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Santa Fe Workshops: Cuba 2014

One of so many great photos taken by my class. This one was from Vikki.

One of so many great photos taken by my class. This one was from Vikki.

I recently returned from leading a fantastic photo tour/workshop to Cuba. Several months ago the Santa Fe Workshops asked me to lead a group of photographers to this small island just ninety miles off the coast of Florida. However, in our unfortunate and misguided political reality, it might as well be a million.

Because of the embargo that was placed in October of 1960, we are not allowed to travel directly to Cuba. Having said that, the Santa Fe Workshops has set up a person-to-person cultural exchange program whereas people can travel to this exciting and romantic country with special visas. These visas are for the purpose of exchanging ideas and sharing the different aspects of each countries cultures relating specifically to the arts and the artists living there; whether they be photographers, writers, dancers, or musicians. The management team at Santa Fe have been doing this for years, and have developed a very good working relationship with the government. As a result they have become adept at making the Cuban experience a life long memory.

I’ve been leading workshops since the eighties, and I can tell you that this was one of if not the most memorable experiences I’ve ever been involved in. The way it was handled was to be expected from Santa Fe, but it far exceeded my expectations. Our Cuban guide and the three Cuban photographers that always traveled with us were professional, courteous, knowledgeable in Cuban history, and were very talented photographers in their own right; also really good guys to be around.

Our producer, Kip Brundage, who works with and produces these Cuban workshops, has years of experience in the advertising and corporate community and one could not ask for a more qualified and approachable person.

With our first class accommodations and great restaurants to be found everywhere, not counting the freedom we had to explore Havana on our own, made the trip all the more memorable. I for one can’t wait to go back.

I had a full class, so this slideshow of photos taken strictly by my fellow photographers might be a little long, but as you’ll see the extra effort to view their work will be worth the time. For me, these photos have captured the essence of Cuba.

 

I hope to lead another group at some point, so stay tuned for future details. I can absolutely you one of the best experiences of your life whether you’re a photographer or you just want to see the country and perhaps make friends with these warm, photogenic, friendly, outgoing people.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. I still have a couple of spots left for my next “Springtime” workshop to be in Portugal next May 21st. Although my workshop to Myanmar in conjunction with Epic Photo Tours is full, as is my “Autumn in Provence” workshop so I’d be happy to place your name on a waiting list. In April of 2016, I’ll be taking a group to Viet Nam so although it’s a long way off, if you’re interested let me know.

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

JoeB

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AskJoeB: Would love to have your comment.

His original photo

His original photo

I recently was asked by a past student what I thought about his photo. As is always the case, I like to have the actual comments as a lot of my fellow photographers out there have had a similar question, or have experienced something similar in their picture-taking. Here’s what Sunil had to say:

“Hi Joe,

I shot this in Jaiselmer, the desert town of Western India. It was shot inside a fort which was built about 860 years ago ! The horizon lines do not appear straight at the bottom as this was shot from an angle. Would love to have your comments as I owe most of my photographic journey to the mentorship I did with you.

Warm rgds”

Sunil had taken my online class with the PPSOP in which I teach people how to incorporate the Elements of Visual Design into their photography. I also teach these elements in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet. One of the points I always cover is that people like to see people in pictures. This was actually a recent post I just wrote on the subject.

Here’s a little trivia for you…Henri Cartier-Bresson would compose a picture and have everything exactly the way he wanted. The, he would wait until someone ran or walked into his frame, and  at just the right place, he clicked the shutter. You would be doing no wrong to follow his thought process.

Here's what it looks like when it's a cleaner read.

Here’s what it looks like when it’s a cleaner read.

Take a look at this video: http://www.screencast.com/t/DYKLbTd5

Thanks for sharing it Sunil.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. My workshop in Myanmar is sold out, so if you’re interested I’ll put your name on a waiting list.

I still have two spots left for my next “Springtime in Portugal” workshop to be next May 21st. I’m onboard for the 27th year at the Maine Media Workshop to be next July 26th, I have one spot left for my “Autumn in Provence” workshop to be next October 21st, 2015, and in April of 2016, in conjunction with Epic Photo Tours, I’ll be leading a workshop to North and Central Viet Nam. Come shoot with me sometime.

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

JoeB

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Life Before Photoshop: Caddy Collection

Look ma no Photoshop.

Look ma no Photoshop.

For all my fellow photographers that fell in love with taking photos in the digital age, there was actually a time when you had to create everything in the camera. A time when you had take a roll of film out of a canister and load in into your camera; compose, then focus all by yourself.

Now, you don’t have to do anything but bring the camera up to your eyes and click the shutter. If something ain’t right, well don’t worry because you can “fix it later”. I’ve heard this exact quote a lot with my online classes with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet.

Don’t think for a minute that I’m some old-fashioned, medicare card carrying gray haired old man that has not kept up with the times. I might be old and gray, but i assure you that I’m fairly good with Photoshop and use it all the time; on just about every photo I take.

I like creating as much in the camera as I can, because to me that’s what a good photographer does. If there are things that I have no control over, or can’t fix before I “pull the trigger” (that’s Texas talk for clicking the shutter}, I have no problem working on it post-production.

