Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Paint It Red

Why paint it black when autumn is here and you can paint it red?

I was recently in West Virginia’s Blackwater Falls State Park when I saw a small grove of trees whose leaves had turned a fiery red and felt that an abstract generated by intentional camera movement (so-called ICM) would transmit the feeling of the changing season better than a ‘straight shot’. Of the twenty or so images that I took this was by far my favorite.

Paint It Red © Howard Grill

Paint It Red © Howard Grill


Intentional camera movement can be very ‘hit or miss’, meaning that it is difficult to predict what the results will look like because there are so many variables involved, from shutter speed to the speed and angle at which you move your camera. It can also be hard to tell if the result is what you’re after just from looking at the small LCD. For these reasons, when trying the technique, is it always wise to take a series of photos to choose from.

Interestingly, it was at this location that a young woman came up to me asking for some photographic advice. But that will be the subject of the next post.

Farmhouse In Fall

Continuing on the fall theme for another posting…..

It was several years ago that I made this photograph and, though I posted it at that time, truth be told I was never really happy with it, as I didn’t think it really conveyed the feeling I had in mind. So going over some of my old fall images, I revisited this one to rework it. I think this version, which now includes some newer techniques to me (like luminosity masking) and some ideas garnered from my ‘digital art’ course (such as adding a texture and running it through some filters - Topaz Studio and Nik Color Efex but not just accepting the default settings) gives it a much more painterly and ‘storybook’ feel that far better conveys what I had in mind.

It can definitely be a good idea to go through some of your older images with a fresh eye, particularly the ones that didn’t quite make it or didn’t express exactly what you wanted them to!

© Howard Grill

© Howard Grill


Hello, World!

Cuyahoga National Park

Sometimes it takes me quite a while to get around to processing photographs that I have taken.  How long?  Well this one that caught me eye is from....2009!  And looking back in the folders I saved from this trip to Cuyahoga National Park, I found quite a few images that I really like.  I sort of just tucked them away and never edited or ranked them.  By the way, Cuyahoga, located in Ohio, was designated as a national park in 2000 and is America's smallest, weighing in at 20,339 acres.

I have many photos from years gone by which I have never really gotten a chance to go through.  It's like those papers at the bottom of that big pile on your desk.  They were important, but you got along without them. I think there is a wealth of material for me to work on buried in deep crevices and nooks and crannies!  I will ultimately need to sort through them all.  Ultimately.


Fall Foliage In Cuyahoga National Park    © Howard Grill


Accept The Gift You Are Given

My late teacher and friend Nancy Rotenberg was a very wise woman as well as an extraordinary photographer. She recognized that by having too rigid or narrow an expectation of what you were going to be photographing you were simply setting yourself up for disappointment.  After all, how many times does one go out to photograph sunrise only to find the sky locked in with heavy clouds?  How many times has it rained during the workshop you were waiting so long to attend?  If you are not open to receiving other gifts when those types of things happen you are very apt to go home disappointed or feeling like you 'wasted your time'.

Nancy always felt that one has to have an open mind and an open heart and be willing to take the gift that you are given when it is offered to you.  Often that gift isn't what you planned for or thought it would be.

A couple of Sundays back, my friends and I went to photograph sunrise at Independence Marsh about 40 minutes from my home, only to be confronted by a 'double whammy'.  First, there was little water.  The marsh tends to dry out if there isn't enough rain and, while the marsh is frequently beautiful, when it is dry........well, you get about a twenty foot shoreline of mud. Second, the sky was extremely cloudy and there really wasn't much sunrise to speak of.

At first I was quite disappointed.  But then I finally remembered her words and let myself look around and openly accepted the gift I was given:

Autumn Colors At Independence Marsh In Western Pennsylvania

Autumn Colors At Independence Marsh In Western Pennsylvania

Copyright Howard Grill

My webhost seems to be having trouble accepting blog comments from SOME Safari and Internet Explorer browsers. If you try to make a comment on this post and are unable to please feel free to send me the comment via my contact page and I would be glad to post it for you!

The Farmhouse

By Howard Grill A few days back, I mentioned that I had taken a week off to photograph fall colors in Western Pennylvania.   I also mentioned that this year was perhaps the least colorful that I can remember since having moved here.  But that won't stop me from posting some photos from the week.  This is from our first day out....the warm up phase, so to speak.

After two friends and I were shooting from the side of a rural road, the owner of this house drove out to us because he thought that perhaps our cars had broken down and he wanted to help.  When we told him that we were photographing the question (you can predict this one) was "Well, what are you taking pictures of"?  We explained we were taking pictures of the trees and fall color.  He looked a bit puzzled at that idea but was nice enough not only to offer us the unneeded car rescue, but also to invite us onto his property to photograph the trees and forest up a hill he owned.  By that time we were already starving and about to pack up for lunch (and didn't see any stupendous scenery around) so we thanked him heartlily for his kindness and went on our way.

Interestingly we picked a random and pretty isolated place for lunch.  It looked like it might be a dive and so it was with some trepidation that we went into Rachel's Roadhouse.  It turned out to be an absolutely fantastic place for lunch with great fresh cooked food and the inside looked like anything but a dive.  I would go back there in a heartbeat and the folks making comments on Trip Advisor seem to agree!