Nature

Developing your creative eye

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With millions of images uploaded to social media and photo sharing sites everyday, you would want at least your images to be original and expressive of your style or vision. You want to produce creative images that will not only get the attention of your audience but also satisfy yourself. To do that you have to find and develop that “creative eye.” Here’s how:

1. Observe

Observation is always the first step before you ever frame your subject, compose your shot or press the shutter. Our eyes are precise machines that take in 260 degrees of horizontal field of view including peripheral vision, at 120 megapixels of high-def resolution. We have the power and facility to observe. The problem is that we are easily distracted. We fail to focus. Hence, we miss details, we miss decisive moments, we miss the light, the lines and other photographic opportunities and elements that would have otherwise made for an interesting image. Learn to hold still and concentrate on your surroundings. Being visually aware is one of the attributes of creative photographers.

2. Practice

It may be a cliche, and practice may not lead to perfection. Yet anyone will tell you that taking time to practice will help you develop your craft. Experts will always say take lots of pictures. We are now not limited to a maximum of 36 exposures in a film roll. Shoot to your heart’s content as much as your memory card can allow. Practice with your shots and practice with your camera. Do not be satisfied with snapshots, everyone is doing it. Aim for photographs of value. Bring out the artist in you, for as you do, creativity will follow.

3. Experiment

Explore your camera’s built-in shooting modes and creative filters. Take panoramic, landscape, portrait, normal shots and those with different aspect ratios. Crop in-cam, zoom, close in, fill the frame, go wide, compose, pan, frame your subject. Get that tripod and go for long exposures or low-light conditions. Attempt to learn, to probe and to understand. What you can do in photography will only be limited by your imagination.

Having a creative eye sometimes come naturally to some people. Others struggle to create compelling images. But always it can be developed. You know the approach and have the means and tools in your hands. Be patient and keep on clicking!

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How much are your images worth?

Flower 24 Two months ago a design company expressed interest in buying the rights to use my images. They wanted to buy an initial 100 images as first batch. I was pleasantly surprised since the only other time I sold my images was years ago – a couple of pics to a travel website, and one to a local airline for their inflight magazine. Just small deals, but this one now is big. Photography is just a hobby, and if I get to earn on the side, well why not. They asked for the price of a picture. I gave them my rate. They were aghast. They said their current photographer sells them at a low, low price. I was shocked at learning of their photographer’s rate and commented that their guy was almost giving away his images for free! I searched for their photographer’s images and, bragging aside and with all due respect to that photographer, there was no point in comparing. The company owner admitted that my images were far superior in colors, details and composition, and were exactly what they were looking for. I said quality images don’t come cheap, just like any other quality product and service out there. They were upfront enough to admit that they had no budget for my rate. Did I budge? I’m always a reasonable guy, so I lowered my rate a bit considering that they were a start-up and were buying in volume. They said they’ll think it over and would contact me. A couple of months passed and I haven’t heard from them. Did I regret my decision? No. I still believe that quality images come at a premium. Every picture I take carries a part of me with it – my patience, my knowledge, my passion, my style. Heck, a bit of my soul is on every image I make. I can’t sell that for “two-cents” worth! You want cheap, then you’ll have to settle for a cheap image somewhere else. The flower pic above was one of the many they were interested in. What do you think?

Gosh I miss this community! I miss my blogger friends here! I hope everyone is doing fine. As I always encourage everybody – keep on clicking!


Photos are “made”

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Article Excerpt:
The best photo images are not taken anyway, they are “made,” and I have always thought that learning photo composition is not that much more different than learning anything else. Some people just catch on faster than others, but eventually with practice most people can do it. How long that will take mostly depends on how you go about it. The only real way to practice composing an image is by recording them on film, or digitally, so that you can see what you did right, and what you did wrong? It is actually all of your mistakes that teach you how to do it right the next time. However, just slapping a lens on your camera and shooting away is not the answer either. As the saying goes, “There has to be a method to the madness.”~by Paul W. Faust from his article The Art of Seeing: An Exercise in Photo Composition


Missed you all!

