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Quick Photo Tip: Using Linear Perspective

Linear perspective

In the first week of my four week online class with the BPSOP, we work on linear perspective. I don’t call it by this name, I call it a Vanishing Point since the name rings more bells than the former. It’s also a topic in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet.

The first known picture to make use of linear perspective was created by the Italian architect Fillipo Brunelleshi. It was developed as a way to create the illusion of depth from a three dimensional world onto a two dimensional representation of it in the form of a painting.

This was done by using a vanishing point to have all the lines in a painting converge at a point at, near, or just passed the horizon. A vanishing point within an image will move the viewer around your composition, appearing to him as the continuation of real space.

To create a classic vanishing point, one must consider three elements: Point, Plane, and Line. The Point is the spot on or close to the horizon. The Plane is what the camera see in two dimensions. The Line is the parallel lines that begin behind the camera and converge at a point at, neat, or just past the horizon.

I like portraits with a vanishing point in them

Line, as I tell my students, is the most important of all the elements of visual design. Without Line, none of the other elements…Texture, Pattern, Shape would exist. You and I, planes, trains, and automobiles would cease to exist…why? Because we all have an outLINE.

Not only is linear perspective a great tool to use in great light, but it’s also a way to come home with strong photos when the light isn’t so good; a vanishing point is important enough of a device that will emphasize line rather than light or color.

Btw, I’ll often put my subject in a vanishing point as see in the photo above. It adds visual interest to the portrait.

This February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.  Come shoot with me sometime.

If you send me a picture and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, I’ll create a video critique for you.

JoeB

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    Anecdotes: Ella Fitzgerald

    First lady of song

    For those new to my blog, I was an advertising and corporate photographer for almost fifty years, and now being semi-retired I teach an online class with the BPSOP, and I also conduct my personal “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” around our planet.

    When you’ve been shooting as long as I have, fifty years and counting,  one can’t help but to acquire a certain amount of stories along the way. Some funny then and now, and some only funny now.

    Thinking back, the not so funny stories usually came from bad decisions made by one person or another. Having said that, I’ve found that the best stories almost always come from said bad decisions. This story didn’t follow that guideline, in fact it’s one of my all time best memories.

    I was hired by a graphic design firm to shoot an annual report for a company that made joint replacements. The idea was to shoot famous celebrities or sports heroes that had a replacement of some kind, and Ella Fitzgerald was one that had a hip replacement.

    For those of you too young to remember, Ella was an American Jazz singer who was referred to as the “first lady of song”. For more than a half a century Ella was the most popular jazz singer in the US, winning thirteen Grammy awards and selling forty million albums.

    My assistant and I, along with the designer, flew out to LA and met Ella at her home in Beverly Hills. Her publicist informed us that Ella wanted to be photographed in her backyard. I went outside to scout for a suitable spot to photograph her. Afterwards we waiting on a couch in her formal living room for her to appear, and after thirty minutes Ella finally came down the long stairway that led into the large room where we were sitting.

    I had only known her as a rather large woman that could belt out a song to very large audiences; from Carnegie Hall to Las Vegas. When I first saw her coming down I had no idea that it was Ella. She was very thin, but still looked great…and healthy.

    We went out to her backyard and after fifteen minutes I felt I had captured her and told her so. Well, that seemed to go over big as she invited us for breakfast. Well I have to tell you that when she personally started cooking for us I couldn’t believe it; eggs, bacon, toast, juice, and coffee.

    After we all cleared and washed the dishes, Ella took me into her special room where she had all her Grammys, awards, posters, and walls of framed gold records.

    One poster stood out to me in particular. It was of Ella appearing at a famous jazz club, and she had been drawn and signed by Picasso. It was amazing that it looked like he had, in a matter of seconds, represented Ella’s essence with just a few scribbles; it was Ella Fitzgerald and it was awesome!!

    A few weeks later Ella’s assistant called me and said that Ella loved the portrait and could she purchase one for her room. I thanked her and said that I would be willing to trade…a framed portrait for one of those posters.

    I couldn’t believe it! She said yes, and now I have a fantastic poster signed by Picasso and Ella on my wall.

