Sunsets are not meant for the black and white medium. I prefer sunsets and sunrises as they are meant to be – enjoyed in full, vivid colors such as the images posted during the whole sunset week. But as I said many times before, there is something about black and white images – the classic, clean lines and the play of tones, 256 shades of grays to be exact, plus pure white and pure black. There lies the challenge of sunsets in monochrome. Stripped of those fiery reds, vibrant orange and lucid yellows, what do you show? Show the shapes, silhouettes, forms and lines. Those are the elements you are left with, so highlight them. In the above picture, you are drawn to the scattering of rocks on the shore while at the bottom image the point of interest are those silhouettes of huts. The trained eye can spot these shapes, yet a keener eye which visualizes in black and white can foretell that the image will work without the distraction of color. I hope everyone enjoyed our sunset week. Till next week when we embark on another picture series. Have a great weekend my friends!
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.
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!
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!
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
In many ways shooting only colour can make you lazy and not pay as much attention to the shot as you could. My love of black and white makes my colour work better too.~Keith Cooper
Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!
Butterflies are shapely and colorful creatures. However, like all other winged critters, they just don’t get to be still that long. But when they do, even for mere seconds, the photographer will snap away. Here are samples from my butterfly collection.
The most active of shapes use diagonal lines – the triangle is an eye-catching building block for your picture. Its three sides also introduce odd numbers into the photographic vocabulary. As well as triangular-shaped subjects, think about the structure of your photograph – are there three elements you could join together with imaginary lines to form a triangle?
Four sided shapes such as squares and rectangles mirror the four sides of the picture frame – there’s no conflict there, so the viewing experience isn’t as absorbing. However, they can be used alongside diagonals and triangles to produce a more exciting image.
~Digital Camera Magazine: Master Composition
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.
This article of mine was posted January 28, 2013 and I’d like to repost it in keeping with our understanding and presentation of “Shapes” which is our picture series for this week.
We use the words “form” and “shape” interchangeably. There is however a distinction. This article What Is the Difference Between Shape and Form In Photography provides a basic explanation that distinguishes between the two, and how they correlate to the concept of “space” and how, when combined, creates the element of photographic composition. We’ve been exposed to shapes early on – triangles, rectangles, squares and those with many sides (hexagon, pentagon, etc.). In a photograph, an object comes across as two-dimensional. In the accompanying photo, we know the shape of the ball, in the same manner that we know the shape of a wheel, a plate, saucer, a complete pizza, a coin as examples. When viewed flat, they are all round or circular in shape. When light falls on the subject, like the ball in the picture, it produces dark areas and shadows, highlighting its length, width and depth, and producing a three-dimensional form with the negative space around it. Learning to use this concept of space in combination with the shape and form of central subjects will help in determining the viability and effectiveness of our composition. We know the shape of a tree. When we photograph that tree with the light of a sunset in the horizon, it will cast long shadows and create a dramatic form. Composition comes to fore when we combine our focal point (the tree, already in its interesting form) with other elements in the space around it, say distant mountains in the background or a verdant field surrounding it. The thinking photographer already envisioned the scene, and it is a matter of arranging these elements in the frame to come up with a compositionally pleasing shot.
…beautiful shapes make beautiful pictures.~Jim Zuckerman
A photographer will notice shapes which is one of the most basic elements of design. Even without color, more so without color, shapes give definition to an image. Shapes abound all around, both in the man-made environment and in the natural world. Sometimes we take them for granted because they are everywhere but a keen photographer will be like a child, cognizant of the world of circles, squares, triangles, rectangles and the many types of polygons, and how they interact and create forms, patterns, silhouettes and outlines, producing images that attract and engage. We go back and see the world through the eyes of a child, engrossed in a world governed by shapes. Have a splendid week ahead my friends!
Outlines, forms, shadows, shapes, lines, light, tones, textures – these are the ingredients of black and white photography. Have fun with your imagery. Play with the elements and composition. Love the light. Bask in contrast. Experiment. Crop to exclude and emphasize. Discover. Assess with your eye. Process with your brain. Capture with your heart. With these, I can offer no other more meaningful tips when it comes to making monochrome images. With tools and knowledge, it all boils down to you – the creator and artist. After all, each picture is an individual mark of its maker.
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.”
Available light is any damn light that is available! ~W. Eugene Smith
Have a great weekend everyone!
What is it really and is it the same as Abstract Art?
As the name implies “abstract” denotes what can be interpreted but not seen. The art form is many times debated to be complex and difficult to understand. Yet it attracts a horde of art critics and art collectors from every part of the globe, and several interpretations may accompany abstract paintings. Similarly, abstract photography draws the same popularity except it is done with a camera and not with brush and paint!
The exact definition of this art is difficult but it is sufficient to understand that there are no rules or norms for creating and in layman terms “anything goes” as long as it appeals to the eye!…
Abstract photography is really the prerogative of a true artist and one who also has a scientific bent of mind. Composing a perfect shot requires the “artist” and taking the photograph requires the “technician”! Imagination knows no bounds and the best results are when one uses creative powers to its full capacity.
~Seth Willis Jr. from his article Abstract Photography
Still life is the study of an inanimate object…takes you right back to 6th grade art class! However, still life images are not restricted to painting and drawing – many of us take still life photos every day without actually realizing that we are taking a “still life”. When you really think about it, you may realize just how many still life’s you’ve taken over the years. In the traditional sense a still life is often thought of as a bowl of fruit, a vase of flowers, or an arrangement of related (or non-related) objects. But ultimately any type of objects that you set up or create as a scene can be a still life; they don’t necessarily need to be flowers or fruit. The key to creating a good still life is thinking about the object in terms of setting the scene.
~Still Life Photography Tips from The Beginners Lens
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
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 advantage for us – amateurs, hobbyists and enthusiasts – over those who engage in photography as a means of income is that we can afford to take random pictures which do not need to be professional-looking. Okay, though we strive to capture and create pictures worthy to be printed in top quality photographic paper, framed and displayed on a wall for all the world to see, that is not a primary consideration. For most of us, sharing a picture online for the viewing pleasure of our friends and peers is enough. We need not produce visual masterpieces all the time; we are not compelled to.
The above picture is of the atrium of the Mall of Asia in Metro Manila. As the name suggests, it is said to be the biggest commercial complex this side of the world and yesterday was the first time for me to go inside this cavernous structure. As it was a Sunday, the place was filled with people enjoying their weekend time. It was around early afternoon when I went down an escalator and looked up to see this massive ceiling of glass and steel. In the rush of people and the 10 seconds it took to ride the escalator I pulled out my point and shoot cam and took a couple of random shots, no time for thinking and composing and how the shot will come out. At that moment I was dependent on Auto Mode which, if you have read many of my previous posts, is an option I do not totally count on. But Auto Mode is an ally you can turn to in certain situations where you can not properly set up gear or go around to find certain angles or perspectives. I have done many random shots and some of them are keepers, such as the above. Most, however, go straight to the trash bin. The photo may not be the most satisfying of my captures but I can live with that, rather than leave the place with no capture at all. Have a great week ahead my friends!