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My Favorite Quotes: W. Eugene Smith

It was light, and it was available.

It was light, and it was available.

When I first started out in photography some forty-four years ago, I shot primarily Black and White. I worked for AP, UPI, and I was a Black Star photographer, a national photo syndicate. It was several years before I started working in color, and in that beginning period of time all my favorite photographers shot black and white.

Among them were:Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorthea Lange, Walker Evans, Ernst Haas, most of the photographers in my favorite photo book called The Family of Man” to name a few. Having said that, my all time favorite photographer is W. Eugene Smith. His images speak to me like no others living or dead. As it happens, one of my all time favorite quotes was said by him. He said, “Available light is any damn light that’s available.”

As I tell my online students with the BPSOP, and also in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, light is everything. You find the light and you’ll find the shot. I’ll often have a discussions with one of my fellow photographers (who insist that an on camera flash is the way to go), that in my long career I’ve never, and I mean not once ever felt that I needed this kind of contrasty harsh, bluish, hot ancillary light to make good photos.

To digress a moment, don’t you just love it when someone a couple of rows down from you uses a flash to record what’s way down on the stage…and all he’s lighting up is the back of a few heads a couple of rows in front of him. I get a better shot with just the available light.

I’m mostly an available light photographer. I’ve always found a way to use whatever available light is around me when I thought it was needed. The problem is that photographers these days just don’t take the time to look around them for help that may very well be hitting them right in the face. Remember that if you can see it, you can take a picture of it…especially now in the digital age where cameras can record images in very low light.

Any damn light that's available.

Any damn light that’s available.

Even in situations where there just isn’t any actual sunlight, look for man-made light like a flashlight over on a table, or a desk lamp, or as in the photo above, a welding torch laying over against the bags of cement. I had him pick it up and make it the brightest flame he could. As I say, you just have to open your eyes and look around…somewhere lurking in the shadows is the answer to your problem.

You just gotta…Stretch Your Frame of Mind!!!

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2105 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime. I still have a few spots in my next “Springtime” workshop to be in Lisbon, Portugal next May 21st.  July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media Workshop…the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.

Keep those photos and questions coming into: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.

JoeB

 

 

 

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Anticipating the action

Anticipating the action

No, I’m not talking about the song Carly Simon sang in 1971…for those old enough to remember it. I’m talking about how the word anticipation plays a key role in “Street Shooting”.

In my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, I often talk about being aware of your surroundings at all times. This is when it will happen…that shot that could make your day!!!

I’m usually talking about keeping an eye out for the light, and how important it is in coming home with that illusive OMG photo. That keeper that will either go on your wall or in your portfolio…or both.

But in this post I’m talking about anticipating the action. The action that can occur at any moment when you’re walking down a street looking for photo opts.

A good sports photographer knows the sport he’s covering backwards and forwards. He knows it well enough to be playing in it, and at some level sometimes does. A good street shooter has that same instinct, or he at least should if he’s going to be successful.

I watch everything when I’m walking, and even have those proverbial “eyes in the back of my head”. If I see someone that’s sticking out of the environment around him for one reason or another, I’ll watch him/her for several minutes…with my camera halfway up my chest. If nothing happens, I’ll move on to someone else. Sooner or later I’ll see something that makes me focus in tight. I’ll watch and anticipate their next move. A move that I would maybe make myself. It’s people watching at it’s finest.

When I was younger and shot primarily B/W on the streets, I was always looking for that one shot, and if I was very lucky, and I mean very lucky, I might capture someone in a moment where they are expressing their thoughts in some form of body language or gesture. In the above photo, that’s exactly what happened. I was shooting and writing a story for a local Sunday supplement on Mardi Gras day and what the locals had to deal with as far as the crowded streets and sidewalks were concerned. I watched her for some time and just had a feeling that something was going to happen. In a brief moment she had summed up her day to me and because I had waited and anticipated I got the shot.

