There are some times when, to feel fully creative, one needs to just let go of the norms, open your mind to the great possibilities that are out there and break out into something new. I’ve been reading a lot of work by the Canadian photographer David Duchemin recently, both his blogs and some of his published work, such as the The Vision Driven Photographer. David encourages you to open your mind, to try to reach for the creativity that all of us have to some degree or other. While I don’t feel that I am, or ever could be, the world’s most creative photographer, I do believe that with the technology available to us, everyone’s creativity today can be enhanced to levels that would have been almost impossible only a few years ago.

Whether the audience who sees my work are appreciative or not is a different story. The difficulty with impressionist photography, or Photographic Jazz as I’m thinking of calling it – maybe I could copyright that term? – is that it is, by definition, outside what is considered ‘normal’ photography. It will not win any prizes in the local camera clubs, that’s pretty much a nailed-on certainty, but it is an expression of art, of creativity, and – possibly very luckily – I don’t depend on it to earn my living. But when an idea comes I get a knotted feeling of anticipation in my stomach, I need to plan, to make notes, to think about where I’m going and what I need to do, to visualise what the finished picture could look like.

Heart Lake
Multiple exposure – Wind on Heart Lake

Recently I bought a new Fuji X-E2s mirrorless camera. I love the quality of my DSLRs, don’t get me wrong, and I’ve no plans to trade them in just yet, but the light weight of the Fuji plus the quality of the images from the APS-C sensor frees me to carry this camera everywhere and to have complete confidence that the images are going to be first rate. One of the techniques that had been on my mind for some time is the photo montage, a series of pictures of the same object from slightly different viewpoints, blended together to make a new composite.

With the Fuji in my bag I was able to take it to work so I could take the necessary shots during my lunch hour. No huge weekend plans to be made, no disruption to family life, just a quick trip across the road at lunch, take the shots and then back to the office. So much easier than having to cart the DSLR around. That’s why I’m going to love mirrorless; not just because it’s light, not just because of the image quality but because it frees me to just take pictures, it opens up opportunities to encourage and build that creativity.

Toronto schoolbus
Composite – 700 University Avenue, Toronto

Marilyn Towers
The ‘Marilyn’ towers, Mississauga

Queens Park
Bowl of Light, Queen’s Park, Toronto

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When we lived in England I would sit at my desk in my study and look out of the window into the cherry tree standing just outside the house. There I’d watch the Chaffinches, Blue Tits & Great Tits who visited, eating their way through the balls of fat and peanuts that we’d hang out for them. Then we moved to Canada and bought a house with no garden and where the office window looked out onto the fence that divides us from our neighbour.

Over the last 3 or 4 years the garden has been transformed, the pool that took the whole area has been removed and we now have grass, plants, flowers and shrubs. We also no longer have our dog, Gracie, who, although she was a sweet basket case of a hound, made the garden smell pretty awful at times. With Gracie gone and the garden recovered, we decided it was time to put in some bird feeders and see what we could attract. Of course, bird feeders means bird photography and that meant getting out the Sigma 150-500. Which camera to put it on? Well, this is where the DX crop of the D7100 wins out over the higher quality of the D610 full frame sensor. Add to that, the D7100 can also shoot in a further crop mode, giving the lens an effective reach of nearly 1000mm.

Male House Finch
Backyard birds

We quickly started to see birds arrive, Goldfinches, Northern Cardinals, Downy Woodpeckers and the ubiquitous Starlings and sparrows. But all of them wonderful to look at and photograph. If you can’t get away at a weekend to shoot, look and see what’s in your own backyard. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the opportunities on your doorstep.

Mourning Dove
Backyard birds

Male Northern Cardinal
Untitled

And you never know who else might drop by…
Backayard visitors

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