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What Brings You Peace?

Finding beauty in your surroundings, no matter how mundane.

What Brings You Peace?
Full Moon In A Purple Sky

I said I would make dinner today but it wasn’t until around 4pm that I really got the urge to get outside and take some photos - probably my internal photography clock becoming accustomed to going for walks during the ‘golden hour’ - so I threw some rice in our new rice cooker and bundled up to go outside comfortably knowing that by the time I got back the rice would already finished. It was a cold day, and we have an unusually large amount of snow so I wore my hiking books and my warmest jacket, throwing all of my hard-earned aesthetic out the window. Oh! Speaking of windows, here’s the first photo:

ISO 200 44mm F4.5 1/210 sec.

I am learning to underexpose a lot whenever there is decent colour in the sky because it gives me great freedom when it comes to editing (especially shooting RAW as I usually do if I know I'll be editing later on). I added a little bit of orange/yellow in the highlights, and then some cold colours in the shadows to create some more contrast without adding “contrast." I find using the contrast slider in whatever photo editing software can actually take information away from the image and leave you with less creative freedom when editing; I always look for other ways to achieve the look I'm striving for that are going to be as minimally destructive to the original image as possible. I tried adding a bit of this colour grading to all of the photos from today, see if you can tell!

ISO 200 36mm F3.6 1/105 sec. What's your take on documenting other people's art?

I’m getting kind of bored walking around the same neighbourhood every day. It is hard to get out because 1: COVID-19, and 2: Winter. But I have found that it is a good challenge to find interesting compositions in an area that might not normally strike the eye as inspiring. Speaking of boring. Here is some classic Calgary aesthetic. Strip malls, snow, and lots of grey-ish beige/ beige-ish/grey developments:

ISO 200 55mm F4.0 1/170 sec.

I like to stroll down alleys. I feel more invisible not having so many eyes on me (or at least feeling like I have less eyes on me) and it is easier to just escape into my own world - especially when carrying a camera, which is most often. Here is a mountain ash in front of somebody’s red garage:

ISO 640 55mm F4.0 1/30 sec.

I have been trying to do more street photography (more on that in my stories to come) as well, although I’m finding it tough to come across many interesting subjects in a mostly residential, sparsely populated area. When I see somebody interesting approaching sometimes I will turn off the mechanical shutter (so as to be extra quiet and sneaky) and try to snap them as they walk by, shooting from the hip so that it doesn’t look like I’m taking a photo. This next photo was a happy accident from me trying to do that. Not exactly what I imagined but I’m satisfied with what came out:

ISO 250 55mm F4.0 1/30 sec. Shot from the hip.

Always putting emphasis on personal growth and improvement of skills, business and so on can get tiring, yet ironically so can inactivity. Therein lies the rub: how can we achieve a balance between being at peace with where we are/ what we have, and striving to be better? For me, photography is the perfect challenge on both aspects because it forces me to be present and find beauty in my surroundings while also constantly confronting me with areas in which I can improve - storytelling being one of them!

I am learning to find what brings me peace and trust within that, I will achieve growth. What brings you peace?

Finn Baird McConnell
Finn Baird McConnell
Read next: 4 Ways To Find Inspiration As A Beginner Photographer
Finn Baird McConnell

Passion for photography as an artistic medium spans 4 generations of Finn's family. He approaches capturing beauty through the lens in a unique manner, hoping to inspire others to carry on into the future with keen eyes and open minds.

See all posts by Finn Baird McConnell