention. I thought this needed to be fixed. I started to take social media classes to learn what I was doing "wrong". What I learned though is that in these classes I was taught to be inauthentic. I was taught to post bright and colourful images, pictures needed to be cropped to a 1:1 or 4:5 ratio, they said things about pods (which I have understood to be like voting circles where everyone in it likes the others' pictures) and that you needed to post every day, you could not ever miss a day or it would hugely affect your account and so on. 

I don't know about you, but after a while this started to sound really weird to me. "So, in order for my work to be visible ("popular", I hate this word...) I needed to become someone I was not and create work that I did not like or cut up work that I did like?" That sounds off, doesn't it?

I can't even begin to wrap my head around the concept that success would then mean to be someone I am not, doing things I don't like and destroying work I do like, so I can have more followers. How can I call my life a success if I am trying to be someone I am not? Why would I even have been created to be unique if this is the purpose?

Soft VisionSoft VisionA very foggy morning in a forest in The Netherlands. A path lines by characteristic oak trees looking painterly in the fog and light of sunrise. A fine art photograph by Ellen Borggreve
www.ellenborggreve.com

Of course this is not the purpose of your life or why you started sharing work on Instagram. You started sharing your work, because you love photography, you have captured moments that mean something to you in a way that captured a bit of your soul. And comparison then started to take you away from your source and the lack of self confidence started to crush your soul.

The keys to staying confident on social media even if you have less followers than those you admire, are these:

1. Ask yourself why you are on social media in the first place? Was this meant to become a competition that you can not get out of? What do you think is so important about being more popular? (Believe me, it is not worth sacrificing your sanity over)

2. Remember that what makes you different from others, also those that you admire so much, is actually your strength and not your weakness. What makes you unique is the source of your greatness. It is your unique qualities that you need to build upon. Trying to be more like others is like you are denying that you are just as valuable. 

3. Ask yourself if a huge following is more important than having the RIGHT following. The RIGHT people are those that are attracted to the you-ness in your work. If you show up authentically, if you put yourself into your photography, the people that will be attracted to it, will be those that belong to your "tribe". These will be people that you will be able to really connect with. You see, a huge following is certainly not the same as being successful. There are businesses that are hugely successful on Instagram who don't have that many followers, but because they deliver unique content that speaks to their audience on a deep level, they are very successful. 

Be true to who you are on your social mediaBe True To You In Your Social Media PresenceBe true to who you are on social media and you will attract people who connect you the your uniqueness in your photography. Attract the right people to you instead of focussing on attracting a large amount of people.

4. Be true to the followers you already have, those who love your work. They look at your work because it makes them feel better, because your photo has sparked something inside of them. Don't be so busy chasing new followers that you forget to connect to the loyal followers that love everything you do. Be grateful for what you already have.

5. Remember that being popular on social media can also be someone's strength. Just like the most popular kid in high school, someone can just hit the right nerve or is possibly of the same age group as the majority of the active members of something like Instagram and knows how to address that majority. This can be a strength. If this is yours, yes....go for it....build on it, but I don't think you would be reading this blog post if this is you. If you are more introverted, your strength might not be "being popular", but you have other strengths that will possibly give you a more connected following, people who really care about what you do and this is actually the only group of people you should care about.

Smiling TreeSmiling TreeAn enchanted path with a smiling tree in the dark magical foggy Speulderbos, the forest of the dancing trees in the Netherlands. A painterly fine art photograph by Ellen Borggreve

www.ellenborggreve.com

What you think makes you vulnerable (not being like the others) is actually the greatest source of power that you have. Continue to put you into your photography and your connections on social media will become more true as well. Be proud of what makes you unique instead of feeling bad that you're not like the others. Work from your own unique vision and then....quite magically followers will show up and they will be the right ones.

Needless to say that I have not taken the advice that I was given in these social media classes. I post many pictures that are considered the wrong dimensions, I post long captions (which you are also not supposed to do if you want to be popular), I stuck with my darker photography style (because this is what makes my work mine) and I have also not started cutting up pictures. I decided to do the opposite, become even more dedicated to following my own vision and make it work in spite of that. And this worked. This strengthened my belief in myself tremendously. I believe more than ever that you are not only allowed to be yourself, but it is your calling to be true to yourself and what makes you unique

I can help you confidently create pictures from your unique vision in my eCourse Your Vision Your Story. Sign ups will close on August 31st 2018

When social media destroys your self confidence5 ways to stay confident on social mediaDoes being on Instagram sometimes make you feel like you are invisible? Do you feel less than others with large accounts? Does the popularity of others make you feel worthless in comparison or does it make you doubt if your work is any good at all? In this blog post I explain how you can prevent yourself from falling into the social media confidence trap
www.ellenborggreve.com/blog

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) coaching creativity motivation photography social media https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/8/are-social-media-destroying-your-self-confidence Mon, 13 Aug 2018 14:16:49 GMT
How To Create A Colour Mood Board To Help You Discover Your Personal Photography Style https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/8/how-to-create-a-colour-moodboard-to-help-you-discover-your-personal-photography-style I am passionate about creating from your deepest self, working from your own vision and to find all the right elements that help you translate your way of looking at the world into strong story-telling pictures.

I wrote an entire class about it....Your Vision Your Story

As colour is such an essential ingredient to a personal style and it can make or break your story, I thought I'd explain a bit more about how to find out what your personal colour palette is. 

How to make a colour palette moodboard to help you develop your own personal photography styleHow to make a colour palette moodboard to help you develop your own personal photography styleHow to easily create a personal colour palette mood board in Photoshop that can help you develop your own personal style and be the foundation for a more cohesive portfolio. A great Photoshop trick to find out exactly what colours your like fast.

I used Photoshop for this tutorial and I have taken screenshots to help you get the same kind of result

First of all, I go to my portfolio and choose the picture that I feel conveys my vision better than any other picture (this time mostly concentrating on colour of course). In my case this picture is 2048 pixels wide.

Painterly photo of tree lined path on the VeluweInfiniteVery painterly scene of foggy forest path lined with oak trees www.ellenborggreve.com This is the picture I chose for this tutorial. First I open this picture up in Photoshop and then I create a new document under file-> new
A new window will open and you can see I made a document that is 3000 pixels wide and 2000 pixels high. I changed the background colour to colour code 353535. The orientation of this file is horizontal as you can see. Click on Create

How Being Consistent With Colours Is Essential For A Personal Photography StyleHow Being Consistent With Colours Is Essential For A Personal Photography StyleHow being consistent in the use of your colours is essential to creating your own style in photography. The importance of colour for conveying your own story and having a consistent looking port folio is massively important. It will make your Instagram gallery pleasing to look at and will make your work look like it is all from the same artist Next we are going to move our photo into the document. I select the rectangular marquee tool and then right click on the photo, I select duplicate layer and then I change the destination document to my new untitled-1 document. Press OK How Being Consistent With Colours Is Essential For A Personal Photography StyleHow Being Consistent With Colours Is Essential For A Personal Photography StyleHow being consistent in the use of your colours is essential to creating your own style in photography. The importance of colour for conveying your own story and having a consistent looking port folio is massively important. It will make your Instagram gallery pleasing to look at and will make your work look like it is all from the same artist Now that the picture is on the grey background (You could of course also choose white, it depends on your preference and the type of pictures you are taking), we can start making a moodboard

How Being Consistent With Colours Is Essential For A Personal Photography StyleHow Being Consistent With Colours Is Essential For A Personal Photography StyleHow being consistent in the use of your colours is essential to creating your own style in photography. The importance of colour for conveying your own story and having a consistent looking port folio is massively important. It will make your Instagram gallery pleasing to look at and will make your work look like it is all from the same artist

It is a lot of fun and not as hard as you would think. First (and this is really important, so please don't forget this otherwise you can't align your swatches later), is create a new layer (Layer->New-> Layer or simply by clicking on the icon on the bottom right of my screen next to the trash can or by typing the shortcut ctrl+shift+N and cmd+shift+N on a Mac 

Now select the rectangular marquee tool whilst having the new layer selected and draw out a small rectangle under the picture. Whilst the selection is active go to your paint bucket tool, change the foreground colour on the bottom left to white and then click on the rectangle to fill it with white.

How Being Consistent With Colours Is Essential For A Personal Photography StyleHow Being Consistent With Colours Is Essential For A Personal Photography StyleHow being consistent in the use of your colours is essential to creating your own style in photography. The importance of colour for conveying your own story and having a consistent looking port folio is massively important. It will make your Instagram gallery pleasing to look at and will make your work look like it is all from the same artist Now you need to duplicate this layer as many times as the amount of swatches you would like to have. To duplicate the layer you can use the short cut Cmd+J (which is what I always do) or on Windows Ctrl+J.

Select the move tool and select the second layer, move the rectangle to the right and Photoshop will align it. The select the third layer, move the rectangle to the right next to the one you did before and so on until you have all your white rectangles under your picture. Don't forget to select the correct layer when moving it. Photoshop does a brilliant job aligning the rectangles (at least it does in my version of Photoshop)

How Being Consistent With Colours Is Essential For A Personal Photography StyleHow Being Consistent With Colours Is Essential For A Personal Photography StyleHow being consistent in the use of your colours is essential to creating your own style in photography. The importance of colour for conveying your own story and having a consistent looking port folio is massively important. It will make your Instagram gallery pleasing to look at and will make your work look like it is all from the same artist Here you can see all my little white rectangles. Switch from the move tool to the paint bucket tool and then click on the foreground colour in your tool panel on the left of your screen (a few steps down from the paint bucket tool). Click on the foreground colour and then hover over your picture to sample the first colour that you would like to have in your swatches. I chose the darkest shadow of the tree trunks. Then with the paint bucket tool still active and with the first rectangle layer selected click the paint bucket on the rectangle and voila...your first colour swatch is there. Repeat the procedure for every single layer and keep sampling different colours in your picture

You should end up with a nice colour swatch board like this

How Being Consistent With Colours Is Essential For A Personal Photography StyleHow Being Consistent With Colours Is Essential For A Personal Photography StyleHow being consistent in the use of your colours is essential to creating your own style in photography. The importance of colour for conveying your own story and having a consistent looking portfolio is massively important. It will make your Instagram gallery pleasing to look at and will make your work look like it is all from the same artist After I was done with the swatches, I added my logo as you can see and made a new text layer on top using one of the sampled colours for the text.

I then clicked file-> export->Save For Web (legacy) and saved this as a high quality jpeg file. And this is what I ended up with.

Now that you have this colour swatch board of the picture from your own port folio that matches your vision best, you can start to examine the colours more closely. As you can see I have a tendency to like earthy tones and muted colours...muted colours are colours that are not fully saturated, they have a bit of grey in them). 

What is equally important in this picture is the absence of some colours, which are bright primary colours, but I also tend to avoid cyan and magenta. Whenever I use these hues, I just don't feel happy with the results. 

This is a really fun and helpful way of discovering your favoured colour palette, which is such a key element in discovering your own vision and developing your own style

My colour palette will be different from yours and might even be massively different, but what matters is that you find out which colours convey your vision and the story you want to tell in your photography best. If you are a wedding photographer, these will probably not be your colours, but even in wedding a photography a certain type of toning used consistently will make you stand out from the rest

I would love to know what you discovered through this exercise. Tell me all about your colour palette in the comments below

If you consistently use the same type of colours, your port folio will look more cohesive, it will look like thought has gone into it and that there is a purpose behind it. 

If you want to discover your own vision, develop your own style and find out what story telling elements will help your convey your story, you can learn this in my upcoming class : Your Vision Your Story

To receive tips, tricks and inspiration and  in your email box + the FREE eBook Let Your Photography Tell Your Story, please sign up to my newsletter 

How to make a colour palette moodboard to help you develop your own personal photography styleHow to make a colour palette moodboard to help you develop your own personal photography styleHow to easily create a beautiful personal colour palette mood board in Photoshop CC 2018 that will help you develop your own personal photography style and be the foundation for a cohesive portfolio. A great Photoshop tutorial to find out exactly what colours you like fast

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity creativity coaching inspiration photography photography coaching photoshop tutorial https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/8/how-to-create-a-colour-moodboard-to-help-you-discover-your-personal-photography-style Mon, 06 Aug 2018 11:20:02 GMT
How Reviewing Your Pictures Can Greatly Improve Your Photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/7/how-reviewing-your-pictures-can-greatly-improve-your-photography One thing I recommend in my eCourse Your Vision Your Story is that you regularly review your own work and do so thoroughly. I have done this all my artistic life. In fact I have large folders with review sheets in them for my pictures and the art I used to make. I think this is such a crucial element in staying true to your own vision and to improve your work, that I plan days where I do little else than write out review sheets. 

how to stay true to your own unique photography visionHow reviewing your pictures can greatly improve your photographyIf you don't review your own photography you'll be lead by what other people think and what they like best. Always ask yourself what you like best about your pictures, what you feel about them and always only have your own vision as your guiding light.
www.ellenborggreve.com/blog

These reviews help me stay on track, because they let me focus on what I value in a picture. If you don't don this, it is so easy to loose your way, because then you might just take the popularity of your pictures on social media as a guiding light for your work and before you know it, you get further and further away from your own unique vision. I really think it is very risky to just look at the likes you get on your pictures and put value on this. 

These numbers are just statistics. If you start putting too much value on this and make these numbers your guiding light, you will most definitely leave the path you thought you were on. Art is not a popularity contest, art is about expressing yourself in a unique way and so the only guiding light you should have in your photography is what you dream of creating; to follow the star of your own vision.

InfiniteInfiniteVery painterly scene of foggy forest path lined with oak trees

www.ellenborggreve.com

So, let's take a look at how I review my work

1. I go through my port folio in Lightroom or in the Finder of my computer and start labelling my pictures with 3 colours.

Red for pictures that I really don't feel connected to (I am not saying they are bad, I just don't feel they represent my vision)

Orange for pictures that for some reason or another did not work after I edited them, pictures that are a little off

Green for pictures that absolutely match my vision and that are a good foundation to build upon

how to stay true to your own unique photography visionHow reviewing your pictures can greatly improve your photographyIf you don't review your own photography you'll be lead by what other people think and what they like best. Always ask yourself what you like best about your pictures, what you feel about them and always only have your own vision as your guiding light.
www.ellenborggreve.com/blog
Yes, your favourite picture might the one I labelled red or orange, but this does not matter. You might hate the picture that I labelled green and that does not matter either. What matters is that I feel that the picture I labelled red least conveys my vision and the one I labelled green most conveys my vision. 

Just for the fun of it, I'll show you three more

how to stay true to your own unique photography visionHow reviewing your pictures can greatly improve your photographyIf you don't review your own photography you'll be lead by what other people think and what they like best. Always ask yourself what you like best about your pictures, what you feel about them and always only have your own vision as your guiding light.
www.ellenborggreve.com/blog
Now, the pictures that I labelled green are not necessarily the ones that were most popular on social media. In fact, I can tell you that 90 percent of the pictures I labelled red were most popular on Instagram and the same amount of the pictures I labelled green were the least popular on Instagram and other social media. Do I care about this? No, I really can't say I do. 

One Instagram guru told me that I should have all my pictures bright and with warm and bright (read primary) colours. This had proven to be most popular on Instagram. Why in the world would I want to make my pictures look like this if this is not how I see the world? If this is how you see the world, you should most definitely go for it, but I refuse to post pictures to become popular and then hate my own work

So, the value of my pictures can not be found in the statistics, they can be found in my own reviews. I am very, very picky when it comes to my own work and write reviews in detail. I don't just make a list that states what I like and what I don't like. I write down why I don't like it. The why is always more important than the what. 

The BirchesThe BirchesAn idyllic path with birch trees on a foggy summer morning. A painterly forest scene with the atmosphere of paintings form the romantic era

www.ellenborggreve.com

Shall I give you an example? Let's say that I write down that from the three pictures above I don't like the greenish editing of the picture in the middle. This would lead me to be very wary of green or turquoise in the future. What is way more important is why I don't like this colour. I don't like it, because these tones don't feel idyllic to me. You see, the painterly and idyllic feel is very important to me and many more tones and colours than just the greenish hue in this picture might have a negative effect on an idyllic and painterly atmosphere. Again, this is very personal and you might think tones like these are idyllic, but to me, they are not. 

Colour is of course just one of the elements I look at. I look at every picture in detail, but always start with how this picture feels to me. If the technical and compositional parts are all ok, I can still not like it at all. 

So, I do the labelling strictly on gut feeling and then I review the pictures separately, but I also place similar ones together and ask myself why I don't like one and I do like the other, like with the three pictures of the paths above. Fact is my friends,  that the one labeled red was very popular. It turned out it reminded many people of Game of Thrones, which I had to look up on the internet as I did not have a clue what that was. As this is a popular TV series, it was only logical that the picture was popular with a larger group of people as well.

My reviews are therefore the most important part of my photography. They really are. I build on the greens, I work on the oranges and I try to prevent taking pictures like the reds. If I can't make the oranges work (this is turning into a fruit and vegetable post now), I will label them red. The most important part of me improving as a photographer is not done in the field, but at home with my sheets and labels. This is what lays the foundation, this is what makes my vision clearer every single time that I review my work. I can highly recommend you doing the same for your pictures.