Btw, this photo is now in the permanent photography collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

One of my favorite things to do is to put on my longest lens and then put the camera on a tripod. I’ll position myself in a crowded area and in a 360 degree movement I’ll pan the people. An analogy for you old movie buffs is watching Robert Mitchum in The Enemy Below when he’s in a submarine panning the horizon at periscope depth looking for targets..Ok,  not actually an analogy, but for me it’s mighty close.

I could literally do that for hours, and on occasion have come close…as in the photo of the woman in a crowded square in Toledo, Spain.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2105 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime. July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media Workshop…the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.

Keep those photos and questions coming in to: AskJoeB@gmail.com and I’ll create a video critique for you.

JoeB

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Look ma, no Photoshop.

Look ma, no Photoshop.

 

Every time I write one of these posts it takes me way, way back to the days when Adobe was the name of a style of house in the Southwest part of the US.

The good old days when you had to do everything in the camera, and as a result got the occasional ulcer for doing it. Yes, those do-da days where it took just one screw-up and you became persona non grata at not just the agency you were shooting for, but if that Art Director that picked you went to another agency, and they often did, your name went with them. That’s just the chance you took because the money was so good. In those days car shooters (the good ones) were getting $5000.00 per shot (plus all expenses) and up, and that day sometimes meant one shot at sunrise and one at sunset.

In my online classes with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, we work on incorporating the Elements of Visual Design into their photography. We also work on getting as much in the camera before the shutter is clicked so that my fellow photographers can become better photographers, not better computer artists.

That’s not to say that I don’t use Photoshop because I do with just about every photo; not to do anything except minor tweaking. For me, getting it in the camera is a great challenge, and as a result I fell good that I’m a good shooter that relies on my eye and imagination, not Histograms, blinking lights, and that insidious bane of existence that’s called…HDR!!!.

In the above photo, the Art director and I choose The Bonneville Salt Flats for the location because of the simplicity, the great light, and all that wonderful texture.

It may look like a simple set-up but I can tell you that it was anything but simple. The car company that brought the new-never been seen before Alpha Romeo got their huge van and trailer stuck and after hours of trying and a twenty foot hole, we were able to rent a back hoe to get the tractor out that got stuck trying to get the trailer out in the first place…what a mess!!! This took a day. Then, we had to fill in this giant crater so it looked like it never happened…another day of expenses.

Simple set-up????????

Simple set-up????????

The placement of the car was extremely important since as a prototype it came without a motor and had to be manually placed (by hands) to get the right angle of the light. When seconds counted, there wasn’t enough time to move it again (and keep those tire tracks out of the shot. To do this I used my Sunpath readings and my Morin 2000 hand bearing compass to get it at the exact angle to eliminate unwanted hotspots and glare, and the shadow that was important as well. I knew that the shot had to be taken right before the full sun was visible on the horizon. After that the car was subject to those elements that couldn’t be taken out since any thought of post-processing was years away.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2105 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime. I still have a few spots in my next “Springtime” workshop to be in Lisbon, Portugal next May 21st.  July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media workshop…the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.

Keep those photos and questions coming into: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll send you a video critique.

JoeB

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Shot from the front, and with a red tractor.

Shot from the front, and with a red tractor.

I teach my fellow photographers how to use the Elements of Visual Design to create stronger compositions, as well as images that have strong visual interest. Unfortunately, it’s more than every once in a while that someone in my online class with the PPSOP, or someone that’s with me in one of my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the, that I planet tells me that a friend told them not to do something.

Just the other day, one of my students said that a friend of hers, that’s a photographer, told her to never shoot buildings from the front. WHAT????? Moreover, I’ve also been told that their friends have also said to never shoot anything that’s red. Someone please shake me because I must be in some kind of time warp. How about this one from a friend to another friend…”Why worry about it now, you can always fix it later”. “Always have people walking into the frame so you can give them room to walk into”, is another ridiculous statement.

