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Would it have the same impact without the student running to her graduation?

Would it have the same impact without the student running to her graduation?

From as far back as I can remember, and through all my research on the subject, I’ve known that people like to see people in pictures. In my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, I stress putting people into their compositions.

Photos are a powerful way to communicate ideas, or tell stories, and in the digital age they’ve become paramount in sending information over the web. A scene without a person in it falls short in getting a message across to the viewer that’s thousands of miles away.

Showing a gondola in Venice floating by itself and moored to a set of stairs down one of the many canals, doesn’t say the same thing as a gondola with two tourists being chauffeured down the same canals by a Gondolier while having a glass of Chianti.

I’m always trying to put people in my photos when I’m trying to show scale to an environment. The viewer can relate to the size of a person since he’s familiar with average heights. Also, where you place the person in the frame will take on different meanings. For example, placing a person in the middle of the frame and close to the lens gives a feeling of intimacy, whereas placing the person  in the bottom right corner sends a message of loneliness; as well as the feeling of being small in the scheme of things.

Use people to add color to a ordinarily overcast day. Having someone wearing a red sweater will add Visual Tension and draw attention away from the fact that’s a gray day. Another way to create Visual Tension is by using body language, gesture, and stopping the action of someone and leaving it un-completed. Blurring a person walking or running through your composition not only adds interest, but adds energy to your images.

Silhouettes are a great way to introduce people to your photos. They are abstractions of a three dimensional reality, presented in a  tw0-dimensional representation. They add a sense of mystery and drama.

Use people as a ‘payoff”, when through the use of directional lines, you move the viewer through the frame to lead to him or her.Use people as parts that when designed together  create Shapes. When traveling, be sure to photograph the people as they are the key to the countries culture.

Finally, Pattern is a basic element of visual design and I like to use people to break the rhythm of patterns.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. My next Springtime Workshop will be in Portugal next May, and I have two spots left in my photo tour in conjunction with Epic Photo Tours to Myanmar next February. Come shoot with me sometime.

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

JoeB

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Light rain falling.

Light rain falling.

I teach an online class with the PPSOP, and I also conduct my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops around the planet. One of my Springtime Workshops, I conducted was in Tuscany. We were based in Sienna, and each morning and afternoon we set out for various locations that I had scouted before the start of the workshop.

For most of the week we had great weather, but one morning we set out to capture the beautiful rolling hills and rows of Cedar trees indigenous to the Tuscany landscape. As we drove farther away from Sienna, on a very narrow two-lane highway, the skies became darker and darker, and rain was imminent. Katka, the woman that produced the workshop for me knew of a small pull out where we could park the van and cars. The morning light wasn’t going to happen, and then the rain came. Not a downpour, but even the light rain falling was enough to totally bum out my group.

Raining harder now.

Raining harder now.

We had parked  about fifty feet from a major curve that had arrows pointing around it, so I immediately began thinking of a way to turn the overcast, gloomy, rainy day into something positive and fun for the workshop. That is the ones that wanted to get out into the rain, which by the end of the shoot included almost everyone.

I had Petr, the co-producer get in one of our cars with one of my walki-talkis. I had him drive slowly around the curve, directing him via the walki-talkis to keep his foot on the brakes so we could introduce some color; while the workshop shot long exposures.

After a while we hardly noticed the rain and my fellow photographers were able to create several pretty damn good photos… I’m proud to say.

A rainy critique for one of mt hearty students.

A rainy critique for one of mt hearty students.

So, as I’m ofter heard saying, “You gotta do what you gotta do”.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. My new Springtime workshop in in Portugal next May, and I have a spot left in my photo trip in conjunction with Epic Photo Tours to Myanmar. Two fantastic workshops that offer a great deal of history and photo opportunities then returning home with memorable photos to show for it.

Keep those photos and questions coming in to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and receive a video critique.

JoeB

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Quick Photo Tip: Adding Depth To Your Photos.

Using a wide angle lens to create the illusion of depth.

Using a wide angle lens to create the illusion of depth.

In general terms, perspective refers to the relationship of objects. It’s not the definition that’s important here, what’s important is how to control perspective and use it in as a tool to make our photographs stronger.

Since the camera has one eye, that being the lens, it can only see in two dimensions: height and width. By controlling perspective we can imply a third dimension by adding depth, as well as the illusion of space and distance. In other words, we can “trick the eye” into seeing more like our eyes and less like a camera. What we want to accomplish is to create layers of interest which in turn creates depth.

With my online class with the PPSOP, and also in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, We work on ways to create depth in our imagery.

