Be there at f5.6 – Don McCullin

I was accused by a long time friend and reader of this little blog that I do weird and experimental stuff. So just for you John is a straight black and white picture.

Sometimes we need to go backwards or sideways before we can move forward creatively. Creativity is like a muscle the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. If only the road to creative nirvana was straight – everybody would be there bored with nowhere else to go.

It has been said that the journey through any creative struggle is a bit like going on a journey but you are never sure where the destination is, what it looks like when you get there and there definitely is not a map to point the way.

The road will be long and windy, as a traveller on this road I get lost a lot, think I’ve been here before and its all been done before, and no-one will like what I do. I go up many blind alleys. I think many times I am  going backwards or sideways and definitely not forwards. But the very fact that I am still moving is enough.

It’s very like a friend of mine who writes technical photography magazine articles “you won’t learn to be a better photographer sitting at home reading photography magazines, and I should know I write them”. We were standing watching the sun rise in a location 50 miles from home in a temperature just above freezing. It’s all about doing, being there at f5.6 as the British war photographer Don McCullin used to say.  See  I am not saying the only way to learn is through doing, as I have noted many times in this blog before.

I think the best way to describe creativity is – it’s a bit like a funnel that you use to pour liquid in to bottle. At the start of any project there a myriad of different options. The funnel is there to refine the ideas and constraints.

The picture above “Shell on a rock” was taken on Eigg in the Outer Hebrides with the cloud covered Rum in the background.

A big hello to all the new followers of my little blog, leave a comment why don’t you.

(c) Andy Beel FRPS

18 responses to Be there at f5.6 – Don McCullin

  1. Helen Boyd says:

    Hello I love to read your articles. I am at a stage where I am developing my own style – I am certaining a huge B&W fan and I love to use a lot of negative space. But who knows where I will be in a few years time, I agree that you follow your own creative journey. Helen


    • andybeel says:

      Hi Helen thanks for the appreciation you are easily pleased. Keep experimenting with negative space and think about how you use the corners of a picture – actively or passively. Andy


    • andybeel says:

      Hi thanks for the appreciation. There a lot of formula’s in picture making once you recognise them. This one is – with landscapes use a wideangle lens (16mm in this case) focus on the f/ground and fill the frame with a subject, and use a wide aperture (f4) to soften the background. The sense of depth is increased by lightening the foreground and darkening the background. Andy


  2. LensScaper says:

    A lovely contrasty piece of B&W. And a stimulating piece of writing too. Creativity has many facets and one of them is the stimulus to ones’ own creativity galvanised by the contact with other people’s work and ideas. And that’s one of the huge benefits of being part of the blogging community – a new gallery on the desktop each day. Of which your work is part of that everyday jigsaw. Always interesting. Long may it continue, Andy


    • andybeel says:

      Hi Andy it’s great to know you like what I do and you actually read the rambling drivel. As you say the blogosphere gives everybody the chance to see what is going on outside of their own four walls. Somebody said that photography brings the inside (our heads), ouside. Andy


  3. Brad says:

    I enjoy the photo. The blur in your depth of field is very interesting. It looks as though the edges of the objects in the background are offset. Is this a result of your choice of lens? If so, what sort of lens did you use for this photo? If you don’t mind me asking. The slight offset creates a softness to the background, which helps the sharp foreground pop. I am intrigued.


    – Brad


    • andybeel says:

      Hi Brad Thanks for the comment. I am not sure I understand what you mean offset. The Lens was a Canon EFS f3.5 10-22mm Zoom. I thought you might mean misaligment of layers but as I did not use the move tool that can not have happened. I wondered if the clarity used was creating something so I took it out to check – nothing.

      Do you mean the reduced contrast in the sky and Island? I increased the contrast in the foregound and reduced it in the background.

      Hope this helps. Andy


    • andybeel says:

      Hi Karen good to hear from you. It sounds like the red wine is effectively lubricating the brain cell. Thanks it’s really appreciated. Andy


  4. A.Barlow says:


    “I think the best way to describe creativity is – it’s a bit like a funnel that you use to pour liquid in to bottle. At the start of any project there a myriad of different options. The funnel is there to refine the ideas and constraints.”

    Couldn’t have said it better man.


  5. Silentium Photography says:

    Thoughtful words … really like them! Love your photography too 😉


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