    This February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

    JoeB

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      Quick Photo Tip: One Shot Per Smile

      I had her turn around while smiling

      I have spent a considerable amount of time (in my fifty years of being a photographer) shooting people, either in the studio or out on location. As a result, I have a good understanding of ” the way people smile”…believe it or not!!!

      I have described this to my online classes with the BPSOP, as well as actually shooting with people that take my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet.

      One smile one shot in Sicily

      I compare a smile to what I call the peak of action. The peak of action can best be though of as an apple being tossed up in the air. There’s a point in time when the apple is no longer going up, but has not begun coming down; that split second is what I refer to as the peak of action.

      How does this relate to portraiture? I have seen it hundreds of times when I look at other people’s photos of people smiling, and have actually watched students taking pictures of people.

      One smile one shot in France

      What happens is the photographer tells the subject to smile and while the person continues to smile the photographer starts clicking away. There’s an inherent problem with that approach and I identify that issue with the peak of action.

      How long can a person keep the same smile as he had in the first second of being told to do so? The first second of the smile (the apple not going up or down) is going to be the freshest and the most genuine, after that the smiles begins to fade ( the apple on its way down) and becomes a mere direction given by the photographer.

      One smile one shot in Texas

      How do I approach this potential problem? By giving the initial smile just one click of the shutter release; one shot per smile.

      I ask my subject to smile and at that moment…that peak of action, I’ll take one exposure. I say something or make some minor adjustment, then ask for that smile again. This keeps the smiles fresh and natural.

      In the featured environmental portrait at the top of this post, I had my daughter turn her back to me. I told her that when I called her name I wanted her to recognize my voice and begin her smile while turning around greet me. At that point the smile was as fresh as it was going to be and as seconds went by her smile would begin to diminish; just enough to make it look like she was being directed to smile.

      One smile one sot in Myanmar

      We did this about a dozen time so I could get a dozen different adjustments in my composition.

      So, my fellow photographers, the next time you’re taking pictures of people whether they be friends, relatives, or strangers, try just giving each smile just one click.

      By the way, I’ve found this technique to have no geographic boundaries, as you can see in the additional pictures.

      This February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

      If you’ll send me a photo and question to:AskJoeB@gmail.com, I’ll create a video critique for you.

      JoeB

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        Look ma, no Photoshop!!

        For those that follow my blog, I wanted to take a moment to tell you all how much I really appreciate it. I’ve had a post come out every five days for the past six plus years, and  now I have a big following; again thanks so much to everyone for supporting my blog and continuing to tune in.

        I love all my categories, but the one that really takes me back in time is my “Life Before Photoshop”. When I look at the production shots it amazes me that there was a time when you had to be dead on as far as the exposure and the way the photograph was set up.

        When I show my PowerPoint presentation on this to my “Stretching Your frame of Mind” workshops, I tell them that there was a time when the name Adobe was a type of house in the Southwest part of the country.

        I’ll show images to my online classes with the BPSOP as well, and quite a few of these photos were shot even before the onset of computers. In fact, I shot annual reports all the time back then and every company wanted pictures of their brand new computer room.

        These were huge rooms with huge machines everywhere. These rooms were kept ice cold for some reason that escapes me now. Now, my iMac 27 with all the bells and whistles is more powerful than all those behemoth computers.

        I was asked to shoot a picture for the New York Stock Exchange of an affluent woman in her studio that was connected to the main house. The idea was to show that investments were a good thing and enabled you to do whatever you wanted.

        I came up with the idea of making this woman a potter and working on a vase in her studio. After looking for just the right place, and not finding what the art director wanted, we decided to turn one of the rooms in my house into a studio.

        We  moved all the furniture out and started with an empty room, then began designing/creating the perfect potter’s studio; bringing in props that one would see in such a studio.

        The set up

        I had two very powerful 12K Daylight balanced lights that are used in TV commercial and motion pictures outside the room on my deck. To add to the ambience, we used a fog machine to smoke up the room to give it a diffuse, moody, feel good look.

        The cat was provided by a friend of mine who was a vet. My producer was actually under the table next to the cat to keep her there for the thirty seconds I needed after the room looked right.

