I don’t take the Samyang fisheye out that often, it’s definitely an occasional treat, but it found it way into my bag the other afternoon when I went for a quick walk through the woods. Walking back to the car I thought I’d give it a quick whirl and was very glad I did!
Over the past weekend I managed to abdicate most of my domestic responsibilities and get out with my cameras. Over the two days I shot bluebells on my Nikon cameras with a macro lens, sweeping views of the bluebell carpet with a wide angle lens and more intimate landscapes with a 300mm telephoto. Some informal portraits of the grandsons with a 105mm lens occupied the period between the bluebells and a walk along the canal with the X-Pro1 (“pick me up!”) and the 23mm prime lens.
Day two saw me shooting urban landscapes in challenging light (lack of) with a full frame Nikon, an extreme wide angle and mid-range (24-70) zoom lens. A momentary panic at the start of the shoot when after my third exposure the camera returned an “ERR” message which I could not immediately resolve but other than that a pleasant stroll even if we weren’t blessed with much light.
So, just a taster of two days shooting mainly with the Nikon D750 and D7100 but with the Fuji X-Pro1 and Fuji X-T1 sneaking in the bag too. Final shot is of Dave’s drone capturing a birds eye view of Elland Bridge.
OK, firstly, I have to say that I’m not a fan of the sobriquet “‘tog” to describe a photographer but you have to admit it does scan better than “photographing”. Behind this rather cheesy headline lies a serious thought though; I’ve lost the urge to get out at every opportunity with my camera. In fact since I returned from Skye in early November 2016 I’ve only taken half a dozen images and these only two days ago.
My photographic mojo has been well and truly missing for the best part of four months and it is only now, as I make the first tentative foray back into things that I can admit to myself the scale of this loss of photographic impetus. You see it wasn’t just the cameras themselves that I put down. I stopped reading about photography; I forsook my habitual hour on YouTube every evening. I still have many hundreds of untouched RAW image files on my hard drive from the week in Skye. Mister Adobe was taking my money every month and the computer was keeping the software up to date but I wasn’t at the party.
I’m sure that I’m not unique however. Enthusiast magazines will occasionally run an article on the topic and will even offer the “Ten Best Ways to Regain your Mojo” or similar. It has to be a generalisation of course as all of us are different and we respond to different stimuli. The only reason that I haven’t panicked at this situation however is because it has happened to me several times over the years and my mojo has always come back.
In the past my wallet has often come to the rescue. With a new toy to play with I was only too keen to get out and about and thus my photographic mojo was miraculously restored. My wife wondered if the lack of the creative urge was less about loss of mojo and more about justifying that new purchase. I couldn’t possibly comment. What I can say however is the loss of the creative urge is real, happens to most of us at some point of time and most importantly can be overcome.
This year however there would be no magic bullet from my ancient wallet as I have given up spending on equipment for 2017. It makes giving up chocolate at Lent look like a walk in the park let me tell you. What possessed me to announce this photographic moratorium at Christmas when we were discussing resolutions for 2017 I do not know. Perhaps it was partly because I had no interest in photography at the time. But I said it and try to be a man of my word. I’ve managed it so far (only another ten months to go).
There is little point me rehashing the “Ten Best Ways …” so I will cut to the chase and describe what led to those first tentative pictures last weekend. I decided to move all my kit from one room to another. Banal? Perhaps, but in doing so I rediscovered the pleasure of simply handling the cameras which in turn led to me slipping the Fuji X100T back into its habitual place in my coat pocket, a place from which it had been noticeably missing for around four months. I didn’t take any photographs but at least the possibility now existed.
Thus it was that three days later, on a Sunday, when I wandered down to the local supermarket, the Fuji was still sat, untouched, in my jacket pocket. Presenting myself at the supermarket at 9:28am I was annoyed to find it closed – Sunday trading laws! What to do? In the end my feet propelled me down to the River Calder and on to the newly rebuilt Elland Bridge. It was then that it happened, my hand unconsciously but tentatively dipped into my pocket and drew out the Fuji. A few moments longer and I had broken my duck – with a rather banal picture of a bare tree reflected in a meager puddle. Over the next half an hour I took a few more and found I was actively seeking compositions and not placidly reacting to my surroundings. It was 10:20 when I got back to the supermarket but I was happy. My mojo, whilst not restored, was returning!
I even took the “arty” picture at the top of the page from my home-office window when I got home after first checking the bus timetable (prior planning and execution!).
So there you have it. The next time that your photographic mojo disappears don’t reach for the credit card or any other of the “Top Ten” solutions but simply don your apron and start moving the furniture about and transporting your gear from one room to another!