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My 2 Talks On The Creative Process at TED & Google



My TED and Google talks have a lot in common. Both discuss creativity as a dynamic process that we all engage in with our own unique orientations to. While there are classic operations we all perform, how we combine them and the uses we put them to. Experimentation and becoming more versatile is the key to turbo-charging your creative life. You’ll find dozens of tips and lots of inspiration in both of these talks.
Preview my eBook Process here.
Read more in my free creativity PDFs.
Learn more in my creativity workshops.

The Creative Process – Google Talk


I spoke about the creative process at Google headquarters a few weeks ago.
I began with the stories behind a few of the photographs I’ve made that have changed the way I think and see.
Then I talked about game changing advances in technology that have expanded the ways I see and changed the way I make photographs.
And I spoke about how using other media (like drawing and writing) can enhance perception and the photographs we make.
Distilled into one line … How an artist gets there influences where they arrive.
Preview my eBook Process here.
View my TED Talk You’re More Creative Than You Think You Are here.

Try New Things – The Story Behind The Image

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Illumination II, Sossusvlei, Namibia 2012

 In 2010, during my third trip to one of the oldest desert’s in the world, Namibia’s Sossusvlei dune field, I enjoyed one of the most sublime hours of my life, from a helicopter. Moments of grace like this fill you with reverence for the miracle world we live in and a deep abiding gratitude to be a part of it all. I was prepared for it, but nonetheless surprised.
Before arriving, to plan where to go and how to maximize my time this magnificent dune field, I had done a considerable amount of virtual aerial research with Google Earth, zooming and panning images made from the combination of thousands of satellite images at various magnifications, to familiarize myself with where it started and stopped, how it changed in character, and the relative location of landmarks such as the dunes Big Mama and Big Daddy and the famous clay playa Deadvlei. This was a new way of scouting a location for me and it paid dividends making the limited time I had there more efficient and productive.
None of that could have prepared me for the changing angle of light or weather. On site, I had to assess the impact of current conditions. We were on the second flight of the day, an hour after sunrise. All week long, the air was filled with dust from far off sandstorms that scattered the rays of the sun, permeating the sky with a white gold light. Was this a liability or an asset? How could I make it one and not another?
Even at an altitude of 3,000 feet, twice the height of the largest dunes, I found I couldn’t fit the vast dune field into my viewfinder. So I improvised and started making multi-shot exposures for panoramic stitches while moving. It seemed like a bold move, if the two or three shots did not merge successfully then both would be lost. Then, one of my companions, made an even bolder move, requesting we do a 360-degree stationary rotation so that he could make a panoramic image of the entire dune field. Would it work? To my delight both methods worked.
Neither experiment would have been successful were it not for new image processing software that provided better image stitching capabilities. (Not long ago, it wouldn’t even have been possible to convincingly combine two separate exposures.) More new image processing features aided the final realization of this image. I used new lens profile corrections, designed to remove optical distortions, to expressively distort the image. Quite different than a change in angle of view, which reveals and obscures information, these distortions offered complementary but distinctly different visual effects, changing relative proportions and spatial relationships within the image. This furthered my ongoing experiments to compare and contrast the two and so learn to fully utilize them in tandem with one another intuitively.
Ever since that day, I don’t see things in the same ways. Now I also see in new ways. It’s important to try new things. Trying new things stimulates new growth.
Questions
How do new developments change your experience?
How do new developments change your thinking?
How do new developments change your actions?
How can you use new developments to innovate?
Which new developments are likely to impact your creations most?
Find out more about this image here.
View more related images here.
Read more The Stories Behind The Images here.