Next time I'll give you a quick tip to help you find out which colours and tones you have in your pictures

I explain the reviewing of your own work in more detail and with worksheets in my class Your Vision Your Story

PS....If you would like to see how the review sheets work, I have one in my FREE mini class Capturing Your Impression

how to stay true to your own unique photography visionHow reviewing your pictures can greatly improve your photographyIf you don't review your own photography you'll be lead by what other people think and what they like best. Always ask yourself what you like best about your pictures, what you feel about them and always only have your own vision as your guiding light.
www.ellenborggreve.com/blog

Stay inspired and never miss a blog post....Sign up for my newsletter

 

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) inspiration learn photography motivation photography photography coaching photography e-course your vision your story https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/7/how-reviewing-your-pictures-can-greatly-improve-your-photography Mon, 30 Jul 2018 11:40:31 GMT
Turn Off The Voice Of Fear Of Failure https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/7/turn-off-the-voice-of-fear-of-failure how being devoted to creating can help keep fear of failure at bayTurn Fear Of Failure Into Being UnstoppableCreativity comes with fear for most of us; the fear of failure. This is no different for photographers. Often we stay well within what we consider safe, because our fear tells us that we will not eb able to do thing we want to do. This fear is normal, but you do need to realise what it does. It will put the brakes on most of the ideas that you are so generously given. It will only ever brake. You need to become devoted to trying instead to be a bee to move forward, because moving forward is succeeding. www.ellenborggreve.com/blog

Creating has always been an act of enchantment to me. As long as I can remember I have loved the thrill of bringing something into being that did not exist before. I marvel at the potential of us humans to create. I can spend countless hours just ravished by what artisans and artists are able to do. I know it is not just talent, this would be too easy. It is devotion that makes things happen. Without devotion, most people would never come past their fear of failure.

I just simply love the process of bringing something into being

I have been devoted to creating for so many years I can't even remember when it really started. I just simply love the process of bringing something into being, it is exhilarating. All my life though, the fear of failure has also been devoted to me and these two have often been at war with each other. As creating is always, always treading on unknown grounds. There is always a degree of fear involved in doing something that you have not done before, except maybe in some very super confident people, but let's for now assume that we are not all like that. 

Trees standing on drifting sand in the soft morning light on the Veluwe, The Netherlands. Sandy Trees At SunriseBeautiful soft morning light over drifting sand. A scene of stillness and serenity www.ellenborggreve.com

In recent years I have learned to live with this fear of failure, I know it is there and won't let it tell me what I need to do next. I know it will always only tell me to stop and not go forward and this is just a bit too boring for me. What is fear of failure anyway? Are you scared of not being able to do something at all? Or are you scared of not being able to do it as well as you require of yourself? I think that the latter is why most of us decide to not take the risk, to not take the leap....because we are scared that we will not live up to our own standards.

Continue reading about your comfort zone in this blog post: Is your comfort zone getting uncomfortably small?

So, the problem is in the standards. If you have decided that for you to succeed at something, you must have a certain level of magnificence in your work, you will be stopped by your fear a lot. 

A tree standing next to a pond at a misty sunrise over the purple moor of the Posbank, The NetherlandsDreamy MoorA tree next to a small pond on the purple moor of the Posbank, The Netherlands on a beautiful dream-like morning with layers of fog and colour. www.ellenborggreve.com

Fact is that you succeed by taking one step and then the next. You succeed only if you try. Yes and you might "fail", but you have to be devoted enough to creating itself to just stand up again and try again. This is how you learned everything you can do now. Imagine what would have happened if you had looked at a top notch gymnast before you had learned to walk and thought...if I can't do that within a week, I might just as well not try this walking thing at all. As a toddler, when you needed to learn almost everything, including how you could put food in your mouth and not over your entire face, you did not have standards. You simply tried to walk, would fall, stand up, fall and stand up, but you did it. You managed to learn how to walk. 

I regard the voice of curiosity my leading light and my fear of failure the brake, which keeps on braking

At this moment my creativity is a bit restless. I know what it is trying to tell me. I have been feeling uneasy about some of my previous work for a while, because there is a new direction that is calling me. At first it was just an uneasy feeling, I could not define what it was that was causing this. Now that I know, my fear too decided to turn up the volume and tell me that I should not do this. I choose to ignore it, I regard the voice of curiosity my leading light and my fear of failure the brake, which keeps on braking. I know that this is the only thing it likes to do....brake. 

And the more invested you are in an idea, the closer it is to your heart, the harder fear of failure will put on the brakes. And the longer you drag your feet, the more you start believing what fear of failure has to say. It is always best to take one step as soon as you can, so you can start moving forward. Remember that without trying there will be no succeeding. 

Being creative means being courageous, standing up to the fear and tell it that it is not helping. Realising that succeeding has its roots in trying, in trial and error, not in putting up high standards before you have even started. It has its roots in devotion to trying again and again, in always standing up after you fall and in determination to somehow make it work your way. 

Tell me what YOU do to move past fear off failure, what you do to make sure you keep moving forward...Leave a comment below

Stay inspired and motivated by signing up to my newsletter and receiving nuggets of inspiration, tips and tricks delivered right to your email inbox
Sign up to my newsletter

how being devoted to creating can help keep fear of failure at bayTurn Fear Of Failure Into Being UnstoppableCreativity comes with fear for most of us; the fear of failure. This is no different for photographers. Often we stay well within what we consider safe, because our fear tells us that we will not eb able to do thing we want to do. This fear is normal, but you do need to realise what it does. It will put the brakes on most of the ideas that you are so generously given. It will only ever brake. You need to become devoted to trying instead to be a bee to move forward, because moving forward is succeeding. www.ellenborggreve.com/blog

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity creativity coaching fear of failure inspiration mindset motivation photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/7/turn-off-the-voice-of-fear-of-failure Mon, 23 Jul 2018 10:15:27 GMT
5 Ways To Stay Inspired And Stop Sensory Overwhelm https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/7/5-ways-to-stay-inspired-and-stop-sensory-overwhelm You have probably read these words from me before, but if you are a creative, your inspiration is a priority. We know that in order for us to create, we need inspiration, but we do very little to keep ourselves receptive to inspiration. We seek it out there, but what is out there, what can spark your inspiration, is not what inspiration is. That is only part of the process and it is not even the most important part.

Let me explain. In order for you to create, you need to feel inspired, right? There needs to be that sort of inner ignition that makes you want to create something. Very often we think that we need to seek inspiration, it is out there and it needs to come to us. We travel to bucket list locations, we stand on mountains at sunrise, we scroll and scroll and scroll through our social media feeds and the more uninspired we feel, the harder we try to find it.

The thing is that inspiration actually lives inside of you. It is the part of you that is receptive to little sparks and the more susceptible you are, the smaller the sparks can be to ignite your creativity. Visual stimuli are everywhere after all and not everyone feels inspired to create after seeing them. This means that the incitements are there....always....but your receptivity to them is what cause you to feel less inspired.

5 Ways to make sure you stay inspired and stops overwhelmI dream my painting and then I paint my dream ~Vincent Van Gogh

So, it is your wavelength that you need to take care of first and foremost. If you overload your senses by looking for inspiration in a forced kind of way, you actually diminish your receptivity to them even further. You sort of become numb to all the little things that could spark new ideas.

These days it is oh so easy to get an overload of stimuli. You wake up in the early morning all inspired, you grab your phone and after half an hour of scrolling on your favourite social media or reading through your emails, you feel totally numb or your brain feels like it has just fragmented all those wonderful ideas into tiny little segments. Often you don't even feel so great anymore after starting your day like this. Overwhelm and sensory overload is killing for your opens to new ideas. It is not the sparks that are missing, it is your ability to receive and translate it into new ideas that is absent.

So, what to do to stay inspired?

1. If you want to be creative, don't grab your iPhone or other device first thing in the morning, otherwise what you read and what you see will determine your day. Just start your day doing what you really want to do FIRST and don't let the lives of thousands of others determine your sentiment of the day. I don't know about you, but often after scrolling for a few minutes I just go numb and even the most beautiful pictures look boring after that. It is like nothing can excite me anymore. So....limit the use of your device so you can re-connect to yourself...

2. Write pages in a journal in a stream of consciousness kind of way. This means you simply write what comes to mind, but you keep writing for a set amount of time or you write a set amount of pages. I have been writing 3 A4 pages every single day for at least 20 years. It gets all the thoughts out and onto the paper, which leads to a clearer mind. Everything that it was thinking about and tried to remember is now on the paper, so the channels through which you can receive sparks are no longer clogged up. I use the method of Julia Cameron (Morning Pages) as described in her book The Artist's Way

5 ways to stay inspired and prevent overwhelmOld DutchPainterly forest scene conveying stillness and serenity

3. You might not want to hear this, but you need time to be alone....It is very hard to maintain a high level of receptivity when you are constantly surrounded by other people. This again makes your mind become reactive and agitated and an agitated mind is not good at coming up with ideas. I actually need a lot of time on my own, otherwise I loose touch with my creativity completely. Often after holidays I would be totally unable to create for weeks

4. I am not sure how this is going to go down with you, but walking helps. Yes....walking. If I feel overwhelmed, especially after I have been to a party, watched a little too much tv, spent too much time scrolling on Instagram, I really need to take a walk....on my own or with my dog. As long as your dog does not engage with you in a conversation, this should be fine. I know that I need a good 20 minutes for the mind to become still and to notice the surroundings again. And so I walk, I breathe in the fresh air and start noticing the little magical things that surround me. 

5. Find activities that make your mind go still. These are usually those things that require your full attention, that make you loose track of time. For me this is art journaling, drawing or baking. If I am busy creating a page in my art journal, all the thoughts, that occupied my mind, simply stop. It could be gardening for you, meditation, horseback riding, cooking or even driving. I often go out for a drive when I feel like my mind is becoming a bit chaotic. I also go to exhibitions and museums, but I take care to really take my time and look at everything closely. After all the artist took a long time making it and looking at paintings with my full attention makes my mind go still. It is a slower kind of stimulating your senses than scrolling on the internet and it stays with you longer.

So the trick here is to actively seek out stillness so your mind becomes clear and can actually receive the little sparks that are all around us. It really is never the problem that there are no ideas out there. It is always a case of not being able to receive and translate them into ideas. Think of it like this ; inspiration works like a two way channel. If you clog it up by too many thoughts, sparks can not get to you. If you clog it up with sensory overload, no idea can come out of you. If you keep the channel clean, inspiration can flow more easily and you'll be getting ideas from the most unlikely things.

Another way to stay inspired is to join my newsletter and get my inspiring words delivered right into your email box. This way you won't miss any of my posts and you will also get the free eBook

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity creativity coaching inspiration mindset motivation photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/7/5-ways-to-stay-inspired-and-stop-sensory-overwhelm Mon, 16 Jul 2018 09:08:19 GMT
5 Tricks To Help You Stay On Your Own Creative Track https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/7/5-tricks-to-help-you-stay-on-your-own-creative-track Even for artists who know what their vision is and how to express it in their art, these can be trying times. In the old days you would take a picture, make a work of art and would only get a handful of comments. These days, you can get a hundred, if you choose to share your work on social media. Those comments might have an effect on your work, because what if you made something that the majority of people who commented did not like? This could easily lead to making adaptations so that more people will like it. You could also take this as a sign that you are indeed making something unique and that it is perfectly fine if the majority of people did not understand it. 

The other hazard of these times is that we artists are easily visually stimulated and we thrive on visual stimulation, but there is such a thing as overload. If you see hundreds of photos per day, your senses will become overstimulated and this will lead to chaos in your head. That alone could be the cause of you losing your connection to your own style, but if you keep stuffing images into your mind, your work might simply go into the direction of what it sees most often, as the mind is very fond of doing stuff that it recognises and considers safe. 

An inspired, authentic and creative approach to photography. www.ellenborggreve.comSilence

Creating from your own unique vision requires courage and determination, it is also fun and exhilarating. As soon as you work from your own vision, you find such abundance in your own source. You realise that you don't need to see the work of others, you don't need to see examples, your source is overflowing. I can assure you that it is....Even if you think it is not, because you feel cut off from inspiration, your source is still full, you just have trouble reaching it.

These are the 5 things I do to make sure I don't stray from my vision

An inspired, authentic and creative approach to photography. www.ellenborggreve.comSuivre La Lumiere

1. I make inspiration a priority. It IS a priority if you are an artist. If you keep working and working and working without taking time to rest and play, you will eventually be cut off from inspiration and feel like there is nothing left for you. Have a list ready of things that usually help you feel inspired and do these things on a regular base. I had to make a list, because I love making lists and I was one of those people who worked 80 hour weeks and then burnt out completely. On my list are things like: Go to an art museum, take a walk in a forest, go somewhere where I have not been before, create in my art journal, read a book (and for me it needs to be a paper book), read blog posts of my favourite artists, read artist biographies etc.

2. I choose whose advice I wish to listen to. I wrote about this in my last blog post. I have learned to accept that not everyone will like what I do and some people will never understand. In the past the opinions of others would make me go around in circles, which cost me an incredible amount of energy and it would not get me anywhere. My path is mine, it leads somewhere and I can not make u-turns every time someone does not like what I am doing. I understand that they have another unique way of seeing things and that for that reason they have no view on my path

An inspired, authentic and creative approach to photography. www.ellenborggreve.com

3. I always review my own work...I make prints of them, I stick them into my visual journal as I call it and I compare them against the key elements that my vision consists of. I do this all the time, because I want to make sure I am following my own direction. I jot down notes besides the photos to clarify what is working and what is not. This never means that my vision is stagnant, my vision is a path, it is not a destination that I arrived at and never leave. I change and so does my vision, even though most of it has been the same for over 40 years or so as I can trace back the crumbles of it right back to my childhood. I have a list of all the key elements that I consider to be essential ingredients to my vision and I always have it next to my journal so I can make sure I stay on track.

4. I follow my curiosity. Curiosity is a sign post on my path, I follow this, because there must be a reason why something intrigues me. If it intrigues me, it connects to something inside of me and so I trust curiosity for lighting the way for my creativity. I love those little "what if" thoughts that pop up in my mind out of nowhere saying : "I wonder what would happen if I changed this or that? I wonder what would happen if I tried this?" Sometimes curiosity has to scream a bit louder to get me to hear its call, but I listen. Sometimes, I have to be honest, I say to inspiration and curiosity to take a nap, because I am tired and can't have them talking to me all night. They tend to do that....they always like to come out to play when I want to sleep. 

An inspired, authentic and creative approach to photography. www.ellenborggreve.com

5. I shield myself off from becoming overly exposed to other people's work. I know that my mind will get into "chaos mode" when I see too many things in too little time. My brain does not cope with this very well and certainly has trouble staying focussed if I see too many things from others. What I'd rather do is look at work from artists whom I admire (and most of them are not in my own niche) and look in detail. Many have worked hours to create these wonderful pieces of art, so I spend more time looking at less pictures, but the kind of pictures that leave me in awe. I love to be blown away by someone's art. So, how do I do this? I don't scroll through my Instagram feed for hours to see if something interesting shows up. I go straight to the profiles of the artists that I love to follow and look at their latest work. I don't spend much time at all looking at pictures from photographers in my own niche, because their work is most likely to influence my vision and this is something I absolutely don't want to happen. This is something that I have had to learn, because looking at "the competition" is one of the best ways of starting to behave and create like them, even if you really want to work from your own unique vision. It is also one of the best ways to quickly loose confidence. So I protect my vision to stay on track and to follow my calling instead of treading in someone else's footsteps 

In my new class Your Vision, Your Story I will help you discover your vision, gently nudge you to connect the dots that make up your personal way of looking at this world, ask the right questions that will help you find the key elements of your vision, give you tangible "tools" to translate this vision into pictures that will reflect your unique vision and help you leave your comfort zone by inspiring you to see in new ways and create from your inner source.

5 Ways To Stay True To Your Own Creative Vision5 Tricks To Stay On Your Own Creative Path5 things you can do to make sure you stay true to your personal vision in your photography and to give your inspiration the priority it deserves

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity creativity coaching inspiration photography storytelling your vision your story https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/7/5-tricks-to-help-you-stay-on-your-own-creative-track Mon, 09 Jul 2018 16:00:00 GMT
Creativity Is Soulwork: Choose Carefully Whose Opinion To Trust https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/7/creativity-is-soulwork-choose-carefully-whose-opinion-to-trust Creativity is soul work, but what if your soul gets crushed? You absolutely love to take pictures, to paint, to sing, to play music and at some point someone tells you that you are no good at it. It happens to many of us, it happens a lot and it crushes so many creatives' spirits. It could have happened 20 years ago or it could have happened more recently, but somehow, someway this message became internalised. Even if you thought at the time that this person was wrong, a little voice inside your head keeps coming back asking you: "What if he or she was right and I am no good at this at all?"

I know from experience that starting to believe this little voice can have a huge effect on your life. You start playing small, you might stop sharing your work, you shy away from talking about it, you can't feel proud of your work anymore and you get scared of moving outside your comfort zone.

One person's opinion became your inner critic and an opinion that was given in a few seconds, becomes the message you send to yourself for what can last a lifetime. You start to feel that perhaps you should just give up, you'll never be good enough. The thing that gave you such joy has become a source of frustration.

The point is however that you need to become very deliberate in choosing whose opinion will count. You can't let one person's opinion of you become the reason why you don't feel happy creating anymore. You can't have your confidence depend on someone else's opinion. Decide whose opinion counts and whose does not. I trust very few people with an opinion about my work, because I need to be sure that they have a similar view on the world as I, before I can consider listening to what they have to say about my creations. You see, if they see the world in an entirely different way, they won't want to create like I do and of course they won't like what I do or they won't understand. We all have our own way of looking at this world. Be sure you don't mistake people who have the same view on the world with people who create in the same niche. People from your "tribe" as I call it, are people who have the same kind of outlook on life, a similar (yet always unique) story to tell, they respect the way you see the world, they understand. People who are in the same niche could well be in this niche for entirely different reasons than you and to be honest....there will always be quite a few who feel threatened and then start to put you down.

