Happy weekend everyone!
Everywhere is something which could be beautiful. You must only learn to see and to know what and how to take off, to crop from the infinity – abstract, fine art, nature, landscape and portrait photography.~Florin Constantinescu
Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!
I was at a room in this five-star hotel and sipping coffee in a corner table by the window. At the back of my chair was a tall lampshade and when I looked up, lo and behold – shapes, lines, light! I was looking straight at the inside of the lampshade from below. I guess it’s already instinct as my left hand reached over my belt pouch for the camera. I composed with the circle dead center in the frame and took a shot. I took two other shots, one with the circle on the left and the other on the right side of the frame, all the while with my head tilted on the chair’s head rest (an awkward pain-inducing position for the nape, hence three takes were enough). As always I shot in color, but I was picturing the scene in monochrome. With distinct lines, angles and geometric shapes and light peering through the partially opened curtain, I knew this would be a keeper in black and white. Experience and practice teach us how to spot subjects that would work well in the classic medium. In our head, it’s almost an automated process, a routine thought, a programmed visualization, a photographer’s gift of “seeing.”
Take Shapes into Consideration
Since black and white pictures lack color, they are dependent largely on lines and shapes to create interest. Try to incorporate a variety of shapes that create different types of lines such as curving lines, crooked lines, or slanting lines. Stark straight lines can also have dramatic effects in black and white photos.
Mind Your Perspective
Perspective can create some very interesting effects, especially in black and white photography. Perspective can bring alive a standard subject, it can suggest depth and mystery in everyday objects, and, in fact, you can make a picture tell a story just by using an unusual angle while photographing a scene in black and white.
Take Care of the Background
While taking black and white photos you need to make sure that the subject does not get lost in the background. Often, just by shifting your subject a little to the left or right can help in eliminating unwanted elements in your photograph. Or you could try to take the picture from another angle.
Texture can add interest and definition to black and white photos. For example, a black and white picture of a roughly textured wall will certainly look more interesting than a smooth wall, or a road made of cobblestones will look more dramatic than a smooth one.
~Rita Putatunda from her article Tips for Shooting Black and White Photos
Available light is any damn light that is available! ~W. Eugene Smith
For sure, each one of us has our own set of image collections in our hard drive. I have lots of them neatly tucked in their own folders – flowers, sunsets, landscapes, festivals, macro, portraits and this – windows. It seems I have this penchant for the, well, ordinary. Who would have thought this functional part of a house or building would be such interesting subjects? They can be plain rectangular holes in the side of a structure or they can be elaborate works of art in churches. It’s how you look at them, capture them and present them that they take on a compelling form. This week I share some of these images from my Windows Collection. Have a wonderful week ahead.
The virtue of the camera is not the power it has to transform the photographer into an artist, but the impulse it gives him to keep on looking.~Brooks Atkinson
What happens when the colored photo on your computer screen suddenly goes black and white? The vivid colors suddenly draining away transforming the image into a greyscale of calm, still, peaceful shades. To me black and white photography can say much more than just a peaceful image or a pleasant, clean contrast. Beneath the facade of colorless, cleanliness lies the beauty of the image’s stillness, the chaos of its texture, meaning, and intention. Things captured in all pictures but brought out all at once in black and white images. From the simplest photograph to a capture disarrayed with an infinitesimal amount of texture, from a photo so intensely macro to a photo large and encompassing; black and white photography communicates to us this eerie stillness…It is in the silence of black and white that viewers are freed from the noise of color and are all at once brought into the photograph, into a dialogue of meaning and interpretation.
~Chris So from his article Black & White Photography: A Moving Stillness
Black and white helps to learn the basics without getting too distracted; this is one reason why it is so popular among teachers. Black and white focuses the attention on form, shading, pattern, and other graphic concepts, to give them an unusual quality with tone and hue.
With a clear view toward graphics, composition, and design, the photographer can concentrate on:
- How contrast creates lines and how lines lead the eye or psychologically affect the viewer by curving, lying flat, diagonal, or vertical.