        This image is the result of one 35mm Kodachrome transparency, one exposure, one click.

        Next February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

        If you’ll send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com  I’ll create a video critique for you.

        JoeB

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          Visual tension at work

          I’ve talked a lot about the psychology of Gestalt to both my online classes with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct all over the planet. It’s about controlling what the viewer perceives and processes when looking at our photos.

          One of the six concepts I discuss is “The Law of Common Fate”. This concept is about moving two or more people (in the same direction) across the frame. The viewer seems that as one unit and sharing a common destiny.

          It’s all about visual direction, and by doing so, you’re making the viewer an active participant in your photos.

          An arrow pointing in a direction will take control and the viewer…no matter how hard he tries…will look in the direction that it’s pointing. An arrow pointing in the opposite direction as your subject, will generate visual tension; because the viewer will not see it as part of your “directional whole”

          The above photo was taken during one of my Stretching Your Frame of Mind workshops. My subject was a man that had taken my online class with the BPSOP and was now shooting with me.

          To show the workshop class the power of an arrow, I had him walk in the opposite direction the arrow was pointing. This not only created visual tension, but the viewer will immediately look in the direction of the arrow (which will create even more visual tension) and disregarding the subject.

          An implied arrow

          Whenever I see an arrow, or an implied arrow (an arrow made up of various elements), I immediately try to figure out a way to incorporate it into my photo. That said, if the photographer looks with only the left side of the brain he won’t see the arrow. It only works when the right side of the brain is being used.

          The importance of an arrow

          So, my fellow photographers, the next time you see an arrow and you have an opportunity to include it in your composition, you be glad you did.

          Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me some time. Next February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

          Send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.

          JoeB

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            Quick Photo Tip: It’s a Walk in the Park

            A walk in the park

            One of the best places for photo ops is in a well known park in a well known city on a weekend. That’s when all the musicians, entertainers, food vendors, artists, and really strange people come out to peddle their wares….or wear weird clothes and talk to themselves.

            What one can almost always find is at least one artist that will capture your soul forever on a plain white piece of paper, and who wouldn’t want their precious kiddos (or older family members) to be remembered as the sweet innocent child they are? If they are willing to hold still long enough.

            This artist/subject relationship makes for a great photo, and I’ve taken this photo in a few countries; usually with great results. The key is to have your POV where both the artist and the subject are in the same composition. It’s also great if you can get the kid’s parents somewhere in your composition as well.

            There’s something about this temporary bond between artist and subject that’s so different to the bond that’s created when I take photos of people. Perhaps it’s the choice of the medium. The camera is a colder approach, perhaps it’s because it’s a machine where the pencil, crayon, or pastel is more organic and less threatening.

            My background in art comes from years of studying painting, drawing, and design., and I can say that the feeling between holding a camera and a piece of charcoal is very close.

            I took the above photo during my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop I conducted in New York City. Several people had taken my online class with the BPSOP so they had seen some of my examples of shooting in a park, and were excited that I had chosen this location in Central Park to shoot in.

            Shot in the main plaza in Madrid.

            So my fellow photographers the next time you’re going to be traveling to a well known city, try to arrange it so you have free time on the weekend to go to a park. You’ll be glad you did.

            Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me some time. Next February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

            Send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.

            JoeB

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              Quick Photo Tip: Using People to Show Scale

              Giving some sense of scale

              Besides the fact that people like to see people in photos, I like to have people in my shots to bring a sense of scale to them; not all the time, just some of the time.

              Not only will adding a person show scale, but it will also change the genre of the photograph. In other words, adding people will editorialize the original idea. for example, taking a picture of a building with no people in it makes it lean towards the architectural side of photography.

              When you add a person, not only will it reveal the actual size of the building, but it will ask the viewer why the person is there. When you do that it you’re creating a story for the viewer to read visually; it asks the viewer to express an opinion making it editorial instead of architectural.

               The same thing happens with a landscape. Simply stated, a landscape represents all the visible features of a countryside that the viewer can see all at one time from a single viewpoint.