There are several ways to create depth: manipulating LINE (a fundamental element of design), value (the lightness or darkness of a color), or color can create the illusion of depth. Depth can also be generated by cutting, dividing, or rearranging the space. Overlapping shapes or objects (one of my favorites) create depth. Arrangement of lights creates the illusion, as when light is contrasted against dark values.

Color can create the illusion of depth by placing bright or warm saturated color near the front of the scene. As color recedes into the background, its value becomes less saturated (caused by water crystals in the air that scatter the wavelengths),  and finally becoming bluish gray as it reaches the horizon.

The best way by far, is the wide angle perspective. Hands down, the wide angle lens is the best tool in your bag to create the illusion of depth. They can manipulate perspective by altering space and distance. They can also offer maximum sharpness from the foreground all the way to the background.

Here’s some examples of the different ways to  create perspective, including “anchoring the subject in the foreground” to create the illusion of depth, and using a wide angle lens to do so:

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and watch for my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. I still have two spaces left for my coordinated trip with Epic Photo Tours to Myanmar next February 2015. It’s a country so rich in photo opportunities, that you’ll be guaranteed a great experience with memorable photos to show for it. My next Springtime Workshop will be in Portugal next May. Come shoot with me.

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

JoeB

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AskJoeB: Am I doing something wrong?

Am I doing something wrong?

Am I doing something wrong?

Andrew sent me this photo with the following question. I always like to share exactly what the photographer had to say since so many of you have either asked themselves the same question or have had similar situations. Here’s what Andrew had to say:

” Dear Mr  Baraban,

Sometimes I shoot the sky from my window. On the attached pictures you can the the original image with houses. Of course the houses are out of interest? so I decided to darken them. I wanted the photo looked like counter light with a “normal” sky.
When I show my photos to my friends? they say “You have a great sky but I see nothing”.  Maybe they do not understand the art :)  or am I doing something wrong?  Can you advise me on anything?

Thanks in advance

regards,
Andrew”

Andrew, take a look at this post on “giving meaning to photos”: http://joebaraban.com/blog/giving-meaning-to-photographs/. I always share it with my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet. It will help explain why your friends said what the said. Be sure to read the part where it says that a beautiful sunset to you is just another sunset to someone else.

Take a look at my video: http://www.screencast.com/t/ULgYTsd9yIW4

Thanks for sharing, I hope I’ve helped.

Visit my website at:www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. My next “Springtime” workshop will be in Portugal next May, and I have one spot open for my photo tour in conjunction with Epic Photo Tours to Myanmar. both these workshops offers great history and wonderful photo opportunities. come shoot with me.

Keep those photos and questions coming to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and receive a video critique.

JoeB

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Let the viewer fill in the missing pieces.

Let the viewer fill in the missing pieces.

I teach three online classes with the PPSOP. A part I and Part II where we work on ways to incorporate the Elements of Visual Design into our photography. I also work on these same elements in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet.

I also teach a third class on the Psychology of Gestalt. Each of the four weeks we work on the six concepts in this theory. The one I want to talk about today is ‘Closure’.

First of all, here’s a brief description of Gestalt:

By several definitions Gestalt comes from the German/Austrian word meaning shape, form, or the whole . It is stated that Gestalt is the theory that the whole’ is greater than the sum of its parts. It is also stated by others that the ‘whole’ is different than the sum of its parts. My thinking is that when you use the “Elements of Visual Design” in your imagery you are basically working with and structuring these ‘parts’ that will eventually make up the ‘whole’; the ‘whole’ being your finished composition.

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 information we lay out to him in the form of a photograph. Visual input is a part of our everyday life, and as photographers it is our prime objective to present this visual information in a way that takes control of what the viewer sees and when looking at our imagery.

In our reality, making the mind work harder is not necessarily a good thing, but in photography it is.  By leading the viewer’s eye around our composition, having them discovering new things as they go, or having them consider the scene, they are now participating by taking an active role, and when we can accomplish that our images will definitely be stronger.

When we talk about different ways to keep the viewer involved in our photographs, one of several ways is to have them “complete an image, or a form, or an idea”. The brain has the ability to complete an unfinished form or subject, and this ability in the theory of Gestalt, is called closure.

Closure is all about sparking an interest in your photos. to give a little taste of what the entire message your presenting to the viewer. The key is to present to the viewer an interesting composition that makes him or her want to stick around to see what “the bigger picture” is…so to speak!!!

When he fills in the rest of the pieces to create the finished idea, he’ll feel a sense of satisfaction. Of course this idea is predicated on the notion that he knows ahead of time what it is he’s filling in; at least to some degree.