My standard answer is…’Well I guess if they told you to follow them while they jumped off that bridge, you would?” If you do, leave your camera on the ground before you go so someone might use it.

I find it interesting that a lot of photographers, especially those that haven’t been at it long don’t have faith in their abilities and creative ways to make good photos. It’s hard to be objective when looking at our work, and so we sometimes rely on what others tell us, and we take it in good faith to be the way it is. After all, they want to sound as if they know what they’re talking about, when in reality you probably know more than they do…at least as much!!!

Follow what you feel is right, and stop listening to your friends that just might have an agenda other than helping out. Take workshops from people whose work you admire. More than likely they’ll lead you down a better path. Read books like Freeman Patterson’s, The Art of Seeing. It’s one of my all time favorites.

Brw, I guess I really screwed up when I shot this building straight on and put s red tractor in front!!!

:-(

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2105 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime. July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media Workshop…the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.

Keep those photos and questions coming into: AskJoeB@gmail.com

JoeB

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How would I have shot it?

How would I have shot it?

Mark sent me this photo to take a look at. I like to include what the person said because I’ve found that many of my fellow photographers have either had similar questions or have been in a similar situation. Here’s what Mark had to say:

“Hello,

The attached photo is from a photo outing in the area of Kansas City known as West Bottom, once the geographic location of the old stockyards. I hoped to show the solitude of the under bridge and convey a sense of “strength” by demonstrating it’s continuity. In the absence of any interesting graffiti, I elected to concentrate on the pillars and center lines. How would you have shot this scene? Attached are raw and post processed images. Thank you very much.

Mark”

Ok Mark, you asked how I would have shot this scene. Well that all depends on whether Armour and Swift are still operating. I grew up in Kansas City Missouri, (went to Mizzou) and my dad had a couple of grocery stores. One of them was in Kansas City, Kansas at 7th and Parallel, and during the summer I worked there. Several times a week I was sent to these companies to pick something up. I remember trying to hold my breath as long as I could because the smell of the stockyards (where they were butchering the pigs and cows) was beyond words!!!

So I would probably be holding my breath during the exposure.

If not, here’s how I would have shot it:

http://www.screencast.com/t/DT2gUwX7

BTW Mark, to me your name is too big, and since the viewer is going to look at your image from left to right, I think I would move it way over to the left and scale it back. That said, just because you have the ‘C’ in a circle, that doesn’t mean it’s protected…in fact it really isn’t. In order for your photograph to be fully protected it has to be registered with the Library of Congress. It has to have been registered before the date where someone used it without permission and published it.

As far as your post processed image is concerned, it doesn’t look real. The structure is way too old and your new “paint job” doesn’t fit. So many photographers tend to over process, to the point where it looks like it was over processed. In my opinion, if you’re going to do any post processing, then make it look like you didn’t. It’s one of the important areas I cover both in my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet.

Post processing doesn't fit the structure's timeline.

Post processing doesn’t fit the structure’s timeline.

Thanks for the submission, and I hope my critique helped.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and be sure to watch for upcoming workshops.

Keep those photos and questions coming into: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and i’ll create a video critique for you.

JoeB

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Shot with Kodachrome 25

Shot with Kodachrome 25

As I tell my online class with the PPSOP, and also in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, I didn’t pick up a camera until I was twenty, going on twenty-one. That’s not counting the Brownie Hawkeye I won on the boardwalk at Asbury Park, New Jersey. It was one of those machines where you move a metal claw around and drop it on something you had little chance in getting. I was thirteen.

No, I’m sorry to say that I was not a child photo prodigy who took that Brownie and went on to becoming the youngest photographer to have a one kid show at MOMA. My background was centered around painting and design, with areas of study in Art History, water color, figure drawing, printmaking, and color theory. My first 35mm camera was my twenty-first birthday present from my parents. A Pentax Spotmatic with a 50mm lens.

