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Quick Photo Tip: Stop, Look, and Listen

I stopped, I looked, and I listened.

 

I’m guessing that most of you have heard this saying, but how many know its origin? There have been films with this title, numerous songs sung by an assortment of people, and even a game show, but it was originally a slogan made up for a pedestrian safety campaign in the UK.

I recently saw it written somewhere and immediately though of a photo I took at a flea market in Paris a million years ago with my fellow photographers that were taking my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet. To this day I still think about it when I go out street shooting or mention it to the students that take my BPSOP online classes; unfortunately my pet dinosaur didn’t survive the asteroid like I did.

I digress!

Ok, let’s talk about each word and how in the hell it could possibly relate to the art of “making” interesting pictures. To make it easier to explain my thought process, let’s use these words as they narrate the photo above.

STOP: While walking around looking for interesting subject matter and how said subjects interacted with the light (light is everything), I immediately stopped when I saw these sunglasses and the way the light was dancing on them. They seemed to be sparkling, and as I slightly moved from left to right different parts of the sunglasses were in what is known as “The Law of the Light”, and would glow.

I knew that I had one piece of the puzzle and needed a couple more pieces to make a visually interesting photo…one that would also tell a story. I decided it was worth hanging around.

LOOK: As I was standing there I observed several people walking by and give an occasional glance to the sunglasses but weren’t interested enough to stop. I thought that if I would just be patient and wait long enough I might just get lucky and add another piece to the puzzle; and perhaps complete the work of art I was beginning to form in my mind. I was looking for just the right person.

LISTEN: My patients was rewarded as a couple of women stopped and began studying the rows of sunglasses. I non-nonchalantly moved closer to put myself in a position to capture whatever might happen next, while listening to their conversation. They were asking each other which pair they liked and one of them (the one not in the photo) pointed to a single pair.

At that moment I brought my little Lumix DMC-LX5 up to my chest ( in crowded places my small Lumix is more discreet) so it would be closer to my eye just in case I got lucky, and when you get lucky be ready. The other woman reached out her hand and pointed to the pair she liked, and when she did I grabbed the shot. I was ready for it!!!

I still have to spots open for my Springtime in Berlin workshop to begin the end of May.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and check out my 2018 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. I’ve a couple of openings in my Springtime in Berlin workshop next May 23rd. A fantastic city with so many great locations we’re going to be shooting.

JoeB

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    Life Before Photoshop: Russell Athletics

    Look ma, no Photoshop

    I’m sure some of you can relate to the phrase often said by one or both parents or by someone that was in control of your daily lives, and it went like this, “You think you have it tough? I had to walk to school everyday in the freezing cold and two feet of snow.”…or something to that order.

    Well, I can honestly say that I never said that to any of my four kids…why? Because they were raised in Houston, Texas!!

    But one phrase I have said (repeatedly) to my online class with the BPSOP, and to those that have taken one or more (some ten) of my “stretching your frame of mind” workshops I conduct around our planet is “Once upon a time Adobe was only known as a type of house in the southwest part of the US, and everything had to be done in the camera; one exposure, one click”.

    I don’t blame the majority of my fellow photographers that fell in love with photography after the advent of the digital era. That said, these people think that Photoshop, HDR, and all the weird plug-ins are a vital part of image making, and as a result the challenge of getting it in the camera will become obsolete when people like me are long gone.

    More’s the pity!! The good news is that I won’t be around to witness it, and the bad news is that I won’t be around to continue the fight.

    The above photo was challenging because I had to create the movement in the camera. It was a two page consumer spread appearing in sports magazines, and the art director wanted an attractive fit looking woman jogging while wearing clothing made by Russell Athletics.

    I picked a location near downtown Houston that was a small bridge that had some character, while showing the skyline. I scouted the location ahead of time with my Sunpath program and hand bearing compass, and determined that sunrise would be ideal as far as having light coming from the 10 o’ clock position.

    I was in a convertible with the top down and my assistant was driving alongside her at the same rate of speed she was going. I was shooting at a fairly slow shutter speed so as to make it seem like she was running faster than she was. Since her feet were moving faster than the rest of her they appear to be blurred more.

    All this was accomplished in the camera, one exposure, one click.

    Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and check out my 2018 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. I’ve a couple of openings in my Springtime in Berlin workshop next May 23rd. A fantastic city with so many great locations we’re going to be shooting.

    JoeB

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      Feels good, looks good, and has meaning.

      OK, I hope this doesn’t draw angry letters or bomb threats since at first this “Pearl of Wisdom” might seem a little harsh and insensitive but there’s a reason for my madness.