              I’ve had ‘landscape photographers’ take my online class with the BPSOP and I’ve also had them sign up for my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet, and I can tell you that they can be a stubborn lot; not all of them but a lot. What I’m getting at is that they can be adamant that a landscape cannot be a landscape if there buildings in the composition, and certainly not a person.

              These people call themselves purists, but they have no compunction to do a little work on them in Lightroom or Photoshop; it makes me wonder just when you can begin or stop being a purist?????

              I digress again.

              I’m not going to get into that, but I will say that when you add a person it gives scale to the image. The viewer doesn’t know the actual size of a building nor does he have any idea of the vastness of the landscape he’s looking at. What he does know is the average size of a person, and that will help him identify the size of a building or the scope of a landscape.

               Btw it also, like an architectural photo, makes the viewer wonder who that person is, where did he come from, and why is he there. These are questions that will keep the viewer around, and unless you’re shooting photos strictly for yourself and if you’re at all like me, you like people to look at your pictures.

              Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me some time. This coming January Along with William Yu, I’ll be taking a group to China to photograph the flooded rice terraces and also the tribal villages. Next February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

              Send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.

              JoeB

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                Food For Digital Thought: Order Among Chaos

                Order in chaos

                I love to push my photos right up to or beyond any kind of artistic control. What that means is to make the viewer an active participant pushing him through a series of complicated photos.

                Ordinarily, I like a certain sense of order by offering up well organized subject matter that leads the same viewer around my composition…well constrained by the four edges that frames my visual input into the form of a photograph.

                Not everything in the world is organized and or has order, and one’s point of view can change order into chaos. In other words seemingly random subject matter, things you seem most of your life and never thought twice about them can suddenly behave chaotically.

                By showing the viewer an entirely new way of seeing a subject occurring naturally in the environment, a subject he’s been accustomed to seeing one way can become unpredictable…almost to the point of becoming un-recognizable.

                Showing examples to my online classes with the BPSOP, and also in my “Stretching Your frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet has been an important part of the ways to keep the viewer around as long as possible; to shed new light on a subject.

                My mantra is to get some dirt on your shirt or knees, look at things upside down or lie on your back and look up.

                During my springtime in Portugal workshop, I decided to take the class down to a well-known area of Lisbon that was totally different than what one would expect from this enchanting city of “Seven Hills”. It was the convention area full of beautifully designed buildings.

                Walking around one morning I saw off in the distance a group of flagpoles and led my fellow photographers straight to them. I stood back to see how they would all approach this somewhat common subject matter and watched as they began taking their photos.

                I waited for a while to see if anyone would follow my advice and look at things not in an orderly fashion, but in a way that would shake up the viewer…so to speak.

                What I started seeing was a group of people walking around trying as hard as they could to take these flagpoles and create an interesting photo with them. One that would comply with my eight second rule (I hate rules); all I saw was frustration.

                I gathered my flock, put them all right smack dab in the middle of them, and had them lie down on their back and look up through their viewfinder. It must have seemed a touch strange to the people that were walking by scratching their heads!!

                This innocuous group of orderly poles became a pattern of chaotic lines, and immediately had all of them mesmerized as a result.

                Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me some time. This coming January Along with William Yu, I’ll be taking a group to China to photograph the flooded rice terraces and also the tribal villages. Next February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

                JoeB

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                  My Favorite Quotes: Alfred Eisenstaedt

                  My Lumix

                  In my early days, somewhere around the time Moses parted the seas, I worked for UPI (United Press International), AP (Associated Press), and I was a Black Star photographer. I was a photo-journalist in the making and one of my favorite photographers was Alfred Eisenstaedt, who at that time (and probably still is) was considered the father of modern photo-journalism.

                  I’ve always enjoyed looking at his Life Magazine covers and he was the leading contributor with ninety covers and twenty-five hundred photo essays; pretty impressive by all accounts.

                  Over the years I’ve read articles about him and one of his quotes I’ve always loved was, “The important thing is not the camera, but the eye”.

                  During my online classes with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct all over the place, I often have my fellow photographers tell me that it’s time to move up to a better camera…“so I can take better pictures”!!!