It didn’t take me long to decide that photography was instant-gratification. While It took me hours or days or sometimes weeks to create a “work of art”, it only took as long as to bring the viewfinder up to my eye, compose and click the shutter to create a photo.

The first trip I went on with my new camera was to Mexico with some friends. I can still remember walking around snapping pictures and absolutely loving it. Of course I had no formal or informal training whatsoever and barely knew what all the buttons were for. I just applied everything I had learned from the years of taking design, drawing, and composition classes.

I guess it didn’t hurt, as the above photo was one of the very first that I can remember taking, or at least it’s one of the few I can still find.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2105 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime. I still have a few spots in my next “Springtime” workshop to be in Lisbon, Portugal next May 21st.  July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media Workshop…the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.

Don’t forget to send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com. Show me your first photo!!!

JoeB

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AskJoeB: Did It Do It…Create Tension?

Did it create Visual Tension?

Did it create Visual Tension?

A past online student with the BPSOP, sent me this photo to review. Like always I like to show the actual message, since so many of my fellow photographers have experienced similar situations and have had the same questions. Here’s what tom had to say:

“Hi Joe,

Took this shot of the Sydney Opera House almost an hour before sunrise – 120 seconds at f/13, 70mm on a full frame camera.
When I’m shooting, I’m always remembering the artist palette you taught me in the online BPSOP courses – or at least trying to. In this shot, I was thinking about tension, perspective, negative space, line, texture, and of course, light. The main focus was to create tension by putting the strong, smooth, and very simple diagonal of the bow of the cruise ship close to the complexity and texture of the Opera House, leaving enough negative space to define each clearly but not so much that they become separated.

Did it do it (create tension)?

Also, I’m not sure how quickly a viewer will be able to see that the strong white triangle is the front of a ship, there may not be enough there for them to fill in the rest in their mind (closure). But also not sure it makes much difference to the overall appeal of the shot whether that is a ship or a building or a UFO. Would appreciate your thoughts on that.
I did make a few lightroom adjustments. Brought the shadows up a bit and the highlights down, as the sails of the Opera House were a bit dark but the lights around it were a bit strong. Added contrast and decreased clarity. And increased both the saturation and the luminance of the blues, but left the other colours alone..

Thanks,
Tom Beecroft”

 

Tom,

It’s a really nice photo. So many areas to look at, and besides my BPSOP class, I also talk a lot about ways to keep the viewer around longer in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet. Having him discover new things when looking at your image, and moving him around the frame are two ways to keep him around.

Take a look at this video:

http://www.screencast.com/t/xAWZ39FKNVqb

Thanks for sharing this beautiful image with us, and I’m glad you’re thinking about my “did it do it” list for good composition we worked on in our online class.

What do you think about it darker?

What do you think about it darker?

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my upcoming workshops at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.

For those of you that like to make spur of the moment plans, I have a spot open for my “Springtime in Portugal” workshop coming up this May 21st.

July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media Workshop…the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.

Keep those photos and questions coming to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.

JoeB

 

 

 

 

 

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Food For digital Thought: The Clock

light coming from 3:00 O'clock.

light coming from 3:00 O’clock.

One of the most important areas I cover in my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop I conduct around the planet is knowing where the light is coming from before raising the camera up to your eyes.

I give my fellow photographers a clock to install in the back of their mind. To me, light is EVERYTHING!!!!. If you look up the definition of Photography, you’ll see that it means “painting with light”. Unless you’re street shooting where ‘the moment’ is critical, and more important than the direction of the light, knowing where to put your subject is the key in taking your photos what I refer to as “up a notch”.

 Ok, imagine a clock in your viewfinder, but if it’s easier, imagine the clock on the ground with your subject standing in the center…imagine your camera and a subject set up just like it is in this drawing. Now, imagine the sun (or light source) coming from behind the 11,12, and 1. This is ‘back light’. It’s probably the way I light almost all the time…why?

