Your perspective


Article Excerpt:
Perspective is the way you look at the things around you. Yes, a cable wire may just be that – a cable wire. But the fact that it is ordinary, doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy as a subject for your photograph. This is where having a photographer’s perspective comes in handy!

The key to producing photos with unique perspective is to be open about your point of view. What are the techniques you can use to do this? Here’s a few:

  • Take a moment to imagine your subject from different points of view and angles.
  • Get low or move above your subject to see it from another angle making it seem big or small.
  • Move away from the subject, or nearer to the subject to create a new perspective or to give the subject a bit of space.
  • Stroll around your subject. There may be an unusual or interesting viewpoint you haven’t seen from where you’re standing.
  • Work with the light source. Lighting can help you present your subject in ways you hadn’t thought of before.

~Put Things In “Perspective” from The Beginners Lens

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Wishing everyone a refreshing weekend!

Seek out graphic elements


Article Excerpt:
No “graphic photographs” do not have anything to do with adult themed images. Graphical photography is an image style that utilizes shape, geometry and color to resemble something that might be drawn or designed. Photographs that are considered graphic in nature have distinct curves & lines, color contrast and highlight geometry within a particular scene. It may sound more complex than it really is, as I’m sure you’ve seen photos everywhere that fit this description.

Finding and taking photographs with a strong graphic element takes an observant eye. Man-made objects such as machinery, architecture, roads, etc. are inherently great graphic photography subjects because they’re designed with geometry in mind by engineers, architects and civic planners. Nature subjects also have a strong geometric shape rooted in the molecular geometry of organic compounds like cellulose and inorganic compounds with crystalline structures like quartz. Whether your subject is made by man or nature if you add light, shadow and color plus follow the 5 tips below you have all the ingredients needed for a great graphic photos.
~Jim Goldstein from his article 5 Tips to Create Graphic Photographs

The bird’s eye view


Article Excerpt:
One of the easiest ways to change your perspective is to shoot from a higher vantage point. In other words, be prepared to get physical and do a little exercise climbing a mountain, ladder, tree, or just some steps When shooting above and looking down it’s almost as if you have a bird’s eye perspective of what is going on below. From a higher vantage point you can take great shots of parades, crowds, traffic or scenic valley views. The rewards of doing this are that ‘many’ other photographers are simply too lazy to ‘climb’ something. This is a travel photography tip that can’t be underestimated: putting in a bit of grunt work.
~Samuel Jeffery from his article Change Your Vantage Point

Capturing the realism

The picture below was taken at Baluarte, a seaside park in the tourist island province of Bohol in central Philippines. When I reviewed the picture in my computer, it was far from what I saw on that day. My picture was bland and boring. It had to undergo post-processing to highlight the colors and details to more or less approximate the actual scene. How do we go about capturing the realism of a scene when we first saw it?


Kimball Larsen shares some pointers in his article 10 Photography Tips To Better Capture What You See. They are the following:

1. Decide on a clear center of attention
2. Remember that your eye has a better dynamic range than your camera
3. Aperture control for DOF
4. Careful composition to either expand upon or contract the feel of the photo
5. Be ready – moments come and go quickly
6. Understand the exposure triangle
7. P is not for “Professional”
8. Pay attention to your light sources
9. Always check your camera settings
10. Practice!

Again I suggest you go over the article and read Larsen’s descriptions on each tip. Giving thoughtful consideration to the above items will greatly improve our picture-taking. It helps elevate us to the level of a thinking photographer, deliberate and confident that our every shot will result in a faithful capture of what we saw. Happy shooting this weekend!

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Even slight changes in subject approach can make significant differences in the effect of the picture.~Andreas Feininger

I could zoom in, but…


…there’s just something to it when you present people in relation to their surrounding. How insignificant we all become when compared to the vastness of this earth we live in. The picture is one example where the photographer relies on a judgment call – zoom in on the two dock workers or take in the whole scenery. I chose the latter, seeing how the barren environment of just sea and sky presented the immense scale of nature compared to its inhabitants. Of course, that shapely, orange cloud (it was late afternoon) and its colored reflection on the sea, was a bonus.

Mediums of monotones

In the absence of color, you simplify, isolate and look to highlight other elements – light, shapes, lines and textures. You have creative options, you can go high key bathing the image in white space, or you can use low key monopolizing the image in black. You have the power of perspective, capturing the subject in another angle or view. Then you arrange all these elements and apply all these options in a harmonious interplay. A photographer goes for a balance of the creative and the technical to come up with a compositionally sound image. Why these hassles in monotones?


Simply because color is so ordinary. Don’t get me wrong. In art, color alone can provide the single biggest impact. It is that powerful. The same goes in photography. Using color with the techniques of contrast, isolation, color complementing, saturation and others, produces attention-grabbing images. Among the many elements, you notice color first. That is why color is ordinary because it is everywhere, ubiquitous and universal. Take away color and you work hard to give prominence to the other elements. To do just that, you carefully apply the tools and options mentioned in the first paragraph. Experts suggest we train our eyes to see in black and white – to perceive elemental forms and shapes and patterns, to be aware of shades and shadows, to appreciate light and darkness. Black and white images are classic, clean and precise, devoid of the clutter and distraction of color. They come across fresh, pure and absolute. Which gives us color photographers a respite, alternative and new artistic direction. Come to think of it, we can be masters of color, but when it comes to black and white, we elevate ourselves into visionaries – mediums of monotones.

