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!”
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!
Principles of Visual Dynamics
If you like rules, remember exceptions prove the rules. Being too insistent on the application of hard and fast rules can blind you to many exceptional opportunities. If you don’t like rules, remember that while there are no absolutes there are forces at work that have consistent tendencies. Denying or ignoring universal principles will lead to unpredictable unrepeatable results; you’ll achieve success far less frequently and be far less able to repeat your successes.
Forget rules. Forget absolutes. Forget musts. Instead develop an awareness of visual principles. Look for the unique power each element has to influence a composition. Develop a sensitivity to how elements and combination of elements make the forces at work in a composition stronger or weaker. Instead of composing formulaically, you’ll then be able to improvise. Understanding the principles of visual dynamics will help make your decision making process more informed, it will not make choices for you. Awareness is the key. Better awareness brings better choices bringing better results.
~John Paul Caponigro from his article Photographic Composition: Introduction
It seems positively unnatural to travel without taking a camera along…~Susan Sontag
These are actual island dwellers I’ve encountered during my travels to far-flung provinces. They are fishermen, children, kids – people who live simple lives and enjoy their natural surroundings. They don’t have elegant homes, fashionable clothes, regular work or a lifestyle to speak of. I don’t even think they have cellphones. In the first place there are no signals in these remote places. What do they have? An affinity with nature that we, dwellers of the metropolitan jungle, so obviously lack. And the barest of their needs to live a life are aptly provided for by nature’s resources, right at their doorstep. God bless these island dwellers, these people of the sea.
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!
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!
Wishing everyone an enjoyable weekend!
I can say that I’ve just been plain lucky to chance upon gorgeous sunset scenes. You can’t gamble with the weather and atmospheric conditions, they are as fickle as they can be. One minute it’s sunny, another minute it’s cloudy. I’m the fatalistic type, if serendipity is on your side you’ll be presented with a heavenly, once-in-a-lifetime scene. If not, better luck next time. It just so happen that with my outdoor sojourns I am sometimes greeted with spectacular sunset sceneries and, for a photographer, these are manna – blessings from heaven – scenes that I may not see again. And rightly they are rare, unique occurrences. There is never the same sunset everyday. Each is a special daily spectacle. You may have the chance or luck to be there, at that moment, or you may not. When given the chance, you just have to be ready to capture nature’s stunning, colorful display. A quote comes to mind – chance favors those who are prepared, something like that. I am always alert and mindful of photographic opportunities, knowing that I may not see the same scene again. It helps to have foresight and quick, deliberate decisions as you never know what unforgettable views you may encounter.
A sunset can be your point of interest. But then that’s just that – sun, sky, clouds, colors. Those elements may be more than enough to carry an image. Yet there are times a sunset can be an interesting backdrop, an exciting candy-colored canvas playing an important supporting role to a main subject. Why this approach? Since sunsets are often paired with sweeping horizons, putting a focal point in your foreground or middle ground indicates scale and vastness. You present an earthly dimension of size, the broadness of nature. Another thing is you ramp up your composition, arranging elements with the the use of perspectives (foreground against a background), placing main subjects in relation to minor ones (framing or rule of thirds), and presenting a general point of view (vantage points or elevated shots). You work out your shots with sunsets. You are given precious few minutes from observation to execution when the sun mellows down and dips into the horizon. And you can take on either or all approaches in a way that is interesting and captivating. You can never go wrong capturing a sunset scene. But everything can go wrong if you don’t know how to.
We all know that sunsets are the best time to create silhouette shots. So how do we go about this? Keep an eye out for distinct shapes, forms and outlines, or you can use silhouettes to frame an image. If you can’t nail it in manual, use the “sunset” mode (one of your camera’s preset shooting modes) that way your camera does all the analyzing to get the right white balance, exposure and other optimal settings for sunset situations.
Sunsets are panoramic-friendly. How best to capture that sweeping vista of colorful sky and horizon than through a panoramic shot. Here are sunset images at 16:9 aspect ratio.
Another week and another picture series, this time on one of my all-time favorite subjects – sunsets.
I wrote this piece titled Do The Math on April 27, 2013 and I’m reposting it.
Those few minutes before the sun finally dips into the horizon will give you some deep contrast. It’s where the darkness of ensuing night conquers the last remaining light of day. And depending on the weather, cloud formation and where the rays fall, it can give you an exquisite canvas of colors, light, silhouettes and shadows.
I have said before that I’m not a morning guy, hence I have just a few sunrise shots. But I have a whole collection of sunset scenes – reminders of the cyclical nature of life, of the eternal passing of time divided into a 24-hour day. I remember this quote from American photographer Galen Rowell:
“There are only a fixed number of sunrises and sunsets to be enjoyed in a lifetime. The wise photographer will do the math and not waste any of them.”