Because back light makes everything glow: water, grass, hair, or anything translucent. It adds so much energy and can be effective even if your subject is a touch on the boring side.

Now, imagine the light source behind the ’10’ and the ‘2’. This is what is called “the Law of the Light”…light from the “Angle of Reflection”. When the sun casts light on a subject it comes at a specific angle, and that angle is called the “Angle of Incidence”. It’s the light falling on the subject.

When that same light bounces (reflects) off the subject and hits the lens, it also bounces off at an angle to the camera. When those to angles are the same, it’s called the “Law of the Light”…also known as “The Angle of Reflection”.

Now, imagine the sun at either ‘3’ or ‘9’. This is side light. If I can’t backlight or put my subject in the Angle of reflection, this is the light I go for. When the sun is at ‘4’ or ‘8’ it’s ok, still somewhat side lit, but bordering on front light…to me, this is the worst way to light…5,6,and 7 is front light and I avoid it like the plague…why? Because there aren’t any shadows or shading.

Form is an important ‘element of visual design’. Form refers to the three-dimensional quality of an object. When light hits an object from the side, part of the object is in shadow. The light and dark areas provide contrast that can suggest volume. Without shadows, the subject will be recorded without Form…appearing flat. Without shading/shadows Form exists in just two dimensions, height and width.

This is what happens when you front light. now, I’m not saying that you can’t take pictures that are front lit…I’m saying that those times for me are rare, and the sun should be low on the horizon.

So as I said, THE VERY FIRST THING I EVER DO when I get to a location…before I ever raise my camera up to my eyes…is to determine where the light source is coming from. Then I position myself to get the right/best light.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2105 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime. I still have a few spots in my next “Springtime” workshop to be in Lisbon, Portugal next May 21st.  July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media workshop…the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.

Don’t forget to send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com.

JoeB

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Using the edges of my frame.

Using the edges of my frame.

I recently had one of my blog followers send me this note:

Hi Joe,

I’ve followed your blog and website for some time now, and things are usually very clear and instructive.
In this edition, you stated:

“BTW, when you crop in front of a computer, you’ll never know where the edges of your frame are, nor will you ever be able to use the edges as a compositional tool.”

I am completely unsure as to what you mean – can you elaborate?

Thanks and keep up the great work!

I’m glad he asked because it’s a question I often get either in my online class with the BPSOP, or in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet.

First, here’s an excerpt from an interview done on Henri Cartier-Bresson, who is adamantly against cropping. He said, “We have to have a feeling for the geometry of the relation of shapes, like in any plastic medium. And I think that you place yourself in time, we’re dealing with time, and with space. Just like you pick a right moment in an expression, you pick your right spot, also. I will get closer, or further, there’s an emphasis on the subject, and if the relations, the interplay of lines is correct, well, it is there. If it’s not correct it’s not by cropping in the darkroom and making all sorts of tricks that you improve it. If a picture is mediocre, well it remains mediocre. The thing is done, once for all.”

I’ve also read that shooting loosely and cropping in post-processing are signs of sloppy technique and a lack of discipline…that would include yours truly.

Getting back to the question at hand, for me the main reason I don’t crop gets back to my Artist Palette, I present to my fellow photographers that take my online class or my workshop.

Let’s take Shape, one of the basic elements of visual design. I’m always looking to include shapes to strengthen my compositions. Circles, rectangles, squares, and triangles are the four basic shapes. That said, take a look at this video:

http://www.screencast.com/t/fMCaITsf5x

Also on my Artist Palette is Visual Tension.There’s several ways to generate Tension, and one is called “framing within a frame”. It’s a great way to add depth, while leading the viewer into the photo. Here’s a video:

http://www.screencast.com/t/ivyYfNE2

The last area I want to cover is another way to create Visual Tension. First of all I’m not talking about the kind of tension that comes from mental or emotional stress. I’m talking about Visual Tension, and that comes from forces acting against one another. It’s the anticipation of these forces colliding with one another that creates the Tension. Placing a subject close to the edge of the frame is one way. Take a look:

http://www.screencast.com/t/mQctl4g3bXil

I hope this post helped clears it up, and thanks for asking.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my upcoming workshops at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. I have a few spots left for my upcoming week at the Maine Media Workshop. The week of July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media Workshop...the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.