Don't give away your confidence and your power to the opinions of those who don't have your best interest at heart. Don't even make the opinions of loved ones  or dear friends so important that they can make you decide to give up the thing you love to do. The thing is that no one has the right to make you feel bad about where you are on your creative path and you are the only one who can deny them that right, because you are the one who can decide to simply not care about the opinions of those who don't have your best interest at heart. 


DaybreakDaybreak

Be mindful that some people will claim to have your best interest at heart and they might even believe that they do, but they might still be crushing your dreams. They had their own experiences, their own personal history and their way of looking at life, but they....are....not....you

Be aware that this voice in your head saying that perhaps this person was right and you should not keep doing what you love to do, is just a way of your mind to protect you from getting hurt. It has somehow connected creativity with getting hurt and this is what makes you loose your joy in creating. There is really nothing to protect you from. It is just your ego that might sometimes get bruised, but nothing essential can ever be hurt by the opinion of someone else. Your soul feels crushed, but it is actually not...It is just that how someone sees you, has become the way you see yourself. It nothing but a repeating thought pattern and thoughts are just that....thoughts. You can believe them or not. The moment you stop believing the voice that keeps repeating a hurtful comment from someone else, is the moment you become free to enjoy creating again.

In my class Your Vision, Your Story I will challenge you to find out what your vision is and give you the tools to translate it into images that convey your unique vision, which will give you the confidence to trust your own way of seeing, will make your photography more creative and free and inspire you to follow your curiosity

Your Vision Your Story

Choose carefully whose opinion to trustCreativity is SoulworkOur creativity is a result of our personal way of looking at the world, which is totally unique. This means that your creativity is always totally one-of-a-kind. It also makes us vulnerable as it is so much a part of who we are and when we share our work the comments on it may make us decide to leave our path. What we often forget is that others can't see your path and it is a worthy path, so we need to choose carefully whose opinions we trust

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity creativity coaching inspiration photography storytelling your vision your story https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/7/creativity-is-soulwork-choose-carefully-whose-opinion-to-trust Tue, 03 Jul 2018 08:46:45 GMT
The Gap Between Where You Are And Where You Want To Be https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/6/the-gap-between-where-you-are-and-where-you-want-to-be What often comes up when thinking of having a vision for your art, your photography, is that nagging feeling of inadequacy. Don't mistake a unique vision for your work with a goal in the distant future though. You already have that unique way of looking at the world, you have this vision, but most of the time you are not consciously aware of it. Having a vision of where you want to be can be useful to inspire you to move forward, but it can also cause you to loose inspiration if you only focus on this end result.

In art there is hardly ever an end result. We like to think that there is and should be, but the truth is that for the vast majority of artists there will also be something left to be desired, some room for improvement. It is probably one of the greatest driving forces behind the work that we do.

Country Lane In Spring

What I hear often is creatives losing their joy in creating because they can't seem to overcome the gap between the things they create and the things they wish they'd create. I feel that this is often a result of looking at other artists' work that we admire and then start to feel inadequate, because we can not do that. The fact is however, that if you embrace creating from your unique vision, this also means acknowledging that the artists, who you admire, also work from their unique vision. This way of looking comes easy to them, because it is how they naturally perceive things and....they probably put in hours and hours and hours of practice. We are not here to emulate their vision, to make what's theirs ours. It is perfectly ok to admire someone else's work and let it be theirs. 

I used to feel this way too when looking at the photography of some very talented photographers. I admired it so very much, I wished I could take pictures like that. Until I realised that not only could I not take pictures like they did, but also should not even want to take pictures like that. The only pictures I should take are those that are coherent with my own unique vision and my way of looking at the world. 

Overcome that feeling of "not good enough"The Gap Between Where You Are And Where You Want To BeComparison with others often robs you of the joy in creating and leaves you feeling inadequate. It can affect your self-confidence in such a way that you don't want to create anymore. How to overcome this is described in this blog post

Imagine if we were able to create things in the style and vision of someone else exactly, then why are we here, why do we create? Surely we want to create things that were not here before we came to this world? And how would we ever be able to look at things that take our breath away again if we could make the same things? No work of art would enchant us if we felt : "I can do this too". Things leave us in awe only because they ARE unique and created with passion and from a true connection to something deeper.

Now, this is not to say that you can't strive for excellence, that you should not learn techniques from those that you admire, that you then adapt to your vision, but it is important to realise that there might only be one (insert the name of your much admired photographer), but there is also only ever one YOU. And this is where your power is. Your power comes from within.

Mysterious Misty Forest

If you however have an end result for your pictures in mind based on your own vision and you feel you can't reach it, know that you might never reach it....because it (the end result) will always change. Every time you improve, you push that line of the end goal a bit forward. It is not fair to yourself to start feeling down because you don't reach that goal. Look at your first photographs and compare them with the ones you are taking now and see that you have come closer to what you want to capture. Knowing what your vision is, that filter through which you see the world, helps tremendously, but it takes time and practice to convey this in your pictures. 

More about connecting to your own unique vision and how to capture that in the work you create in my upcoming class Your Vision, Your Story. This class will not only help you discover your vision, but will also give you concrete tools and steps to convey them better in your pictures. It breaks down things like composition into storytelling elements that will not only help make your pictures feel more personal, but also greatly improve your photography. Sign Ups start on July 1st 2018!

Stay inspired by signing up for my newsletter

Overcome that feeling of "not good enough"The Gap Between Where You Are And Where You Want To BeComparison with others often robs you of the joy in creating and leaves you feeling inadequate. It can affect your self-confidence in such a way that you don't want to create anymore. How to overcome this is described in this blog post

 

 

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity creativity coaching inspiration photography storytelling https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/6/the-gap-between-where-you-are-and-where-you-want-to-be Mon, 25 Jun 2018 13:27:14 GMT
Start From Where You Are https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/6/start-from-where-you-are You most important asset in photography is not your camera, but youStart from where you areOften we think we need the perfect location, the perfect camera or lens to capture the image of our dreams, but we already have the most important tool and this is creativity

So often I get messages from wonderful creative women telling me that they can't do what I am doing because they don't have the right camera, the right lens, the right equipment, they can't go to the right locations, they have too little time, they have no inspiration or editing skills. It makes me sad in a way, because somehow the world managed to convince these creatives that you need all of that to start creating.

In this modern world in which iPhones last a year and should then be replaced by the latest and even better model, you are made to believe that if you don't have the latest and greatest or you can't go to the best locations, you can't create anything good. I have read articles about Instagram in which was mentioned that you should go the best locations to get more likes on your photos...My eyebrows just could not have possibly been raised higher.

This is so very untrue. You can start creating today with the tools that you have. You don't need to latest professional full frame camera to start creating nor a 2000 Euro lens. In fact, I did not get a full frame camera until a few years ago and I have been taking pictures for 40+ years. I have taken pictures for magazines with a 5 megapixel camera in a simple studio with reflectors that I made of cheap artist canvases that I had painted. Let's be honest, I still have all these reflectors and use them all the time.

You also don't need to go to the locations that look so amazing on social media. Especially with forest photography, location is not at all that important. The right conditions however are crucial, but these are equally available to all of us, provided we stand up early enough to capture them. I have this little challenge I have set for myself where I try to capture something magical even when it is a tiny spot next to a busy highway. I take pictures on parking lots and people ask me where this forest is. It really is all about your creativity, framing, your vision and the right conditions.

Creativity is plentiful, ideas come from a space that can only be described as pure abundance and this is the most important tool you'll ever need and you have it already. Start with the camera that you have, learn to use it well, go to locations that you can easily get to and take pictures that convey your vision, that capture your impression. Play around in Photoshop or Lightroom, make a duplicate of your image and simply experiment with it. It does not matter if you don't get it to look right the first time, or the second time or the tenth time. What is important is that you learn, that you practice.

I love to limit myself sometimes to using just one lens or take as many different pictures on a few square meters that I can, finding as many viewpoints as possible. This is when you learn that even if the things you use are limited, your creativity is unlimited. You will develop a fresh look on a familiar scene, find new angles that you like and learn what you don't like so much. Both are equally helpful in achieving a style of your own.

Everything starts with you, your vision, your creativity and the willingness to take a few risks. Connect to your vision, learn how to translate it into your images and this will skyrocket the quality of your images way faster than any new camera would ever be able to do. 

I am so incredibly passionate about this subject and about helping creatives capture the images that will make their heart sing that I poured my heart into writing an in depth class about this and sign ups will open really, really soon. In the meantime you can have a tiny preview of this class in my FREE mini class Capturing Your Impression . 

You most important asset in photography is not your camera, but youStart from where you areMany photographers tell themselves they can't create the things they want to because they don't have the right camera, the rich lens, the right software or can't get to the perfect location, but the most important tool in your photography is your creativity

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity creativity coaching inspiration photography storytelling https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/6/start-from-where-you-are Tue, 19 Jun 2018 15:04:54 GMT
One Vision, The Base For An Artist's Work https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/6/one-vision-the-base-for-an-artists-work Why creating from your vision is the most fulfilling way to createone vision, the base for an artist's workCreating from your own vision is the most fulfilling way for any artist to work. To connect to this vision and express this in your art/ photography is essential

I talk about having a vision as an artist a lot. I thought it was time to explain this a bit more clearly. I don't mean the kind of vision that paints a picture in your mind of where you want to take your art in the future, what you want to achieve, which successes you would like to have etc. This might be an important type of vision, but this is not the kind of vision I mean

What I mean, when I am talking about a vision, is the filter through which you see the world. This filter is most of the time very undeliberately formed through who you are and have always been, what you were born with, the circumstances of your life, the experiences you had, your personality and much more. When  you think you don't have a vision, it merely means that you have not become conscious of it yet, but yes....you do have a vision and as we are all uniquely made and then formed by life itself, we develop unique visions of the world. 

Your vision is really all about you. This sounds so incredibly obvious, but so often we are influenced by what we see others do. We admire their art and want to achieve the same thing. This however will never lead to authentic and fulfilling creating. So many times we think others have something we don't have and we want to have that. It is true that others have things that you don't have, because they too have unique ways of seeing the world. Even though their style speaks to you, because there are similarities in how you perceive things and you can use your admiration of the images from others to dive deeper into the why's behind you liking that so much, your vision is just as valuable. You might not have yet found a way of getting your images to match your vision and this might take some time, but relying on your own vision is key.

It is all about successfully shutting out other people's visions and having the confidence to rely on your own. You can learn how to use your vision, how to express it in your art, but always feel confident that your vision is worthy and that you can rely on it to steer you into the right direction.

First find out what your vision is, how you perceive the world, what lies behind your life's passions, the why's behind your likes and dislikes. Try to put it into words (writing really is very important to start to make sense of these things, I can not emphasise this enough). Dig deep and start connecting the dots. I promise you that everyone has a vision, but it can't be found on the surface, it is hidden in the why's behind your passions and preferences.

Expressing that vision becomes easier once you have been able to put it into words. You can then use story telling elements, as I call them, to help express this vision into visuals in a way that communicates this to the viewer. I believe that if you know your vision, if you are deeply connected to it, all the things you create will express this. No matter if you paint, photograph, sculpt, sew, design interiors or fashion, play music...this vision will be almost tangible. This is why for example the sculptures and paintings of Paul Gaugain are so very unmistakably his work. This is why you can recognise Van Gogh's work in both his portraits and landscape paintings. It is in every stroke of his brush...A vision does not rely on the tools of your trade, nor on the most expensive tools, the most priceless tool will always be you. Your style will become apparent in the way you use your tools, the choices you make when composing an image, your taste in editing and colours. Every little element and detail can then help your express your vision.

Working from your own authentic vision is so crucially important for artists. If you try to emulate the work of others, you will not express one vision, but many and what's worse....the visions of others. Have confidence that your vision matters and can be expressed beautifully in your own way once you know what the vision is and how to express this in your work. 

My vision can be found in everything I like....I look for stillness in the most magical side of reality. My style is one that is slightly nostalgic, romantic even and storybook-like. It is who I am, more deeply than I could ever express in a conversation. I am most myself in what I create, this is where the truest version of me resides. It seeps through in my images, those that I edit in Photoshop as well as in those that come straight from my iPhone as the picture below shows. It could be find in the reasons why I collected minerals and crystals as a child and in my passion for storybooks, for fog and forests, for mushrooms and fossils etc. etc. It has always been there, it determines the way I see reality. 

iPhoneiPhone

PS If you have a Pinterest account, look at your boards (they can be set to secret , so you don't have to share them with others if you don't want to), because these can be so revealing in what you like and the connections between all those likes. I find it to be the most obvious collection of what my vision is made up of.

Why creating from your vision is the most fulfilling way to createone vision, the base for an artist's workCreating from your own vision is the most fulfilling way for any artist to work. To connect to this vision and express this in your photography is key

PS 2:  Sign Ups for my class about creating from your own vision are opening really soon. Join my mailing list to be the first to know when enrolment begins. I am so excited to help you express yourself through your art, I can hardly wait...

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity creativity coaching inspiration photography storytelling https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/6/one-vision-the-base-for-an-artists-work Tue, 12 Jun 2018 09:41:30 GMT
The Basics Of Forest Photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/6/the-basics-of-forest-photography The basics of forest photographyThe basics of forest photographyForest photography can be challenging, but if you keep these basic principles in mind, you will be more successful in capturing beautiful forest scenes

I get messages so often in which I am asked how I add fog to images, how to take pictures like mine in the forest, that I decided to write a blog post covering the most important things to keep in mind when photographing forests.

Let's start by saying I never ever add fog to my images. No one can make fog like nature can...

Fairytale Spring WoodlandsLush Spring ForestFresh green spring colours in a pine forest

1. First of all....Weather conditions that are perfect to go to the beach are the worst for taking pictures in the forest. Forests are chaotic places and bright sunny conditions cause harsh shadows and spots of light everywhere. Most of the time the shadows are getting underexposed and then you have a chaotic looking forest picture with specks of light everywhere and dark shadows in which all detail is lost. Almost anything is better than harsh daylight when it comes to forest photography. I prefer early morning light when humidity levels are high and of course I love fog as it suits my painterly style. Overcast days also provide softer light. You might not like getting wet, but rain is actually not bad at all for forest photography. If I am trying to emphasise the lushness of a forest scene, I shoot on a rainy day. Do keep in mind that you might need to use a polarising filter in that case to take away the glare and reflections caused by the droplets of water. If you forget that, the scene will not look as lush and again will be more chaotic with all kinds of highlights caused by these reflections anywhere.

SecludedBeautiful forest path lined by oak trees on a foggy spring morning

2. Always pay attention to the wind....Wind is my worst enemy when I am taking pictures in the forest. I don't like to get movement in the branches as I work in a painterly style and this means that my shutter speed will sometimes have to go up to very fast ones, which then means that my iso also needs to go up to let in enough light and that will mean image quality will suffer. It might be totally your style to have movement in your pictures, but you at least need to always be aware of the wind. Look carefully at the leaves of the trees before pressing the shutter release button and decide on an appropriate shutter speed. As forests are dark places this can mean your iso sometimes needs to go up to even iso 3200 or higher to accommodate those fast shutter speeds, which is a point that I am not comfortable with in image quality

3. Tripod.....always use a tripod. As mentioned earlier, forests are dark places and on most days my shutter speeds are very slow, mostly more than a second and you can't handhold a camera and still get sharp images with shutter speeds like that. Yes, you can raise your iso but I find that using a tripod makes is much easier to finetune a composition. Let me give you an example....you just shot an image and look at the back of the camera to check it. It is almost perfect, you just need to get a slightly different angle. How are you going to do that if you handheld this shot? It is almost impossible to get into the same position twice and then also move a centimeter to the right. 

4. Reduce chaos...Forests have a lot going on, they are visually chaotic and so your job is to reduce the chaos and turn the scene into a pleasing image. I find this easiest to achieve by using zoomlenses. I can zoom in and out to check the composition and usually spend quite some time trying my different lenses to see which will produce a scene that looks pleasing to the eye

Fairytale Forest With Oak TreesOak MagicFairytale forest scene with whimsical oak trees

5. Always keep in mind what it is about the forest that you are attracted to. Maybe it is the lush greens, the textures, the fairytale look, the stillness, the height of the trees. If you want to emphasise the height of the trees, it is better to go for vertical compositions as horizontal pictures will make the trees look less tall. So, before pressing that shutter release button, take a step back and ask yourself what it is exactly in the scene that attracts you to it, why you like the forest. If you like lush greens, fog is not your best friend, but a rainy day can be. Read more about storytelling with your images in these blog posts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

Last but not least....be careful in the forest. If you are in the forest in the winter time and the trees are covered in snow, a gust of wind may not only make that snow fall down on your head, but it may also make branches snap. And...please respect that this is the home of plants, mushrooms and animals. Don't barge into the woods and step on delicate flowers, don't disturb animals, don't destroy the forest's magic just because you want a better picture. A picture is never worth disturbing nature...

Oh, and before I forget....don't forget to enjoy the scenery!

If you want to learn how to capture the enchantment of the forest: the mystical moods, the fairytale scenes, the magical sun rays and also learn how to edit your foggy pictures, please check out my new Masterclass eBook: The Magic Of Forest Photography

Learn Forest Photography : Masterclass eBookMasterclass eBook : The Magic Of Forest PhotographyLearn forest photography from Fine Art Forest Photographer Ellen Borggreve. Capture mysterious moods, foggy forest paths, magical sun rays, colourful seasons, whimsical trees and learn to edit a foggy forest scene by following my step by step, start-to-finish tutorial. https://www.ellenborggreve.com/the-magic-of-forest-photography-masterclass

5 basics for photographing forestsThe basics of forest photographyForest photography can be challenging, but if you keep these basics in mind, you have a better change of capturing enchanting forest scenes

Pictures in this post are available as prints 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity forest inspiration photography tutorial https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/6/the-basics-of-forest-photography Mon, 04 Jun 2018 16:00:00 GMT
Passion is Contagious https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/5/passion-is-contagious The way passion shines through in whatever you createPassion is contagiousWhat connects people to your work is the passion from which you create

What is it about a piece of art, a photograph that makes it connect to the viewer? What is it about the masterpieces that you can see in musea that captivates and enchants so many people? You can study this subject forever, but I believe that it comes down to one thing....It is the passion that was behind the creation.

