J. Silkstone Photography | ECCP: Explore | Compose | Capture | Publish

ECCP: Explore | Compose | Capture | Publish

June 25, 2017  •  1 Comment


People often hear photographers talk about workflow.  Most of the time this is referencing "digital" workflow or the steps, settings, processing techniques and file cataloging a photographer uses from the time an image is captured until an image is prepared for social media or some other display.  While studying digital workflows and creating one of your own can pay dividends for your own advancement it helps to see how it fits in your overall workflow, or as I refer to it as your creative workflow.  This encompasses the totality of your workflow from the time you start thinking about creating an image, whether shooting an iconic image photographed by many or finding that new composition, to the end when the image is shared through social media, printed, or just enjoyed at home.  

To help photographers discover their own creative workflow I am sharing mine that I have broken down into four phases: Explore, Compose, Capture and Publish.  Below I have listed a brief description of each phase.

Explore - How do you find the places you photograph?  This is something that I get asked often and I usually reply, "by exploring."  The process usually starts long before I head to a location and continues once I arrive.  Explore the websites that give you a good understanding of your composition possibilities.  This means searching images of the place you plan on visiting at 500px, Flickr, or google images.  What does the weather look like?  Explore the weather apps.  When does the sun rise and set?  Where will the sun or moon rise and set?  Apps like PhotoPills (I use it) and Photographer's Ephemeris (I use it) are great apps and allow you to know exactly what to expect when you arrive at your destination. 

Once you arrive you should have a good idea of where and when you want to be to get the image you imagined.  However, don't stop there.  Once at the site be sure to explore the area.  Look behind you.  What's just down the trail or around the bend?  Don't leave without finding another place to photograph.  In fact, you should be "exploring" the entire time - while hiking or driving to your destination, once there and when you are leaving, be on the look out for a new place to photograph.  


I found Waterholes Canyon while exploring the area using Google maps and search engines

Now, once you are in position determine your composition.....

Compose - Composition may be the most important element of any image.  How you compose an image lets the viewer understand what you are trying to convey with you work.  Easier said than done, composition should be studied and practiced in the field.  What does the image in front of you provide you with to enhance your composition?  Color?  Leading lines?  Texture? Is it time to break the "rules"?  Wide angle?  Telephoto?  Both?  This is where you put your stamp on your images.  Do you convey a certain "look" that fits with the rest of your portfolio?  This will take time to figure out on your own but while you are working on it be sure to study other artists photos that you admire.  The best presentation encompassing the major aspects of composition that I have seen is Jennifer King's " Image Design: Using the Principles of Design to Create Better Images".*  She teaches this at her workshops and on the lecture circuit at photography clubs and conferences.  It is straight forward and covers the most important topics for composition.  Great for beginners and for those looking to refresh their knowledge regarding composition.

20170618_JMS_BRP_0144-23420170618_JMS_BRP_0144-234Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

I found this composition while exploring Doughton Park after I arrived.

Once you have your composition determined it's time to capture that image.....

Capture - Aperture?  Check.  Shutter speed?  Check.  ISO?  Check.  Focus?  Check.  Capture the image the way you imagined.  Here is where you digital workflow kicks in.  Utilize your camera to capture the image you imagined.    It's as simple as that.  Then make sure you get it backed up and saved into your workflow.  Develop the image to your style or liking using the software of your choice or, if you prefer, just use the image straight from the camera.  There is not a right or wrong answer.  Just be happy with the work you produce.

20170221_JMS_DeathValley_441-10420170221_JMS_DeathValley_441-104Color on the mountain range reflects in the water at Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park

Once I had my composition I waited for the light to strike the mountain tops before capturing this image

Now that you image is complete let's share it with the world (or family and friends).....

Publish - You have just created an image that you have dreamed about.  You explored the area and found your spot.  You determined your composition and when the light was right you captured the image and finally processed it to make the most fantastic image you could imagine.  Now it's time to share!  Creating images can be thrilling but what good are they if they are not shared with others.  Even if it is just with your family or maybe even one other person, sharing your images should be your final goal.  Let the world see what you see and how you see it.  Print the image.  Post the image on social media.  Create a slideshow for family and friends.  Have the image printed on a coffee mug so every morning you remember that time you drank coffee over looking the Grand Canyon.  Provide it to a local charity for use.  Enter it in a contest.  Do something!  Don't let them sit on your hard drive and become obsolete.  Don't.  

And there you have it - a bird's eye view of my creative workflow.  Hope that gets you thinking about your creative workflow.  What's yours?



*I am a workshop instructor with Jennifer King Photography Workshops




John R Holder(non-registered)
Well done Jeff. I have seen you climb that ladder of perfection in the short four years that I have been a member. Your'e young and you have your life ahead of
of you, and you have accomplished so much so far. I wish you the best in the coming years in climbing that ladder. I look forward to seeing your fine work.

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