Creative refill part 2

So let me get to the photo challenges for day 5-7 from the course (read part 1). As the week progressed I struggled to keep up with both the live classes (which I ended up watching the following days) and the challenges, but we were free to catch up on the weekend.

Day 5 Anthony Epes spoke about subject fixation and the importance of avoiding it. In short, it’s sometimes easy to get so focused on your subject that you miss what else is in the frame and you might only see it later. We were told to go out and put everything we had learned thus far in to one photo. This one had me scratching my head… I posted these two very different photos to the group:

On the sixth day it was time to talk composition, the favourite subject for many photographers. However, Anthony Epes emphasised all on the “why” and not the how. Why have eg leading lines or framing in this shot? Does it improve the final result? Does it help tell a story?

The final challenge was about telling a story and trying to focus on having one subject and two supporting elements. As work is always on going on the farm I decided to focus there, for me photography is all that more interesting with people infront of the lens!

The course has definitely fuelled my creativity and reminded me why and what I love about photography. If you fel stuck in a rut and dry on creative juice I can highly recommend attending an online course, the options are endless. Look up Anthony Epes to see what he has on offer or any other photographer that inspire you, or find a local workshop. Get inspired and get creative!

Update: almost forgot to share this photo; taken with my cellphone (remember your best camera is the one you’ve got with you!). Posted it under challenge 1 – light.

Creative refill part 1

At times it can feel like you’ve run out of ideas, you’ve taken enough photos of the same kind and as a result you end up bored or feeling like you’re not as creative as you first had thought. I’m sure anyone in the creative field can recognize that feeling. But there are ways to get back in to that creative space and to get those juices flowing again. One way is to join a workshop or a course, which is exactly what I did.

A couple of weeks ago I came across the blog and website belonging to photographer Anthony Epes and decided to sign up to his news letter. That is how I learnt that he was about to host a week long live streamed online class with no fees attached. Too good to be true! With internet/network being a challenge here at times I took a chance and joined the Facebook group where the lessons would be live streamed.

What I appreciated most about the course was that it was all about creativity, nothing on gear, no exif, shutter speed this and aperture that. I think many times we (aka photo nerds) get caught up in the gear obsession and forget that the most important part of creating a great photo is being in the present.

The course was called “7 essential skills to transform your photography”. Every day there was a live lesson and we could drop questions a long the way, or we could watch the video in our own time. In every lesson we were given a challenge, we could then go ahead and post on the group to receive as well as give feedback.

The first lesson was all about light! As a photographer you are always chasing light, the right light for your subject, however we were now told to make light our subject. I started out feeling a little lost, even just shooting at the sky, but as I walked around I started seeing it, the light:

Lesson 2 was about imagination, creating something new in a familiar place. We were told not to go further than 30 m (90 feet) from our homes. I came up with the idea to create a double exposure with a self portrait and a photo of a page from the book I’m currently reading.

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Day 3 was in a way about the gear, but not in a pretentious way at all. In the end we all shoot on a wide variety of cameras but of what use are they if we do not learn how to operate them? The challenge was to learn a new function, perhaps discover something we didn’t know at all, or a setting we hardly use. I learnt that you can create HDR images straight in camera, though the downside is that they are only jpegs and the result was awful, still, challenge completed!

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“regular” image
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with HDR on medium effect
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with HDR on high effect

In the fourth lesson Anthony Epes spoke about how we position our selves and how we can change the result by shooting from a different angle. As I was just at home that day I ended up using my washing line for this challenges! The yellow t-shirt is the subject that I try to capture from various angles.

This already ended up quite a long post so I will continue with the remaining challenges in another post soon!

Prevent or wait for a cholera outbreak?

Kabwe

Walking around in Kabwe has quickly become a hassle again as street vendors have been allowed to spread their goods out on both the sidewalks and the actual street. Clothes, shoes, fruit and veg, it’s all there on sale in the midst of mud and smelly streams of water. Facebook, as it does, showed me a memory the other day, a post written in January 2018:

“Everyone who’s so impressed with the government led cleanups going on – it’s a bit like a kid having to clean up his own mess – and about time! If preventative measures had been taken we wouldn’t have had a cholera out brake to begin with! Now schools won’t be opening on the 15th, instead we have to wait til 30th and then see if govt will give the green light. Yes, it’s fantastic that we finally can walk on the side walk without hopping between goods and food for sale, but that’s how it’s supposed to be, we’ve accepted street vending and the dirt filled drainage pipes and filth as normal and so when it’s finally dealt with we all clap and say the govt is at work, but where were they all along leading up to the situation we’ve ended up with!?”

Unfortunately we don’t seem to have come very far, rather we have reversed back to the time of the worst Cholera outbreak Zambia had experienced in a very long time. Is the government waiting for another outbreak before anything is done? That’s what it took to clean up two years ago, but how about we stop this now, before people die from a preventable disease?

Road trip to Kasanka National park

And just like that the Christmas Holiday came to an end! I must admit, it will take a few days to get back in to routines… We had my parents here over the entire school break, and at least they had the energy to add a little Christmas feeling to things as mum both baked and made decorations with the children. But before all that we squeezed in a road trip to the Kasanka National Park, and I mean literary squeezed – all of us in a Toyota Hilux! In May we had reached Samfya, so keeping in mind that Kasanka is “only” half the distance somehow made the trip easier. We stayed at the Luwombwa self catering lodge, perfect for us amateur campers. It sits in a very beautiful part of the park, no cellphone reception, only the sounds birds, no neighbors. The down side is that it is an hours drive down to the main attraction of the season, the bat migration, as a result we only did one bat viewing trip. You can pay 20 usd per person to climb the bat viewing towers, but we decided against that and settled for the public viewing spot. That meant however, that we had to wade through water and deep mud, and about half way to the spot did we realize that the big holes in the mud was in fact footprints from hippos! We were using their path that they use when coming up to graze after sunset! The viewing area is simply an open patch in the swampy area just outside the bat forest (the towers are more on the edge of the forest and you will have the bats swooshing passed you!) We were initially abandoned by our guide which added to the adrenaline kick caused by walking in hippo footprints. He returned 10 min later with an armed guard as apparently “this place is very dangerous”! We were very grateful for his presence and for the fact that no hippo had come barging through the thicket during the 10 min we were on our own! Eventually it was time for the bats to come out and feed, just before sunset the forest comes alive, a dark cloud lifting above the treetops, the sound of wings, it is hard to explain the spectacle. There seem to be no end as millions of fruit bats depart from the trees where they spent the day upside down. When it finally seemed to calm down and the light was quickly turning to darkness we made our way back to the car, hoping we were still ahead of the hippos. The next day we spent mostly at the lodge, it was on of those days with a gentle but steady drizzle. A short trip in the canoe, card games, and mud cakes… the boys had so much fun playing in the mud, making mud balls and throwing at each other. I did spend much time keeping the children from fighting and teasing each other, which in the end just had me fighting with all of them instead of enjoying the tranquil surroundings! Unfortunately the wildlife in Kasanka National Park has been reduced by illegal poaching and as we tried to do a little game drive on our last day we mainly saw Puku and Hippos. They say there are elephants and even a few Buffalo, maybe they can be seen in the dry season. Overall I think Kasanka should be on your list of places in Zambia to visit, it is family friendly, affordable and the bat migration is an amazing event to witness. The bats are in the bat forest between October and December so I’d recommend you go a little earlier than we did (before the rain sets in).