      When I get a submission in my online class with the BPSOP, or a photo presented to me during one of the daily reviews in  my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct all over the place, there is usually feedback in the form of an explanation as to why the photo was shot in the first place.

      I will often say to the photographer, “Ok, tell me about this shot. Why did you decide to click the shutter?” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve  heard someone say…”besides it was just so cute I couldn’t help myself”, I would be writing this posts from my own island after one of my staff brought me a blue and frothy drink with an umbrella hanging perilously down from one side.

      That’s all well and good and I love having my fellow photographers feeling terrific about the world and the environment that surrounds them; but if the photo doesn’t have some meaning to others, it won’t stand the test of time.

      I’m as sentimental as the next guy and I like feeling good about things that I see on a daily basis, but I’m also out there trying to take photos that look good…and if they make me feel good doing it so much the better; usually it’s one in the same since I love taking pictures.

      For example, I’m walking down the street and I see a child getting licked in the face by a puppy I will probably say to myself, “oh how cute”, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to take a picture of it…unless maybe it’s my kid and puppy, and it’s going into a time capsule to be opened with they get engaged or married and I show all the guests how cute they were when they were little.

      I digress.

      Now, if that same child and puppy is not the entire puzzle but a piece of it, then I’m going to take a closer look. In other words if there’s something else going on around them, something that tells or completes a story, then I will stop…providing I obtain permission from the parent beforehand.

      What if the kid being licked is a freckled-face darling little girl, wearing a white lace dress with bows tied around her pigtails while behind or next to them is a bunch of dirty, huge, hard hat wearing constructions workers sitting around having lunch? Then you have a dichotomy, and that would give the photo a different meaning…why you ask?

      Because you would be combining opposites in the same composition and in so doing you’re creating visual tension.

      See what I mean?

      Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and check out my 2018 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. I’ve a couple of openings in my Springtime in Berlin workshop next May 23rd. A fantastic city with so many great locations we’re going to be shooting.

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

      JoeB

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        I just love a rainy day

        Yes you’re reading that right..while the sun doesn’t shine not while the sun does shine. The original expression is an idiom that’s been around for a long time. Basically, it means to grab an opportunity when the time and conditions are perfect.

        In my online classes with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct I often hear from my fellow photographers that since it was a overcast day, or even raining, there wasn’t any reason to go out…that’s just an excuse to watch TV because that’s just not true!!!

        Btw, throughout my career, I’ve gone out countless times when it was gray, or even raining only to get lucky and have the sky open up; perhaps for only a minute or two…and that’s all you need to get that one shot off that winds up being one for the wall.

        If it’s overcast then don’t show the sky or very little of it. A gray day will produce either a white or light gray sky; if it’s raining take an umbrella. If you have a camera similar to the one I use in these situation (a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7) you can easily walk around with the umbrella in one hand while holding your camera in the other. Give it a try sometime, you’ll thank me down the road.

        If you were familiar with my workshop and class overview, you would know that I teach people how to incorporate the basic elements of visual design into their imagery. When it all said and done, these elements and other compositional tools are firmly planted on what I call my Artist Palette.

        What’s good about these elements and various tools: Line, Pattern, Texture, Shapes, Balance, Negative Space, Vanishing Points, Silhouettes, Shadows, and Color, is that they can help you out on overcast crummy gray days not just sunny good days; shadows being the possible exception!!

        Getting back to my personal workshops, we will often spend time walking the streets of some village, town, or big city. Street shooting is one genre that doesn’t necessarily require good light; it’s more about capturing a moment in time. In fact, shooting in the streets at night can reward the photographer with some real keepers; especially after it rains and those wonderful reflections from wet streets are fun to find.

        I’ve always found that using a long lens and a very shallow DOF (Figure-Ground) on a gray day can result in good photos, especially if you combine color with it.

        Overcast light can be extremely beneficial when you are required to shoot in the middle of the day; weddings for one example. For the most part midday sun can be a real problem shooting portraits because the contrast between the shadows and the highlights can be too extreme. Looking for natural shade in this harsh light is important. A gray day can save you from dealing  with this type of light by the fact that the contrast has been negated.

        Don’t fight it, go with the flow. Take advantage of the overcast conditions to create a unique photo that reflects the gloomy weather. For example, shooting a sad photo is a great use of overcast weather conditions.

        There is one other way to create memorable photos on dreadful days is the use of humor. As far as I know, it’s one of the best ways to overcome these kinds of days.

        Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2018 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

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

        JoeB

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          My Favorite Quotes: Rod Stewart

          Certainly tells a story, don’t it?