- How shapes or lines make a pattern and how shape with texture gives an object form.
- How highlights compete for attention and dark tones create an important negative space.
Many artists prefer black and white because it causes the photographer and the viewer to see the world in a way that cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Seeing the reoccurring pattern, line, or shape is easier with black and white, which does such a good job of emphasizing it. This is especially the case when a black and white photo shows good contrast – when the blacks are black, the highlights are bright, when you can still see some detail in both the highlights and the shadows.
~The Merits of B&W from BetterPhoto.com
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.
The photo below is a toy of my niece. It’s a multi-colored plastic springy thing shaped like a star. I looked through it and saw, well, a star-shaped tunnel. Immediately I took my camera and tried to poke the lens through the toy to get a shot. I struggled to get a shot and tried to bend here and there the springy, elastic toy. My niece was amused at what I was doing. I was like a child again, not playing with the toy, but trying to muster a decent shot.
We photographers are the curious, inquisitive type. Upon seeing a potential photographic subject, we stare and take a look, and often fuss about it. We become a child again, wide-eyed, all the while thinking of how to tackle the subject – the angles, perspective, framing and composition. Which is a good thing because it opens our eyes to observe carefully and “see” things in a whole new light.
Martin Lee Leddy has this to say from his article Using Your Inner Child’s Eye:
“Let your eye wander to the normally unnoticed things, and go photograph them. Morning light is a wonderful source of inspiration for taking macro photos of insects, flowers, dripping water, dew covered spider webs and other things we haven’t looked for since childhood. Use wide angle lenses for photos of scenery, and search for opportunities to take other photos of things that later in the day carry no mystique. Look for dew drops, coiled hoses, shadows on the buildings and photograph them all. Enjoy seeing the wonder through the eyes of your inner child. Remember, Look for the details!”
Once the lens was snugly fit inside the other end of the springy toy, I smiled at my niece and beckoned her to look at the camera’s viewfinder and she let out a loud “wow!” upon seeing the image (which is the above photo).
The basic material of photographs is not intrinsically beautiful. It’s not like ivory or tapestry or bronze or oil on canvas. You’re not supposed to look at the thing, you’re supposed to look through it. It’s a window.~John Szarkowski
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
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!
There’s something about a serene, romantic setting. It sets you in the mood. It puts you at ease. It is a feeling of rest and relaxation, of slowing down from a hectic, fast-paced life. Al you want to do in a scene such as the picture below, is to get a table, order the best meal for you and your date, and enjoy the quiet, relaxing seaside view.
We have known that images can create mood and character. Now mood is triggered by how we feel about a particular image. If your intention is to shock and startle, then you take shocking pictures. Which is not my forte. I go for the pleasant, feel good and inspiring images. It is beautiful, appealing and interesting images that reach out and relate to majority of viewers. This is the mood that is produced with subtle combinations of subject, composition, setting and lighting. They should all work out to make the viewer comfortable, calm, homey and breezy. In a day, people have had enough of unpleasantness and burdens in their work and daily dealings with life. Don’t add to their heavy heart with pictures that create emotional overload. You do great service with images that lighten feelings and energize the soul. You can be powerful in your art, but always be considerate in how you present your image and its message.
Think about the non-color visual design elements of your image. 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.
Train your brain for black and white by comparing the same images in both black and white and color. Most photo software lets you go back and forth between images or look at them side-by-side. A good way to teach yourself how to visualize in black and white is to look at the same image both ways. Do this with as many images as you can. I would include images that you initially intended to be black and white as well as those that were not intended that way. Sometimes you will discover great black and white images that weren’t shot with that purpose. More importantly it will ultimately help you be able to look at a color scene in the world and visualize it as a black and white image.