                  My response is always the same. It’s not about fancy expensive cameras, they will NOT get you to take better photos; it’s that eye that’s part of the head that has a brain in it that counts. It’s all about perception, and as Henry David Thoreau once said, “It’s not what you look at, it’s what you see”.

                  If you would spend the same amount of time as you do piddling around with all that stuff on your camera, observing the environment around you not with the left side of your brain (the analytical side) but with the right side (the creative side), you just might find that the camera you have now will work just fine.

                  Camera stores are full of expensive equipment that the previous owners bought on the assumption that just like that they would wake up one morning and be who they wanted to be…really good photographers. I’m here to tell you that it just ain’t so.

                  Because of rapidly changing technology photographic equipment, specifically cameras, has become smaller, faster, more powerful, more everything, and it will get to the point where you won’t even have to go out with it to shoot. You’ll be able to program it to do anything…which it actually does now…and more’s the pity.

                  Camera manufactures have duped the public into believing that their camera will make you a much better photographer. I’m thinking, based on experiences with my fellow photographers, that the more buttons, dials and programs there are on a modern digital DSLR, the better the photo it will take. If you believe that then I have a bridge in NYC  that I’m willing to sell to you.

                  My Canon

                  Here’s the way I see it. When I’m walking with others in my workshops I carry two cameras. My Canon Mark III with a  17-40mm zoom over my shoulder and my Lumix DMC-LX7 around my neck. My very small Lumix has a 24-90mm zoom lens, in a ten megapixel camera which gives me a range from 17-90mm without having to carry two big cameras.

                  The Canon is an F/4 and the Lumix is a F/1.4-2.3 so when I’m in a very low light situation, or if I need a medium telephoto I’ll grab my Lumix. When I want a wide angle I use my Canon. Both these photos were taken during my New York workshop on the same day, the same location, about an hour apart from one another. One was taken with my Lumix DMC-LX7, and the other with my Canon Mark III.

                  To me it doesn’t matter which camera I decide to use…why? Because ” The important thing is not the camera but the eye”.

                  Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me some time. This coming January Along with William Yu, I’ll be taking a group to China to photograph the flooded rice terraces and also the tribal villages. Next February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

                  Send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.

                  JoeB

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                    Food For digital Thought: Harmony

                    Triadic Harmony

                    Although it would be nice if everyone lived in harmony with one another, that concept will most probably have to wait. Until then I would like to talk about something that can happen right now, and that would be to seek out and use colors that are in harmony with one another in your photos.

                    Since my background is not in Photography but in painting and design, I’ve learned through my studies which color is in harmony with another. I taken that knowledge and have applied it to my love of photography. By the way, I still consider myself an artist, I’ve just switched the medium from a paintbrush to a camera.

                    I tell my students that take my online classes with the BPSOP, and those that have taken my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct all around the planet that a camera on a tripod is just like a blank canvas on an easel. I talk a lot about color since it’s a basic element of visual design, and should be thought of as a very important tool in creating those works of art…the same ones you find on a canvas.

                    The methods we use to gain attention to our photography will vary, but what’s important is how we manage what the viewer perceives and processes when looking at the visual information we lay out to him in the form of a photograph. Humans rely on perception of the environment that surrounds them. Visual input is a part of our everyday life. Color, and understanding how the viewer perceives color, is what we as photographers have as a tool to present this information in a way that creates a sense of harmony.

                     In my opinion we spend far too much time dwelling on so called ‘Rules’ in Photography: The Rule of Thirds (the silliest of them all), The Leading in Rule, Never Clip the Highlights, are three that come to mind and I’ve written posts about them going back six years.

                    We also think about shutter speeds, DOF, cropping (please don’t do that!), White Balance, etc., etc., ad nauseam. I can tell you that color should be considered right alongside every other facet when composing your photo.

                    Color is a great resource when trying to get across an emotion, drawing the viewer into our photos, making the subject stand out against the environment he or it is in, creating visual tension, visual interest, balance, and a sense of order in our present day chaotic world.