In the above photo, I was sent to East Texas by an in-house magazine for Champion Paper to do a photo story on East Texas Pine Seedlings. The company owns several hundred acres of Pine Trees and a lumber mill. The designer asked me to create a photo he could use on the cover. He wanted it to suggest Texas, the day to day operations, and Pine Tree Seedlings.  I decided to create an image using the concept of Closure.

Here are a few more examples of closure:

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and watch for my new 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. In conjunction with Epic Photo Tours, I’ll be leading a group to Myanmar next February, and my next Springtime Workshop will be in Portugal next May. Come shoot with me sometime.

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

JoeB

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AskJoeB: Does it Work?

Does it work?

Does it work?

Daniel sent this photo to me for a quick critique. I always like to quote the photographer since so many people out there have experienced the same thing or have had similar thoughts and ideas. Here’s what Daniel had to say:

“Hey Joe!
Would like you’re thoughts on this. I tried to tie everything with the word sneakers. Does it work?”

One of the areas that I always talk about in my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops is making sure the horizon line is always straight, as well as trying to keep buildings from falling over. There’s four ways to keep this from happening: If you tilt your camera to the right and left, you’ll keep the horizon line straight. If you tilt your camera straight down and up you’ll keep the vertical lines close to the edge of your frame from falling backwards and to the right or left.

To me, this practice should be observed even when you’re put and about street shooting, and a building is part of your message your sending to the viewer.

Here’s a video to look at:

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

Good catch Daniel, thanks for sharing it. Btw, I like where you put the man. The viewer won’t see him right away and that’s a very good thing!!!

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog, as it evolves. I have two places in my photo trip to Myanmar with Epic Photo Tours, next February 4th, and I still have spots for my “Springtime in Portugal” next May 20th. Two fabulous places filled with history and photo opportunities.

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

JoeB

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Anecdotes: You’re Perfect

"You're perfect".

“You’re perfect”.

One can’t shoot advertising and corporate photography for forty-four years and not have amassed several funny stories during this time. Some included the client, some the designer or art director, and some when I was sent on my own to shoot whatever I wanted. This was the case when a graphic designer and his client (a paper company based in Houston) hired me to work on a brochure that was featuring a new line of paper. It was to be called “Kromekoat”.

The idea was to shoot things that were chrome, and it needed to somehow say Texas. Those were the only stipulations, and besides those two, I could shoot anything I wanted. I had read that the Texas State Fair was coming up in a few days and one of the main attractions was the giant Ferris Wheel that has the word Texas in large letters on one side. Now all I needed was something chrome to take with me.

I found what I was looking for when I walked into a CVS Pharmacy near my studio. I was walking by a rack of sunglasses and spotted a plastic pair that looked just like chrome. As I tell my online students with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, follow my Did It Do It list for good composition. One of the points I mention is to Pre-Visualize.

I quickly imagined the finished photo in my mind and the next morning my assistant and I took off for Dallas and the Texas State Fair.

My idea was to find one of the Carny men that worked the games in the carnival section of the fair, and have him put on the chrome sunglasses so I could take a portrait of him in front of the Ferris Wheel. As the sun was starting to set, I still hadn’t found just the right man to pose for me. When I had less than twenty minutes of late afternoon light still available I started to get nervous. I had one afternoon to get the shot and it looked like I was going to miss it.

The sun was getting low enough that there was only a few places left that had sunlight. I was about to throw in the towel and call it a bust, when I took a quick look at my assistant and there was this epiphany that hit me over the head like a big pizza pie…”You’re perfect”, I said. “Quick JD, put these glasses on and look towards the sun.” He did and I got the shot.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and be sure to check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Next February in conjunction with Epic Photo Tours, I’ll be leading a group to Myanmar. My next Springtime Workshop will be next May in Portugal. Come shoot with me sometime.

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

JoeB

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My Favorite Quotes: Henry David Thoreau

 

What else do you see besides clouds?

What else do you see besides clouds?

“It’s not what you look at, it’s what you see” This quote, written by nineteenth century author, poet, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau (you might remember him from your American Literature class as the author of Civil Disobedience) is probably one of my all time favorites and one that I’m always sharing with my online class at the PPSOP, my six-month private mentoring program, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop I conduct around the planet.

My workshop and classes are all about using the six principles of Gestalt and the elements of Visual Design and composition to aid you in taking your photos what I refer to as “up a notch”. Line, Form, Shape, Texture, Pattern, Perspective, Tension, Light, Color and Negative Space are the elements we work on every day and there out there all around you. you just have to see them.