I would like to think that the wise photographer is the thinking photographer that we should all strive to be. Whether we have reached that level or not yet, it would add to our experience, satisfaction and skill to capture one of the most spectacular displays of nature afforded us on a daily basis. When the opportunity to photograph a great sunset is there, yes, we should not pass it up. We should “do the math.”
Wishing you all a splendid week ahead!
Wishing you all a refreshing and invigorating weekend!
Whether abstracts or straight ahead photography, or whatever genre for that matter, we are attracted to lines and shapes. These are powerful compositional elements which, combined with dramatic lighting and stimulating colors, provide interest in images. We don’t search for lines and shapes. For the keen photographer, it is almost second nature to spot such elements, along with textures, patterns, forms, shadows and highlights. The photographer’s “third eye” is always on the look out, it doesn’t turn on and off. It is ingrained in his system to notice and discern what is interesting and what will work out. He may see a subject in its grandiose totality and as a composite whole, but he will also eye the subject’s parts and areas that may carry distinct forms, details and character. Here are samples:
It has been one great week of photographic abstractions. I hope you enjoyed this week’s picture series. Thank you all for the visits, views, likes, comments and follows. Always, we must have fun in our photography and at the same time learn and develop it, maybe not to staggering, earth-shattering, legendary levels (anyway, most of us are not professionals) but simply to a point where we can be satisfied and proud of our work and make it worthy to be shown and shared to our online viewers. Keep on clicking my friends!
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.
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
Quick Tips to Make Something Look More Abstract
1. An effective method is to crop out visual references that will immediately identify the subject.
2. Find something in your subject that shows clean shapes or lines.
3. Look for repeating patterns in your subject that you can focus on because they provide a sense of balance to the shot.
4. Light and shadows is a great tool in creating an abstract shot.
5. Use colors to give more impact.
~Allan Peterson from his article Abstraction in Photography
(Note: the above are short extracts; to read the full article please click on above link)
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
We’ve learned that abstract images are beyond descriptions and definitions. Subjects may not be obvious and understandable at all. I have read many articles on abstract photography and have experimented on a lot of shots and they all point to these – the use of imagination and seeing beyond the literal. I never intended some of my shots to be abstracts. Who would have thought the above picture of the center of a basketball court would look nice when zoomed in and cropped, or the photo below showing the subtle flow of water in a shallow stream. Many think that abstract images, bereft of messages to convey, are simply easy snaps. For me, they are the hardest of photographic genres simply because you have to be more perceptive of the things around you, and sharply receptive of any stimuli in the environment – a color that stands out, a pattern that is formed, an object in contrast, textures that produce interesting details, a crease here, a crumple there, a crack in the walls, ripples in water, shapes in the foliage – oh the subjects and ideas are endless. But often they are unnoticed, and not any crease, crumple, crack or ripple will do. You still have to compose and frame, all of which must be compelling. It takes an observant eye to find something out of relative nothingness. And the trained photographer can capture something undefined. That is the spark of abstract photography.
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!
It is said that there are no hard edges in nature. Shapes made by nature are mainly curves, bends, flows, domes, circles, arches and arcs. Yes there may be thorns, barbs, quills and thistles, but the preponderance are smooth outlines and soft forms. That’s why we are attracted to nature because in it we find visually stimulating, pleasing and shapely elements – leaves, flowers, shells, stones, trees, clouds, mountains – even the source of light and life itself, the sun, is one great ball of fire. Here is another collection of shape-inspired images (some are new while some are from previous postings). All are nature’s creation.
I wrote and posted this on March 4, 2013. I’m reposting it to further enhance our knowledge on “Shapes” (our picture series this week) and how it impacts on our photography.
Organic shapes are also called curvilinear that are made up of curves, angles or both. Their main characteristics are curving appearance and smooth flowing outline. They look natural and are mostly found in leaves, flowers, plants and animals. Organic shapes are out there in the natural world, created by the environment. Being free form, they don’t have uniformity and perfect measurements. Which is the exact opposite of geometric shapes. Although they may also appear in nature, geometric shapes are products of man – rectangles, squares, triangles – which are building blocks of design and construction. With the technological revolution, man can now create structures and buildings mimicking organic shapes. What’s in it for our photography?
Shapes are compositional and design elements that are visually appealing. Going for the soft curves of organic shapes or the hard corners of geometric shapes, and partnering them with the right colors, lines, patterns and light will create captivating images. A photographer once said that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts. Feelings are triggered by what we see and sense. A visual stimulus of delightful shapes properly composed will evoke an equal emotional response of joy, gladness and a sense of well-being.
From more than 600 pictures I have posted in this blog since October 2012, I sifted through and picked a dozen images (actually there’s a lot more) with subjects in various shapes and forms. All are man-made.