After nearly two months, I missed a lot – this blog and the great WP community of photo blogger peers – that’s all of you my friends! My apologies, I’ve been bogged down by online work. But my deepest thanks to all who commented, liked and visited during my absence. I’ll try my best to go around and visit your blogs during my free time. Keep on clicking everyone!
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A new chapter in this life journey

Starting tomorrow August 19, 2013, I become part of a U.S.-based advertising agency. The company president invited me to join her team of creative professionals to do work on a full-time basis. The job includes writing online content and designing blogs and websites – things that are right down my alley. I’ll be a remote staff, doing work from home. This post is not about saying goodbye to blogging. Previously I was doing online freelance work so I had more time in my hands, enabling me to do multiple posts a day early on when I started this blog October last year. By tomorrow I may not be able to follow my habit (yes it has become a habit) of daily posting. This blog will continue but not on its frenetic pace, it will slow down a bit. I still have many pictures to share together with experiences, stories and learnings. I thank all of you my blogging peers for making this online activity for the past 10 months very worthwhile, enjoyable and meaningful. But, probably like every one of you, blogging is just one chapter of my life. There are others, and for me a new one starts tomorrow which requires my undivided time and skill. I will have to focus on that. For the meantime this is JJ saying “Take care my friends and keep on clicking!”

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Photo Quotes 172

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Because B&W images do not depend on colors for impact, black and white compositions are often better designed, and so your ability to compose may well improve by working in B&W!~William Neill


Weekend Inspiration 40

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Wishing all of you a splendid weekend! Thank you for the visits, likes, follows and comments during our Islands Week. Keep on clicking my friends!


Photo Quotes 171

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It seems positively unnatural to travel without taking a camera along…~Susan Sontag


Island life

With over 600 posts, all of them with pictures, I have quite a number of island images. Some of those images used in this blog as well as those from my collection are featured in Junsjazz Digital Magazine Issue #3. Now here’s where I curate myself, I went over these previous postings and picked some of the best island pictures (which may be familiar to you if you have followed this blog from early on). In keeping with this week’s picture series I present them again. Here are personal picks. Enjoy!

Isle on Emerald Sea

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Islands Week

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When I posted the above image at a popular photo sharing site, a viewer commented: “Wow! You captured the whole island!” Well, not really, just one area of the island which happens to be its most visible part. It’s because motorboats and their passengers pass along this sea route on their way to the main island some two hours away. I don’t know if other corners of the island are as gorgeous, but I should say the above area looks the part of a tropical Eden, unspoiled and untouched (unlike the famous Boracay Island which is teeming with people).

Imagine yourself in the island above, lying on the beach, feeling the warm caress of white, powdery sand on your skin as the balmy wind tempers the midday sun and sways the lush palms. Then you arise and dive into those tempting waters, practicing your strokes against the incoming tide. Later you retreat to the natural shade and get your fill of ripe, juicy mangoes, papaya, avocado and of course the coconut fruit…this is gastronomic heaven. Your eyes feel heavy and the cool hut beckons…with the sweet singing of birds above and the soothing sound of the surf below, you get to dreamland…fast. This is back-to-basics living, without your smartphone, tablet, laptop, music player or radio or whatever gadget. I can live with that, but not without my camera!

Another week and another picture series. The Philippines as an archipelago has 7,100 of them jutting out like pearls from the sea. Some are world-renowned destinations but we’ll explore those that don’t have hotels, bars and cabanas on the beach. We’ll go to the untrodden places, quiet, peaceful and free, and where time seemingly stands still. Welcome to Islands Week!


Composition and individual expression

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Article Excerpt:
The decisions that the photographer must make are decisions that are made on the basis of feelings and emotions. Decisions that are aimed at expressing our emotional response to a scene, our perception of the subject we desire to photograph, and our personal artistic approach. All of these represent individual choices, choices that we are usually unaware of until we find ourselves in the act of capturing a specific subject with a lens and a camera. As such, this process prevents camera designers and software engineers to program either the hardware or the software to automatically express our response to the subject. They cannot program it any more than we can program it because both of us ignore what this response will be.

So what am I getting at in this explanation? I am getting at the fact that no matter how advanced and automaticized the equipment and the software we use becomes, there cannot be a substitute for individual input and expression.