Keep sending those photos and questions to: AskJoeB@gmail.com and I’ll create a video critique.

JoeB

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Rene painted with light.

Rene painted with light.

One of the biggest areas we work on in both my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet, is the use of light.

To me light is everything, and the cornerstone to creating memorable photos. Unless you’re street shooting where capturing the moment is so important, and is the only thing that can trump light, light (as I just said) is everything.

The word Photography comes from the Greek roots that means “drawing with light”. Although this can mean different things in different applications,  I want to center my attention to one area that really is about drawing with light; the use of a flashlight before the sun comes up and after it’s gone down; “Light Painting” is what it’s referred to.

I don’t mean any old  flashlight, I mean one that’s powerful enough to throw a beam (in spotlight mode) up to 200 yards. The flashlight I use is made by Red Line and is about six inches long and has an output of 300 lumens. It also works on regular batteries.

A great example of how you draw with light can be seen in the above and below photos.It was taken by a student of mine that was taking my Maine Media Workshop. Every year I take the class to Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, and it’s become a tradition. We arrive there an hour before the sun comes up so we can get a nice glow behind the lighthouse but not any direct sun.

Everyone sets up where they wanted, and opened their shutters. While their shutters were opened, I walked around with the flashlight and literally painted the building for them. When the sun comes up, the class starts shooting in the early morning light.

Painting with light.

Painting with light.

Afterwards, we all go to Moody’s Diner, and breakfast is on me.

My Maine Media Workshop is coming up on July 26th, and it will be my 27th year there. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland.  It offers a completely set of photo ops than the beautiful coast of Maine, the fishing towns, and lighthouses: light, design, color, motion, energy, people watching and portraits. Here’s a couple of links to past Maine workshops to show what my fellow photographers shot during the week:

http://joebaraban.com/blog/workshop-stuff-2014-maine-media-workshop/

http://joebaraban.com/blog/2013-maine-media-workshop/

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and be sure to check out further workshops as they come up.

Keep sending those photos and questions to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.

JoeB

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Anecdotes: Hiring a New First Assistant

I loved the POV!!!

I loved the POV!!!

Now that I’m semi-retired from forty-eight years of shooting advertising, editorial, and corporate photography, I can devote my time to teaching with the online class PPSOP and conducting my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops around the planet.

There was a period of about thirty years when I traveled up to two-hundred and fifty days out of the year, and for those days I always traveled with my first assistant. When we got to a city, I would pick up a free-lancer who knew the city and could get things for me as I needed them.

My first assistant went everywhere with me and was responsible for the equipment, and the liaison between the free-lancer and myself. He was always right by my side, giving me the ever changing exposures readings from a one degree external meter made by Minolta.

When the assistant I had at the time gave me his two week notice (the best ones would only work for two years before going off on their own), I would begin to advertise through several channels I had at the time. When they applied for the job, they would have a portfolio with them that I basically looked at to see how neat they were.  If they didn’t take care of their own work, they wouldn’t take care of mine, and there was just too much money involved for the assistant to be sloppy.  Their subject matter didn’t matter since they would not do any shooting.

What I did care about and was the first question I would ask someone that I was interested in was if they were afraid of heights. If they were, then the interview was over. They needed to be willing to do whatever I needed them to, and I never asked anyone to do something I wouldn’t do myself. The question had a tendency to shake someone up, to the point of thinking I was kidding…which I wasn’t.

It usually brought the macho out of the guy and no one would ever say no. That is until we were in a position to test their testosterone quotient…as in out in the field.

