Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Breaking the funk

Sun rays at first light, Sierra National Forest, California 2009

Sun rays at first light,
Sierra National Forest, California 2009

0.6 sec at f/16, focal length: 17mm, ISO 50, Aperture Priority
- August 15, 2009 at 7:47am PDT. Photographed with Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF 17-40mm f/4L, Tripod Mounted

Funk. It happens to all of us. If someone tells you that it doesn't happen to them, then they've either lost their wits or are liars and you'd be best not to keep such company. So for the rest of us that can be honest enough with ourselves to admit that, from time to time, we wind up in a funk, what do we do?

I've been in a creative funk this summer and have not been very productive. Some of you may have noticed this, with the drop off in posts. Maybe it's the heat, maybe I've become too busy with other matters and life gets in the way, maybe I've had to focus on the business side of things more, or maybe these are all excuses for not finding motivation.

That's right, it's up to us to find our own motivation to create and to actively push ourselves to do so. If you think that inspiration and creativity are miraculously bestowed upon you while sitting around waiting for the second coming then you've lost your wits just as much as our good friends, the liars, previously mentioned and we can no longer be friends.

Chase Jarvis has written a wonderful post '9 THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU'RE FEELING STALE' and I highly recommend it to all.

So in the spirit of sharing inspiration to help with motivation I have some morsels of creative stimulation to share with you:




These should get you going but you should also be visiting museums, studying artwork of different mediums, and reading anything more than magazines and web sites. You could also try writing. Blogs are free and trying to create content is definitely going to motivate you. I've learned and grown a lot since starting this blog only just 1 year ago as a direct result of pushing myself to create for this outlet. You should find an outlet that will force you to do the same.

Now if you're still with me and are interested in knowing just a tiny bit more about the image above, here you go.

I made the image this weekend close to home in the Sierra National Forest. My Dad was visiting for the weekend and wanted to practice his HDR technique so we got up before sunrise and headed for the forest. This was a perfect situation for HDR. The image above is only 3 exposures blended together using Photomatix. I could've gotten a smoother blend using 5-7 exposures but I'm still happy with the results I've gotten here (hard to tell at this size, but viewing larger I can definitely tell it would've benefited from more shots). The original shot, seen below, had some pretty strong convergence due to using a wide angle lens and aiming up to get more of the trees in the frame. If I'd had a T/S lens, this would've been the time to use it, but I have a new baby on the way, 2 more already here and a wife that I love so much that I'd rather her not leave me. So no T/S lens for me. Instead I corrected the perspective, quickly, using the crop tool in Photoshop. Just make sure that 'Perspective' is checked and then you can drag each individual corner of the crop to correct. In this case I drug the top left and right corners in, while holding shift to keep them going straight across horizontally, towards the center of the frame until the outside edges ran parallel with the tree trunks. Hitting enter then pulls the corners out to the edges and fixes the perspective. Not bad for no T/S. You do loose a bit of resolution up in those corners so it's not ideal but you've gotta make do.

First Light, Sierra National Forest, California 2009

Which do you prefer?

The image below is one that my Dad took that morning and I think he did a fantastic job. So much so, that I had to 'bury' it way down at the bottom of the post so that he didn't steal my thunder. Sorry Dad, but it has to be that way.

Sunlight through trees HDR by John O'Connor III

Enjoy and I hope some of this rambling helps in some way!


  1. John, I feel for you as do many, MANY more. Have you been over to Zach Arias' we site lately? He touched a nerve last week that prompted tons of emails and comments about a comment he received on his blog from a Mr. B that he just had to share. I highly recommend the read--even through the hundreds of comments.

    Very inspirational and motivational! His web site: Start with this post but then also hit the embedded links for more historical posts. A must-watch is his video-guest-post on Scott Kelby's blog from 6-7 months ago. He hit a cord with a lot of us photographers.

  2. John,

    If you've been in a creative funk it sure doesn't show. Your work lately has been tremendous both professionally (Bill's new web site is great) and personally (just look at your last image posted). You've been a great source of inspiration to me daily (it helps to look at your Oak Saplings in Fog image 20 - 30 times each day) and I always enjoy reading your posts and tweets.

    Be Well!


  3. Gregg,

    Thanks for joining in. I have actually been following Zach's site for quite some time but managed to miss this video and the following posts. Very poignant indeed! Thanks for sharing.


    I feel that I've been lagging the last few months but am now on the "up-swing" of things...hopefully. I appreciate the encouragement, and I'm especially happy that Oak Saplings is offering a source of inspiration. That's a huge compliment! As always, thanks to you my friend.


  4. i so love this shot. i like the sun rays. looks really good.

  5. I prefer the uncorrected version - sorry but I do!lol

  6. gate & Digital-Finger, thanks for your comments.

    @gate - I think the sun rays actually look best in my dad's image (the color one). Is that the one you're talking about? No worries if it is, he'd be really excited to hear that.

    @Digital-Finger - no need to apologize. I love getting feedback and is part of the reason I posted both images, so thank you for letting me know. What is it that you prefer about the uncorrected version?

    Cheers to you both,


  7. These images have a great pencil drawing kind of effect. Very nice.