Towns and cities often have their own unique “feel” that makes them different from anywhere else. A successful urban landscape photo should capture this essence, but it isn’t always an easy task. The key is to think about what the place means to you, how it makes you feel, and what places are special to you. Then look around for a way to introduce this feeling into your photo.
Small details can really add atmosphere to an urban landscape photo, so try to include them alongside the more obvious subjects such as impressive buildings or monuments. Things like an overflowing rubbish bin, a cracked pavement tile, or a traffic jam tell a story in themselves, and help to give your urban landscape shots context.
Don’t forget that the vibe of a city doesn’t always need to be a positive one – sometimes you might want to show just how dirty and unfriendly a place is. Your photos should always tell a story from your point of view – after all, urban landscape photography is just as much about self-expression as it is about showing off a town or city.
~Urban Landscape Photography Tips from PhotographyMad.com
We thank you Lord for this gift of talent and artistry which we are able to share to the world. Happy Easter everyone!
Article Excerpt: “Taking pictures at night gives an image a completely different feel because it captures different stories of daily life, sometimes more dramatic than the ones captured during the day. There is also a whole new cast of characters at night that make taking pictures on the streets after dark an even more adventurous experience in street photography…Just by decreasing the available light we increase the element of mystery in the image. Don’t get me wrong, it could still be an average image. Just because it was taken at night the picture won’t magically become a great photograph, but at least it might become a little bit more interesting, it may make the viewer ask just a few more questions. And depending on where you are it may even add an element of danger.”~Juan Reyes from his article Street Photography Tips at Night
In a still photograph you basically have two variables, where you stand and when you press the shutter. That’s all you have.~Henry Wessel
Unless its a skyline of jagged peaks and mountains in a land-locked scene, your horizon won’t be a straight line. But if those mountains meet the sea in the distance, that meeting point will usually be a straight narrow line. We encounter these horizons during nature shoots – landscapes, seascapes, vistas, sunsets and sunrises. Now when framing, where do you place the horizon line? Should it be in the upper portion or lower portion? It depends on what you are going to highlight. If your subject is in the foreground, your horizon line will naturally be higher as you’ll be focusing on subjects down below, nearer you. If your subject is the sky or in the sky or up in the clouds, you’ll be pointing up and your horizon line be at the lower portion of the frame. What if your horizon line cuts across the middle of the frame. Others consider this a no-no. It just doesn’t follow through with the rules of composition. But heck, what are rules anyway? If the mountains in our example cast an interesting reflection on the sea, oh shoot to your heart’s content with the line in the middle. You are shooting for what is appealing, interesting and captivating; not for any rules. In the picture, my main subject is the man rowing his boat. I could capture him whole by zooming in, but I wanted also to include the subtle rays of the sun during that late afternoon so I pointed up a little. Which is why the horizon line placed lower from the middle portion, and it was okay since I had nothing to include in the foreground as it was all water. What was important was my main subject against an enchanting backdrop. And another thing, keep your horizon line level. Unless, for whatever effect and purpose you have in my mind, you want it tilted to one side. More on this topic from our mainstay photography instructor Darren Rowse with his write up Getting Horizons Horizontal.
Pure thinking or pure seeing? In truth, neither alone is sufficient. We are creatures of both realms. One prepares us for the other. Together they somehow bring us to creativity.~Jim Richardson
We’ve tackled previously the subject of filling the frame, or how to compose a shot with the subject filling up the four corners of the frame we call a viewfinder. To photograph is to exclude, as the great Susan Sontag once said. And to exclude is part of composition – that is, to include only the essential, the point of interest, and to exclude all the others in the frame that does not emphasize or relate to the main subject. The problem nowadays is that the “frame” comes in different sizes, the proper terminology is “aspect ratios.” How do you present your subject on a 4:3 (think of your old analog TV screen) aspect ratio from that of a cinematic 16:9 (think of your new HDTV screen). From 4:3 to 16:9 there will be lots of exclusions of the subjects and other elements that you will have to do. For example in the above photo of the boat presented in 16:9, I would have to do away with most of the right side of the image if I were to present it in a boxy 4:3 aspect ratio. In the first place, how many aspect ratios are there? To answer that, my mainstay editing program PhotoScape alone has 25 aspect ratio choices in its cropping menu, though mostly there are just 6 in common use on cameras today. But the point of this post is – aspect ratio affects your composition, or what you put inside that frame. Here is a VERY interesting article titled An Introduction to Aspect Ratios and Compositional Theory. The author, Malaysian-based photographer Ming Thein, explains that the aim of the article is to “focus on understanding the compositional impact of different aspect ratios, and more importantly, how to pick the right aspect ratio for a given subject.” As most people will probably just go by the native aspect ratio of their camera and not do anything about it, the author says this is “compositionally very, very sloppy.” Read the rest of this informative article and add another chapter in your growing library of photographic knowledge. Now when you shoot those fireworks this New Year, think if they can best be presented in 1:1, 5:4, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 or 2.40:1. That many? Yes, and that’s just a few. Hehe. Happy aspect shooting!