                    Ok, let’s first talk about ways to achieve harmony through the color wheel, which as a trivia question for you to someday know, it was invented by Sir Issac Newton….yes it’s the same guy, the one who discovered gravity.

                    There are four main ways to create harmony using color: Using Monochromatic, Analogous, Complementary, and Triad colors.

                    The word monochromatic would usually conjure up the old black and white days, but it can also apply to color. In this application it’s made up of just one color, and different shades of it. This will create a visually balanced and appealing photo, albeit one that’s low in contrast; good to use when you don’t want a particular object stand out from the rest of the environment.

                     Analogous colors are those that are next to one another on the color wheel. They live in harmony because of the similar hues. They’re pleasing to the eye and appear more often in nature than monochromatic and complementary colors do. That said, if you’re looking for contrast these colors wouldn’t be my first choice…complementary colors would.

                    Complementary colors are those that are opposite one another on the color wheel. They generate visual tension because of the contrast of one to another.

                    Triadic colors on the color wheel are those that are evenly spaced on the color wheel, and will form a triangle. When using this form it’s important to achieve balance between the three colors.

                    Pre-visualization” is one of the guidelines in my “did it do it” list for good composition I pass out to my students. Being aware of colors that are in harmony and the effects it will have on the viewer will help you do just that…pre-visualize.

                    So my fellow photographers, the next time you go out think about all the tools you have on hand and make sure color and the harmony are included. Observe the effects colors have upon each another, study the color wheel and become a student of their visual relationships.

                    Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me some time. This coming January Along with William Yu, I’ll be taking a group to China to photograph the flooded rice terraces and also the tribal villages. Next February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

                    If you send me a photo and question to AskJoeB@gmail.com, I’ll create a video critique for you.

                    JoeB

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                      Great tasting tomatoes!!

                      Over the years, one question that keeps surfacing in my online classes with the BPSOP and also in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops is how do I approach a stranger to ask him or her to let me take their picture?

                      My students will tell me that either they’re afraid of being turned down and they just couldn’t take the rejection, or the minute they see them coming camera in hand, they turn and walk away. Or it one extreme case, he was afraid of the person mugging him and stealing his camera.

                      Here’s what I’ve been doing for the past fifty years, and it usually works: Depending on the situation, I’ll either leave my camera in the car when I approach someone, or I arrange the strap so that the camera is hidden behind my back.  What you don’t want to do is approach someone with the mindset that you’re a photographer with an expensive camera, and therefore you deserve to take their picture.

                      A camera can be very intimidating, and can turn people off in a heartbeat.  It can also connote some financial plan you have for yourself at their expense.  For example, are you going to sell their image? Are you going to charge them for it?

                      If the person is selling something, whatever it is…buy it!!! If they’re entertaining a crowd, donate to the cause. If they need some kind of assistance, offer it. What you want to do is to make friends as soon as possible. You want them to relax their guard by being friendly. Since there’s not much of that going around anymore it just might shock them into reciprocating the gesture.

                      If it means buying their ‘souls’, expect to pay a little more. Stealing people’s souls is soooooo tacky! I’ve heard that it can take you to Purgatory where you’ll spend eternity playing Go Fish with the rest of the souls of sinners, instead of heaven; although that just might be a urban legend.

                      In the above photo I took while working on a photo essay entitled “back road businesses”, I saw this man across the highway and immediately turned around. I left my camera in the car and walked up and began to admire his home grown tomatoes. After buying two baskets (I happen to love home grown tomatoes), I asked him if I could take a picture of his tomatoes since they were so beautiful. At this point, I had left my camera in the car.

                      He said, “Sure thing”. I think maybe since I didn’t have a camera with me, he though I meant at some point in the not too distant future. I went back and got my camera and started shooting the tomatoes. After a couple of minutes, I asked him if he would be in the shot with his tomatoes. Now, since the tomatoes were the stars, he didn’t have a problem with it.  Here’s the way I think…all they can say is no.

                      Oh, one other thing…you gotta get over the hump and develop a little Chutzpah!!!

                      Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me some time. This coming January Along with William Yu, I’ll be taking a group to China to photograph the flooded rice terraces and also the tribal villages. Next February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

                      If you’ll send me a photo and question, I’ll create a video critique for you.