Green Action – Harvest Rainwater for Personal Use

It’s summer in the northern hemisphere and along with the scorching heat we have the occasional torrential rain.  The collection and reuse of rainwater by harvesting systems help provide independent water supplies during regional water restrictions. These systems also circumvent the rainwater washing environmentally harmful lawn pesticides into storm drain, sewers and waterways.  When rainwater is harvested we reduce the overall flow of these pollutants into public waterways.
In many regions of our country, cities, counties and even certain states have begun to encouraging rainwater collection to supplement local supply.  Many countries worldwide have made rainwater harvesting mandatory.  In India, rainwater harvesting to avoid ground water depletion, has been made a requirement for every building.  In the United Kingdom a new building code has been established to encourage the use of rainwater collection for everything from flushing toilets to watering their gardens.
Learn more about Rainwater Harvesting here.
Learn how to collect rainwater here.

Take A Break

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Antarctica V, 2005

In 2005 I made the voyage from Ushuaia Argentina to the Antarctic Peninsula to colead a photography workshop with five other instructors – Michael Reichmann, Stephen Johnson, Jeff Schewe, and Seth Resnick, along with 45 participants. It was tremendously stimulating to be in the company of such diversity and observe our varied creative processes. The journey was the fulfillment of a long standing wish to visit Antarctica, made as a young man while watching my mother shepherd the production of photographer Eliot Porter’s book on the region. With so many influences, I knew the key to personal success lay in finding my own voice amid so many.
Antarctica is so exotic it seduces you instantly. Because everything was interesting and different to us, many participants joked that, “You couldn’t make a bad picture.” But I knew a key question that success hinged upon answering was, “How different were our pictures from one another’s and from those that had been made before ours?”
It was natural that we wanted to maximize our time shooting with only seven days on the peninsula, three were lost in transit during our crossing of the Drake Passage, the roughest seas in the world, and our first trip could be our last, as it was a rare opportunity. When we weren’t sleeping, we were always on the lookout for more photographs. And we slept only a little, because the days were long, as the nights were little more than a period of twilight after an hours long sunset and before an hours long sunrise.
At one point in my journey, I realized I had reached a saturation point and needed to look inward to process the overwhelming stimulus, reorient, and reconnect. It wasn’t rest I needed most. It was reflection. During one of only fourteen opportunities, instead of going to shore to photograph, I made a few exposures from the ship decks – one of which worked (this one) – and I went down below and wrote in peace and quiet.
You can read what I wrote here.
It was time well spent. During that time I was able to ask the important questions, connect the many new pieces I had found to this puzzle, clarify my understanding, returning with renewed energy and purpose. Later, when my friend Seth Resnick looked at my finished images he said two things that were music to my ears. First he said, “Where did you find that one?” He had been standing next to me when I made the exposure; we had seen entirely different things – and that is the way it should be. Then second he said, “Your images are so you!” That was my goal. I wouldn’t have reached it without a lot of passionate, smart, hard work and more than a little reflection. And for both, I needed to take a break.
Taking a break isn’t easy in an era and culture that prizes productivity so highly. But there are times when you need to take a break. But … Why? When? How often? And, what do you do on a break? While there’s no one answer for every individual and situation, you’ll find lots of advice on the subject, some good and some bad. Take the good, leave the bad.
Do be mindful. There’s more than one kind of break to take. We need to take breaks to recharge our batteries; to energize we need rest, relaxation, and entertainment; these are usually but not exclusively longer breaks that don’t involve productivity in another area; the goal is renewed energy. We need to take breaks to find a fresh perspective; walk away from the problem or sleep on it; these are usually shorter breaks that often involve productivity in another area or switching gears sometimes making unexpected connections; the goal is insight. There are many other reasons and ways to take breaks.
The time to take a break is after you’ve thoroughly researched a challenge and put your understanding through systematic tests to confirm it and clearly identify the most promising avenues for further inquiry. Then, you need to walk away from the problem, clearing your mind entirely of it, so you can return to it with a fresh perspective. Generally, in the time in between, your subconscious has put the pieces … it may even find that ever elusive missing piece.
Curiously, many great breakthroughs in history have come when people sleep on it. Valuable insights have been found during sleep for individuals as diverse as Alexander Graham Bell, C J Jung, Mary Shelley, and Jack Nicklaus leading to discoveries such as James Watson’s uncovering of the double helix structure of DNA; Friedrich Kekule’s visions of the structures of the carbon atom and benzene molecule; Dimitry Mendeleyev’s creation of chemistry’s Periodic Table; Elias Howe’s invention of the sewing machine needle; and many others.
Questions
What are the benefits of taking breaks personally?
What are the benefits of taking breaks professionally?
What break frequency is optimal for you?
What break duration is optimal for you?
What activities during breaks are most regenerating for you?
What activities during breaks are most stimulating for you?
What activities during breaks are most enjoyable for you?
Are you good at distinguishing between taking a break and switching activities?
What do you need to do to really take a break?
What can you do to clarify your goals for your break?
Find out more about this image here.
View more related images here.
Read more The Stories Behind The Images here.