If passion for creating was the driving force, some way, somehow people pick up on it. It is contagious in a mysterious way. If the artist, who was creating this, was putting his full attention, dedication and inspiration into the making, this can be felt in the final product. I notice this often when looking at work from a photographer whose work I admire greatly. He is so passionate about his subject, he becomes almost one with it the moment he starts taking pictures. These pictures come from a deeper place. There is no forced willpower behind it, there is pure enchantment with the landscapes that he so deeply cares about that he can't help but make them look magical as this is how he sees them.

Oak Trees in a foggy forestFairytale Oak TreesGnarly oak trees in a foggy fairytale forest

I can also see it in the work of Vincent van Gogh for example. It does not matter if he is your favourite artist or not, but when I was gazing at his early sketches last year I felt the depth of his passion for not just the way of life that he wanted to capture, but also for the creating itself. It was almost tangible. I see it in Monet's work as well, his passion for capturing the moment, his passion for the changing colours of light. This all somehow ends up on the canvas mixed up with the strokes of the paint brush, the layers of paint and it leads to something that people respond to. Perhaps they don't know why they are attracted to certain works of art, certain photographs, but I bet that if the artist was creating from a deep connection with his passion, a thoughtless stillness in which inspiration finds root and a connection to the subject, he or she makes art that connects the work to the viewer and that in turn connects the artist to the viewer.

Foggy forest pathMisty DestinationA path lined by trees leading into the early morning mist of a winter's morning

In some way a bit of our soul ends up in the work we are creating if we work with passion. Passion can't be rationalised, it comes directly from the soul and the resulting works of art have something that can't be put into words. They tell the tale of the passion of the artist. You can create on willpower, on experience and you can create excellent things, but if you have passion as the main driving force, I believe it will be tangible in your work and it will connect you to the people who belong to your "tribe" so to speak. Be willing to let your work be as personal and passionate as possible, even if that at times makes you feel vulnerable (and it will sometimes), it will tell the story of who you are at your core. Be willing to share yourself with the world through your art, create from a deep inner drive, create because you simply can't not create, because your tale must be told.

Have you ever created something in deep sort of flow that had this extra quality that people reacted to, which got them to share a bit of themselves with you?  I would love to hear your story...

How being over-influenced by others causes you to create  things that are less and less truly yoursProtect your inspirationSometimes the best way to protect your inspiration is to prevent being over-influenced by other photographers

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspiration photography storytelling https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/5/passion-is-contagious Mon, 28 May 2018 16:00:00 GMT
Lost The Joy In Creating? https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/5/lost-the-joy-in-creating Have you lost touch with your joy in photography?Lost the joy in creatingWhen you loose the joy in creating it can lead to feelings of despair. Reconnecting to your why will help

I was recently talking to a few of my friends and something kept coming up: " I lost the joy in creating. I used to be so excited about photography, my art, but now it is like everything I do has become this act, that I keep performing day after day." This is something that often happens if you have been creating for a good number of years and you know everything you do so well, that you can do it on auto pilot. As long as you are on your toes, you have complete attention to the things that you do, but when you are getting very experienced your attention can be elsewhere when you do your thing and this is one of the reasons that the joy disappears.

Forest path of a foggy morningMisty Path A beautiful path lined by trees on a foggy morning on the Veluwe, The Netherlands by fine art photographer Ellen Borggreve

Another reason is that you loose track of why you started creating in the first place. Do you remember why you picked up your camera, what it was that made you so happy? I can't answer this for you, because it is so different for all of us. I know that my reason for taking pictures is that when I look through the viewfinder, I don't worry anymore. For someone who has been plagued by anxieties all her life, this is a huge thing. I take pictures to connect to a more magical side of reality than the one you see in the news (which I don't watch by the way). I take pictures to find stillness in nature and in myself and I believe that not only have I become more aware of the abundance of magical things that this earth has to offer, but I have also changed into someone who acts in spite of her fears. It has helped me grow into the person I was always supposed to be. That is my reason for loving photography so very, very much. 

Your reason might be because you love to connect with children, you love to make a reality that is more beautiful than the one you see around you, you want to escape your reality, you love to interact with people, or you love to make the women you photograph feel more confident. There can be all kinds of reasons, but you can be sure that there was a specific reason that attracted you to your art in the first place. You might not yet have given that reason a lot of thought, but do try to find it if you feel you have lost the joy in creating.

Sunbeams over misty watersWisps of Mist and SunlightFloating wisps of mist over the water of the Old Rhine lit up by sunbeams coming through a tree. A picture by fine art photographer Ellen Borggreve

If you re-connect to that initial joy and you keep yourself on your toes a bit more by challenging yourself to do things a bit differently, by perhaps learning new things, taking a workshop from another photographer or artist, you have a good chance that your joy will return. The absolute must in this is that you quiet your mind and be totally immersed in what you are doing. Give everything your fullest attention. This in itself will bring the joy back in things that you feel bored with. It is easier to give your full attention to something if you are challenged in some way, because then you need to be there totally, it will not allow you to do your trick on auto-pilot. Ultimately though the joy can't come from anything you do, it comes from within and if you find the reason why you wanted to pursue your art in the first place, you will get some clarity. 

Perhaps you find out that what attracted you to your art is no longer true for you and in that case, it is best to move on. It will not be the photography that gave you the joy, but the reason why you loved it that gave you this joy. It is never just this act with your paintbrush or camera, it is always the motivation behind it that add happiness to your life. A camera does not have the power to do so on its own....

Have you lost the joy in creating? Have you lost touch with the flow that you felt when you first started out? What are you considering to do about it? Leave a comment below, I'd love to hear your thoughts

You'll receive a wonderful 25 page eBook if you sign up for my newsletter. It is entirely free, which helps you find ways to find your authentic voice in your photography and makes you look in new ways. You can find it here : Free eBook

Have you lost touch with your joy in photography?Lost the joy in creatingWhen you loose the joy in creating it can lead to feelings of despair. Reconnecting to your "why" will help...

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspiration photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/5/lost-the-joy-in-creating Mon, 21 May 2018 15:00:00 GMT
The Rules Of Your Craft...Are They True For You? https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/5/the-rules-of-your-craft-are-they-true-for-you How the rules of photography can be limiting to your creativityThe rules of your craft, are they true for youThe many rules of photography might be helpful at times, but can be extremely limiting to authentic creative expression

Every craft, every art form has its rules. Most of the time these rules come about by looking at art works that worked and then trying to find the thing these works have in common and this average then becomes a rule that artists should learn and live by. As I am a photographer I will limit myself to musing about some rules in photography, but this blog post applies to so many art forms as well.

In photography there seem to be many rules. There is the rule of thirds, the golden ratio, the less is more rule and then rules concerning at what time of the day to take pictures. These rules were all constructed after studying many different art works and deciding on what the common thing is that makes the best works stand out. This means that an average is created of the best works that have been studied. I do think rules come in handy if you are trying to learn a craft, but they are also hugely limiting on your creativity. And call me stubborn, but I believe that averages don't exist. If I count up the amount of marbles every person has and then divide that number by the amount of people I included in my calculation, then I get to a ridiculous outcome of that every person has a certain amount of marbles. This is what an average is....it is not reality. It is a lot of realities counted up and then divided to make up a reality that does not even exist. 

Whimsical oak trees in a foggy forestFairytale ForestWhimsical oak trees in a foggy forest. Picture by Ellen Borggreve

This is where my objections to all these rules come in. Landscape photographers are told over and over again that they should not be taking pictures in the middle of the day. Have you ever considered if this rule is true for you, for YOU? I personally love early mornings as I am all about stillness and muted tones, but many beautiful paintings with amazing skies were obviously painted during the day. I am very fond of the work of a Dutch photographer who really rebels against every single rule in the book and her work is simply amazing and is sold all over the world. No rule of thirds, no sunrise or sunset, subjects in the middle of the frame...Her work proves without a shadow of a doubt that if you know why you want to take a picture a certain way, you can forget about the rules that you learned.

I have learned all the rules, I probably follow a few without thinking about them, but I know that I am not the kind of photographer that believes in the less is more principle. I have tried, believe me. I have had a thorough photography education and many teachers have told me that simplifying is the way to go. This is not how I see the world though. It just is not. I don't want things in my frame that distract from the story that I am telling, but I personally get bored by reducing the number of elements in my frame. 

Oak trees in a misty forestPainterly Forest ScenePainterly looking forest scene with oak trees in the mist

There is also this rule that you need to add humans to a frame to make it more relatable, to add a point of interest (because our eyes immediately lock onto humans in a picture of painting) or add a sense of perspective. Oh, the number of times people have told me to add humans in my pictures, but the thing is that in most cases having humans in my pictures tell a story that is so different from the reason why I take pictures in the first place. I revel in nature, in her stillness, in the magic of earth's creation and I try my best to show a world without too much human influence, because this is also a part of reality and one which must be protected and cherished. My story is one of stillness, of nature's own incredible magic without much human influence. 

So ask yourself if the rules that you have learned are serving you? Are they helping you in telling YOUR story or are they limiting you? Are they really true to you? I am all for learning the rules, don't get me wrong, but don't learn them and stick to them without ever questioning if they hold any truth for you.

In my new class: Your Vision, Your Story you will discover your own unique vision and learn how to translate this into pictures which will lead to a lasting change in your approach of photography. You will get the confidence to break the rules when they don't serve you, allow yourself to be playful and create from your heart. 

How the rules of photography can be limiting to your creativityThe rules of your craft, are they true for youThe many rules of photography might be helpful at times, but can also be extremely limiting to your creativity

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspiration photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/5/the-rules-of-your-craft-are-they-true-for-you Thu, 10 May 2018 15:45:00 GMT
Embrace Change https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/5/embrace-change The risk of sticking with what is workingEmbrace changeMany times we photographers and creatives get stuck in doing the same routine over and over again, especially if we are doing something that is liked by others. Chances are that you get bored if you have to do the same thing all the time and not making changes becomes riskier than changing

For many artists and creatives curiosity is the fuel for their work. A little idea pops into your head :" I wonder what would happen if I....." and if you follow this thought, your work starts to evolve. If you get busy or a bit too comfortable in your ways, in your style of creating, you might not be that open anymore to these little whispers of curiosity and they simply float by. At one point this means that you run out of fuel though. You can only create on willpower for so long before you are starting to feel uncomfortable. (Check out my previous blog post about comfort zones if you want to read more about this)

Fairytale Forest in morning lightMeandering path in a pine forestSoft golden morning light in a pine forest in the Netherlands

You might also hear the "I wonder" messages clearly, but you are afraid this will change you, that it will lead to changes in your work. If your self is attached to your work, it is very scary to start doing something different. It might indeed change your work, it might put people off who had been following you, it might put your customers off as well and if you depend on an income from your art, the more risky it feels to follow new ideas. You start calculating that it will cost you time, effort, perhaps materials and even worse....self respect if you fail horribly and you are quickly starting to convince yourself that change is not a very sensible decision.

Creativity though is not that rational. Of course some people will not follow you anymore on social media if you make changes to your work and some buyers will loose interest. The point however is that no one gets these ideas without them pointing in the direction of your own full potential. I think of them as little sign posts along my way. I don't have a clue most of the time where the road is going, but I do know that if I follow these little messages I grow into myself a little bit more every day. If some people don't like where I am going, than perhaps we were not meant to travel together anymore. We might have been perfect travel companions for the first part of the journey, but then the roads diverge and we take different routes. Other people will be attracted to your new work though and as you grow into a better version of yourself, you will attract people that are more and more like you. 

Painterly forest scene with meandering streamCharmedBeautiful meandering stream in a forest

Change can be scary, it involves risk, but how large are the risks if you don't embrace change? Stagnation is one of the worst enemies of creativity. You will eventually get bored with your own work or run out of creative energy altogether. If you catch yourself creating on auto-pilot, if you are looking at your recent work with a distinct feeling of: "Bleh, been there, done that...", it is a sign that you have ignored your curiosity for a bit too long. 

I am embracing change big time at this moment. I have had to take some huge leaps this year and this did lead to some initial stressful thoughts of how everyone might react to what I was about to do. The thing is however that the stress around not changing was way larger. It felt like I had this thing I wanted to do in life hidden inside of me and I had kept it in a cage of sorts and it was starting to protest a little louder every single day. In the end the cost of not changing was too high, as it would mean me not being the person I feel called to be. 

What changes are calling you at this moment? And do you see a way of honouring these urges of creative curiosity? Leave a comment below if you would like to share...

The risk of sticking to what is workingEmbrace ChangeWhen we stick to what is working and what we are experienced at, there is always the risk of ending up feeling stuck and losing your joy in creating. You might even think that photography is not your thing anymore

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspiration photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/5/embrace-change Thu, 03 May 2018 14:44:13 GMT
Is your comfort zone getting uncomfortably small? https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/4/is-your-comfort-zone-getting-uncomfortably-small When your comfort zone becomes a harnessIs your comfort zone getting uncomfortable smallDoes your comfort zone prevent you from moving forward, because it is getting a bit too small? Creativity will flourish when you leave your comfort zone

Do you remember how you got started creating? I bet you worked very differently from the way you are working now. I know that when I started out as an artist 21 years ago, I was very experimental. I just tried whatever popped into my mind. I honed my skills whilst not minding about anything being perfect. I was a beginner in my field and so I was ok with creative adventures even if they did not lead anywhere. I learned as much from what I did not like, as from what I did like. Then I got established as an artist, I won awards and I sold my work. If you had asked me in the beginning what success would look like, I would have replied : " Winning this or that award and selling all my work." But the weird thing was....it did not feel very successful at all.

Beech trees along a Dutch country roadDutch lane lined by beech treesA foggy country road in the Achterhoek, The Netherlands, lined by beech trees

What had happened was that I created within the boundaries of what was successful. I had found my style, I had achieved that at least, but then I became stuck in this style and winning the awards kept me even more closely confined within that box. People expected to see a certain type of work and I felt very worried when a new idea would pop up in my head, that would be outside my style, that was also my comfort zone with very well defined barriers. 

At one point on your creative path you will probably run into this issue of not being as experimental, as free in your creating, as you used to be. You have a following on social media perhaps and you know they expect a certain type of work from you. You have clients who buy your creations and you feel you can't just be playful and create whatever you like anymore.

Trees in a foggy autumn mountain forest in FranceGrey beech trees in a foggy mountain forestGrey beech trees covered in moss create a fairytale scene in this mountain forest in France.

I do think that this is a risky thing for an artist though. I believe that the playful aspect of the creative process is where growth and evolution has its roots. If your comfort zone gets to be a harness that you can't grow out of, you are in trouble, because we are meant to evolve into ever better versions of ourselves. With the comfort zone also usually comes a dose of perfectionism. You have honed your skills in one area and so if you try out something new it is almost impossible to feel comfortable with being a beginner at some new endeavour. Your perfectionist self will dismiss any new idea as risky, because it might just not be good enough. To put it into just a few words : With a comfort zone come boundaries set by what you think others expect of you and what you expect of yourself.

With a comfort zone come boundaries set by what you think others expect of you and what you expect of yourself.

That then stops you in your tracks if you want to experiment like you did in the beginning. It is important though to accept this nagging voice in your head which will tell you that you might just fail at this new endeavour and then move forward anyway. Why? Because you are where you are now because of the risks you took when you started out. Growth is outside the comfort zone, always...

Foggy fairytale forestFairytale Forest SceneWhimsical oak trees in a foggy forest

I noticed that in the past year or so I felt the same kind of unease that I had felt in my soft sculpture work years ago. An unease caused by my comfort zone getting a bit too tight and preventing me to evolve, to take risks. I chose to become more playful again in my work and to focus on authentic creating. I decided to listen to my curiosity and to grab the camera even on mornings when it was not foggy or I could not go to the forest and to make things very challenging at times. I went to natural mountain forests with no structure in it whatsoever, no paths, no lanes and avenues like many Dutch forests have. It was a bit of a shock at first, I was turning around and around and kept saying to myself, feeling slightly panicked: "I just don't see it, I can't see how I can make this work!" I kept at it though and made it into my challenge to find structure where there was none. I must make a note though that I had not challenged myself to do something inauthentic, because I love natural forests more than anything else and I especially love rocky forests. I had however pushed myself forcefully outside my comfort zone. 

 I would love to hear your responses to the following questions...please comment below if you would like to share

Tell me if your comfort zone also sometimes feels constricting? 

And if you feel that you have come to create what you think is expected of you (by either yourself of others)? 

When your comfort zone becomes a harnessIs your comfort zone getting uncomfortably smallDoes you comfort zone prevent you from moving forward, because it is getting a bit too tight? Creativity will flourish when you step out of this comfort zone

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspiration photography https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/4/is-your-comfort-zone-getting-uncomfortably-small Mon, 23 Apr 2018 13:19:40 GMT
Things I Know For Sure About Inspiration https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/4/things-i-know-for-sure-about-inspiration Inspiration is an essential when you are an artist/a creative....We need food, drink and yes, inspiration. Without that, we can't create and if we do try to create on willpower alone it will not have much soul in it. The project will not have any flow and you struggle to get things done. Artists do however often struggle with things like a writer's block, which I will refer to as artist's block as artists from all backgrounds suffer from it. I used to suffer from these periods of time, especially after Christmas, when all of a sudden the lid on the source of my ideas had been put on. 

