Okay, as I was scanning recent photographs, it didn’t take me long to come up with an idea for a new photography tip blog entry. Yay! I forgot how much I like to share this kind of stuff. Really fun!
After reviewing images from an outing last Spring, I realized many of my photos were all shot with a single wide-angle prime lens. I was following my own advice and limited my focal range for a single outing. Now it’s fairly common for one to use a wide-angle lens for such things as landscape, seascape, and cityscape photography, but shooting wide can also create fantastic spacial effects and transform the mundane into magic. Objects shot at close range with a wide angle lens (see your lens’s minimum focal distance) can make objects that would otherwise seem relatively near to your main subject, appear quite distant. The perspective of your subject will also appear greatly exaggerated.
Please enjoy the following images I took with a 20mm lens on a full frame equivalent sensor camera.
Note the exaggerated distance in the first image of my two dogs (Danny and Sandy) and then the exaggerated perspective of the bench and the taco truck images.
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I find that one of my new tricks is seeing what kind of intriguing shape I can put into the foreground using my wide-angle lens. The nature made holes in this slab of rock were too irresistible to pass over. The shape of the projecting rock formation is irregular so I chose to make it a dominating feature of this image. Not unlike my previous post about seeing abstractly, this piece came together because I was treating my landscape as if it were an abstract painting. Looking for shape, color, tonality, and texture, and arranging these elements with an emphasis on composition rather than reality.
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Here’s an example of how simply cropping your photograph gives you a better composition. I spent a great bit of time setting the long exposure for the water, and positioning my tripod to achieve what I thought was going to be a great shot. In this image, I had too many things both to the left and right of the focal point (in this case the waterfall.) I also noticed that the focal point was rather diminutive and by simply cropping I would solve both problems. I found a square format worked nicely! (Oh, and color worked better than b&w this time.) Thanks for stopping by, and happy shooting!
Last Friday, I had a small window of time to get out to one of my favorite lakeside beaches before the sun went completely down. Desperately setting up my tripod and attaching lenses, I managed to get a few shots before the sky became completely dark. Out of a dozen pictures I shot, These two are the strongest, and as I was sharpening them in photoshop, I realized the driftwood in both pictures are the same. When pressured by time and the weather I simply look through my view finder and find the best picture possible and am not concerned with using the same objects in multiple pictures. In fact, this is a great lesson in self editing and honing your objective eye.
Putting It Out There:
If you fall in love with something you are photographing, remember; the subject doesn’t hold the image together. Find a way to make your pictures really work by trying different angles, placement of the object, exposure settings, and all those other tricks you’ve been learning on your photography journey.
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Use fog and misty conditions to create photos with depth and moodiness. In understanding that objects closer to the camera will be darker, tonality, or darkness and lightness, can be exploited to make highly expressive photographs.
Sea mist aided in the creation of space in this black and white coastal shot.
In this cliff side photograph, the fog helps define the form of the rock walls and directs the eye to the closer, more detailed surfaces..
In this minimalist photograph, the foggy conditions were crucial in separating out the few elements that were in the composition. This was an exercise in the less-is-more approach to picture making.
For the most part, fog and misty conditions are a photographers friend. Remember to take a tripod along for those darker days. Let those hazy conditions prime your imagination!
As always, contact me with questions, pointers, article requests, or just to say ,”You’re awesome!”
Often times you are presented with a subject that has no discerning background or with a landscape that has a clear division between two parts. Understanding the relationship your subject has with the negative spaces and applying a clear use of dominance can mean the difference between your pictures looking okay and looking outstanding.
After adjusting the image with some curves in photoshop to completely whiten the background, I cropped in a little closer to provide interesting shapes in the negative space. This also gave the rock dominance by allowing it to occupy more space than the background.
With two main sections in this image, I had to decide between the two which would dominate. Visually it made more sense to allow the dark water to rule. The flow of the composition moves from left to right smoother and it also places my bird in a pleasing space.
It seems to me that shooting photography down a shoreline always presents opportunity for dominance choices. Should I let the land dominate, or the water? The answer isn’t always clear and many times, both options work. Here, I chose the land. This is a case when both would have worked with a little moving around on my part.
Now, go forth and conquer your next photography quest! As always, feel free to comment, ask questions, or request a subject for a post.
When other compositional ideas are not working, find a way to direct the eye by including a path in your photograph.
Here is a shot I took on a neighborhood trail. A clear path takes the viewer up through the image and through the natural tunnel. O f course, you will not always have such a clear path to incorporate in your photograph.
Sometimes, you have to really hun for these paths. In the case of this next picture I took on the Oregon coast, I found the water path first and then moved around to direct it somewhere interesting in my image.
Here is a similar example I took on a snowy day. In on otherwise colorless and white-washed photo-shoot, I found a few of these breaks in the snow that created compositional tools in my pictures.
When you are struggling to come up with a pleasant composition, try making a path in your picture. Lead the eye to just about anything and your pictures will come alive. I believe a great photograph can make the mundane, magnificent.
Water is one of my favorite things to photograph, but like all things, to do it well you have to be willing to get a little uncomfortable. That means getting in! Being mindful of tides and the swiftness and depth of a river are real things you have to consider before jumping in. Keeping your camera secured around your neck is important too. Since my tripod is aluminum, I am not concerned with it rusting. The following are different examples of how I got wet to get my shot.
Unless there are several places for your eye to bounce along, photographing a river from the the side on a bank or beach places a static band across your page and can create a boring image. There are exceptions, but in general this kind of side to side composition doesn’t intrigue the viewer. When facing this very problem down at one of my favorite parks, I decided to step in. I found a great big mossy rock in the middle of this stream and set up my camera on a tripod with my 11-16 Tokina wide angle lens.
Never mistake good subject matter for a good photograph. With this next image, I struggled trying to get all the logs, foliage and flowing water to look as interesting as the idea of all these elements. I was shooting from a comfortable place along a bank and I was trying every angle I could, high, low, close and wide, but failed to capture an image that was worth keeping. Like my river shot, I decided to get in the water and try shooting from an angle that captured this scene downstream. The results were worth the extra five minutes removing my socks I think.
This one you want to be extra cautious with. Waterfall areas will often have barriers and restricted areas that you want to stick to for your safety. The next image is from a very popular and heavily photographed waterfall in my city. There is a bridge spanning the outflow of this falls and good places to take a photograph. I wanted to try placing more water in the foreground of my image. I found a path that went under the bridge that brought my angle closer to what I wanted. I tried a few shots along the pebble beach but I wasn’t quite getting what I wanted. The water was shallow enough that day and I was able to step in and get just the right angle that included water and a few rocks in my final photograph.
As always, make sure if you’re shooting wide not to let a leg of your tripod or remote cable get in the shot. Wear waterproof boots or go barefoot if you are certain it is safe to do so. Consider your angle and composition and try several exposures. Getting your feet wet can lead to some outstanding shots you wouldn’t achieve standing safely on dry land. With a little planning and caution, these small comfort risks will help your portfolio grow and shine.