Archive for October, 2012

A rocky life

I came upon this beach and I have never seen such sight with so much rocks and stones. I always imagined shorelines to be smooth with sand and crushed corals, but this one was littered with stones of all sizes. It provided a nice contrast to the generally calm morning sea where small waves were scattered by the rocks before they splashed to shore. This got me thinking, no human life is smooth sailing either. Before the heart ceases after beating more than eight billion times in a lifetime, the life it sustained underwent all the rocky bumps and terrains it could ever go through. And I’m not only talking of the physical abuse our bodies undergo; our emotions also get a beating. Body, mind and soul are tested to the extreme. But like the dynamic, adaptable waves that disperse and regroup again as they hit land, such is the flexibility of the character and spirit within us. We can rebound from adversity, recover from sacrifice, learn from our mistakes. Though the mortal body, on the other, has no recourse but to degenerate, before doing so it has gone through its apex of conditioning, stamina and strength. This life was never meant to be perfect, yet after passing all the rocky trials and tribulations, we come out significantly a better person. Live on. (Photo location: Bauan, Batangas)

Photo Quotes 31

A photographer’s eye is perpetually evaluating…he composes a picture in very nearly the same amount of time it takes to click the shutter, at the speed of a reflex action.~Henri Cartier-Bresson (Photo location: Batangas City)

The documentary approach

Once in a while in our photographic ventures, we dream wide awake and fantasize that we are photojournalists on a crucial assignment. There’s a street festival and we’d like to capture the performers. We shoot away quite unprepared and come back to our computer to see all the action we took were hazy and blurry, undefined movements. The dream crumbles. Whether we plan it our not, there are times we encounter people scenes worth documenting, and we know not how to go about it. The instinct and urge is to snap away and just review the pictures later; the convenience of digital. But as always, it helps to have a firm understanding of how to capture and present a story, the documentary way. And this article will definitely help – 10 Quick Documentary Photography Tips. Highlights include the need to be prepared, not to rush, to choose your style, to process your image and present it in the best possible form. The bottomline: use the image to tell your story. (Photo: street performer during the Batangas City day)


Monographs 2

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Photo Quotes 30

Color is very much about atmosphere and emotion and the feel of a place. ~Alex Webb (Photo location: Tambuli Beach Resort, Mactan Island, Cebu)

Shoot first, swim later

My country, the Philippines, has 7,100 islands. Put all those coastlines together and it will stretch for 23,000 kilometers, the third longest in the world. As a tropical country, its literally beach time all year round. Hence the beach, found everywhere, pristine in its natural beauty, is a mainstay subject of mine. Water, sand, sea, tides, shells, corals, sunny skies, palm trees, all these converge to create an inviting, colorful and exotic environ deserving of the pages of a travel magazine. In fact, we’ve got some of the best beach and diving locations in the world. So how exactly do we photograph the beach, coast and shorelines? We know these images as seascapes. Darren Rowse, founder of the online Digital Photography School, jots down 10 Beach Photography Tips which include looking for focal points, watching the horizon, using flash and filters, utilizing black and white and many others. Unless you live there right by the sea, the chance to be at a scenic coastline or beach must not be passed up. You will be guided by your accumulated knowledge of what to shoot, when to shoot and things to look out for to get that postcard-perfect shot. (Photo location: Alubihod Beach, Guimaras)

Monographs 1

The original language of photography is black and white. Here are my incursions into this photo genre. This is a slideshow. You can view the static B&W images at the Monographs menu above.

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The angle of attack

How do you “attack” a subject? Sneak up below from the trenches, dive on from  above kamikaze style, or do the frontal assault with your weapon in full automatic burst mode. Arrgh! I miss playing Call of Duty. But rather than shooting enemies in video war games, I’d rather go out and shoot subjects who don’t shoot back. Whatever angle you choose to take pictures of your subject, whether from below, from above or at eye level, keep in mind the fundamentals – the rule of thirds, lighting, framing, subject placements, colors, contrasts, shadows, midtones (we’ve tackled many of them in previous posts) – or never mind them at all. Go with your gut feel, follow your instincts, adhere to your concept, present it your way, keep it interesting, find something others can relate and understand. It is your story. Now back to shooting angles. Here’s another generous list of tips: Try Using Different Angles To Improve Your Photos. Variety and a new way of looking at subjects invite attention and interest. Notice how aerial shots get our attention because it is seldom that we are in the air shooting at landscapes and objects below. A different perspective and adjustments in shooting angles can vastly enhance the compositional element of an image. (Photo location: Sagbayan Park, Bohol)