Waddensea CoastlineModdergat, WaddenzeeCoastline of Unesco World Heritage Waddensea

I have not had this issue in the past few years. I might sometimes loose my enthusiasm to create a bit, but as soon as I am creating I feel inspired immediately. I think that recently it has become clear to me how this inspiration thing works. Let me share with you what I know for sure:

What I know for sure...

1. Thinking and willpower are the biggest obstacles in finding inspiration. They will not only not get you there, but will make it increasing impossible to get new ideas. The harder you think, the harder you use your logical mind, the less you will get fresh and inspired ideas. The trick is to actively look for the gap between thoughts, when for a minute your mind is not cluttered with all kinds of thinking.

2. Finding your way out of thinking is not as hard as you think. Some people get away from it by taking a walk, running, climbing mountains, going to some new place. Anything that gets the attention away from the world inside your head and into the world out there will help. Focus on something in nature, take a stroll along the river (a favourite of mine) or bake a cake or loaf of bread. Find out what activity helps you to stop thinking so much

3. Repetition kills inspiration, if not immediately, but it will most definitely kill it. If you are doing the same old, same old over and over again, it means you are on auto pilot and instead of being totally focussed on what you are doing, you can easily drift off in one of your mind's favourite thought stories. If you don't develop a fresh look on something that you have been doing for a long time or don't do anything new, learn new skills, take a different approach, inspiration will simply not be received by you anymore as you are less open to it

Coastline of the WaddenseaModdergat, WaddenzeeCoastline of Unesco World Heritage Waddensea in The Netherlands

4. Stepping outside your comfort zone can give your inspiration an enormous, gigantic boost. A recent example from my own life is my trip to the sea of the last weekend. I take pictures of nature, forests, micro landscapes, but the last time I saw the sea in my country was 30 years ago. The sea is so unlike my usual subjects....it is open and vast, whilst I often go for intimate and enclosed and so....I decided I needed to do something drastically different and went to the Waddenzee on the middle of the day (the worst time for landscape photography) and just see what I would be able to do with my camera. I can tell you that I spend hours there without any of the thoughts that so often go through my mind. No thought, just intense focus on how I should make a scene like this work. I enjoyed that, it taught me a lot about composition in a vaster landscape and made me appreciate my standard 24-70 lens sooooo much. I enjoyed it so much that I am sure I will be returning to the seaside again soon.

5. Fear of failure is inspiration's worst enemy. Learn to embrace failure as I have learned the most from things that went slightly or completely wrong. I often got entirely new ideas after I messed something up. I used to be very scared of even making the slightest mistake, but this leads to total stagnation. A little thought like :" I take macro pictures, I could not possibly take landscape pictures, I would fail terribly", will also lead to stagnation in your macro photography. Even if your landscape photos would not be all that great, as I am sure my sea pictures are not that great either, they will make you a better photographer as you have experienced another way of looking at things.  I have often learned the most from doing things that were not in my own field. Painting classes helped me develop a better understanding of colour and also the way emotions are translated into the canvas. I will not become a painter, but it made me a better artist anyway. I was not terribly good at it either, but that does not matter. I learned from it what was useful to me. So....know that fear is normal, but it is very rarely helpful if you want to create something. It will lead you to no man's land where you can not flourish. 

WaddenseaWaddenzee at Moddergat, The NetherlandsTranquil coastline at the Waddensea in Friesland, The Netherlands (iPhone picture)

When I found out that all the moments that I got new ideas were moments that I was not thinking, but rather being absorbed in the moment, I knew how to prevent artist's blocks and I have not had one since. If I feel slightly uninspired, I tend to that immediately. As an artist, this is one of your most important tools, so you need to take care of it and yes, it is a priority. I'd rather spend a day walking in the forest to clear my head so I can shake off that uninspired feeling than try harder to make things work out by using pure willpower. 

PS What can also kickstart inspiration is by using a different tool than you usually would. Let's say you always use a telelens or a wide angle lens. Try taking pictures with just a 50 mm lens for one day or try to use just your phone. The picture above is an iPhone picture. 

The enemies of inspirationThings I know for sure about inspirationInspiration is essential for our creativity, our photography, yet many creatives loose access to it. Here is what I know for sure about inspiration, how to loose it and how to get it

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspiration photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/4/things-i-know-for-sure-about-inspiration Fri, 13 Apr 2018 14:16:09 GMT
Protect Your Inspiration https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/4/protect-your-inspiration How being over-influenced by others causes you to create  things that are less and less truly yoursProtect your inspirationSometimes the best to protect your creativity is to prevent being over-influenced by other photographers

In this past winter I have not been taking pictures, from the second day of December until the 21st of March I spent my time in my studio, creating yes, but with this growing feeling of unsettlement. I must admit that I had had this feeling for months prior to winter. Whilst knowing that photography is my life calling, I knew that I was not living up to it. I started taking drastic measures to safeguard my inspiration and my own vision and for me this meant that I had to prevent from getting too influenced by others. That too felt unsettling, because in these times of social media, pictures are everywhere....and I mean: everywhere. The way I started to make sure I was following my own path instead of anyone else's or a path dictated by what is popular on social media, was that I started to ...gasp...unfollow people. 

Birches on a misty moorPathlessPainterly picture of birches on a foggy moor

This felt uncomfortable at first, but I knew that the only way forward was to not be overly influenced by what others were doing, especially the photographers in my own field. Of course this feels uncomfortable because people might take this personally and I can tell you that some of them did. To me though, being an artist is about creating from an authentic place and being overly influenced means you do less and less of what is truly yours.

Protecting your vision and inspiration also means that you do not take the popularity of some of your pictures on social media into account. Social Media are very fast media, people scroll and scroll and take little time to really look at a picture and this means that some pictures will do better than others. If you listen to the social media gurus out there, you risk sacrificing your own creativity just to make something that is popular.

Moody Foggy ForestElysianDark and moody picture of trees silhouettes in a foggy forest

Let me tell you that Monet, van Gogh and Cézanne all did not do something that was very popular when they were starting out. In fact it was not popular at all. They still went after their vision, they still believed in what they were doing, because they were creating something that was inspired by something deep within. Nothing ever became popular by having been popular all the time and so it is quite dangerous for an artist to only cater to what is most liked on Instagram.

Your inspiration is worth protecting. It can feel uneasy to follow your own way, as you don't look outward for inspiration, but inward. 

Oak Trees In Foggy ForestDivine MysteryRomantic painterly picture of crooked oak trees in a foggy forest

In the past few weeks I have started building on my vision, I spent many hours walking through nature, trying to find spots that will help me tell my story, spots that I connect to. I think that in retrospective my 3 unsettling months without photography have given rise to a more authentic photography style. I feel blissful again when I am in nature, no longer having this voice in my head which kept telling me that perhaps I should take a picture that would get me more likes, or that perhaps I should start seeing the world in 4:5 ratio as this is more popular on Instagram or that I should try more modern compositions...

That voice, you see, is fear speaking. It is the fear of not being accepted for who you are and what you do. Fear is always there and yet, it should not stop you from pursuing your own vision. Safeguard your story, your vision from getting over-influenced and create from an inner stillness instead. I can thoroughly recommend writing morning pages to really get to know what it is you want to express in your art, you photography. Ask yourself questions, lost of questions, dig deep and if you too have this issue of getting overwhelmed by all the visuals that you see, try to limit the amount of people you follow a bit, limit it to those people who really inspire you to think big, who inspire you to be authentic. 

The way passion shines through in whatever you createPassion is contagiousWhat connects people to your work is the passion from which you create.

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspiration photography storytelling https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/4/protect-your-inspiration Fri, 06 Apr 2018 15:44:54 GMT
Let Your Photography Tell Your Story Part 4 https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/3/let-your-photography-tell-your-story-part-4 The importance of having the right colours in your photosLet your photography tell your story part 4The storytelling qualities of colour in your photography. How colour can change the entire story of an image

This time I am going to talk about the effect of colour on conveying your story. Colour is hugely important and unlike shapes and lines, just one little splash of the wrong colour can totally ruin the entire story of an image. This makes it very important to be able to look at a scene with fresh eyes, trying to bypass the mind that deletes all the stuff that it finds nonessential and therefore causes you to oversee things that are in fact quite essential to the photograph. It is all too easy to look at a waterside scene (reed in the foreground, nicely lit water by a beautiful sunrise, fog floating above the surface) and to miss that cola can that is floating there with a red colour that is totally distracting. Yes, of course....people tell me all the time: use photoshop to clone it out of the picture later, but I am old school and prefer to be totally aware of everything in the scene when I take the picture. I don't like to have any surprises when I come home. I can find another viewpoint that hides the red can or I can be aware of the spot if I can't hide it and know that I can clone it out if I have to, because it is not always possible to clone things out neatly if the distracting element is at a particularly difficult spot.

Just imagine an orange, yellow or red tin peeping out of the reed in this picture. That would totally ruin my story of serenity in this image. Sometimes you have to physically clean things up if the possibility is there...

Misty sunrise over idyllic waterside sceneSerene WatersideMisty sunrise over the wetlands of the Gelderse Poort, The Netherlands

Anyway, let's not get distracted by the floating red can. Actually, we might not be distracted, but the viewers of this picture will immediately spot it, because red is an alarming colour and the human mind is trained to see this first. This means that even though you did not see it, the viewer's eye will keep going to this red can, which is something we don't want. Let's say you have a pastel coloured scene and a runner in neon yellow suit is running through it....It happens....a lot....It totally ruins the look and feel of the image, so be aware of colours that distract from your overall story

Of course colours can be divided into two groups : warm and cool colours. They give a picture an entirely different feel. You can of course change the colour in post-processing, but I like to see my story unfold on the scene and therefore often use my white balance to see what a difference a warmer or cooler white balance will make to my image. Often when it is a cold day, I want to get that feeling of frost in my images and tend to choose cooler white balance settings, when it is a warm summer's day I tend to go for warmer white balance settings. I always, always shoot in Kelvin, so this means I always manually set my white balance. 

Compare these two images

Whimsical oak trees in a misty forestFaerie RealmOak trees in a foggy forest creating a fairytale like scene I took these a few minutes apart with very different white balance settings. I took this picture on the first day of spring, which was a very cold one, so winter was definitely still holding on and I wanted one picture to convey the new spring and the other one to convey the cold winter feeling. I also chose to underexpose the picture below a bit to emphasise the dark mood of the morning

Oak trees on a cold foggy morningThe Long Ago LandA group of whimsical oak trees on a foggy winter morning creating a storybook like feeling of "once upon a time"

Then there are bright and primary colours, the lighter and darker shades and the muted shades. The lighter ones actually have more white in them, the darker have more black in them and the muted ones have more grey in them and this again means that the weather will have a huge effect on the way that colours in a scene are perceived. If you are photographing a field of poppies with dandelions in between in a meadow and you are doing this is broad daylight on the middle of the day under a blue sky, than the colours will have lots of contrast, will be bright and very saturated. If this is not the story you wish to tell, you can wait for sunset when all the colours warm up and the contrast is not as high, you might also prefer to have it look more pastel, which means you need to wait for either a soft lit sunrise or fog, which will mute down colours immensely. Dark colours will be more moody as you can imagine. Just imagine if Tolkien's Lord of the Rings had been filmed in pastel tones, that certainly would have changed the visual story completely. This is why the choice of colour and the shades are so important when you try to convey a vision.

In the picture below you can easily see how underexposing adds to the moody feeling. This picture would look totally different if I were to take it in spring with fresh lime greens lighting up the fog making this a more cheerful and airy scene in that case

Beech trees in a foggy forestMystifiedThe famous dancing beech trees in the Speulderbos, The Netherlands on a very foggy morning

I will not go into colour schemes here, but I will touch on it quickly here. Complementary colours create the strongest possible contrast between two colours, they are on opposites of the colour wheel and they actually make grey if you were to mix them up in paint. They empower the colour opposite to them and this is easily explained by thinking of red and green in one picture. The red will appear more red then if it were combined with orange. There are many colour combinations that might work in telling your story, you could also go for a monochromatic picture, which has several shades of one colour in one image. This, as you can imagine, has a more calm effect that primary complementary colours

Two picture in an almost monochromatic colour scheme. Here you can see that monochromatic does not always mean that there is little colour. There can in fact be loads of colour, but not that much contrast between the various shades, they are all within the same family. Both have been photographed in the fog, but in a very different season and the fog over the blooming moor was lit up by sunrise (it was in fact a glorious summer's day) and the picture below was taken on a grey foggy morning at the end of winter. The branches frozen over and dripping like crazy. The grey fog had taken away all colour from the scene

Sunrise over purple  blooming moorPurple PromiseA beautiful sunrise over the purple blooming moors of the Posbank, The Netherlands Oak trees in the mistGhostly OaksOak trees with frozen branches on a very foggy morning

The most important thing about colours though is they have a meaning of their own. Red is alarming, but could also stand for passion and warmth, pink is more feminine and young, blue is calmer, but also recede, just like warm colours advance. White is pure and simple.....Colours do however have different meanings in different cultures, so ask yourself the question what a colour means to you and use this to your advantage in the pictures that you are taking. If you get this right, they will help improving your pictures tremendously and will help you convey your story.

Want to read more? Get my free eBook

That wraps up these 4 weeks of: Let Your Photography Tell Your Story. If you want to read more about this, please join my mailing list and receive this free eBook also called : Let Your Photography Tell Your Story

Part 3 of this series

Part 2 of this series

Part 1 of this series

The importance of having the right colours in your photosLet your photography tell your story part 4The storytelling qualities of colour have a huge impact on the story you'd like to tell with your photography

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity photography stillness storytelling https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/3/let-your-photography-tell-your-story-part-4 Tue, 27 Mar 2018 15:21:46 GMT
Let Your Photography Tell Your Story Part 3 https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/3/let-your-photography-tell-your-story-part-3 The hidden meaning of shapes and lines in photographyLet your photography tell your story part 3Tell your story in your photography. This time the importance of shapes and lines in your pictures

This week, I am going to make you think a bit differently then you might be used to. As you might know I have been a professional designer/artist for more than 21 years and this experience seeps through in my approach of photography. As a designer I am used to thinking in shapes and lines as you might imagine and with every design I make, I know which shapes will tell a story of for example vulnerability, thoughtfulness or curiosity. I use this same approach in my photography. 

Just imagine you can only use shapes to express a mood. I am sure you will agree that straight lines are more rigid than rounded ones which are softer. Straight lines however can also convey a quiet and calm feeling, especially in groups of evenly spaced lines

Let me illustrate this

Endless rows of pine trees in a foggy forestPine trees in a misty forest with ferns underneathThis picture was taken on a cold winter morning when fog was obscuring the sight in this pine forest.

Now what happens when a diagonal line is added ? The scene tells a different story, because a diagonal line appears to be less stable and therefore adds a sense of movement to a picture Rows of pine tree in a foggy forestPine forest on a foggy spring morningA serene picture of rows of pine trees in a foggy forest

Curved lines feel more natural or elegant, like in this picture called Ballet Class. Again there is one tree that adds movement to the scene. These trees are known as "dancing trees". You probably see what a difference even a simple thing like lines make to an image

Dancing beech trees in the Speulderbos, The NetherlandsDancing Trees in the famous SpeulderbosThese trees in the Speulderbos appear to be dancing in the fog on this winter morning It is important to learn to see in lines and shapes besides looking at the scene with the mind labeling something as "mountain", "tree" or "lake". A tree can be seen as a line, a mountain is often a triangle, sometimes an oval, lakes are often more rounded. Imagine a picture with a square lake surrounded by straight pine trees versus a round lake with willows....This is a totally different image of a similar subject. The second picture would definitely look more romantic than the first one, so this is something you have to keep in mind when you try to tell your own story through your images. 

Also, lines can be thin, which adds a feeling of fragility and vulnerability to it. And lines can be thick which adds a sense of boldness to a picture. 

Birches on the Veluwe in the spring of 2017Birches in the mist on a spring morningStillness on a spring morning with the birch leaves showing their first shade of green

Do you see the difference in the story between these two pictures? Both are trees in the mist and if we forget about the colours for a bit and just focus on the shapes, you can easily see the first picture has more fragility in it and the second picture has bold shapes that tell a story of something that is stable, sturdy, impressive, grande and ancient. This is not just down to the shapes of the trees themselves, but also has to do with the choice of lens. The first picture was taken with a standard zoom lens and the second one with a zoom lens (even quite some zoom in this case) to emphasise their might appearance. Trees in a foggy forestForest path on a moody dark morningA beautiful forest path on an early morning in the end of winter

Most objects in an image can simply be reduced to a shape. Squinting at a scene helps to see this more clearly. You will see how an image is built up from groups of lines (lines with space in between) and shapes. Vertical shapes appear more powerful than horizontal shapes and if you want to emphasise the height of the subjects in a scene, it makes sense to take a vertical shot, like the one above. 

Rounded shapes are softer and more calm than a triangular shape. They might even convey a happy and young feeling more easily. This is because we tend to think of round things as cute (think about baby faces, baby animals). This is something I have used a lot in my career as a soft sculpture artist. 

Misty sunrise at the Gelderse PoortFoggy morning in the Gelderse PoortSmall tree in the distance almost entirely covered up by the morning mist at sunrise

Imagine if the shape in the background was not a round oak tree, but a mountain. This would give this scene a totally different story. Not just because there is a mountain in there, but it would appear less soft, because there would then be a lot of triangular shapes in this picture. In this case the triangles point to a round subject floating in the mist.

