Watch. Listen. Observe. Research. Ask. Beg. Borrow. Steal. Patience. Patience. Patience. This is how you learn to exceed your programming - not by being more creative than anyone else, not by "waiting" until that "one big idea" <-- (Dumbest thing I've ever heard) certainly not by dropping coin on the best gadget available; gadgets don't make you creative, and only by trying and failing over and over and over do we get to where we want to be. NEVER by sitting idle.
Inspiration, it seems, can come from the unlikeliest of sources.
Mine was a hot chick. Ok, maybe not so unlikely. Bear with me a moment -
Fantastic picture - I love her to pieces, and what's not to enjoy about about a pretty girl modeling her new shoes? But what really interested me was the focal length! Here lately, I've been in a bit of a funk because I was running into some limitations with my point & shoot. I knew a DSLR with a slew of lenses would cheer me right up, but only in the short term...I seriously enjoy my "Prosumer" Canon S3 IS and its portability, and sure as hell don't have a couple grand laying around to feed my inadequacy.
I asked her about the picture and found it too was taken with a P&S - a Nikon Coolpix. I was flabbergasted! I thought it might be nice to own one also - times when I could use such a lens, but while pricing one out, my search led me to lens attachments - ONE OF THE REASONS I BOUGHT MY CANON - how could I have forgotten? Still, their quality was dubious and unknown to me. Our resident camera-genius photogoot had mentioned lighting issues around the edges of the lens the last time I approached him, so I borrowed one.
And promptly fell in love.
I've since ordered three: A .45X, a .35X and a .20X professional-grade fish-eye lens.
And now a word about the fish-eye. My senior year, and as photographer for the school newspaper, I was asked by the PTA to photograph seven new elementary schools which had recently been built in the school district. Being that I was a senior, and therefore not interested that close to the end of the school year, I agreed if they could secure me a fish-eye lens. They did. On loan. For my Minolta X-700. It was great fun. More recently, I've started watching scottchurch (NSFW) who I met through artistic nude photographer uniquenudes (NSFW) and he often posts little photo tips I learn from. More recently he said something along the lines of, "I'm surprised at how often I actually use the fish-eye..." which solidified that one for me.Now these aren't high dollar DSLR lenses - but they're damn fine performers and the best news yet - with the right adapter, they can go on any camera (which accepts mounts) I buy next.
Finally, as these things often do, while researching wide-angle photographs I ran across and was introduced to HDR. I broke out Ye Olde Manual and discovered that my P&S supports "bracketing" an option which, out of context, meant nothing to me. So last night, I took the picture above after running out of daylight outside (see my flickr for a most amusing HDR "Self Portrait"). There is a firmware hack out there which will allow my Canon to shoot RAW mode, which HDR enthusiasts prefer, as it captures the greatest dynamic range. So armed with lenses, firmware, point and shoot, and kids (I have a new gallery up at http://ehowton.photoshop.com I'll be soon fleshing out), I'm ready to push myself and my equipment, to their very limits.
All this from a girl.
And her shoes.