The above photo was taken on the Elissa. A tall ship anchored in Galveston, and it was shot for National Geographic’s World Magazine. My assistant was fairly new and had not been field tested. I wanted a portrait of this kid that was spending the summer on board.

The kid told me some of his duties, and right then I knew the photo I wanted to take of him. When I explained what I was going to do to my assistant, the blood drained out of his face; which in of itself was fairly scary/funny. The three of us climbed out on the mast to get the shot.  The next day my brand new first assistant quit…his face was still white!!!

His last shoot with me.

His last shoot with me.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. I have two openings left in my next “springtime” workshop in Portugal.Next July 26th I’ll be back at the Maine Media Workshop for my 27th year. a fantastic place full of energy and lot of photographers on the campus to share your experience with. I always pick this same week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. A different set of photo opts: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.

I have one spot left for my “Autumn in Provence” workshop to be next October 21st. We’ll be shooting during the Fall foliage.

Keep those photos and questions coming to: AskJoeB@gmail.com.

JoeB

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AskJoeB: Please take a look.

What do you think?

What do you think?

Molly sent this photo to me to take a look at. As usual, I like to show the actual text that was sent to me. I do this because so many of you out there have had similar questions or have had similar situations.

Here’s what Molly had to say:

“Hello Joe:

Please take a look at my pic. I did crop the image.

While on vacation taking a walk in the cool, misty morning I turned a
corner and found myself in front of the iconic Seattle Farmers Market
sign, then this fellow crossed my path. Immediately it came to mind
that,  to me, he was an iconic example of how most guys in Seattle
dressed. I grabbed two or three shots.

I look forward to you giving it a critique in your blog. Thanks,

Molly in
Dallas”

Hello Molly, let’s take a look at your photo. The first thing that comes to my mind is what I’m always telling the students that take my online class with the BPSOP, and also in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet.

I tell them that they won’t always be around to explain their photo to the viewers. If it’s an abstract they’re going for them it’s fine to have everyone to walk away with a different take on your photo.

If they’re trying to tell a story, or just presenting a well compose picture that they want the same viewers to enjoy, then it’s important to make their image a “quick read”. That is making sure that the message is understood without any text accompanying the photograph.

Having said that, you said that the man that crossed your path was “an iconic example” of how most guys in Seattle dressed.

BTW, when you crop in front of a computer, you’ll never know where the edges of your frame are, nor will you ever be able to use the edges as a compositional tool.

Since I’ve had great success in creating an actual video, click on this link:

http://www.screencast.com/t/Jc92TQjBsLK

Thanks for your submission, and I hope it answered your question.

Visit mt workshop at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my upcoming workshops. I have one spot for my “Springtime in Portugal” coming up this May 21st. Next July 26th I’ll be back at the Maine Media Workshop for my 27th year. a fantastic place full of energy and lot of photographers on the campus to share your experience with. I always pick this same week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. A different set of photo opts: people watching and portraiture, color, light, and design.

Keep those photos and questions coming into: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video for you.

JoeB

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My Favorite Quotes: Elliott Erwitt

As some of you might know and hopefully read, I have a category I call “my favorite quotes”. These are quotes I’ve picked up over my forty-four year career as an advertising, corporate, and editorial photographer.. Some I’ve stumbled on by accident or by reading, and some I’ve been sent by friends who are always looking out for me.

These are not necessarily quotes by famous photographers, but quotes by well-known artists in their own right. Painters, musicians, poets and writers all share a common thread, the ability to think, see, and feel with both the left and right side of their brain. From Marcel Proust to Bo Diddley, and from Bob Marley to Claude Monet, these artist share a common bond…basically, the ability to make people feel good through each of their individual artistic mediums.

One of these quotes was written by Elliott Erwitt, an adverting, corporate and editorial photographer who at the age of eighty-six is still making his art. He once said,” Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them”.