Emphasize with selective focus

JJWP369We’ve learned in many previous posts that composition is the process of elimination. Simplify, do away with the clutter, and place attention on the subject. One of the most popular techniques in doing this, and quite easy to learn too, is selective focus – keep the subject clear and sharp, and blur out the rest in the picture. This can be done in two ways, either in-camera or later during post-processing. The latter however doesn’t give you much control and, unless you’re adept at photo editing, the image may look “retouched.” Doing it in-cam during shooting gives a more natural-looking result. And its fun and easy to do anyway. Your camera can even do it automatically for you, or you can opt to do it manually with full control over aperture and range of focus. Now this is as much technical as it is creative, and we turn over the technical side to the expert – Jim Richardson, photojournalist and long-time National Geographic photographer. In his many photography articles at the NatGeo site, one of them – Out of Focus – On Purpose – deals with our topic. Give yourself a couple of minutes to read his enlightening tips on matters such as controlling F-stop, the importance of distance between subject matter and background, choosing the appropriate background, getting a longer lens, and many others. The point in learning selective focus is that it highlights and gives emphasis on your subject. It can be very useful in a wide variety of shooting situations – portraits, landscapes, city scenes, even events such as the bikers parade in the above picture. For festivals and street events I use my 75-300mm lens which provides me the capability to zoom in and focus on my main subject, which in the photo is the lead biker. All those behind him fades out on various levels of blur. JJWP368On the photo below, the focus is on my nephew showing the lanzones fruit he picked off the tree in the yard. His cousins who helped him in the harvesting are softly out of focus at the back. This type of creative technique is so popular that there is a whole line of lenses exclusively manufactured for the purpose of producing selective focus, selective blur and tilt-shift effects. You’ve probably heard of Lensbaby. But you don’t have to buy their $300 to $400 lens. You can create selective focus images with the camera and lens you have now. Oh you know what to do: practice.

A short blogging break

JJWP353I’ll be out for two or three days. I’ll be going to Metro Manila to attend to some matters. The metropolitan capital of the Philippines is two hours north from where I reside. I probably won’t be blogging until this weekend. I hope I get through it. Like most of you, blogging for me has become a daily activity. A day seems incomplete without me posting something. But anyway I leave you with the photo above. Let’s always be inspired, creative and clicking. For us artists – writers, poets, photographers – its our way of life. Take care everyone!

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The truly creative photographer learns to quickly shift gears to take advantage of unexpected but wonderful things that come up along the way.~Harold Davis

The unexpected can turn out good

JJWP342The stairs in the picture lead down to a pedestrian underpass. I was at the bottom of the railing trying to frame it in perspective with the emptiness of the wall on the left and the stairs and part of the round opening on the right. From out of the peripheral of my right eye which was peering through the electronic viewfinder I saw people coming down the stairs. I pressed the shutter button then reviewed the shot on the camera’s screen. Good one, I thought. Later at home I went over the shots of the photo walk of the day and found out, looking at that particular shot in the computer’s LCD screen, that I had a bonus. The people’s reflections were on the chrome railing. I expected a good shot, which I got but never expected an incentive, which further provided an interesting element in the picture. Expecting The Unexpected is the first in the seven-part series of articles by photographer Harold Davis from his column titled Becoming a More Creative Photographer. In the first article, Davis open it up with this: “Life is full of surprises. The best photography is not sterile and removed from life because compelling photography takes advantage of the serendipitous and messy nature of the world. If you are prepared, and expecting the unexpected, your photography will be more creative, imaginative, and richer than if you are rigid in the way you see the world, and in how you go about taking photographs.” He further states that there is no recipe for creativity, and that it “starts by seeing things for what they really are; you need to look beyond what you expect to see.” I suggest you set aside some time and go over all the articles in this excellent and insightful series. The bottom line is that there is no set rules when it comes to creativity, but understanding the techniques, knowing what your camera can do, being prepared and on the look out, and being open to possibilities, can sometimes produce unexpected but remarkable results.

