One of my goals for the New Year is to get back into photography and to become more proficient with my DSLR camera. It pains me to say this, but I haven’t actually touched my Pentax K-50 since October of 2017, so I’m completely out of practice.

Michigan is still on its last legs of Winter and trying to venture out in the snow and the freezing temperatures has been a major deterrent to go out and shoot photos; I also have had very little ideas as to what I even wanted to go out and shoot, making it incredibly easy to push off using my DSLR.

I have had the opportunity to visit various parts of the country as part of my position at General Motors where the weather is warmer and the landscapes offer some beautiful photo ops, but I left my camera at home in favor of snapping quick photos with my smartphone and sprucing them up with the VSCO app.

A lot of people have given me quite a bit of grief, notably my friend who introduced me to photography and how fun it can be to express yourself in that medium, so I decided to peruse Reddit to see if there were any photography prompts that I could follow that would help me ease into the hobby again.

After some searching I did find one and on top of sharing my photos with everyone I wanted to take a bit of time to explore the prompts every week and the stories behind the photos!

Photo Shoots With Laz – New Year and New Beginnings

Prompt Of The Week

The prompt for the first week of the 2018 Photography Challenge is:

Look Ahead

New year. New beginnings. New you. Look ahead. Interpret as you wish.

The challenges for each week are also divided into one of 4 categories. The category for this week is…

Vision

Vision exists in your imagination and is revealed in your photographs; expressing something otherwise invisible. Developing a vision for your work is showing to others what you see in your mind’s eye.

I initially struggled to figure out what exactly I wanted to shoot. One of the things that I want to do every week is to visit various nature trails in the surrounding area and get into nature photography again; fortunately we had a bit of a warm spell this weekend if you consider 40 degrees to be warm and I decided to take a quick drive to Council Point Park.

After walking around on some of the trails I was a little disappointed as Council Point Park is literally a stretch of land etched out of the city landscape; there’s a stream that runs parallel to the paths, but there’s no way to really go into the wooded area beyond the stream, so the paths are rather urban.

Michigan is still in winter with no snow remaining on the ground, so the world is just brown, dead and gloomy, making for some rather uninteresting photo opportunities on top of an overcast day.

Fortunately I stumbled upon a bit of an outcropping with a clear line of the stream, which had a perfect reflection of the trees that arched overhead.

Looking back, I wish I would have taken a few different photos of primarily the reflections of the trees and their branches in the stream, but the photo that I shot for this week’s prompt really highlight the idea of a New Year and a new beginning.

Like I mentioned earlier I’ve been wanting to get back into nature photography. The trees are still bare and there’s not a shred of green to be seen for miles other than the occasional pine tree, but it marks the beginning as we progress through the year and the world comes to life once again.

The reflection in the stream is also symbolic in that we might be focused on what’s directly ahead of us regarding the overarching branches, but there’s so much that lies below the surface that’s not made apparent to us yet.

We need to take a step back and reflect on our lives to really get a sense of the bigger picture and the subtle beauty that stands before us if we take the time to look for it and appreciate it for what it is.

This is perfect metaphor for my life; I often grind away, doing the same routine day in and day out without taking that moment to step back and appreciate subtle things that bring color to my life, so to speak.

Most people would look at the park and pay no mind to the scenery. On first glance it’s completely lacking in color and any type of vibrance, but I was able to find this awesome reflection that really stood out and I’m happy that I took the time out of my day and routine to explore and do something I otherwise wouldn’t have.

Photo Edits and Composition Considerations

Unedited version of my New Year photo prompt with Photo Shoots With Laz

This is the unedited version of the photo I shot at Council Point Park.

In terms of edits to the photo I didn’t do much. I bumped up the saturation a bit, increased the whites and highlights, reduced the blacks and the lowlights while bumping up the vibrance a touch in Adobe Lightroom.

The overcast sky and Michigan climate did me absolutely no favors as the original photo looked murky and subdued regarding coloration. My goal was to make the photo stand out a bit more while removing that murky blue of the stream and replacing it with a gray-ish white that really made the shadows of the branches reflected in the stream stand out. I also adjusted the grayish-brown of the trees and the brush to make it pop out more.

Without these edits I feel as though everything just blends together and it’s too “dream-like” to the eye, making it rather unappealing to look at otherwise.

For composition I’m relatively happy with the balance, where there’s a natural symmetry between the overarching branches and its reflected shadow, but I wish I would have explored the idea to strictly shoot the reflection in the stream.

Conclusion

Overall I think this photo turned out well. I need to get back to my roots in terms of utilizing the capabilities of my camera more effectively, but this is a good start to a weekly prompt that I plan on taking part in on the weekends. Hopefully you enjoyed a more in-depth look at the photo and stay tuned for the results of next week’s shoot!