How To Remove Hard To See Dust Spots in Lightroom 5


“Lightroom 5 has a great new non-circular spot removing/healing brush. However, there’s a feature that many will overlook for using the tool for what it was originally intended for. It’s always been great at removing dust spots from dirt on your lens or sensor dust as long as you could see the spots in your images. Now with the new Visualize Spots feature you can find them much easier.”
This new feature is included in ACR / Photoshop CC too.
View more on Terry White’s blog.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Education Revolution – Sir Ken Robinson on TED


Bring On The Learning Revolution ! – Sir Ken Robinson on TED

Schools Kill Creativity – Sir Ken Robinson on TED

“Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity. He challenges the way we’re educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.”

10 Talks On Education – Curated By Sir Ken Robinson
View more videos on Creativity here.

25 Quotes On Creativity

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Here’s a collection of my favorite quotes on creativity.
“Creativity is contagious, pass it on” – Albert Einstein
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” — Maya Angelou
” Creativity is the quality that you bring to the activity that you are doing. It is an attitude, an inner approach – how you look at things . . . Whatsoever you do, if you do it joyfully, if you do it  lovingly, if your act of doing is not purely economical, then it is creative.” –  Osho
” Creativity is the quality that you bring to the activity that you are doing. It is an attitude, an inner approach – how you look at things …” –  Osho
”Conditions for creativity are to be puzzled; to concentrate; to accept conflict and tension; to be born everyday; to feel a sense of self.” — Erich Fromm
“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” — Mary Lou Cook
“Creativity is just connecting things.” — Steve Jobs
“Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas” – Donatella Versace
“If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.” — John Cleese
“Creativity is a drug I cannot live without.” – Cecil B. DeMille
“Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.” — Dee Hock
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things” – Ray Bradbury
“Perspiration is the best form of differentiation, especially in the creative world.” — Scott Belsky
“Creativity isn’t about wild talent as much as it’s about productivity. To find new ideas that work, you need to try a lot that don’t. It’s a pure numbers game.” — Robert Sutton
“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” — Joseph Chilton Pierce
“The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” — Edwin H. Land
“The creative person is willing to live with ambiguity. He doesn’t need problems solved immediately and can afford to wait for the right ideas.” — Abe Tannenbaum
“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a creative mind to spot wrong questions.” — Antony Jay
“The chief enemy of creativity is ‘good’ sense.” — Pablo Picasso
“Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity.” — Edwin H. Land
“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” — Edward de Bono
“A truly creative person rids him or herself of all self-imposed limitations.” — Gerald G. Jampolsky
“Thereʼs no correlation between creativity and equipment ownership.”  — Hugh MacLeod
“As competition intensifies, the need for creative thinking increases. It is no longer enough to do the same thing better . . . no longer enough to be efficient and solve problems” — Edward de Bono
“There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” — Edward de Bono
“Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.” — Theodore Levitt
Find more Creativity Quotes here.
Discover more quotes daily in my Twitter and Facebook streams