I had a laugh while reading this article 10 Differences Between Tourists and Travelers because more or less they are so true. Though I can’t validate item #9 on the list, I have to say I also drink but not to get drunk; it’s just to get a taste of the local beverage. Like when I was in Vietnam, I had to savor the local beer such as 333, Bia Saigon and Tiger Beer. Got to compare them with the Philippine’s very own San Miguel Beer. I’m biased but I’d still go for the distinctive taste of San Miguel. Anyway, back to our topic. Items # 2 and 4 in the list are photography related and I’d like to explore them further. Item #2 says a “tourist wants to see all the sights while a traveler wants to see some, but also to find something interesting that isn’t in the guidebook.” It’s the common complaint of people I’m with when I’m on travel – I wander off from the group, I go solo, astray and stroll along. That’s the instinct of photographers, they go the unbeaten path. If tourists flock on a certain area or follow a certain trail to take a shot of a scenery, a traveler photographer goes the other way. He finds vantage points, other angles, an unusual perspective. He is constantly on the lookout for something fresh, unique and interesting, outside and away from the normal point of view. Item #4 in the list says “a tourist takes photos of all the famous stuff. A traveler takes pictures of ordinary people and things and is rewarded by the locals with gratitude or puzzlement.” True again, and related to what I just mentioned. Photographers will shoot any ordinary, everyday subjects but will find ways to do it differently, far from the normal shot. I recall the words of a legendary photographer who said something like if he were with a group of photographers who were all huddled at one area taking a picture of a subject, that he would go to the other side. The bottomline: you can spot a tourist from a traveler by how he shoots. A tourist will take pictures casually, and just probably snap on. A traveler will stoop, crouch low, look around, eye the scene, scout the place, look up to see where the sun is and where the light falls. He is thinking, envisioning, establishing his shot. They may have the same DSLR or point and shoot cam, but they will have contrasting ways to take a shot. It’s easy to tell one from the other. (Photo location: Bird’s Beak Island in the middle of Tri An Lake, Vietnam)
Taking photographs, taking candid photographs, means that the photographer is an invisible man.~Bruce Davidson (Photo location: A family in Loi Ha town, Vietnam)
Book Excerpt: “Vision is the beginning and end of photography. It’s the thing that moves you to pick up the camera, and it determines what you look at and what you see when you do it. It determines how you shoot and why. Without vision, the photographer perishes.”~David duChemin, Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision
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)
I believe in the miracle of life. I believe in the eternity of the soul. I believe in the wondrous gifts of nature, the solemn grace of a setting sun, the calm of a morning sea, the scent of pure breeze, the warmth of a sunny day, the picturesque scene of solitude, the sway and motion of heavenly clouds, the lines, shapes and contours of a wonderful vision – bright, lucid and clear. I believe in the cacophony of aural experiences, music of the spirit, the ambient sound of sweet whispers, the surreal echo of distant dreams, the ripples and flutter of movement in the air. I believe in the visual explosion of colors, the subtle tints of dawn, the harsh light of noon and the muted tones and shadows of early evening. I believe in so much reality there is barely room for pretensions and lies. Because I believe in what I see and sense, grasp and comprehend, it is truth that beholds my being. I am what I am because I believe. (Photo location: Lake Tri An, Vietnam)
You should make photographs with your heart, mind, eye & soul. The capture device is simply there to allow you to transfer your vision to a medium that you can share with others.~Bill Frakes (Photo location: Loi Ha town, Vietnam)
To shoot, of course! No amount of teaching, courses, tips and tutorials can replace actual, hands-on practice which leads to experience, which leads to knowledge and which leads to understanding. But are there certain norms, conducts and codes that a photographer must be aware of? I’m not referring to shooting in places or of people where and when its not allowed. We certainly are law abiding citizens (I can’t say the same thing for paparazzis whose job is to shoot for scoop). I thought there were no particular demeanors or beliefs for photographers per se, until I found this article from Warren Krupsaw, one-time student of the great Ansel Adams, who presents 16 Behaviors of the Serious Photographer. All are wisdom-laden, and one of the things in the list that Krupsaw proffers is that a serious photographer “Takes care not to abuse the Power of Photography” which “can interpret, convey a message, evoke emotion, inspire, depress, etc.” Wow! Dig the truth in that. And last on his list is “disregard any (or all) of the above” if it does not apply to your situation. Huh? We may scratch our heads on certain contradictions and backtrackings in this world of photography but that is how it is – there are rules and there are no rules, there are guidelines but you are free to do what you want, there are fundamentals but you have the choice to discover, experiment and explore for yourself. These words of wisdom are again guideposts culled from the years of experiences of photographers who were shooting even before we were born. They share with us their discernment, acuity and observation not to make us perfect photographers (because there is no such thing) but to make our photographic journey a worthwhile and meaningful one. (Photo location: Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
It is part of the photographer’s job to see more intensely than most people do. He must have and keep in him something of the receptiveness of the child who looks at the world for the first time or of the traveller who enters a strange country.~Bill Brandt (Photo location: Loi Ha town, Vietnam)
Art is Man’s nature. Nature is God’s art.~James Bailey (Photo location: Lake Tri An, Vietnam)
With photography, you zero in; you put a lot of energy into short moments, and then you go on to the next thing.~Robert Mapplethorpe (Photo location: Lake Tri An, Vietnam)