In my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop I conduct around the world, I tell my fellow photographers that once you start seeing past your first impressions, you’re pictures will take on a different, more pronounced look. A look that will keep the viewer an active participant, and as a result will stick around longer.

So many photographers just don’t spend the time looking. They all seem to be in a hurry and as a result they miss out on the ‘good stuff’. I teach people in my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops how to incorporate the elements of visual design and composition into their imagery, and they walk away with what I call my Artist Palette that holds these elements.

I tell my fellow photographers  that there’s two ways to see things: with the left side of your brain and the right side. The left side is the analytical side and that’s what Erwitt’s message means when he says photography has little to do with the things you see.

The right side of your brain is the creative side. This is where the second part of Erwitt’s quote comes into play.He finishes the quote by saying it’s everything to do with the way you see them.

I had just checked into my hotel room and as usual the first thing I do is look out the window. What I saw is the image shown above. It was a bridge, according to the left side of my brain. However, upon closer observation, the bridge transformed into several elements of Visual Design. Here’s the elements that I saw: A Vanishing Point made up of two converging lines that moved the viewer across the frame and met at a point on the horizon. I saw shapes consisting of a beautiful triangle that the converging lines created, squares made by the trestles, rectangles made by the reflections of the trestles, and lots of diamonds. There was Negative Space that defined the trestles, and patterns created by the trestles themselves. Not to be missed is the Visual Tension created by showing the bridge and its reflection.

This is the way I saw the bridge.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. I have two openings left in my next “springtime” workshop in Portugal.Next July 26th I’ll be back at the Maine Media Workshop for my 27th year. a fantastic place full of energy and lot of photographers on the campus to share your experience with. I always pick this same week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. A different set of photo opts: people watching and portraiture, color, light, and design.

I have one spot left for my “Autumn in Provence” workshop to be next October 21st. We’ll be shooting during the Fall foliage.Don’t forget to send me a photo and question to:AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll send you a video critique.

JoeB

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Composed In the comfort zone.

Composed In the comfort zone.

As Westerners we were brought up to read from left to right. As a result, that’s the way we perceive, from left to right; that’s our comfort zone.

Humans rely on on the perception of the environment that surrounds them, and we as photographers can manage what the viewer perceives and processes when looking at the information we lay out to him in the form of a photograph.

While it’s always nice to keep the viewer in his or her comfort zone, sometimes it’s also good to take them out of that zone of contentment. How you ask? By composing your photos so the viewer has to go move from right to left instead of left to right.

In the above photo, I wanted to keep that tranquility, that repose created by the young cold grazing with his new mother. That’s the comfort zone I created by composing so the viewer moved down the fence line from left to right. Has I wanted to take the viewer out of his comfort zone, I would have positioned myself so that the viewer would have to move from right to left since I used the fence as a vehicle to move the viewer around the frame.

Take a look at the image now that I’ve flopped it in Photoshop. I  certainly don’t condone doing this after the fact, it’s merely a way to show the power we have as photographers to control how the viewer perceives and processes our photos.

Out of the comfort zone.

Out of the comfort zone.

So, the next time your out and about with your camera, find a location and subject matter that you can compose either from left to right or right to left and see the amazing difference for yourself.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. I have two openings left in my next “springtime” workshop in Portugal  starting October 21st. Next July 26th I’ll be back at the Maine Media Workshop for my 27th year. a fantastic place full of energy and lot of photographers on the campus to share your experience with. I always pick this same week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. A different set of photo opts: people watching and portraiture, color, light, and design.

I have one spot left for my “Autumn in Provence” workshop to be next October 21st. We’ll be shooting during the Fall foliage. In April of 2016, in conjunction with Epic Photo Tours, I’ll be leading a group to the coastal cities of North and Central Viet Nam. You’ll see and take pictures of subject matter you would only see in magazines like National Geographic.

Don’t forget to send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.

JoeB

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