In the photo above, I was hired by a man who collected Cadillacs. He wanted a poster to put up in his office, and he wanted to show the cars in his front yard. I scouted the location to determine whether it received morning or evening light, and determined that a late afternoon shoot would provide me with the best and latest light.

I set up my camera on a tripod and arranged the Cadillacs while looking through the viewfinder. The hard part was arranging the cars so they would reflect light, but not be blown out. It took the entire day to do it. I brought out a hose and we wet down the driveway  to catch any reflections I could while creating a sense of depth. Knowing that I had a small window of light, I waited until it was the way I wanted then took the shot.

All this was created on one piece of film.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2014 workshop schedule.  I also have two places left for my coordinated trip with Epic Photo Tours in Myanmar next February. a fabulous country rich in photo opportunities. My next Springtime Workshop will be in Portugal next May. Come shoot with me.

JoeB

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I was finally satisfied when I sat the two farmers down on the bench.

I was finally satisfied when I sat the two farmers down on the bench.

I don’t know about you, but I’m never totally satisfied with the way my photos turn out …sometimes!!! What do I mean?

I’m a painter, In my much younger days I used a brush, and now that I have little time to waste on cleaning said brushes,  I’ve chosen a camera as the medium of choice. Sometimes I painted exactly what I saw, and sometimes what flowed from the various brushes and palette knives came strictly from my imagination. As a photographer, I pretty much look at things the same way. Sometimes I photograph what I see, but most of the time I take pictures of what I’d like to see.

Photography is very different to painting in one important respect. When I was painting, I started out with a blank canvas on an easel and began to fill it in until I had what I though was a work of art. Now the canvas on an easel is a camera on a tripod and I take away things until I’m satisfied with what I consider to be a work of art. But am I ever satisfied?

In my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop I conduct around the planet, I’m always telling my fellow photographers to take more than one photo. That infamously thought of photo, know without any geographic criteria, as “the one and only”. That photo that’s taken when the camera is brought up to one’s eye (the usual height for all one’s photos), and without any thought to light, exposure, or point of view the shutter release is depressed.

Btw, every so often someone tells me that they took a workshop and was told by the instructor to never alter anything or you’ll surely go to photo hell; it has to be photographed as it is. Well that’s certainly admirable, and I can only think that a painter was not behind the camera. Those people take pictures and to each his own. I make pictures.

Don’t be satisfied with your first idea as the odds of it being a “keeper” or an “OMG” photo are mighty slim. Walk around, look it from different points of view, underexpose or overexpose, give yourself choices.

As far as ever being satisfied. Sometimes I am, and sometimes after looking at it later on my monitor, I wish I had done more…looked at it even another way. To me that’s a good thing that keeps me sharp and interested in the the future…photographically speaking. After all, the best picture I’ve ever taken may very well be my next one.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2015 workshop schedule.  I also have two places left for my coordinated trip with Epic Photo Tours in Myanmar next February. a fabulous country rich in photo opportunities. 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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"Framing within a frame "is one of the  ways to create Visual Tension.

“Framing within a frame “is one of the ways to create Visual Tension.

I teach two online classes with the PPSOP that centers around the Elements of Visual Design, and how to incorporate them into your photography. In my part I class we work on Negative Space, Vanishing Points, Depth, Shape, Pattern, Visual Tension, Texture, Light, and Color.I also teach these in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops i conduct around the planet.

In my Part II class, which is a continuation, we work on Line ( the most important of all the elements), Form, creating Shadows and Silhouettes, and more on Light and Color. We also work on ways to see things that are not obvious to most people’s eyes…”Not what is, but what could be”, is the class mantra.

The following slideshow consists of images from both my part I and II class, and if you compare notes you’ll see these elements used in creative ways by my fellow photographers that are learning how to see differently. Keeping in mind that these students are not professionals, but people that have started to use the Elements to their benefitwhen composing their photos.

Enjoy:

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my ever-changing workshop schedule at the top of this blog. I have one spot left for my “Springtime in Portugal” workshop May 21st. I have my Maine Media Workshop coming up July 26th, which will be my 27th year. Far away in 2016, I’ll be working again with Epic Photo Tours to lead a tour to North and the coastal cities of Viet Nam in early April of 2016.

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

JoeB

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AskJoeB: How would you have shot it?

Deb sent me this photo with a question. Since so many of us has had a similar situation, or have had similar questions, I like to include what was asked. Here’s what Deb had to say:

“I shot this picture of an iron bolt. I thought it had great potential but I just could not make it as interesting to the viewer as I thought it was. How would you have shot this subject?
Thanks,
Deb”

Deb, in my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I spend a lot of time on light. Where you place yourself in relation to the light source is the key in creating photos that have energy and visual interest. Before I raise my camera up to my eyes I want to know where that light is coming from, so i can position myself to create the strongest image I can.

Take a look at this video critique: http://www.screencast.com/t/tIOmY7ipOre

Thanks for the submission, and I hope this helps.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and from time to time, check out my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. I still have one spot open for my photo tour in conjunction with Epic Photo Tours to Myanmar, and I still have a few spots for my next “Springtime” workshop to be held next May 21st. in Portugal. These are two completely different destinations but what they have in common is their long history and the amazing photo opportunities.

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

JoeB

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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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