This week try to see beyond the elements in your frame and see the shapes and lines to see if they add something to your story or if another viewpoint might tell your story better because of a rearrangement of the shapes and lines that make up the composition

Next week will be the last post in this series : Let Your Photography Tell Your Story

If you missed the previous articles you can find them here;

Part One

Part Two

The hidden meaning of shapes and lines in photographyLet your photography tell your story part 3Tell your story in your photography. This time the story telling aspects of lines and shapes and how they can be used to strengthen the message in your images

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity photography stillness storytelling https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/3/let-your-photography-tell-your-story-part-3 Mon, 19 Mar 2018 14:28:27 GMT
Let Your Photography Tell Your Story Part 2 https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/3/let-your-photography-tell-your-story-part-2 Start with the mood that you wish to convey in your photographyLet your photography tell your story part 2Start telling your own story in your photography. Start with a vision, a mood before you take the picture

This week, I would like to approach the telling of your story from the angle of mood. Mood, as you can imagine, is a huge contributing factor to telling your story the way only you can tell it. If you are a landscape photographer, you don't always have a say in the matter, at least this is how it appears to be. Nature can not be forced to cooperate with us and we then tend to capture the moments as we receive them.

But what if we start with mood though? How would that work? This would start with you, the photographer. It would start with a story that you'd like to tell in your work, which will make it more cohesive. If you work from one mood, one story, you can capture an array of scenes with the same underlying message. 

So, start by looking at the work from others that you like best. Do the pictures have something in common? Are you drawn to happy colourful scenes, bright and airy scenes, dark and moody pictures, elegant pastels, minimalist pictures, dramatic and ominous landscapes or perhaps very monochromatic quiet images? What moods are you attracted to?

Shades of pastel at an early sunrise on the banks of the Old Rhine in The Netherlands Pink dawn with sun rising through a tree in wetland areaThis picture was taken in the Gelderse Poort, The Netherlands at dawn in early spring. The sun rose exactly behind this tree and the mist made the sun rays appear.

Let's say you want your work to tell the story of elegance, this would greatly influence the scenes you pick. Perhaps you go to the same view points as others but have a totally different approach. It might mean that you need to visit a location in very particular weather conditions and in one specific season. It has an effect on the colours that would be part of the picture, on the lines, the shapes and also greatly on the choice of lens. If you want to have your work ooze elegance, it does not make much sense to use tele lenses too much which compresses scenes and then tend to remove the airy feel from them.

Let me give you an example. Let's say you work from a mood of feminine elegance and you want to take a picture of the Eiffel Tower. It would make very little sense to use a wide angle lens, having a huge tree trunk as the first object in your picture and the Eiffel Tower in the background. The tree trunk would totally ruin the elegance. You might opt for Spring though, perhaps when the magnolia trees are flowering and you scout until you find a street with a view on the Eiffel Tower lined by pink flowering trees. Try to look at each element in the scene and decide if they help you tell your story or if they will detract from it.

Dancing trees in a Dutch winter forestBeech trees in a white winter forestThis picture was taken on a magical morning when winter was at its best with dense fog, snow and ice

I try to stick with one message in my work, which is stillness in the magical side of reality. This is my reason for shooting in early mornings and preferably on foggy days. It also means not having people in most of my pictures and....something that always surprises a lot of other photographers, it is also the reason that I am less fond of autumn colours which interfere with the story that I want to tell. I usually opt to not have man made structures in my images either, except those that might add a sense of timelessness. 

Birch lane on a foggy summer morningThe BirchesI captured this lane at a very foggy morning at the Veluwezoom, The Netherlands. The fog gives this scene a painterly feel

I make this work by visiting possible locations whenever I can, always trying out compositions, so I know where to go when the circumstances are such that they will let me tell my story. I don't let conditions stop me from photographing though; cloudy, grey days are perfect to try out different angles, find new spots without being hindered by distracting spots of light. I always take pictures with in the back of my mind the mood and vision that I want to convey. I always start from there. Sometimes this means I have to be very patient waiting for the right circumstances and sometimes it looks like they never come, which is why I recommend building up a large file of possible locations and photos, by scouting and knowing exactly where to go when nature gives you the exact atmosphere that you were hoping for. Sometimes these moments are very short-lived and you'd better know where you need to be at those times.

So you see that having a theme, a mood, in mind, that you want represented in your port folio, greatly influences the choices you make. It even has its consequences on how you offer your work for sale. If the mood you wish to portray is awe of the vastness of a landscape, you might want to offer way larger prints than someone like me with a port folio built around stillness. Of course it also has an immense influence on the way you edit your pictures. Happy moods require more saturation than for example moody scenes. Everything starts with the intention behind the story that you wish to tell, the mood that you want to convey. Work from there and your port folio will be more cohesive and have more impact.

Part 1 of this series of 4 blog posts can be read here: Let Your Photography Tell Your Story Part 1

Start with the mood that you wish to convey in your photographyLet your photography tell your story part 2Start telling your own story in your photography. Most often we try to capture the mood that we find, but what if we make mood the starting point of our photography

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity photography stillness storytelling https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/3/let-your-photography-tell-your-story-part-2 Mon, 12 Mar 2018 13:13:03 GMT
Let Your Photography Tell Your Story https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/3/let-your-photography-tell-your-story Tell your own story in your photographyLet your photography tell your story part 1Start telling your own story with your photography, capture the essence of exactly what makes you want to take a picture

Today the first blog post in a series of 4 posted every week in March about telling your own story in your photography.

Have you ever been to a place and been awestruck by what you saw and then snapped a photo and came back home and could not see the magic of that place in your photo? Or perhaps you went to an iconic place and came home with a picture that could have been anyone else's?

Most of the time this is due to being a tiny bit too enthusiastic when you see of fantastic sight or it may be due to seeing lots of pictures of this place which left an imprint in your brain that then quickly puts the stored image over the scene that you see and before you know it....you have a picture that does not convey your view of this beautiful place. It all comes down to pressing that shutter-release button a bit too quickly and not stopping for a moment to think about what it is that actually attracts you to the scene

An early morning stroll in a Dutch forestLonesome walker on a forest pathA photograph of a lonely walker on a forest path on an early autumn morning just when the fog had started to lift

What is it that draws your eye?

It is only when you stop and start asking yourself some questions that you start capturing more of what is captivating you. Ask yourself what it is that draws your eye? Let's say you are looking at a forest path and there are people walking on it. Is it the path that attracts you or the people against a natural background? This would result in entirely different pictures. Perhaps it is one tree that catches your eye in this path or perhaps you are drawn in by the colours. As soon as  you recognise what it is that you find attractive in a scene, you will start taking pictures that tell your story. 

Just take in everything for a few minutes and feel what it is that makes you gaze at it with this sense of wonder. Then walk around to find a viewpoint that will amplify your story. If your story is about a lonesome hiker you might want to make the hiker the only person in the frame and if you want to tell the story of how tiny humans are compared to trees, you choose a viewpoint from which the walker looks tiny and forlorn. 

Take your time, become still for a few moments and ask yourself some questions before taking the picture. It will make a world of difference

Tell your own story in your photographyLet your photography tell your story part 1Start telling your own story in your photography. Capture the essence of what makes you press that shutter release button

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity photography stillness storytelling https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/3/let-your-photography-tell-your-story Tue, 06 Mar 2018 13:10:47 GMT
The Experience of Taking Pictures https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/2/the-experience-of-taking-pictures I have lost count of the number of times I am asked how I created the fog, the mood and the sun rays in my pictures. People want to have a Photoshop recipe that I am using to create all this. I always reply by saying that nature is so generous that she makes all of this. Fact is that I would not be interested in photography without the experience of being in that enchanted moment in which nature shows its magic. As much as I am an artist, my photography is very much about the connection with stillness and magic in this world. I need this to stay rooted in my own stillness.

HomelandHomeland If I were not to connect to nature, I would not feel the same way when taking pictures. Creating some fog in Photoshop would not take me to that feeling of walking in the fog. Sun rays are magical to observe, I am not feeling inclined to make them, because this would not give me that feeling of pure enchantment that I get from witnessing it. Yes, I do edit my pictures in Photoshop, after all I photograph in RAW, but I must admit that even with a solid education on Photoshop, it is not what I love to do. I do however not add things in Photoshop that were not there. I love to take pictures, to spend time in nature, to connect to what is real and still in this world. This brings me peace and harmony. I wonder sometimes if we as human kind have somehow lost the ability to enjoy stillness, without feeling hurried or just capturing quickly what we see and than move on to the next moment. For me the picture comes from the experience, but the experience has to be the most important thing. The bliss of nature brings forth a connection to something deeper inside of you from which you can create without thoughts interfering. Being alive is in those moments, it is in the experiences in nature, it is in that connection with your deepest self and from there....you create your own unique view on the uniqueness of each and every moment. 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspiration photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/2/the-experience-of-taking-pictures Mon, 26 Feb 2018 12:51:13 GMT
The Motivation Behind Creation https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/2/the-motivation-behind-creation What I have learned in my 20 + years as a professional artist is that creation is made up of two parts. There is the process and the product. I must confess wholeheartedly that for the most part of my artistic career I loved to reach the end stage of a project where the process ended in a product. I went as fast as I could in my excitement to go from mental image to 3 dimensional shape that I could hold in my hands. I thought that was just magical....The fact that something that was floating in my mind could just be made into something real. I would get an idea, make and make and make and then compare the real thing and the mental image and sometimes that would be satisfying and a lot of the times my mental image had been more promising. I forgot about the process, it was the means to an end result.

SolemnSolemnSerene scene of pine trees in a foggy forest which is lit from behind.

www.ellenborggreve.com

I forgot about the process, it was the means to an end result

That shifted when I became more serious about photography. I have always been totally absorbed by the process of photography, depending on its inherent qualities of changing me into the observer, to somehow become still when the world would go mad around me. I noticed how different the process of photography was to my other creative process. I love the process of photography so, so much. I even love it when the results are crap. In my work as a soft sculpture artist I would always work meticulously with great attention to detail, but I worked towards the end product, often not being totally there....My mind would already be at the end result. As soon as I started to notice the difference between the two approaches I shifted things around in my soft sculpture art. After all, if my mind is already at the end result, when am I actually living? I can't live in that imaginary future, life is here and now and I'd better immerse myself fully in the process in order for me to live more fully. I was just skipping to the future with lots of images of what had previously worked and failed in the past and images of imagined end results running through my head. I would be so obsessed that I would sometimes sew in bed late at night because I wanted to see the end result. That had nothing to do anymore with loving the process, it was obsessive and unhealthy and it lead to me not really liking the creative process of making something anymore. These days I focus on the process, on the sketching, on the cutting out of patterns, on the designing, on the sculpting in the very same way that I am immersed in the process of photography. I am totally dedicated to what I am actually doing in the very best way I can, because life is in the process

Don't skip over the process (the here and now) to get to the end result. Love the creating, not just what you create...

Life is in the process

Oak FrameOak FrameOak trees in a fairytale forest setting photographed on a misty morning. A scene of stillness

www.ellenborggreve.com

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/2/the-motivation-behind-creation Wed, 07 Feb 2018 14:27:58 GMT
Passion is Contagious https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/1/passion-is-contagious I am often asked who my favourite photographers or artists are and my reply often surprises people, because the names that pop up in my head are not well-known photographers at all, they are somewhat anonymous. What it is about their work that speaks to me so much, might not be technical and artistic values like the right composition, exposure, the best editing or the most amazing lighting (even though some of these people take perfect pictures). My favourite photographers have one thing in common, they have a huge passion for the subject that they take pictures of. Their passion just illuminates their work and because of their light, people flock around them. Perhaps they are not followed by huge groups of other photographers, but by people who are attracted by the passion that lights up the work of these photographers. These photographers have such passion for their chosen subject matter that they don't care if their work will sell or not, they simply find beauty where others see none. This kind of passion is extremely contagious, people who are lit up from within are a joy to be around and this is why I follow these photographers. I love to see authentic passion and I am sure this is a great place to create from. If you start with passion, there is just no stopping you. It means you create no matter what. You simply create because creating lights you up and that in turn lights up your work and in some way, it also serves the world, because passion is a beautiful thing to witness. 

ForwardForwardTree lined path at the beginning of autumn with characteristic trees making this look like a see form a fairytale

www.ellenborggreve.com

There is this quote by Howard Thurman that I really love : "Don't ask what the world needs; ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is people who have come alive"

If you have passion as your starting point to create from, you simply can't go wrong. 

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/1/passion-is-contagious Mon, 29 Jan 2018 09:30:00 GMT
This Moment https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/1/this-moment If there is one thing about photography that really speaks to me, is its inherent quality of catching a moment, a fleeting moment. It captures slices of time and makes them more permanent. The funny thing is that it does not only capture a moment, but it also gets the photographer into that moment. If you are trying to capture two speed skaters about to start their race, you really can't afford to think about your grocery list. You immerse yourself in that moment and in that moment you capture it on camera. It is totally different from my work as a soft sculpture artist. I work for 24, 36 or even 100 hours on one piece and my mind can just take off in those hours that I am crafting something new. It is much harder to stay in the here and now if you are hand-stitching something for hours. There is much repetition in a needle stabbing in and out of the fabric and there is no sense of immediacy. Art journaling is already a faster and more intuitive process, but there is plenty of time still to have battles with your inner critic who can at times be rather unfriendly.

If you are trying to capture a moment though, it becomes almost necessary to immerse yourself in that moment completely and being present to that "now" makes you feel so much more alive. It therefore changes your stories. The stories of woe that you may tell yourself or others have to change if you have taken 10000 pictures in one year of truly magical moments. I really think photography has made me appreciate life in general much more, because I have proof that my year existed of I don't know how many beautiful moments. Photography is my gate to mindful living, of being present in the here and now, which is after all the only place and time that life happens...

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspiration photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/1/this-moment Mon, 22 Jan 2018 14:00:00 GMT
Stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/1/stillness Stillness is a theme in my life, if not THE theme. It is what drove me to photography, it is what drove me to creating. Stillness is that space in between thoughts where there is peace and observation. It is when you become absorbed by what you see or what you are doing. You loose your sense of time, space and even identity for a moment and you just ARE. If you, like me, are prone to worrying, stillness is the saviour. It is what lies underneath the mind's thinking and analysing. It is what is pure and peaceful and it is from this space that I create and in my case it is also this that photographing leads to. For you it might be flower arranging, painting, taking a walk....for me it is taking pictures. Pausing long enough to become the observer rather than the thinker and almost becoming one with what I see...If my mind can't stop thinking, I have a really hard time taking decent pictures. It usually happens when I start saying to myself that I really have to take a good picture or else the opportunity will be gone forever. Then of course I can't take a decent picture, but when that space between thoughts arises, when I see something that fills me with a sense of wonder, that is when stillness takes over and I can create from that source alone...without me wanting to control the situation. 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/1/stillness Tue, 16 Jan 2018 16:30:24 GMT
My Past Year https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/1/my-past-year I have been thinking a lot about what 2017 was like for me....It was....transformative...

If my life were a house, than that house has been demolished in 2017 and the foundation has now been rebuilt. A year in which I lost all contact with my soul and then got in touch with again on a deeper level then ever before. A year of working way too hard and running around in circles and a year in which I found my inner compass again and readjusted. I feel this has been one of my most valuable years ever. Sometimes things need to come crashing down, so you can build up again from a new foundation based on your own values, truths and beliefs. I let go of what other people think I should be doing, of the things experts told me to do, of the ways that things should be done according to the masses and accepted that my life must come only from my core. 

It was the year in which my passions deepened to great extents. Also a year filled with gratitude for the things we have been fortunate enough to experience. A year filled with magical mornings, with conquering fears and moments of exhilaration and wonder.

There were two trips to France with lots of enchanted exploration in which my dedication to photography was tested, but in which I persevered and enjoyed every minute of the feeling of belonging I feel when I am there. We hiked very long distances through the mountains and these hikes must have been the best moments of our lives. We enjoyed the best autumn colours ever even though it was a very short lived autumn of less than 2 weeks in these mountains. Within 3 weeks it went from summer to winter. Such great things we experienced, such wonderful things we witnessed. I'll take you with me on this trip down memory lane...

This was a forest in the north of France in the end of May....on our last day we got a tiny patch of fog in the forest and I was able to take this picture

A sunrise on the border with the German Pfalz

A beautiful sunrise very close to home

It was also the year of the most amazing sun rays I have ever been able to photograph

And some of the best misty mornings ever (even if there were very few of them)

InfiniteInfiniteVery painterly scene of foggy forest path lined with oak trees

www.ellenborggreve.com
Blissful Misty MorningBlissful Misty MorningSunlight forming sun rays as the light pierces through the dense fog in this tree lined forest path

www.ellenborggreve.com

And misty mornings on the moors of the Posbank....also amongst the best mornings of my entire life PosbankPosbank PosbankPosbank

The most amazing morning hikes in the mountains....every single day whilst we were there... HomelandHomeland

Sometimes all you get is harsh light and you have to settle for that, because this too has its charm

And then you get the wonderful soft lit fluffy clouds mornings as well

And then autumn arrived in The Netherlands and it was glorious UtopiaUtopia All in all I am loving the foundation I built in 2017, I am really loving the moments I was fortunate enough to witness and I am loving where my photography has taken me and where I have taken my photography. I am so looking forward to this new year, I am raring to go....I am going already, I can't wait to see where this will all take me and where I will take me. This year though, I will give priority to self-care, to resting more, because no one can run a wonderful life without refuelling...

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity photography stillness year 2017 https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/1/my-past-year Mon, 08 Jan 2018 16:08:18 GMT
My personal top 10 of 2017 https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/1/my-personal-top-10-of-2017 It is unbelievable how fast the past 2 weeks have passed. I of course had planned to show my personal top 10 before the year ended as well as a review of my year, but here I am writing this on the second day of 2018...