                      JoeB

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                        Personal Pearl of Wisdom: Use It Or Lose It.

                          If you’ve taken my online classes with the BPSOP, or have come shooting with me in one of my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet, you’ve undoubtedly been exposed to several if not all of my personal pearls of wisdom at one time or another. If you’ve done both classes and workshops you’ve head them a lot more times than once!!!

                        Defending myself, I can only say that they are helpful hints that when thought about can make the difference in your photos standing the test of time and certainly will keep the viewer around for that important “give me six”.

                        One of my all time favorites, and one I’ve been touting for years is, “Use it or lose it”.

                        Right before I click the shutter I check for any UFO’s. Those are things you didn’t want in your photos but weren’t paying enough attention to see them.

                        These can be any unidentifiable objects scattered around your composition. I say unidentified because the viewer won’t know what they are, even if you do. Generally I refer to those UFO’s that sneak in to one of the edges of your frame….without you noticing.

                        They come in all shapes and sizes and are usually distracting. They can be anything from someone’s foot, to a piece of a lamppost, to part of another building, etc. When I say to use it I mean to take a step back and put more into your photo, or swing your camera around to see them. At least enough so the viewer won’t scratch his head wondering just what it is; not a good thing to see.

                        When I say to lose it, well that pretty much speaks for itself…as in get rid of it completely; which will probably simplify your photo as well.

                        In the photo above I took while walking the streets in Paris, if I hadn’t check my border patrol I would not have seen the foot of a man standing just at the edge of the frame. I wanted to keep the photo simple so I lost it instead of using it by including more of him.

                        Ok, here’s the easy part, or the hard part if you ask enough of my fellow photographers what they think. The easy part is to use your 15PPP, do your Border Patrol, and check those Four Corners. The hard part is remembering to do them.

                        I once had a student tell me that she put a small yellow post it note on the back of her camera, and all it said was 15PPP-BP-FC. She kept it on until she didn’t need it anymore, but in her mind it would always be there.

                        Whatever works!!!

                        Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me some time. This coming January Along with William Yu, I’ll be taking a group to China to photograph the flooded rice terraces and also the tribal villages. Next February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

                        JoeB

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                          Crossover photography

                          When I think back to younger days I think about the expression Crossover Photography. I remember reading about the differences between fine art, representational, and abstract photography, and how one can comfortably crossover to another.

                          Now, years later, this topic occasionally comes up in my online classes with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet. With several points of views, I can relate my feelings and the consensus of my fellow photographers.

                          The crossover comes when fine art photography merges with more of a representational approach. Photographs that are considered fine art are about vision to be sure, and they convey to the viewer an impression of the reality we live in; just not what we might consider the real world.

                          A photograph that would be thought of as fine art will offer to the viewer a feeling of a scene, a general impression, or suggestion of a scene.  Lacking in straightforward visual information, these images might emphasize color, shape over line and other elements such as linear perspective (Vanishing Point) . They can be more impressionistic and are often pensive, painterly, and even vague; giving just the essence of the subject with no real substance.

                          Abstract?

                          Fine art photography can be more representational. Rather than an impression, it’s more about the way we perceive then process information in the form of a photograph; in an orderly and rational  fashion. Both fine art and representational photography will dictate a reaction and response, and can capture a feeling or mood. This is where they can most likely crossover.

                          True representative photography is a more traditional style that depicts literal representations of a scene; by showing how it actually appears to the viewer. It’s a form of photography that aspires to show an environment exactly as it appears in reality. Editorial, photojournalism, portraiture, and travel are some of the genres associated with representational photography.

                          FYI, the photographer should have a vision of what they think their final image will look like when shooting literal images.

                          Representational photography is a thriving market as far as the photos that can hang on a wall. It’s a lot more user-friendly, and the viewer is more comfortable when he knows what he’s looking at. He’s more likely to buy a photo if he can look at it on a daily basis without scratching his head wondering why he let his friends talk him into going to that gallery opening in the first place.

