From More Than a Rock: Essays on Art, Creativity, Photography, Nature, and Life by Guy Tal:

“Creativity is a complex subject and one not yet fully understood, making the causes of creative blocks a matter of some speculation. Any number of factors can contribute to them, ranging from external demands and distractions to internal states of mind. Whatever the cause, creative blocks are very real, are very common, and may even be unavoidable. Many and varied remedies for creative blocks have been proposed over the years, indicating two truisms about them: there is no known guaranteed solution, and different situations and different personalities may call for different approaches. 

“While an absolute solution to creative blocks is not known, one thing can be stated with certainty: the worst thing you can do when experiencing them is to exacerbate the situation. As many thinkers noted, we may not be in control of what happens to us, but we are in control of how we respond to it. In any such situation two things worth consciously resisting are anxiety and panic. To do so, remind yourself that creative blocks happen to everyone, and they are temporary in nature. Rather than trying to force yourself to be creative (an endeavor almost guaranteed to fail) … have faith that in time the muses will again find you.”

Last week, a day before we were about to begin yet another of the southeast’s infamous three-day rain events, I realized I was caught up on post-processing all the photos I had taken for my winter photo projects so far, and headed over to the Oakland Cemetery gardens to queue up another batch to work on. As I walked through the property, I kept passing by things I’d already taken pictures of and didn’t want to repeat; and after an hour of that, I was a little stuck in that “I can’t find anything to photograph” anxiety that picture-takers sometimes experience. Of course — like a lot of anxieties — that feeling isn’t based on anything real, but instead reflects a lack of relaxed open-mindedness, especially when we think we’re looking for something (and don’t know what). So I shut off the camera and retraced my steps, just listening to the wind and the flocks of chirping birds flitting from tree to tree — sounds drowned out, occasionally, by the thunder of trains changing tracks just outside the cemetery walls.

Back toward the cemetery entrance, starting over, I came across the scene shown in the first two photos in the gallery below: a juniper branch pretending to be a vine, crawling across the front steps of a mausoleum door. The scene presented a nice set of contrasting colors, but especially (to me) the softer contrasts between the pine branches and the weathered gray/green colors in the door suggested winter. So I went color-hunting again, this time for scenes where shades of gray were dominant, seeking out those where gray contrasted with green, or gray highlighted some interesting textures or shapes. Four hours later … I had caught many gray-green things on camera and ended out with 45 happy photos; here are the first fifteen.

My previous winter 2019-2020 posts are here:

Work, Walk, Discover: Hydrangeas in Winter

Southeastern Winter Abstracts (1 of 2)

Southeastern Winter Abstracts (2 of 2)

Winter Gold (1 of 2)

Winter Gold (2 of 2)

Winter Seeds and Berries (1 of 2)

Winter Seeds and Berries (2 of 2)

Thanks for reading taking a look!

7 Comments

    1. Thank you! I often go out on photoshoots to familiar places with a “plan” … but it worked out really well this time to have nothing specific in mind, and (eventually) to let the surroundings point me in a good direction.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Dale
  1. Starting over worked great! I like this album very much, Dale. The first shot, with the thin, almost spidery branches, curved stone, nice patterned background. And the shots with the green fresh-looking plants growing over verdigris and weathered stone work really well, too.

    1. Thank you! I’m partial to that spidery branch shot also; it’s some kind of vine that had lost all its leaves, with a few new tiny buds giving clues that it was still alive. I’ll have to go back as spring comes and see if I can identify it.

      Verdigris, eh? I had to check that it’s a real word, thought you might have made it up. 🙂

      With structures on the property going back to the mid-1800s, there’s a lot of that … such interesting color combinations that I went back a couple days ago and photographed only weathered architectural elements. Some odd photos in that batch, and post-processing seems weird because I’m so used to working on plants and flowers … but I liked them enough that I’ll finish up and post them in a couple of weeks.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Dale

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