What I am also getting at is the fact that the field of endeavor where this individual input is best expressed is the field of composition. Why? First, because composition is about personal choices: very few, if any, aspects of composition can be automaticized. Second, because composition is a field of endeavor composed of multiple facets and not just a set of rules. If it was just a set of rules it would be possible, theoretically, to think that these rules may be embedded in camera or computer software and that such software may have the ability to “compose” photographs on the basis of these rules, or the ability to give us directions aimed at helping us compose images in a specific way.

~Alain Briot from his article Introduction to Composition

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Weekend Inspiration 39

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Wishing everyone an enjoyable weekend!


Without color

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Article Excerpt:
Without color the components of visual design become that much more important. Look at the lines in the image. Are they horizontal? Vertical? Diagonal? Do they form a pattern? Rhythm or repeating elements in a photo are interesting, with a break in the repetition being even more interesting. Also look at the texture, shapes, and forms in the image. Concentrating on these will take your mind off the color and enhance your ability to “see” and think in monochrome.
~Joel Wolfson from his article Digital Black and White Photography Tips and Techniques

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Photo Quotes 170

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It is nature filtered through the mind and fingers of the artist that produces art, and the quality of the pictures depends on the fineness of that filter.~Henry Peach Robinson

Note: This is my 600th post since I started this blog 10 months ago. The fuel that got me going is my passion for photography. But the spark that always ignites that fuel is you, my audience. Through your visits, follows and likes I am inspired and encourage to further my craft and to share whatever learnings I discover. Thank you and enjoy your weekend!


Elements for B&W

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Article Excerpt:

Here’s a run-down of the most common elements that you should look for when identifying a suitable subject for the black-and-white treatment. Remember that these elements can be used individually, or even combined to produce marvellous mono images with clout.

1. Contrast, shape & form
One of the fundamental aspects of black and white photography is that your whole composition relies on contrast (for on composing images, see our 10 rules of photo composition – and why they work). For this reason, look out for subjects that feature simple, strong lines and shapes. It’s often the shadows that define shape and form, so pay attention to areas of darkness, as well as light.

2. Tone
Black and white photos actually include a whole range of greys, which add subtlety to your images. Normally, you look for subjects that will translate into a range of tones from black to white, but you can also get great results where the subject is mostly light (high-key) or dark (low-key).

3. Texture and detail
Fine detail, or strong textures such as weather-beaten stone, foliage or clouds, can help to give your black-and-white shots depth and interest. Strong side lighting is perfect for bringing out the texture in any subject. You can use strong natural light, or get creative with flash to create sidelighting on the subject.

4. Graphic composition
Black-and-white images need strong compositions to really work. Keep an eye out for strong lines or features in your scene that can be used as leading lines, or positioned diagonally across the frame to create dynamic images.
~Black and White Photography: What Every Photographer Should Know

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Weekend Inspiration 38

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Wishing you all a refreshing and invigorating weekend!


Try it with flowers

The one subject that will give you the best abstract images are flowers. Zoom in, macro or close up, and capture those delicate curves, arches, shapes and spirited colors, and bring them out in looming proportions and surreal dimensions. Crop out the edges, play with light, use selective focus or blur, present them in panoramic 16:9 aspect ratio or in tight 1:1 square format; you’ve got a lot of creative options in your toolbox. The approaches are yours to discover and experiment to come up with the best abstractions from nature’s little angels. Here are samples from my collection.

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Enhance that abstraction

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Article Excerpt:

The Power of the Selective Focus Technique
If you’re searching for an easy but effective abstract photography technique, selective focus is the technique for you. A narrow depth of field is achieved by the selection of a large aperture. The camera is then focused on the center of interest of the image. The rest of the objects in the image will fade into a soft blur.

There are two things which can be done to make your images even more notable when utilizing this technique. First, the color of the background should be different from the center of interest. The second point is that the center of interest can be made even stronger by using curves to point toward the center of interest.

The Use of Light and Shadows
Using the interplay of light and shadows can create drama in an image. Now, some photographers tend to think only in terms of light. This is a mistake — for light is nothing without shadows. Shadows are not just a lack of light. Instead, shadows function to make the light come to life. It is the shadows that shape the light, that draw attention to the light, and that integrate with the light to produce striking photographic opportunities. This is especially true with abstract images.

