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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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Student Work: January BPSOP Class

So many elements from her Artist Palette.

So many elements from her Artist Palette.

I teach my fellow photographers how to incorporate the Elements of Visual Design into their photography. I also show how to use specific devices to gain visual interest, i.e., Visual Tension, Shadows, Vanishing Points, Negative Space, and Silhouettes. I teach online with the BPSOP, and I conduct my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops around the planet, and the knowledge of these elements is what they will walk away with.

Form, Pattern, Texture, Shape, Balance and most important Line are the basic elements, and over the four week online class, we work on putting these elements on what I call the Artist Palette. By the end of the class, these photographers are now armed with the ingredients to “make” strong photos. These photographers are painters who have chosen the camera as their medium.

As I’m constantly reminding my students, a camera on a tripod is just like a blank canvas on an easel. Since my background is not in photography but in painting and design, I show them the way I use to use these elements when I had a paintbrush I my hand, and how to make the transition to the camera.

I love to show what my classes did during the four weeks and I hope you will be as impressed as I am with the fruits of their labor.

Take a look:

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban, and check out my upcoming workshops at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me some time.  Keep those photos and questions coming to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique of you image.

JoeB

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Creating the sensation of height.

Creating the sensation of height.

One of the many ways to create visual interest and tension is to get the viewer to  believe what he’s seeing is actually what he thinks he’s seeing (make any sense?), and one of the ways to do that is to trick the camera (which has one eye…the lens) into creating a sense of perspective, or depth, or height (that requires two eyes), or all three at the same time. Sound complicated? Well, in actuality, it’s fairly easy and straightforward.

It starts with an idea you have that’s implanted into the viewer’s imagination. It needs to be something he’s familiar with whether it be from watching TV, reading a book, or perhaps something that he’s actually experienced in the past.

Then you need just one thing…a wide angle lens, a great sunrise, and the perfect environment.

An entire lesson is what my online class with the PPSOP works on, and when the occasion arises in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, I can physically show my fellow photographers exactly what I mean and how to achieve it…in the camera.

The above photo was taken during one of my Maine Media Workshops (watch for it next July 26th, 2015). I was looking for just the right location to show the class how to use a wide angle lens to create the feeling of height, visual interest and tension. It was about thirty minutes before the sun came up and I desperately wanted to find something that had potential. It’s important here to tell you that the workshop was during the last week of July and the first week in August, and although it was chilly that morning the high that day was going to be close to 85 degrees.

Having said that, We passed by a huge lot filled with Rock Salt used to spread on the highways during the upcoming winter months; an idea immediately began forming in my mind. I had my assistant put on a yellow hooded sweatshirt I just happen to have in my assortment of props and wardrobe I always carry around…just for this moment.

I put on my “go to” lens which was my 20-35m, and I set the focal length at 20mm and got down close to the ground. I positioned the lens right behind a big chunk of salt so I could “anchor it in the foreground, creating layers of interest” and depth by getting “up close and personal” to it. while providing texture to the salt. I waited for the sun to just come up enough to light the top of the pile, keeping everything else in shadow.

It worked like a charm, creating the feeling that the man was considerably higher that the fifteen feet he actually was, and the rock Salt created the snow, and the look/idea I was hoping for.

The production shot was taken after my shot and from a different position; when the sun was up much higher and the sky much bluer. It’s merely to show you how high my assistant actually was, and how I could trick the camera…and the viewer.

Taken 30 minutes after sunrise.

Taken 30 minutes after sunrise.

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. 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.

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

JoeB

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I'm the one wearing black and lying down in the middle.

I’m the one wearing black and lying down in the middle.

In my online classes I teach with the BPSOP, I teach my fellow photographers how to incorporate the Elements of Visual Design into their photography. I also conducts my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops with the same idea in mind. The first workshops I ever taught (1983) was at the Maine Media Workshops in Rockport, Maine.