~Ashley Robinson from her article Digital Black and White Photography Tips and Techniques
It’s up to you what you do with contrasts, light, shapes and lines to emphasize the essence, or what you see as the essence – no colors that will seduce the eye, only emotion that will capture the heart.~Joel Tjintjelaar.
It’s just seeing – at least the photography I care about. You either see or you don’t see. The rest is academic…It’s how you organize what you see into a picture.~Elliott Erwitt
Natural light in photography is not as consistent as you may think. At different times of the day, different shades of the color spectrum dominate natural light. For instance, at midday, the blue portion of the color spectrum is dominant, producing a “cool” light. Color photography taken at midday produces the clearest, sharpest pictures in bright light.
In contrast, natural light at sunrise and sunset emphasizes the red portion of the color spectrum. Known as warm light in photography, sunrise and sunset light produces warmer pictures with a softer contrast.
~From the article Light and Color in Photography
Even slight changes in subject approach can make significant differences in the effect of the picture.~Andreas Feininger
Images are happening around you every second. You can photograph anything in a million different ways, but what I always try to remember is to photograph something as if I’ve discovered it for the first time. And if I have photographed it before, I find a way to see it as I’ve never seen it before.~Vincent Laforet
The Holy Week is a big domestic tourism activity in the Philippines. Most of my countrymen, those working and residing in Metro Manila, are flocking to the provinces. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are official non-working holidays so it’s a long weekend. You’ll find beaches and resorts filled with people. And how about JJ? Much as I would like to spend some time outside, I’m stuck at home finishing off some online work. If you’re like me, don’t fret. There are lots of photographic subjects right inside your house.
The team at BetterPhotography.com has this article Photographic Wonders Inside Your Home! which offers some tips on how to capture subjects and what to look out for. Article author Rachelle Jobard offers the following:
1. Give Thought to Your Composition
2. Explore Vantage Points
3. Focus on Your Favourite Things
4. Play with Light and Shadows
5. Every Room in Your Home has Photographic Opportunities
6. Highlight Details
7. Explore Small Corners
8. Take in Your Environment
9. Use Reflections and Illusions
10. Shoot Creative Compositions
11. Shoot Antiques and Old Things in B&W
If you think being stuck at home is a bore, read the article and be enlightened. In my recent post I mentioned that it is not always the grand and majestic subjects that make great photographs. We are not always afforded the opportunity to be in the great outdoors. But even ordinary subjects can make compelling images. It is in the power of the photographer to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. He just has to activate his photographic eye for “seeing” and dig deep into his knowledge of the technical and the creative to work his magic on visual imagery. Even inside his home.
The problem when we go out and take pictures is we try to find the grand and majestic scene. We try to search for sceneries with the “ooh” and the “ahh.” Yet it is not always that we are in front of nature’s wonders like a glorious sunset or sunrise, or an imposing mountain, a sublime forest or an awe-inspiring waterfalls. We are not National Geographic photographers who seek the marvelous in this earth. We are moms and dads, workers in a 9 to 5 cycle in the metropolis. Some of us are living a quiet life as retired citizens of this world after spending most of our time on family and work. Many of us are not certified adventurers and wilderness seekers, though given the chance we would like to be like them. So lower our expectations. Not all photos or subjects should be breathtaking.
However, all photos must be compelling. It may not be the “Grand Canyon” of our photographic dream but a picture must, at the very least, hold interest. For more than 400 posts in this almost half a year reference and information photo blog, I guess you must have picked something of what makes a picture interesting. They are very basic elements one must include in the image because they attract the eye: colors, lines, shapes, forms, patterns, textures, lighting. How you frame and compose some or all of these elements will further add appeal to the image. With some of us having precious little time for ourselves and our family, and usually only during weekends when we can have bonding with spouse and kids, or with friends, a stroll in the park or favorite hangout can feed a photographic longing. Watch out for scenes like the above picture. It is not as grand as a sunset, but it will hold its own engaging quality because the photographic elements were effectively arranged and presented.
Colour is everything, black and white is more.~Dominic Rouse