So, what is the shadows’ role in this technique? The primary role of the shadows is to help to define the forms. In other words, the shadows’ role is to help the forms to stand out. Consequently, it should come as no big surprise that the more interesting the objects in an abstract image, the more likely that the image will be successful. The shadows then function to make the more prominent.
~Ron Bigelow from his article Abstract Photography Tips and Techniques

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Abstract Week

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Thank you all for the follows, likes and visits last week during our picture series on “Shapes.” Another week and we begin another series. We go “Abstract” photography all week long. I’m reposting an article I did last January 3, 2013 titled Going Abstract: The Rules.

Aw heck, what a title! There are no rules. There are no descriptions. Abstract photography, like its cousin abstract art, defies definition. The content is not even important. You may not even make out what the subject is. And viewers may have that quizzical frown on their faces when looking at abstract work. They may not understand what the picture is all about, but what they can understand and connect with are these: the color, the shape, the form, the lines, the patterns and textures – essentially, these are elements of composition which we have tackled numerous times in previous posts. In abstract photography, forget what you are trying to convey and discard the message. Just make sure the image is visually engaging. Easy does it! Yet, how do we go about in pursuit of abstract photography? Time again to stack up on our learning. Freelance photographer Simon Bray shares some insights in his piece Creatively Approaching Abstract Photography. In his opening paragraph he mentions: “you don’t need any sort of special equipment, just a camera, any camera you like, and your imagination.” The article is divided into the following, with accompanying concise explanations: 1) What is abstract photography? 2) It’s all in the approach 3) Break the rules (again?, emphasis mine) 4) Pattern and Line 5) Form 6) Color 7) Working with architecture 8) Abstract and Macro 9) You’re an artist, and 10) Get out and give it a go! In almost all photography articles I have shared in this blog, the last tip is usually the same but only differs in wording. Ultimately it’s go right in and try it out for yourself. Versatile photographers can shoot any subject, but the great ones made their mark excelling in a particular genre. You may be gifted, but you’ll never know at what you are a genius of – macro, abstract, nature, portrait, street, wildlife, events – if you don’t go and dive right in.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead!

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Weekend Inspiration 35

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Wishing you all a refreshing weekend!


I like it

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My subject, the boy in his banca (local canoe), is out of focus. That is obvious enough. Well, I was in another banca rocking and swaying in that late afternoon when the waters were rising and the tides were becoming restless when I took this shot. I wasn’t in a stable and steady footing in the first place. When I reviewed this image in my computer I was tempted to delete it. However, I had second thoughts simply because taking the picture as a whole I thought was greater than the sum of its parts. The cloud formation, the colors of a sunset peeking through the horizon, the portion of an island, and the subtle green waters were enough to convince me to keep this. Maybe I exact a high standard for myself when it comes to image making, which is good as I see every photographic opportunity as a challenge. But heck, I don’t work for National Geographic hence my photos need not be perfect. In relation to that, my audience and perennial critic first and foremost is myself. A slightly blurred subject in a most captivating environment is, for me, passable. Why? Because I like it.


Weekend Inspiration 32

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Have a great weekend everyone!


Photo Quotes 158

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Look at the things around you, the immediate world around you. If you are alive, it will mean something to you, and if you care enough about photography, and if you know how to use it, you will want to photograph that meaningness. If you let other people’s vision get between the world and your own, you will achieve that extremely common and worthless thing, a pictorial photograph.~Paul Strand


Abstraction in nature

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Article Excerpt:
In his book “Galen Rowell’s Vision”, the author notes that we increasingly inhabit a world of “mature” imagery. He is referring to subjects that have become so much a part of the everyday media parade as to be cliches. In a visual universe where the unfamiliar of yesterday is the humdrum of today, try making abstract photos of nature that go beyond the record shot to suggest a personal vision, convey emotion, and revel in the challenge of expressive seeing.

Routine travel to far off corners has allowed everyone access to the once rare. Digital technology all but ensures that exposure and sharpness are a given. So where does all this leave nature photography? Abstraction can embrace any number of approaches in the continuum between the extremes of traditional formal nature portraiture and personal artistic expression. Exploring the natural world on the more personal level that abstraction allows can point the way towards a bolder, more individual approach to nature photography.
~Larry Monczka from his article Abstract Photos