On Instagram I shared a "best 9 of 2017" which was generated based on the amount of likes and then I also showed a personal best 6, because they were just so very different. I think it is so very important to not be influenced in your work by the number of likes as this depends on so many factors. It could be the right timing, the amount of followers online, which day of the week a picture was posted, perhaps a picture looked better in the tiny squares on Instagram....you just don't know and it therefore should not be taken as a stamp of approval on any picture. I always, always review my own work and I do this in writing. I look at my pictures, I pick my favourites on intuition or instinct. I pick those that speak to me the most, that convey my vision best and then...I get to work. I write out in detail why it is that I like these pictures best and what I think could be improved on. I have always worked like this. I take into account the composition, the editing, the light, but most of all my personal style. I want my pictures to be unmistakably mine. I will inevitably fail at this sometimes, but I pick up on this quickly and move on. 

I get asked so often how I manage to be consistent in what I produce and I think it is my reviewing method that is at the base of this. That said....this method might ensure consistency and progress, but it is more like perfecting your work and your vision. Perfecting something can be useful, but I know that perfection means stagnation. It means reworking something I already created or just learning from it, but sometimes I really need to leap into the unknown to discover something new. These two methods combined make sure I keep moving forward.

Anyway....these are my favourites of last year...

Purple Promise.....taken on the Posbank, Veluwezoom, The Netherlands on one of the most magical mornings ever. 

PosbankPosbank

The Birches, taken on the same morning as the picture above....This picture is special to me for so many reasons....And I am pleased to say this is also the picture that was published on the inside cover of Focus magazine of January 2018...

Grace....Another picture that I care deeply about

GraceGraceSummer transitions into autumn in this foggy forest in the Achterhoek, The Netherlands. The oak trees still mostly green, but about to become colourful. Mist makes this scene look painterly

Mystical Moments....I think this was the first picture of 2017 that I felt was really "me"

Sheltered...

Sunshine Shower....Even though I have taken so many pictures with sun rays in it and they are always very popular on social media, this picture is the one I like best. This moment did not last more than 5 seconds, until the light changed again. 

Adorned....I really love how this picture turned out and I will always remember that I took this whilst a very nasty dog was trying to nibble at my calves...I had to take this picture though. I love the graphical patterns the ivy left on the tree

Taste of Autumn....I love the time of the year when the leaves still retain much of their dull green colours and the yellow is just setting in...I prefer this over the very warm autumn colours

Divine Destiny....I love the painterly atmosphere of this picture taken in very dense fog

Finale.....This picture is all about perseverance and probably stubbornness. The number of times we had to drive up the mountain to get fog in the forest adds up to 21 and on the last day....I got the fog that I had been waiting for and it was glorious. I was so incredibly happy. In this case I felt like I was on a photography high, I had trouble to not become to trigger-happy and just keep shooting. It sounds weird but I tend to take technically better pictures on days that the weather circumstances are not 100% perfect. I feel rushed when I get the fog or light I had been waiting for for a long time. I really need to slow myself down then and think before pressing the shutter button. 
These are my personal favourites and then there is this picture that is purely personal and means the world to me. If you have two travel companions who don't ever complain when you want to stand up at 5 am again to drive up the mountain AGAIN...giving up on breakfast and sleeping in and walking for hours to find the right spots, a picture like this just tells the story of love and companionship. My husband with Kayla on his lap, him completely oblivious to the fact that I am taking this picture, Kayla however picked up on it and is peeking over his shoulder. And the two of them are sitting at my favourite place in the entire world, a place where I feel at home and totally free...That is why this picture means the most to me...

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2018/1/my-personal-top-10-of-2017 Tue, 02 Jan 2018 16:40:03 GMT
Your Leading Light https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/12/your-leading-light As this year is coming to a close I always start thinking about the new year ahead, about my plans, about a new leading light. I had to giggle over my 2017 goals, I find them amusing and slightly embarrassing to be honest. But let's be embarrassed for a minute (not much longer though), I was told by an internet guru who was also my teacher that I should really get more followers on social media. So I had these silly goals on my list : 1500 likes on my Facebook page, 6000 on Instagram and 2500 on 500px. Ok, I am feeling deeply embarrassed now, because somewhere in August it dawned on me that these goals had nothing whatsoever to do with me. What is worse, I kept feeling bad if a picture of mine would not "perform" well. I had in some way attached the worthiness of my work to the number of likes and followers. I felt pretty silly after that and took an enormous break from social media, which always makes me feel better. The teacher had told me to absolutely not desert any of my social media accounts for weeks, yet this was exactly what I did.

Leading StarLeading Star

I found out that the people behind the numbers should be my leading light. Creation is self-expression in its purest form, but by sharing it, it touches not only me, but others as well and these others are wonderful people and my goal became to add enchantment to the days of these people. The people who leave comments, who write messages, who are touched by something I create. That is truly humbling. I love social media for reaching those who are in some way touched by what I do. I have given up on the popularity contest though. I am a bad loser in any competition, which is why I also don't ever play games. I am just not the best version of myself if I feel like I am competing. My focus should be on creating the best possible work that I can make, on improving on myself every single day, on creating from my heart. I am my best self if the only person I compete with is yesterday's version of myself. If I can do better today, I will try my best and be proud of the fact that I tried, even if I failed.

Comparing with others will inevitably lead to heartache. Compare yourself to your past self, to yesterday's self. Strive to be the best version of yourself and know yourself well enough to know which circumstances will lead to you not being the best version of you. Live your own truth and let that be your guiding light.

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspiration photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/12/your-leading-light Fri, 22 Dec 2017 14:28:21 GMT
Believe https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/12/believe I have lost track of the number of times I get emails, messages and comments from wonderful women all over the world, who tell me they simply can't do what I am doing, because they are not creative. This always fills my heart with sadness, because I know how it feels to believe that you can't do something or that you are not good enough to do something well.

Let me start by saying that no matter how much these women who write to me believe they are not creative, I don't believe this to be true. Let me tell you something. When I was a child I tried to sew a few times. I set out to make a shirt for a doll, I started with a pretty straightforward looking design and ended up with something that no doll on planet earth would ever have fitted into. I embroidered things onto my parents'  tablecloth, so everything had to be undone again and I could not get two stitches straight next to each other. Everything was wonky. The sewing machine I bought when I was 19 (because I believed that grown ups needed to own a sewing machine) was definitely allergic to me and yet....in 1997 I got it into my head that I would start making teddy bears and not just toys, but artist teddy bears. I could not sew....I looked at that as a minor detail though, because the end result mattered to me, I simply wanted to be able to make a bear. Let's just say that I managed to learn how to sew, design and do lots of other things, because I have now been a soft sculpture artist for over 20 years. You see, it is the belief that makes it true. If you believe you can't do it, you are proven right, because your actions will follow from that belief. If you believe you can do it, you are much more likely to succeed, because you will do whatever it takes to learn how to do it. 

2 Years ago I had been photographing for perhaps almost 40 years, but I fell in love with forest photography and had no idea how to get pictures to look as mesmerising as the ones I admired so much. I had taken so many classes and even long courses by world renowned photographers in the 25 years before that, I knew all about the technique of cameras, I had no trouble with the settings, but yet.....I felt intimidated by the pictures I liked so much until I realised that these photographers had also learned how to do this. I got firm with myself and said: "Look, you were the world's worst seamstress and you can now win awards with your bears, how in the world can it be that you can already take decent pictures and you would not be able to take these kinds of forest pictures? That makes no sense!" I simply started believing that I could do this. People are born with infinitely more potential that they are aware of and that they will never put to use. Don't let a belief alone stop you from doing something you would love to do. Believe that you can do it and than put one step in front of the other. All it takes is one step at a time, no one ever got good at something instantly and everyone learns differently and at a different pace. But believe first, believe that you can do more than you think you can and this will pave the road for you

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspire photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/12/believe Mon, 18 Dec 2017 15:26:03 GMT
Be Prepared to Be Surprised https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/12/be-prepared-to-be-surprised When creating, whether that be writing, photographing, designing...it usually helps to start with a plan. If you are a landscape photographer it helps to have a plan, because without one, you would not rise well before sunrise to go somewhere to take pictures. Motivation comes from having an idea of what it is you want to create. This is essential to get going, but it is best to not get too attached to your plans. You might have a perfect sunrise against white mountain tops in mind and you get to your location and there is not even the faintest glimpse of a sunrise. What do you do? You have this image in your mind, you know what it needs to look like and now nature decides otherwise. This is a great source of frustration amongst photographers because we, unlike painters, are relying on the right circumstances. The thing is though, that the right circumstances are pretty debatable. Let me tell you about my experiences in the French mountains 2 months ago...

One morning we went up the mountain and it was the worst possible sunrise ever. It was dull and totally grey. We thought' we'd turn back, but as we had our Tibetan Spaniel in the car and she obviously loves mountain walks we thought it only fair to grant her her walk as we had after all dragged her out of the apartment at a very early hour that morning. It turned out to be the best morning ever as far as weather conditions are concerned. An understated kind of magic, with the most beautiful cloud patterns. Had I listened to this voice in my head that said: "Nope, not what I had in mind, let's go back", I would not have been able to witness the unfolding of another kind of magic. You have to be willing to be surprised, you have to stay open to a sense of wonder, because the universe might be delivering magic to you and you might not even notice it if you have such a rigid idea in your mind of how it should be and you miss life....Life happens in between those moments, at the time you stop forcing your will onto reality. Life is waiting to be captured or illustrated and you plan to create, but then you let go of the outcome....What will be will be

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspire photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/12/be-prepared-to-be-surprised Thu, 14 Dec 2017 16:52:26 GMT
What If Or If Only https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/12/what-if-or-if-only In the minds of creatives two thoughts tend to arise often : " What if.....?" and "If only..." Even though only one word is different, there is a world of difference underneath these thoughts. "What if..." broadens your horizons, "If only..." limits your creativity. " What if..." has a promise of possibilities, "if only" holds a universe of impossibilities. " What if..." is this voice of curiosity : "I wonder what would happen if I...." . This whisper from within holds memories of the subconscious mind of all that we really can do, which is vastly different from what our thoughts believe we can do. This is the whisper that drives creative processes and feeds originality. Then there is:  "if only... (the circumstances would be different, I would have the perfect fabrics, I would have that perfect camera.....). This is the voice that will quiet creativity, it will make you look at your ideas as unobtainable, impossible....It will stop you in your tracks, it will cause you to put your ideas in the freezer and keep them there.

For the sake of keeping this post clear, I am not talking about non-creative "what if" thoughts, those that tend to tell you all the dreadful things that could possibly go wrong and that probably will not go wrong in real life..

Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote " Big Magic", said in an interview that she likes to follow the whispers of curiosity. She also said that fear will always be present in the creative process, but she puts it in the backseat of the car. I loved this so much that ever since I heard her say this, I have been on a quest to follow the whispers and shut up the screams. Curiosity is softly spoken at first, it tries to get your attention....Fear will kick in and in comparison will be more of a screaming nature. This is why we quickly put the whispers aside and listen to the voice of impossibilities. The latter though is a thought-based voice and this is the result of a conditioned mind. A mind that has sometimes been lead to believe that you are not good enough, that everything needs to be perfect (which is nothing than hidden fear of risk taking), that you need to be the very best, that you need to make a masterpiece and that everything depends on your succeeding at this. The voice of curiosity comes from deeper within and is not hindered by thoughts just yet, it simply wants to explore, to create, to see what would happen. I have a deep belief in endless possibilities. I choose to believe these curious whispers more than the limiting thoughts these days. It took me a very long time to get to this point, because the things my mind tells me can be amazingly cruel if I tune in to them. The thing is that you have the choice to listen to the voice of impossibilities or you can choose to listen to the whispers of curiosity...

My wish for you is that you find those tiny whispers of "what if...." and see what happens

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspiration photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/12/what-if-or-if-only Sat, 09 Dec 2017 07:38:51 GMT
The Mysterious https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/12/the-mysterious Sometimes dreams of magical misty mornings do come true. Last Friday evening I went to bed in this hopeful state of mind, because it had been foggy for hours here and it looked like it would not lift any time soon. I never sleep well when I expect to be taking pictures in the morning. My mind tries to pre-photograph everything, it goes through all options and kills all spontaneity. That is the designer in me, I always have difficulty letting go of preconceived images. As a designer, this is how I work though. I construct things in my mind, so I don't waste materials when making something. The thing is of course, that nature won't let me design it. I am sure this is a wonderful thing, as it is much better at designing stuff than I am. The source for my inspiration is always nature, is always the moment in which magic happens, but still my mind likes to think it has control over the process and keeps me up in the nights before I expect to be taking pictures. This means it is of course doubly frustrating when the weather does not cooperate. Not only can I not take pictures, but I also have not slept a wink. Oh, this situation sometimes lingers on for weeks when fog is forecasted almost every day. 

Anyway, I am digressing, slightly....As Saturday morning came the promised fog was there and it was gloriously dense and temperatures were below zero as well. This was very promising. All my thinking proved to have been in total vain, because the roads were slippery and I was not going to go to the forest that I had had in mind. That is when you simply land back in the moment and you start to notice things. I went to a place I have been to loads of times, but came home with such different pictures. When you know a place well, it can be hard to see with new eyes, but it is best to always take pictures as if you are seeing the scene for the first time. Always asking yourself what else is there, always asking : "What if..." Always looking at the world with a sense of wonder, so the things that you know so well, can look different every single time

Albert Einstein said it well:

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed."

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity fog forest misty photography stillness trees https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/12/the-mysterious Mon, 04 Dec 2017 18:00:30 GMT
Location, Location https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/11/location-location Many years ago I read the advice from a very famous photographer that a good photograph is all about location. Something inside of me rebelled against this, because I so intensely disagree with this. I also think that this can make people think they need bucket list locations to take extraordinary pictures. It is a highly limiting belief in my point of view to think that you need to go to a famous spot to take a special picture. It limits creativity and it simply is not true.

A few months ago a woman commented on a picture of mine on one of the social media, that she could not take pictures like mine, because the forests near her were not as beautiful as the ones I was taking pictures in. I simply could not believe what she was saying and I looked up where she lived. I was surprised to see that coincidentally I was going to be near her home town for one day whilst traveling to another destination in May and as these things happen...during that entire trip I had a couple of minutes of fog during the entire trip and they happened to be in the forest closest to her home, less than 10 minutes away from her. I took pictures there and I did not mention the location (I hardly ever do, because location does not matter). She loved this picture not knowing it was taken so close to her home. I never told her, I thought that would be unkind. It does however prove my point that you don't have to travel far to find magic in nature. Mother Nature did not stop making magic when it got to Iceland or Patagonia and then thought : "Ah well, that's it...I lost inspiration to make magic, let's make the rest look bland and be done with it"

Here it is: the picture I took in France of the so-called uninteresting forest

Last week I was reminded of this again due to me being asked about the Speulderbos on a regular base. I took pictures there last year, it is sort of a bucket list forest for most forest photographers. It is famous for its dancing trees (and the tripod holes on the paths). I think this is a very special forest, but photographing there always makes me feel uncomfortable as if I am going against everything I believe in. I believe in looking at this world with a sense of wonder and I can take pictures of elegant looking trees anywhere....and I really mean ANYWHERE. 

I posted this picture of the Speulderbos

And after that I posted this picture. This last picture was taken in a stamp sized forest near a busy main road. People commented on the beauty of these dancing trees and again were asking about the location, but the thing is....I wanted to show that location does not matter. Magic really can be found everywhere and to be honest I prefer to go treasure hunting (as I call it) in the places that other people think of as ordinary. It makes my delight so much greater when I spot something enchanting through my lens. I explore the green spots on my maps and I always find something worth taking pictures of. To me it is not about location, but keeping a sense of wonder in my heart

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspiration photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/11/location-location Wed, 29 Nov 2017 10:37:56 GMT
Connect, Not Collect https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/11/connect-not-collect As a photographer surrounded by other photographers I notice that we are always hunting to capture something. You will be driving in your car and you see something utterly magnificent and for photographers this magnificence is only worthy if we catch it on film or SD card. We need to capture it in order for us to be happy. Last week I was driving home on a country road and goodness me, all the fog that I had wanted was there...right there...the trees were in full autumn adornment, the light came from one side and it was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. It was also on a road that allows cars to drive at 100 km per hour and it is a very busy road. I knew I could not capture it and part of me was really bummed. After all, what was this if I could not capture it right? I would not be able to share it, I would not be able to have the proof on my camera or have it as a print on my wall....But there it was: magnificence. 

Autumn SpiritsAutumn Spirits

I know my photography mania well and can always put a stop to it. I know that if I let the photographer in me take over, she will be in the "collecting" mode. Perhaps you know the feeling? You see a picture and get this feeling that you need to also take that picture. You have not captured that place yet, you have not added this to your stash of photos, a bit like when you were collecting collector's cards or stamps as a child and you needed that stamp or card to complete the collection and then you find out they have come up with a second series and now you need more to complete the collection...

AutumnsfereAutumnsfereThe atmosphere of an autumn morning when the light gets filtered through the golden leaves on the trees

www.ellenborggreve.com

I can watch this part of myself with some amusement nowadays. I'd much rather connect than collect. Connecting is more like mindfully walking in the wonderful places that this earth has to offer and taking in the unmeasurable beauty of it. As an artist, I am always in awe, knowing that no matter how hard I try I will not ever beat nature at creation. If I feel connected I take better pictures, but I am only ever going to the forest, into nature, to connect to it, because I am looking to be enchanted. Some days the enchantment can be captured in a photograph, some days the enchantment happens on a busy main road and I can still capture it, but not with my camera. Sometimes it is enough knowing that some things can't be captured, they can't be collected, but connecting to it brings with it a pure sense of bliss. Magic is allowed to be elusive, it is allowed to not be captured or collected at times, it can however be enjoyed.

