Creative Eye

Recommended kit

Creative Eye aims to prove that combining imagination with technique can make for interesting and inspiring images, even if your subject is as ordinary as paint! If you’re looking to add creativity to your photography, then you’ll find it even easier to get the results you want by using the best possible kit. For the ultimate image quality, consider the Nikon D800, which boasts an FX-format CMOS sensor that has a class-leading resolution of 36.3-million pixels, allowing it to capture an unprecedented level of detail.


By Ross Hoddinott

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: NIKKOR AF-S 105mm f/2.8GIF-ED VR Software: Lightroom 5

HAVI NG SPENT THE best part of the last couple of weeks decorating and painting the kids’ rooms, the last thing I wanted to see was more flipping paint! However, given this month’s Creative Eye theme, I was left with no other option!

Paint is certainly an intriguing theme-there are just so many ways it can be interpreted. To help get my creative juices flowing and give me a few ideas, I typed the word ‘paint’ into Google images. The search revealed some very interesting, creative and elaborate images.However, many of the most eye-catching shots either involved people, high-speed flash or were clearly created in Photoshop. Problem is, I’m a terrible people photographer, my flash skills are pretty basic and Photoshop is far too clever for me! Then inspiration struck: I guessed everyone would be using fresh, colourful, wet paint for their Creative Eye shots, so why didn’t I do the complete opposite instead? There was nothing in the rules stating it had to be new paint. Old, aging paintwork — cracked, brittle and flaking through age — can look striking in close-up, creating interesting and colourful abstract-looking patterns.

Decay is strangely photogenic and among the best places to look for this type of ‘found still-life’ are harbours, farmyards, workshops and old, derelict buildings. Living close to the coast, we have a number of fishing harbours and boatyards close by, which are well worth exploring. However, after giving it some thought, I decided to head to a place called Crow Point, near Braunton in North Devon. I knew of an old, ruined barge, washed upon the sand. Its once colourful paintwork is now peeling and decaying, revealing interesting patterns and texture to photograph. As it was a beautiful sunny Sunday, I decided to take the family with me and while they made sand castles nearby, I began exploring the barge with my Nikon D800.

When taking this type of ‘arty’ picture, the biggest challenge isn’t taking the photo itself, but identifying an interesting composition. I walked along the length of the barge a couple of times, looking for key areas of interest. The mixture of the red and blue paint was very striking. I took a few ‘test’ shots initially, shooting handheld as this allowed me to be more spontaneous with my framing. The best lens choice for this type of photography is a macro, sol attached a NIKKOR 105mm Micro to my Nikon D800. This allowed me to get in really tight to the textural paint and isolate points of interest.l started by taking shots in landscape format, but I soon discovered turning the camera vertically created better results. Also, tilting the camera slightly to one side, so that the gaps between the planking cut diagonally — rather than from side-to-side — created far more dynamic-looking results. Once I had identified a couple of interesting shots, I set up my tripod and took the images again using the support to fine-tune my composition and help ensure my focusing was spot-on. From a technical viewpoint, actually taking the final shots was fairly straightforward -I simply opted for the camera’s lowest ISO of 100 and, using aperture-priority mode, selected an aperture off/11, which I knew would generate more than sufficient depth-of-field for such a flat subject. I focused manually, using LiveView. After an hour or so of taking photos, I packed up and headed back to the family to help with the sandcastle making!

Once I got home and downloaded the images on my computer, I processed them in Lightroom 5. I made minimal adjustments — I simply adjusted contrast and increased Vibrance slightly to help the colours really pop. Although the images were quick and easy to take — and didn’t involve any clever jiggery pokery — I like their abstract look. Creative photography isn’t always about doing something creative with an object or theme;it can also be about interpreting a theme and photographing an object in a creative manner that’s exactly what I’ve done here!

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