The telephoto zoom is a best friend

JJWP325The picture on the right was taken at a lake. I was probably half a kilometer away. The whole lakeshore vista was filled with boats and numerous fish pens. From a distance I saw this canoe and zooming in with my telephoto lens I saw a man and a child. Quickly, I had to isolate other distracting subjects. Further zooming in I was able to include in the frame only a part of the fish pen and the canoe and its passengers. I liked the result. For DSLR users without an all-in-one 18-200mm lens, they usually have an extra, dedicated telephoto zoom lens for shots like the one I’ve mentioned. Powerful digital compacts and point and shoot cameras nowadays have from 10x up to 50x optical zoom. In 35mm terms, 50x is equivalent to a staggering  1200mm in zooming power. A separate DSLR lens with that capability will cost thousands of dollars. A built-in telephoto will more or less do the job without “breaking the bank.” What is the importance of being able to zoom in from great distances? Not all photographic situations allow us to physically move in and get close to our subjects. We’ve tackled the topic “filling the frame” in a previous post. That is the ideal shot, get close or zoom in to have the subject fill the camera’s frame, isolate distracting elements that do not contribute to the point of interest, and to highlight the subject.  What are the practical applications of zoom lens? If you are into wildlife photography, its critical. You cannot get close to birds, bears, lions, elephants and other wild beasts. There is no point in approaching them or disturbing them in their natural activity and habitat, for your own sake. You are an intruder in their territory. Your zoom lens will do the job of capturing them up close, hopefully without them knowing it. What are the creative applications? As I mentioned earlier, being able to isolate your subject and eliminate unessential elements in the frame without you getting personally up close (probably because of natural barriers like a body of water) is in the capability of your telephoto lens. With such feature, you have a wide berth of playing and adjusting your composition, as I did with the picture above.  Photographer David Peterson who is also founder of online site Digital Photo Secrets, gives an informative overview in his article When and How to use a Telephoto Zoom Lens. In it, he explains the types of zoom lens, how to use them, and things to consider when using them. I have said before that its not the gear but the photographer who creates images. But sometimes creativity is aided when we have the right equipment to pursue it.

Weekend Inspiration 9


Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!

Find something interesting, even in ordinary subjects

Book Excerpt: “I think that “trying hard” is probably the worst thing you can do as a photographer. I don’t mean you shouldn’t be careful, but rather that the harder you look for a good photograph, the less likely it is you will find one…What if, instead of hunting for great images, you were to go out looking for things that interest you?…What I’m trying to say is that the interest usually precedes the finding of the photograph, and that what we should be looking for is not the photographable but the interesting, and I don’t think they are the same thing at all.”~George Barr, Take Your Photography to the Next Level

Photo Quotes 54

I stand still or move slowly, feeling things like the impulse of shapes, the direction of lines, the quality of surfaces…Nothing that one could reasonably call thinking is taking place at this stage. The condition is total absorption…~Aaron Siskind (Photo location: Postal Building, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

The meaning of lines

Lines are powerful elements in a picture. Like shapes, forms and colors, our eyes are naturally attracted to lines which can dramatically enhance an image. How we place lines or how we frame them is all part of composition. Lines can be the central subject or contributing elements and it is crucial to know what part they play in the picture. Now there are vertical, horizontal, curved and diagonal lines and each carry their respective meanings. This article – The Use Of Lines In Photography – explores and explains the connotations associated with lines. An example: vertical lines portray “dominance, power and growth in photographs.” Subjects that come to mind include trees, buildings, towers, electric posts, columns, sheer cliffs, waterfalls and the like. You can read the article to learn more of what the other lines are associated with. There are parallel lines, leading lines, broken lines, jagged lines, lines that divide and lines that connect. Whatever you do with them it helps to understand what they are there for and why they are in the image in the first place, because they can be effective components of composition. (Photo location: Lemery Church, Batangas)

Photo Quotes 44

You learn to see by practice. It’s just like playing tennis, you get better the more you play. The more you look around at things, the more you see. The more you photograph, the more you realize what can be photographed and what can’t be photographed. You just have to keep doing it.~Eliot Porter (Photo location: Barobo town, Surigao del Sur)

Photo Quotes 42

First and foremost, make it an obvious picture of color! Rather than looking for rocks, leaves, trees, waterfalls, birds, flowers, fire hydrants, starfish, boats, orchards, or bridges, focus your energy and vision on red, blue, yellow, orange, green, or violet. Color first, content second!~Bryan Peterson

Photo Quotes 38

Of course it’s all luck.~Henri Cartier-Bresson (Photo location: Tacloban City Sangyaw Festival)

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It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera…they are made with the eye, heart and head.~Henri Cartier-Bresson (Photo location: City of Manila)

Stuck in the city

Many are stuck in the city, working that daily routine called an office job. Never having time to commune with nature. The urban jungle is a mosaic of people, buildings, steel, glass, cars, streets – the metropolitan landscape. You may think they are hardly worthy subjects for your photographic sojourns. But no. There is such a thing as cityscape and street photography. And there are lots of interesting images if that is your corner of the world. Author Kathy Wilson gives us a rundown in her article Cityscape Photography – Tips and Tricks. The article will guide you on what to look out for, the right time to shoot the skyline, things to consider (especially if you’re in a crowded place), and the all-important precautions (there are places you’re not allowed to take pictures). Hold your head and hopes high if you are an urbanite. Being stuck in the city doesn’t mean you can’t take great pictures. We go back again to some of the basics we’ve covered in previous posts – being receptive and training the eye to spot something interesting, something unique, something colorful, something that has pattern, perspective, shape, contrast, depth and meaning. From the biggest structure to the minutest detail, capturing the city in a day (let’s say a weekend where you are free from work) will result in either running out of memory card or battery or both, whichever comes first. (Photo location: Makati City)

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 21

When your mouth drops open, click the shutter.~Harold Feinstein (Photo location: Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte province)