Have a blissful week!

 

 

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspiration photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/11/connect-not-collect Mon, 20 Nov 2017 15:43:27 GMT
Seeing With A Sense Of Wonder https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/11/seeing-with-sense-of-wonder I am sure I am not alone in saying my mind often tricks me into hunting after the perfect situation that it has fabricated. Like this morning for example....I got out of bed, checked the weather forecast (which in my case this means I look at the fog charts) and I got pretty excited. I quickly had my oatmeal, I vaguely remember there being cherries in it, I ran around the block with Kayla (my always zen Tibetan Spaniel), got home, grabbed my tripod and got into the car. Visions of the perfect foggy autumn forest accompanied me on the way. My mind knew how it wanted reality to look and I was hunting for the exact thing it had come up with. I passed the first forest....no fog, I drove to the second forest....no fog, I drove to the third forest....I'll let you guess here, but it begins with "no"....and ends with "fog"

(This is sort of how I wanted it to look, but with autumn colours and fallen leaves...)

As I had now been driving for over an hour, I felt my excitement had dropped way under zero and was now matching the temperatures outside and my motivation had gone out of the window as well. I had focussed so hard on what I had wanted to see happen, or....I had hunted after what my mind wanted reality to look like ( the perfectly foggy autumn forest captured perfectly and flawlessly on a brilliantly working SD card on my camera and this would be the best picture ever of course). Anything less than that....not good enough....You might have guessed by now that I am a bit of a perfectionist, which I have always stated as my talent, but which is a bit of a curse actually. Especially when you try to force perfectionism onto reality. This is a battle you can't win. The worst thing though is that you miss the beauty and magic that is there and .....that this planet is much more magical than my mind could ever force it into being (which it can't)

(I might have even settled for less fog like in this picture, but with the most glorious autumn colours and very award winning of course)

I decided that I was not going to start my day like this, with a feeling of disappointment. It was after all a result of believing a little bit too hard that my perfectionist mind was right. I thought I'd prove it wrong. I decided to stop my car somewhere where I had not taken pictures before and see what treasure I could find. No expectations of award winning photographs this time, just enjoying the beautiful morning that it was. After all it was sunny for the first time in many days and it WAS beautiful and the air was filled with sounds of thousands of geese flying from one meadow to the meadow across the river. When I let go of my mind's vision of how it would ideally look, everything becomes so much lighter and friendlier. I notice things that before that, I did not see. I always do this when I catch myself on way too much perfectionism or listening to thoughts that simply can not be very true; I start looking at the world with a sense of wonder and then magic is everywhere. I was fortunate this morning, the sun decided to bless my not very perfect perfectionist self and gave me plenty of sun rays when I got out of the car at a very random spot. A sign is in my frame and yes, this would normally bug me to bits, but this was part of my morning and it was magical after all, because I decided to not start my day feeling disappointed. It would have been magical without the sun rays as well, there is so much divinity in the ordinary, such magic in the details of nature.

Look at this world with a sense of wonder and curiosity and be enchanted.

(And this is what I got this morning.....isn't it glorious, even if it is different from what I envisioned???)

To get weekly updates on my treasure hunt for stillness and the magical side of reality and new available pictures, please join my mailing list

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity forest inspiration photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/11/seeing-with-sense-of-wonder Fri, 17 Nov 2017 16:51:52 GMT
The Treasure Hunt https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/11/the-treasure-hunt If life gets tough, you look for distractions. If life is tough for a long time, you tend to develop tactics to cope. The way I have always done this, was to go on a treasure hunt for the magic in everyday life. I would look for pretty stones, fossils and for frames of reality that proved to me, without a shadow of a doubt that life was miraculous. That this world is a place of wonder and abundance instead of one of pain and sorrow. The way I have done this has always been the same...zooming in on the wondrous beauty that surrounds us, either with a camera or without 

Fall ParadiseFall Paradise

It is about consciously choosing to see the most magical side of reality, to go seek it out, to go search for it, because I know one thing for sure: this is where grace lives

Au Coeur de la ForetAu Coeur de la Foret

Grace lives in the moments that light the world up with magic, that bring divinity into a slice of reality and if you focus on these moments, these slices, then your reality will become filled with Grace. 

UtopiaUtopia

Coping with life becomes living, existing becomes experiencing and gravity becomes gratitude. It is as simple as a shift in focus and having the determination to find the good, the magical and the beautiful in this world

 

All pictures in this post are available as prints

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity forest photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/11/the-treasure-hunt Mon, 13 Nov 2017 16:46:35 GMT
Shades of August https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/8/shades-of-august August always holds the promise of something magical, something glorious, right when the summer is about to end and the trees are losing the greenest of their green, when the flowers lose their lustre and nature seems to fade a bit. This is the exact moment that the heather starts to bloom and that the moors are turning purple in all kinds of shades through the weeks of its bloom. The first signs of purple were showing earlier than usual and even autumn seems well on its way already, with leaves turning yellow as early as mid August. One Saturday afternoon it was raining buckets and I, of course, decided to go to the moors of the Posbank to see if the colour purple could be found and standing in the pouring rain I could draw the conclusion that it was indeed showtime. I know how busy the Posbank can get and so I counted on being the first there on the very next morning, because it was just blooming so early in the month and it all happened to be just so and I was alone on that first morning...Oh, how delightfully glorious that morning was. A morning filled with stillness, mist, shades of purple and magical light. 

PosbankPosbank

I was deliriously happy, I must admit. The days after though, the word was out and photographers flocked together to photograph the moors. I tried to stay away but then decided that I would simply go to the places where I would be alone and so I did, because to me, this entire thing that I am doing called photography, is all about finding stillness and magic and I just don't experience the same amount of delight when surrounded by 50 others. So I found my stillness by getting away from the crowds and even on the busiest morning I spent hours and hours on my own. This is how I connect to the magical side of reality....on my own.... PosbankPosbank Well...alone...You know what was also really magical? I was making a video to put on Instagram Live and my very dear friend who lives in Sweden could see what I was seeing at the very moment I was recording it. I often feel really overwhelmed by social media, it often takes over my life, but this moment it made me feel like I had one of my dearest friends, whom I miss so much, right there. That was astonishing. I mean....if someone would have told me 10 years ago that my Swedish friend could see a video that I was recording live in something called social media and that she could watch it on her phone whilst I was recording, I would have honestly though they had watched too many Star Trek episodes

PosbankPosbank And so I photographed at the Posbank for many more glorious mornings.The moors were just more beautiful than I have ever seen before and even if fog has been absent for most of the mornings since February, all of a sudden the Universe decided to give me fog on all the mornings that I spent there, except on one unfortunate morning when I got there, started to feel incredibly sick and had to return home instantly. That was the one day that I was not alone and that fog had decided to not show up, which was ok, because I would have felt even more horrible if I had had to run to my car if there had been fog around. Believe me, I did not need an extra ounce of horrible that morning.

PosbankPosbank I just had the time of my life this August. People were starting to get slightly worried if I had fled the forests for good, but as long as the purple goodness lingered on, it kept luring me back. 

PosbankPosbank The sad fact that the enormous bush fires in Canada are so, so large that the smoke would reach our country and added magenta tones to the early morning skies was magically beautiful, but at the same time also worrying as this just indicates the gravity of it all. 

PosbankPosbank The moors are now losing their lustre and it is time for another season full of colour. Autumn is on its way and I am ready to capture that as well. I will of course go back to my beloved forests, but only those that I feel connected to, only those that help me tell my story, my story of finding the magical side of reality, to stubbornly look for the magic in every day life, because it is out there.

PosbankPosbank

PosbankPosbank PosbankPosbank PosbankPosbank

PosbankPosbank

PosbankPosbank

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity moor photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/8/shades-of-august Thu, 31 Aug 2017 14:48:09 GMT
Staying Inspired https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/7/staying-inspired I must admit that I was really starting to feel like my mind would explode if I would not be able to take a picture soon, when the foggy circumstances just did not appear to be happening. Last weekend I told my husband that whatever what happened, I would go out and drive until I found some fog. He agreed to come along and so we set out last Sunday....not a trace of fog to be seen of course....We drove for more than an hour and as I was determined to take pictures, we decided on going to the Kootwijkerzand. I hope you will all recover soon from the shock of seeing a picture of more sand than trees, but I simply had to take pictures as I just felt so out of touch with the core of my entire being 

KootwijkerzandKootwijkerzand This is not a picture that I had had in mind, nor is it a picture that matches my style particularly, but being creative, staying inspired, also means that you simply need to keep creating and learn to work with what you've got. It was a challenge to me, taking a picture of a scene that was so....empty...Challenges are a treasure though as you learn so much from taking them on and sometimes struggling a bit to overcome the hurdles that might be appearing. 

KootwijkerzandKootwijkerzand

So, I took these pictures in weather circumstances that I would not have chosen, in less than perfect light and in a location that does not really suit my style, but I am glad I took pictures there, because I learned so much by doing so. That said....I will continue to hope for mystical foggy mornings in a forest, because this is what makes me happy

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspiration photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/7/staying-inspired Tue, 25 Jul 2017 18:21:31 GMT
What drives you https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/7/what-drives-you People often comment on me being very driven to get a pretty picture, sometimes even suggesting I have an obsession with getting that picture. This always  mystifies me a bit, because no matter how much I love to come home with a decent picture on my memory card, this is not what drives me to stand up at 4 am in the morning. 

I started thinking about this a bit more and I think that this comes down to exactly what drives you to do something. Are you driven by the end result (a pretty picture or a painting) or driven by the need to create, by the purest of passions? If you are driven by ambition it might just be a recipe for disaster, as you may just be building something up that is solely based on an outcome. Without a pure passion (and I am not talking about a casual interest or a love for something, but a pure passion that can not be ignored, that defines you in some way), a focus on the end result will just keep you running towards the finish line. This means that you might get burnt out or very frustrated, because everything is pointed in the direction of the desired outcome. Let's say that your desired result is a pretty picture. You can learn how to take a pretty picture, you can persevere to get better and better at it, but what if the picture you take is not that great or you are disappointed in the outcome? That would make you feel bad and disappointed. It might affect your self confidence and might even make you become slightly obsessed. You are creating with willpower as your only fuel.  If you are driven by pure passion for creating though, if you simply need to create, because you feel lost without the ability to do so, if you simply love the process of creating, you might get exhausted because of your many ideas, you might get burnt out if you don't also build in self-care, but it is all about the process of making your art, you do it because you simply have to create. This is the case for me....I am not just focussed on getting the pretty picture that we all love to make, but I genuinely love to create, I have to create, I feel deeply stressed out and utterly unhappy if I can not create. 

DaybreakDaybreak I know this because I have tried it. I went on vacation once without anything to do except books to read. Within two days my mind was about to explode and I rushed into town, which is unusual for me as I don't like spending time in towns and shops, and I bought a sketchbook and pencils. A day later I went back and bought brushes and paint and then I went back another time to get ink markers and coloured pencils. That was the end of my experiment with a non-creative vacation. I now know that I take pictures because my entire life it has been the one thing that makes me happy, the act of looking through the viewfinder, which narrows down my reality to the most magical side of it and creating an impression of how I see the world. I love how it makes me hone in on the beauty that surrounds us, the magic in everyday life and how it offers me an escape from worries and what most people see as reality. My reality comes to life when I look through that viewfinder and this is what drives me. I live for those magical moments in nature that make me forget about everything, those moments that make you feel more alive than ever before, those moments that show the world's divinity. To be able to capture that is a privilege.

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity inspiration photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/7/what-drives-you Tue, 18 Jul 2017 09:24:59 GMT
Happy Making Magic https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/3/happy-making-magic Last week I was incredibly busy with my soft sculpture work. On Thursday my weather app told me it was foggy, really foggy...I packed my bag and left home early. It soon became very obvious that the weather app had no idea what it was talking about as the view was well over 1 km and so I returned home to work some more in the studio. Friday came and no fog was forecasted for this area. I came downstairs for breakfast and looked outside and got feverish....it was very foggy. This was not planned, but I had to go, I just had to. I grabbed my camera bag and set out on the same trip as the day before and rushed through the forest as it looked like the sun would soon chase away my beloved fog. And then it did....the sun pierced through the fog and a wonderful glowing haze changed the forest into a fairytale. I had no idea where I was, I just went where the nicest light was and I was so very happy to be alive at that moment. 

GlowingGlowing This is not the most beautiful forest in the world, it is quite messy, but the right light changes it into a place of magic. This just proves that you don't have to go to famous places, to those places where lots of tripod marks have been made on the paths already. It is all about light and the right circumstances. I must admit to being rather partial to true forests. I like them better than the estate forests that we have so many of in this country. With their straight lanes and everything in line, they tend to make me feel bored quite easily. They are really nice, but I am not one for all that symmetry, those geometric perfect shapes that The Netherlands are so well known for. I mean, have you ever flown over The Netherlands??? We Dutch love the ruler, straight lines everywhere. 

Golden HazeGolden Haze I much rather have a true forest, where humans have not forced nature to stand in line. A place where nature can be itself. And then I wait for the right circumstances, I get lost and take pictures and come home exhausted and exhilarated, because I have tried to savour all that magic to the fullest, because you just never know how long you will have to wait to witness it again.

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) creativity forest photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/3/happy-making-magic Mon, 13 Mar 2017 10:41:11 GMT
A Magical Mess https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/3/a-magical-mess I was going through my Lightroom catalogue yesterday and found some images I took in a French forest. Dutch forests are surprisingly tidy compared to the forests I have visited abroad. I love these ancient forests, I am in awe when I walk around in one, but it is hard to take decent pictures in such a messy place. I find Dutch forests, especially those on estates, a bit boring to be honest. They are neat and tidy, but I personally do not like the strict symmetry of the paths and lanes. I can't help myself from wishing that one tree was born as stubborn as I am and that this one tree would refuse to stand in line. 

Dutch forests are therefore not nearly as challenging as the mountain forests in for example Germany and France. I don't like to make life easy for myself, so I love to find the most challenging spots, then fail horribly the first few times I take pictures there (ok, I don't love that, but I have learned to love the process of learning through failing) and then be totally exhilarated when I get it right. I don't think I got it right in this mountain forest just yet, but I will keep trying and when I succeed, I will be as happy as can be

Mystifying MagicsMystifying Magics

]]>
(Ellen Borggreve) forest photography stillness https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/3/a-magical-mess Wed, 01 Mar 2017 10:30:00 GMT
To Create https://www.ellenborggreve.com/blog/2017/2/to-create

I have been thinking a lot about creating, being an artist and how we humans learn. A few days ago I posted this picture on Facebook with a passionate piece of writing of how we are put on this world to be unique, to bring something new into existence. Maybe it is because my work has been copied so much through the years and I have had time to think about this a lot or perhaps even too much. 

Let me start by saying that we humans learn by mimicking the things we see. If we had not done so, we would have never learned to walk or talk and that would have been a shame. In school we learned to copy all the letters of the alphabet and we learned to write. After a while our handwriting digressed from what we learned and it turned into something more unique. In the beginning though, you learn by mimicking. At one point you have the technical skills, you get experience and you start to digress from what you originally mimicked. You soak in more of the things that you love and all these things start to build connections inside your mind and they become one vision. It is this unique personal vision from which we create.

This can be a scary thing. I know I found being creative quite a challenge. I would let things simmer in my brain for years until I just knew I would not get a design wrong. It took me 18 years to realise that it does not work this way. Creativity is letting go of strict rules, expectations of an outcome and letting go of what you see others do. Yes, you have soaked in what others create, things you love, perhaps from many different sources and then you just need to learn to trust that all the things you like together make for a unique perspective. This makes you unique and this perspective makes that you are able to look at the world in a way that no one else can. That to me is the magic of creating. It is also the daunting part of creating. Without an example it feels like you are a little too free, like you lost stability. It is very much like riding your bicycle without your hands on the handlebar for the very first time and whilst it is scary, when you realise that your body knows how to balance you, it is exhilarating.

Creating is lot like this. After all those years of thinking about things until I thought they could not go wrong, I decided that this was not how you were supposed to live life. You don't need the perfect example, you don't need to have the perfect image of the outcome in your mind. Creating is very much about the process and letting something else than your intelligence do the doing. I noticed that if I started making something from scratch I not only learned faster and got things done, but I was able to deal with every obstacle one obstacle at a time and that some way, somehow something inside me knew what to do. 

This applies to all kinds of creating, but let's take photography for example. You fall in love with photography, you visit photography websites, you are bowled over by the wonderful pictures you see. You are impressed and as the obsession with taking pictures deepens, you really want to take such pictures as well. You probably have a folder of favourite pictures on websites like flickr or perhaps 500px and I bet that the favourite folders of each of us are different. Let's say we love the exact same picture and we favourite that image, but this can be for a wide array of reasons. My reasons for liking this picture might be entirely different from yours. If you look at your other favourite pictures you might start to see something that connects these images. Maybe it is the light, the weather circumstances, the toning, the composition, the strong lines, the symmetry or lack of it or......the pictures might be connected by the feeling that they give you. Maybe you feel stillness or you have a feeling of escaping the everyday humdrum that life can be. All these things can connect the images you like and once you find that connection, you can work from there.

It all begins there....finding out the "why" behind your photography or your art. Why do you like the things that you like? What is it specifically that draws you to that picture, that piece of art or design? Why do you like certain images better than others? 

This way of working requires taking a better look at the things you like, go beyond the surface and then find those dots that you can connect. This way the images and art you love becomes the fertile soil on which you can plant your own flowers. You soak in the things you see, you go beyond the superficial, you make the connection and then make your own art authentic. I have a list of key elements that I would like to see in my images. I carry this list in my photography bag in case I need to remind myself of what I want to convey. I might sometimes go to the same forest