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BY JONATHAN SAULL

If you’re feeling creatively uninspired, you’re not alone – here’s a blog from Jonathan Saull about his journey back to photography, inspired by his Olympus camera.

Rut: a different word to start off a blog, isn’t it?  An unwelcome announcement follows: ruts are an easy place into which to fall and I am a prime example of a victim of a self-inflicted rut. You may already be in one or on the path to one, which during the present times would be understandable. Either way, please read on!

The cause of my self-entrapment was having a blinkered field of interest: aviation photography. I still admire great photographs of that subject, but I really don’t want to spend any more time hanging around airfields hoping that a hangar door will open. In case I cause offense, I must say that I hugely respect those who dedicate themselves to a single genre of photography.

I began to find my enthusiasm waning, and capturing a good photograph of an aeroplane no longer gave me a sense of accomplishment. An even-lower point came when I stopped looking forward to going out with my camera. I thought about paying a ransom for an ‘air-to-air’ aviation shoot and hoped that would lead to further opportunities, but by that stage it was too late. I needed to move on from aviation, to explore the capabilities of my camera and to get back to loving photography.

In June 2019 my wife and I took a week long holiday in Gairloch, Scotland: although we stayed in a cottage located on the side of a loch, it took me until the last night of the holiday to think about taking a landscape photograph. I had missed so many opportunities, but it was a start. After that holiday I began to read and read about landscape photography, invested in a few items of equipment and looked online for other sources of inspiration.

Four months later, we were back in Scotland: before the first Tunnock’s tea cake had been unwrapped my camera was out, and it was hardly put away during that week. I thought I had exhausted every photographic opportunity, but I soon wished I had increased my shutter count a lot more.  In October 2020 we were able to take another brief holiday, this time at the other end of the country on the Isle of Wight. My camera was always on hand: long walks led to a researched landscape opportunity. One landscape image I converted to monochrome (it took a considerable time to process until I was happy with it) and submitted it to a magazine, and was delighted when it was published. I even found myself taking photographs of strangers going about their business: baby steps towards street photography, maybe?  It was a step into the unknown but a new approach to photography was forming: it just needed another nudge.

In January 2021, I looked at the calendar and felt deflated when I realised it was at least a quarter of a year until the next trip away. At this point it would have been easy to slip into another rut, but thankfully it was snowing outside – which prompted me to head out with my camera (and another Tunnock’s tea cake) where I found interesting details in subjects that I saw everyday, and had overlooked.

Those few hours spent outside were significant, I have long been a fan of Custom Modes, and Art Filters, but I’ve never enjoyed processing – so now my camera has moved on from its settings for flying contraptions, and has various custom modes that enhance a subject and alleviate the burden of processing. I am pleased to say that some of my ‘new way’ images have been well received, and more importantly than that – I am enjoying using my camera again, and am starting to see the world with a photographer’s eyes.

If you have been waiting for the good news, here it is: with an Olympus camera it is easy to be creative in new ways. When we try to do things differently we learn, we get better and above all – we can climb out of a rut.

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