                          Abstract photography would certainly fall into this category. If the image has a specific center of interest or subject, more than likely it’s an abstract. They don’t rely on anything recognizable, and consists of the basic elements of visual design in their purist form: texture, pattern, shape, colors, tones, and light; again without a center of interest or definable subject.

                          I would think that in order to admire abstract photography, one would need to understand design. I’ve seen people milling around a gallery opening of some unknown photographer that don’t fall under these guidelines. They ask questions not even the artist himself can answer. They are usually unenlightened and are there for the cheap (free) chardonnay that’s handed to them in plastic wine glasses.

                          Representational?

                          It doesn’t register with them that they might be coming across as obtuse. In their defense, sometimes it’s difficult to read the photographer’s mind and will feel compelled to ask silly questions.

                          Don’t get me wrong, abstract photography in of itself can be beautiful with grace and elegance. It stands out from the other genres simply because each and every individual admiring a particular photograph will walk away with a different meaning and feeling.

                          I actually have my favorites, one that actually founded abstract photography…Man Ray. Then there’s Ernst Haas, Arron Siskind just to name some legends.

                          Understanding abstract photography might not be for everyone; however, pushing yourselves to understand in different ways will increase your vision into levels of creativity you’ve never imagined.

                          My point in this post is to enjoy and work on understanding all genres, and everyone should have photographs they like looking at every day.

                           

                          Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me some time. This coming January Along with William Yu, I’ll be taking a group to China to photograph the flooded rice terraces and also the tribal villages. Next February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

                          If you send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, I’ll create a video critique for you.
                          JoeB

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                            Didn’t really need the golf cart.

                            I always have students feel compelled to put more things into their photos than they really need, and I’m a firm believer in the concept that “if more’s better then too much is just right”. However, when it comes to composition I always want to keep things relatively clean and simple, using Symmetry, Balance, and Order as starting points….although chaos can be a very good thing.

                            Invariably, photographers that sign up for my BPSOP classes that I teach online, and those that take my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops think that if they put in a lot of stuff the photo will look better…not so!

                            Painting is the art of addition, and coming from a background in painting and design, I would start out with a blank canvas on an easel. From there, I would add stuff and the appropriate pigments until I felt that I had enough of each to call whatever it was that I had just painted, a finished ‘work of art’.

                            That was then.

                            Photography is the Art of Subtraction.

                            Now, I put my camera on a tripod, look through the viewfinder, and see that everything is already there. My job now, as a photographer instead of a painter, is to take away enough stuff until I feel that I have a well composed and interesting photograph.

                            The interesting thing is that sometimes I look at images and see that there’s an opportunity to make a really good image—if the emotion of the scene had been identified and the distracting elements subtracted from the image.

                            Anything in your frame that doesn’t enhance it is a potential distraction. It only serves only to dilute the image (as the melted ice cubes dilutes the lemonade). In short, all things that do not strengthen the emotion of an image weaken the image.

                            Removing distractions is often as simple as tightening the composition, or re-positioning the camera; also thinking about keeping it clean and simple.

                            The Figure-Ground concept is another way. Figure-Ground is one of the concepts in the psychology of Gestalt, and refers to ways to separate the Figure (the subject) from the Ground (the background). By shooting with a narrow DOF, you can also eliminate unwanted stuff and make it work for you by being completely out of focus.

                            One of my favorite techniques for photographing colorful wildflowers and fall foliage is to narrow the range of focus until just a select part of my subject is sharp, softening the rest of the scene to an appealing blur of color and shape.

                            Most photographers have no problem seeing what to put in their images, but many struggle with what to leave out. Or how to do it.

                            Hired by a country club to photograph their re-modeled golf course for a brochure, I originally included a golf cart in this photo above. Since I had seen that shot a thousand times, I wanted something different; a little less predictable.

                            As a matter of course, I started taking things out that I felt weren’t really necessary to get the point across. The result was a photo that the viewer had a better chance in remembering since the viewer will always react to that which is the most different.

                             

                            Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me some time. This coming January Along with William Yu, I’ll be taking a group to China to photograph the flooded rice terraces and also the tribal villages. Next February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

                            Send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.

                            JoeB

                            Let people know you saw it here!
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