Photo Quotes 29

It is part of the photographer’s job to see more intensely than most people do. He must have and keep in him something of the receptiveness of the child who looks at the world for the first time or of the traveller who enters a strange country.~Bill Brandt (Photo location: Loi Ha town, Vietnam)

Pop those colors! a word on saturation

You see pictures with eye-popping colors and you wonder “how did they do that?” Images that are well-composed, clear, detailed and with vivid colors stand out. They have the “wow” factor. There are colors that are naturally bright, vibrant and saturated such as yellow, orange and red. The professionals have tricks up their sleeves on capturing these colors and letting them stand out. Some are done in-camera and some during photo editing. There are eight tips listed in this article How to Photograph Vibrant Colors. I’ve been doing some of them such as tweaking the picture setting in the DSLR (I set it on Vivid) and adjusting the saturation curve in PhotoScape (a free image editing program) during post-processing. We perceive colors differently and it may just be a matter of calibrating our monitor when viewing pictures, or adjusting the saturation when we edit. Saturation enhancements must be done properly. Overdoing it results in colors that are blown out and unnatural. Saturation levels in editing programs can be adjusted in increments, a little at a time, so you know if you’ve done too much or too little. Well saturated colors will put the life, zing and bling in an otherwise flat, dull picture.

Photo Quotes 28

Photography is all about light, composition and, most importantly, emotion.~Larry Wilder (Photo: my niece Rhylie)

Know thy light

Light, in any time of day from sunrise to sunset and everything in between, will give you distinct colors, contrast and shadows. Add to that weather conditions and seasonal situations and you have a whole array of dramatic lights, moods, mist, haze and surrealism. Photography is light and understanding natural light – where it is in the time of day, how it falls on a subject, how it affects the surrounding area of the subject, how it plays up or subdues colors, how it impacts highlights and shadows and many other factors – will have a great significance on the outcome of an image. I won’t bother with professional photographers, it is their job to know everything about light, natural or otherwise. But for hobbyists, amateurs and enthusiasts, I plead that you take time to read this gem of a tutorial Natural Light In Photography from the website Cambridge In Colour. After reading it, go out and have a look at your immediate surrounding, no need to go far. Just observe how light settles on people, objects, doors, windows and structures. In the case of my photo, a side entrance. You will be keenly aware. You will be ultra receptive. Your eyes will be more sensitive as they scan around for photographic possibilities.

Photo Quotes 27

Photography is not just a means of seeing the world, but a vehicle to understand ourselves…photography is a way of documenting our lives, capturing important moments, places, and experiences, and sharing those moments with others.~Tim Mantoani (Photo location: Guimaras Island)

Choices, choices! the tall or the wide?

Photography most often is decision-making. You’ll be confronted with choices: technically, artistically, creatively. You may have noticed in my previous posts that I do not delve much on the technical aspects, you can learn that yourself by experimenting and of course by reading it up because there are lots of technical tutorials around. I’m more subject and composition-oriented, the “art” of taking pictures. Whereas f-stops, apertures, shutter speeds, ISOs, exposures, focal lengths will involve precise numbers to get the picture right, eventually what you will put inside the camera frame will deal with subjective decisions and unquantifiable personal choices. Like for instance, should you go for landscape or portrait mode?. In my case 80 percent of my shots are in landscape orientation. But there are images best taken in portrait mode. Just to make sure, when faced with a photo situation I go around a subject and take both landscape and portrait shots and later review all that I’ve taken during editing. Photography instructor David Petersen provides some perspectives on the matter with his article When To Shoot In Portrait Or Landscape Mode. An enthusiast who visualizes a scene before clicking has that gut feel and will know what’s the best orientation to use for a particular subject. (Photo location: Pictures were taken at Guimaras Island)

Photo Quotes 26

…whether small or big, micro or macrocosmic, minute or immense…it is all blow-your-mind incredible, in the sense that the “all of it” is simply awesome.~Simhananda