In those days my workshop was called, The Poetry of Light, and while I covered the design elements, the main focus was in the Light. To this day I tell people that light is everything, except when street shooting where capturing the moment might supersede great light.

As I look back at the twenty-six years I’ve been teaching there, one week in particular comes to mind. From the first early morning shoot to the last sunset shoot of the week, we had overcast skies. The mornings were shrouded in fog, and when it finally lifted one could look up and enjoy a weeks worth of gray skies.

I was desperate to find some subject matter for my group; even if it was to be without any light. I had remembered that Andrew Wyeth had summered nearby and painted his famous “Christina’s World”, so I obtained permission to take the class there to have some fun, and after three days of overcast skies, the class was actually smiling…albeit just a little.

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth.

Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth.

The class and I decided to re-create the painting and I was elected (unanimously) to portray Anna Christina Olsen. We were then allowed to shoot inside the house, which was great since the light coming in from all the windows made for a great day of shooting. In those days, there was no limit as to the number of people that were in a class, and there were a lot of faces to create smiles on. Now the classes are smaller and a lot more intimate.

Btw, at the end of the week the class surprised me with a gift…a T-shirt that said, The Poetry of Fog with Joe Baraban.

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, motion, 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.

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

JoeB

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Look ma, no Photoshop

Look ma, no Photoshop

In the first part of my career, I shot a lot of oi and gas related photos, and the one that always made me shudder was the oil rig. If I had a dollar for every rig I’ve shot over the course of my forty-five years, your truly would be writing this while looking out at the incredible view from my house on my private Island somewhere in the Caribbean.

The only thing that kept me sane was the challenge of always shooting a particular subject that I hadn’t shot before.  As I tell my online students with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet is what Marcel Proust once said, “The only true voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. This has always been one of my mantras, and I adhere to it every time I go out shooting.

I was asked by the design firm working on Apache’s Annual Report to go to Louisiana and take a picture of an oil rig that was sitting in one of the bayous that inundate the state. My assistant and I packed up the gear, and everything else I could imagine that might be of some creative value: A xenon light and fog machine were put in the back of the Suburban along with various power packs, umbrellas, and soft boxes that I hoped and prayed I wouldn’t have to use.

As we approached the company office, we went over a small bridge and I immediately stopped, for there rising out of the swamp was an oil rig sitting on the horizon. Could that possible be the one, I hoped.

We followed our directions ( way before Google Maps) and pulled up to their office. I went in and was taken back to the small conference room that looked out to a small boat that was moored next to a dock. After meeting our contact, I asked what the boat was for. He said that they used it as a short cut to go to one of their rigs. I asked him if it could be the one we saw coming over the bridge a couple miles away. He said let’s find out and we jumped in the boat and headed to the rig.

Sure enough it was the same rig. We stopped so I could take a reading. I pulled out my Sunpath chart as well as my Morin 2000 Hand Bearing Compass. As luck would have it, the sun would come up directly behind the rig the next morning. I arrange for two boats to head to the small bridge prior to sunrise. One for the worker, and one for me to be in. Right before the sun came up we laid down some fog and waited for it to settle. I had the man take my Zenon light and act like he was looking for something. I wanted to create some visual interest while the subject was actually the oil rig off in the distance, and I knew that the fog would make the beam stand out.

As it turns out, it’s one of my favorite industrial shots, and it was completely done in the camera with absolutely no post-processing done to it.

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. 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.

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

JoeB

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AskJoeB: What do others think about it?

What do others think?

What do others think?

I received this photo and question and I always like to share what my fellow photographers had to say. So many of you have either experienced a similar situation or have had similar questions. Here’s what Terry had to say:

“Joe,

I was primarily shooting the butterfly’s shadow. How much does the actual butterfly being out of focus matter? I got what I intended but am not sure what others might think about it.

Terry”

Hello Terry,

It’s a rather interesting photo and a very good question.

First, in my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, one of the first things and one I continue to talk about is the aspect ratio.

