Inspiration

Black Sun No.1 © jj raia

Black Sun No.1 © jj raia

Being a member of a small group of photographers that normally shares photos at monthly face to face meetings, over the last couple of months, while this virus rages throughout America, we’ve held weekly zoom meetings through the internet, most likely to help keep our sanity during the lockdown. And it seems that each and every week, I’ve been inspired by many of the other members’ photos to push my personal envelope when it comes to subject matter. Although, for the most part, my preferred subjects involve the natural world, sometimes it is simply the enjoyment derived from the challenge to extract something of interest from the chaos that lies there. And so I took that same challenge into other areas inspired by those photos shared by group members. The recent post about the results from circling a nearby museum was one of those challenges (Click. here to see that post).

Another kind of ongoing challenge has been trying to extract subjects on the ground, not in nature as I might normally do, but in the streets, sidewalks and parking lots of suburban sprawl, inspired by one of the other members.

Detail - Hortons Creed Rd. Original © jj raia

Detail – Hortons Creed Rd. Original © jj raia

The struggle though, was to use the same subject matter in a way that did not mimic the photos of his I’d seen, as the original Black and White version did (above), which ended up being the starting point for the two color versions. It was seen immediately as a possible sunrise/sunset over water or land, with color combinations that might be almost limitless. A few changes were made to the original in Photoshop to eliminate some distractions and round out the “sun” a little more, and for now, the color choices were oppositional; namely, warm vs. cool. But future experimentation may yield some additional pairings.

Black Sun No.2 © jj raia

Black Sun No.2 © jj raia

Although most of this series of photos were basically Black and White, I’ve tried to steer towards those with elements of color already in them (below), or to inject color into them as in the two Black Sun variations.

Crosswalk Detail © jj raia

Detail – Hortons Creek Rd. © jj raia

The image below was taken on my initial foray into this choice of subject. On that day, when finished with a sunrise shoot at Jordan Lake, I headed to a nearby shopping mall that has been closed since the virus shutdown, and being a Sunday morning, only a few joggers were around. After taking several other images which were decent, they were much too similar to what was shown to our group, but by taking those images, they got me into a mindset to “see”  the possibilities, extracting them from the larger expanse as I do more often in nature. And so this subtly stained concrete slab finally made the break from what was done earlier that day, and felt a bit more comfortable with its divergence from those we were previously shown.

SouthPoint Abstract © jj raia

SouthPoint Abstract © jj raia

There is an appreciation now for those photographers I’ve come across in the past, who have mentioned their aversion to see images made by other photographers for fear of being influenced by, or unknowingly “copying” the work of others. And I can imagine a long discussion of the equally valid views on both sides of the issue: being completely original (to yourself), or being inspired by the work of others. As primarily a landscape photographer, who wouldn’t be inspired by the likes of Ansel Adams or Eliot Porter? I know my tripod has probably sat on the same marks of hundreds, if not thousands of others at iconic locations like Mesa Arch or the Grand Tetons. But if we limit ourselves to subjects or ideas that we have not already seen, I’m afraid the camera will never come out of the bag.

So many thanks to all the members of this group, as well as all those in the local photographic community, who unknowingly, continually provide inspiration from their work to explore, expand, and to keep pushing that envelope…

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