Macroing with a point and shoot

The point and shoot camera has been an underdog all along. With limited features, a few options, a tiny sensor and small lens, the lowly P&S cam takes a backseat compared to its more robust, featured-filled big brother, the DSLR. But it doesn’t mean the P&S cam is less capable. We just need to learn how to tap its available features and master its shooting modes. I found an interesting article by photography book author and instructor David Petersen detailing how to maximize macro photography with a P&S. In his write-up Using Macro Mode Effectively: A Point And Shoot Tutorial, Petersen reveals what you can do to get the most of the macro mode in your point and shoot camera. The tips are surprisingly easy to understand and follow that after reading the article you’re bound to say “why didn’t I think of that before.” There is no perfect picture, and photography tips are not meant to make us overnight professionals because if that is the intention, we’re better off enrolling in a photography class or workshop. Tips are guides, handy pointers to help us improve and thus enjoy our hobby, interest and passion. Turn on that macro mode in your P&S and up the ante, challenge yourself and bear in mind that what you put in your camera is your vision. Your photography is always your story. By the way, the dragonfly photo was taken with a Kodak DX4530, a relic P&S by today’s standards.

Photo Quotes 25

Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.~Peter Adams (Photo location: Sangyaw Festival, Tacloban City)

Focusing on festivals

Festivals are all about colors, fun and people. There will be performers, parades, pageantry, costumes and choreography. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the action. They can be grand national events, large cultural showcases or small community ocassions. Nevertheless, a festive situation affords the photographer lots of subjects to focus on. It is a visual feast for the shooter. Outdoor photographer Michael Lynch offers some simple advice on how to get that good festival shot including getting down low, getting up close, taking a vantage point, using zoom and pan, and if possible being right there with the performers. These are detailed in his article Photography Tips – How to Capture Festivals. People are always interesting subjects. Taking pictures of them in colorful and animated public celebrations provide the photographer a fun experience, a chance to play around and experiment with his shots. (Photo location: The Sangyaw Festival of Tacloban City)

Photo Quotes 24

…to photograph is to frame, and to frame is to exclude.~Susan Sontag (Photo location: Libjo town, Dinagat province)

Crop the crap

In an earlier post, we dealt on how to frame an image. Cropping gives us the tool to determine what to include inside those four corners of the frame. Simplicity will always be the key. A photograph is the story of a central subject, the focal point. Most everyone of us, at one time or another, have taken a picture with much clutter we ourselves got confused as to what our subject was. We lost our story. We failed to convey the message. To crop is to put emphasis and to highlight the subject. It is to eliminate the clutter, to do away with the unessential. Whether cropping in camera before pressing the shutter or afterwards during the editing process, photography instructor Julie Waterhouse says that “cropping a photograph can sometimes make it ten times better.” She shares ten vital tips in her article Advice on Cropping Photographs. In the photo, I could have pictured the green cup as a whole but instead decided to crop the image and focus on the curved portion. Placement and positioning through cropping made the image more interesting.

Photo Quotes 23

People will never understand the patience a photographer requires to make a great photograph, all they see is the end result.~Alfred Eisenstaedt (Photo location: George, a photo buddy, in sniping position at the Quezon City Hall underpass)

Shooting the shooter

This post title reminds me of the film Sniper starring Tom Berenger and the more recent one Shooter with Mark Wahlberg in the lead. Both played the roles of top-notch snipers battling it out with equally proficient snipers. Well, in our more sedate and bloodless version, we’ve done this before – shoot the shooter. Probably in photowalks with our shooting buddies, we have taken pictures of them, with or without them knowing it. I prefer candid shots, with them unaware that I’m sniping. But I don’t know if its a photographer’s instinct because they always seem to notice when someone takes their picture and by reflex they shoot back at you. There are no special rules or guides but we should take pictures of photographers in the best possible way. After all, they are our kind. (Photo location: My photo buddy Jett at Ninoy Aquino Parks & Wildlife, Quezon City)

Photo Quotes 22

You are the conductor – your orchestra are shapes, textures, stories, objects, patterns, emotions, design, moments, depth, focus, rhythm, shades, colour, movement and light. It is your performance. It is your vision.~Steve Coleman (Photo location: Wishing bell at Top Mountain Park, Cebu City)

The thing with textures

Textures are everywhere – walls, barks, leaves, sand, clothes, skin, carpets and on a whole lot of things and objects. You can even create one yourself (crumple a piece of paper, find good lighting and snap away). Yet, creating a good texture image requires some visual elements like colors, patterns, proper lighting and composition. Photographer and digital artist Rachael Towne gives us a rundown in her article How to Photograph Textures. As a note, texture images are most sought after in stock photo sites. They are used by designers and visual artists as backgrounds and design elements for websites, magazines, publications and advertising. Many times we’ve come across statements that say there are no rules in photography. Each to his own style and concept. But there will always be guideposts to help us come up with interesting and appealing images, and consequently improve our photography.