I see that you decided to shoot in a square. The problem with that is we don’t perceive in a square, we perceive in a rectangle. It’s almost impossible to generate Visual Tension in a square. I’m not saying impossible because a few have done it. Diane Arbus was one and she took her own life. I’m certainly not implying that anyone that shoots in a square would do the same. If you look at her work you can see how a lot of it is disturbing.

One can only imagine what was going through her mind.  Her subject matter would have Tension if the format was a trapezoid. Strong documentary photos have a better chance of getting away with it. but in my opinion, that’s a limited genre in the entire field of Photography.

I’m going to assume two things: Either you had your aspect ratio set on a square, or you cropped this photo. If you crop your photos you’ll never know where the edges and corners of your frame are. You’ll only know when you’re sitting in front of your computer, and by then it’s too late. If photographers want to be better shooters, then I suggest they use the edges of their frame as a compositional tool. If the composition wasn’t strong enough right before you clicked the shutter, then why click the shutter?

Henri Cartier-Bresson said that when you crop, you destroy the initial integrity of you composition, and if it wasn’t good enough then cropping won’t make it better.

If you had your aspect ratio set to shoot a square, then I would consider changing it to a 3:2 ratio since that’s the way we perceive.

Ok, I’ve digressed enough Terry, take a look at this video:

http://www.screencast.com/t/WSdg7465

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.  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.

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

JoeB

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My Favorite Quotes: Louis Pasteur

I'm always ready for anything that comes my way.

I’m always ready for anything that comes my way.

In my famous quotes category, they don’t necessarily come from well-known photographers, writers, or musicians. They are quotes I’ve heard over time that have stuck with me for one reason or another. Yes, in order for me to identify with them they need to have some bearing on what I happen to have been doing for the past forty-four years…and that would be taking pictures.

Louis Pasteur once said, “Chance favors the prepared mind”.

Photographically speaking, that refers to being mentally ready to take on whatever is coming your way…either from behind you or straight at you. In my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, I’m constantly pointing out that light, among other things comes and goes so fast that it’s easy to miss out. Sure, it takes talent, but it takes fast reflexes, being alert to the forever changing light, and a very good knowledge of your camera. I sometimes just scratch my head when a fellow photographer signs up for one of my workshops and shows up with a brand new camera and assortment of lens he or she has…and bought and so very proud of.; without ever reading the manual or shooting with it before the workshop.

I specifically remember being at a location in Paris at sunrise. Not just a typical beautiful sunrise, but one that was anything but typical. It had a perfect mix of a glorious sky and beautiful warm light. So beautiful, that one could just stand there and admire it…which incidentally was exactly what this photographer wound up doing. She had purchased a new camera system and four lens, and had no idea how to use it; since I didn’t shoot with the system, I could not help…a sad lesson learned.

I digress.

When you put your camera over your shoulder, you are basically going out hunting that wily-rouge OMG photo, that keeper that you can put on your wall and be proud to say you shot it…when asked.  You need to be ready and alert mentally for anything, because that’s what’s liable to come you way…anything and everything. That also includes always looking over your shoulder.

A well known pool hall expression is…”When you snooze, you lose”. One example is if you had just been shooting on the Aperture mode and suddenly something happened that would require a fast shutter speed, you would probably miss it if you hadn’t thought about it (very quickly) and changed your setting. This is one of many reasons I always shoot on manual…but that’s another story.

In the photo above, I was returning back to the San Juan airport after shooting the coastline from a helicopter. I looked to my far left and saw this incredible sky, and for a moment it had mesmerized me. To my right I saw a jet taking off and quickly got myself into position to shoot the jet as it headed towards the clouds and before the jet was gone…which took about ten seconds. As a result, I was able to capture this amazing (un-retouced) image that has always been one of my favorites.

Btw, imagine what it must have looked like to the pilot and co-pilot.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. I have one opening 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.Keep those photos and questions coming into:AskJoeB@gmail.com.

JoeB

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