You walk up to a tree and you see a tree. But what else is it? It’s the whole made up of several parts. It’s made up of Lines, Patterns, Texture, and various Shapes. How does it relate to the environment around it? How is the Light affecting it? Does it tell a story? Does Color factor in?

What about golf cart tracks or a stream? Does the golf cart tracks converge at a point on the horizon creating a Vanishing Point, leading the viewer around the frame to that point? Does the river sparkle or glow because the light is coming from behind it? Does it lead the viewer in and out of the composition suggesting more content outside of the frame? How could power lines running along a small highway be of any interest?

 Do you ever look at an old decayed window and see the beauty in it? Can you envision how father time has transformed it into a cacophony of colors, shapes, textures, and patterns.

What about something as simple as clouds in the above photo? Do they create a design? Shapes? Do they suggest some type of colored line that divides the frame from white to gray?

The next time you go out shooting, don’t look at things the way they are, look at them the way they could be.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2014 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. Join me in my next Springtime Workshop next May in Portugal.  I only have two spots left for my joint trip with epic photo tours to Myanmar.

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

JoeB

 

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AskJoeB: Would It Be More Dramatic?

Crop or not to crop.

Crop or not to crop.

Dawn is a very good shooter that recently took my “Springtime in Paris ” workshop. She sent me this photo to take a look at. and as usual, I like to put the exact message my fellow photographers send me. the reason is that so many of you out there have similar questions or have been in similar situations. Here’s what Dawn had to say:

“Hi Joe,
Attached is an image I photographed a few days ago at the Mucem, the  new museum in Marseilles, as it left the camera. I wonder if it would be more dramatic, if that’s not too serious a word, if I were to crop the sides and the foreground to make the 3 people bigger? Crop the sides to the edge of the blue-ish lights at the top left and to the edge of the horizontal light on the other side; and cropping the foreground so the side railings end at the same point. This would reduce the depth of the scene, however……
Thank you in advance for your comments,
Regards,
Dawn”
First of all, as I tell people that take my online class with the PPSOP, and my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, NEVER CROP your pictures in front of a computer. You’ll never know where the edges of your frame are and you won’t be able to use those edges as a compositional tool. Henri Cartier-Bresson said that when you crop, you lose the integrity of your original composition. If it wasn’t good enough at the point of clicking the shutter, then it never will be.
That said, since you know how I feel about cropping, you must be talking in theory and would have cropped it the way you thought before clicking the shutter!!!
:-)

Take a look at this video:

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

Nice photo Dawn, and thanks for sharing it.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and be sure to follow my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. My next “Springtime” workshop will be in Portugal next May. A wonderful city filled with history and photo opportunities. I still have two spots left with my photo tour in conjunction with Epic Photo Tour to Myanmar. Talk about history and photo opts!!!

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

JoeB

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Quick Photo tip: A Cheap Safari At Your Door

300mm @ F/2.8

300mm @ F/2.8

How many of my fellow photographers that have taken my online class with the PPSOP, or been with me in one of my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet can afford to go photograph wild animals? Probably not that many, and fewer still can get away for that long.

For the ones that can, and I’ve know several friends that have gone to Africa on a Photo Safari, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll even come back with pictures that were worth the cost. You’re in a special truck with lots of other people shooting, and the time of day is not usually the most advantageous for quality light or seeing animals moving around in their natural habitat. I’ve been told that when they went out a lot of the animals were sleeping in the shade of a very hot sun.

Well, here’s a good idea that will dazzle your friends and at the same time give you an idea of what it would be like to photography exotic animals… go to your closest zoo!!!

Yes, I know it sounds dorky, dumb, and a host of similar adjectives too numerous to count, but I can tell you from experience that it can be a lot of fun. One gray day I was kind of bored, so I picked up my camera, my tripod, and my longest lens and headed to the Houston Zoo. I had no idea if it was going to work out or what I would come back with, but before long I was having a great time; I was in Africa. The key for me was to make sure the animals looked like they could have been free and wandering all around me, which meant to not show much of the environment…as in cages or walls with moats around them.

No cages or walls.

No cages or walls.

With my 300mm lens always set on F/2.8, I could knock everything out of focus except for my subject. I wondered around the zoo several times hunting animals. Since I had gone on a weekday morning, I felt as though I was wandering around in the jungle all alone, and it was great. It felt as if the animals sense this and acted as if they were also alone in the jungle. It was a great experience, and one I plan on repeating; now that I know what to expect.

You should give it a try sometime. Your friends just might start calling you Bwana!!

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and be sure to check out my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. I still have a couple of openings for my “Springtime in Portugal” workshop, and my photo trip in conjunction with Epic Photo Tours to Myanmar.

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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