          Rod Stewart has always been one of my favorite singers, having most of his music. I happened to be listening to one of his old hits when an idea for a post popped into my head; as is usually the case. The title of the song  that was playing was, Every picture tells a story, don’t it?

          The phrase is an idiom and refers to the fact that when something is happening in a situation it’s clear because of the way something look, or what has taken place.

          I had recently conducted one of my workshops in New York and we were shooting at the 9/11 memorial while a group of Navy men were also there to honor someone. What I saw happening was like a visual reminder of Stewart’s message.

          In this song, the title… Every pictures tells a story don’t it doesn’t appear in the lyrics until the very end when it’s repeated twenty-four times. That said, seeing this happening in front of me sent a crystal clear message of the title to Stewart’s song.

          When composing my photo It was also clear to incorporate one of the six concepts in the psychology of Gestalt, namely Closure. It seemed that coming in tight on just the hands and folded flag, was all the viewer needed to get the message; the viewer would fill in the rest.ure

          I’m always mentioning Closure to the students that sign up for my online classes with the BPSOP, as well as working on it one on one to those that take my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet.

          Telling a story in your photographs is not always necessary, although even the simplest landscape tells a certain kind of story to a particular type of viewer. It’s just that storytelling is a great way to keep the viewer around longer, and if you’re at all like I am, you like for people to look at and admire your photos.

          FYI, the flag is folded into a triangle to represent the shape of the hats worn by colonial soldiers in the war for independence.

          Btw, if you’re interested, here’s the link to Every picture tells a story, don’t it.

          Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime.  My next springtime workshop will be in Berlin next May; and incredibly beautiful city. check out the description above. Next October 2nd in conjunction with Santa Fe workshops I’ll be doing a photo workshop in San Miguel de Allende. A fantastic city in central Mexico and home to a huge artist colony filled with ex-pats. The description and link will be coming out soon so stay tuned. If you have questions beforehand let me know.

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

          JoeB

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            I’m a shadow lover!

            Several months ago, right before the total solar eclipse, I was listening to a piece on CBS Sunday Morning. Btw, it’s one of the best programs on TV.

            They were talking about the word Umbraphile which literally means a “shadow lover”, but when properly applied it means one who’s addicted to the “glory and majesty of total solar eclipses”; and will drop everything they are doing to see one…wherever it my be on the globe. I can tell you that I don’t go chasing eclipses, but I will admit to being a lover of the shadow; which, by the way,  is a photographer’s best friend.

            Umbraphillia is thought by many a smart college educated person to not only be an addiction, but an affliction as well. I guess that means me…YIKES!!

            I am addicted to light and shadows (and proud of it), so much so that in my online class with the BPSOP, and my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop I conduct around the planet, students learn beforehand exactly where shadows will fall any day of the week, anywhere in the world. Using a program called Sunpath, and coupling it with a hand bearing compass called a Morin 2000 not only do they learn where the shadows will fall, but which direction the light will be coming from, when it will be coming,  how long it will be there, and when it will leave.

            Once the interrelationship between light and shadow is established, a mood is set and the results can range from mysterious to downright scary. Shadows can affect how the viewer perceives and is a quick way to conjure up all kinds of emotions by giving a dramatic edge to your composition. Shadows can also be used as lines to move the viewer around your composition or as elements to point to a subject or one of your centers of interest.

            Photographers usually don’t give shadows any consideration; in fact, to many they can be intimidating.  Truth be told, they are leaving out a very important part of their imagery. Shadows can suggest what we can’t see in our reality. In fact, shadows help us to “celebrate the unseen”.  Also, the next time you’re out shooting, don’t think/worry about shadows falling on people’s faces, as that creates not only visual interest, but visual tension as well; through the use of contrast.

            In the above photo, I was standing right behind a barrier in Havana, Cuba when Obama drove by. I looked down and saw the shadows that to me told a story.

            Here’s some ways to incorporate shadows:

            1) Try making the shadow the main subject. It can tell a story on its own.
            2) Try distorting the shadows.
            3) Try to duplicate your silhouette with a shadow.
            4) Try using a shadow to fill in an empty space in your composition. It can create interest in an otherwise boring area.
            5) Try using the dark shadows to extend a dark subject. For example, the shadow coming from a tree.
            6) Try using the late light from the ‘golden hour’ to reveal more about Texture, and form.
            7) We know that Line can draw the viewer to the main subject. Try using shadows to do the same thing.
            8) Just for fun, try turning your photo upside down, so the subject takes the place of the shadow, and vice verse.

            Maybe I’ll start a new self-help organization and call it…shadow lovers anonymous!!!

            🙂

            Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2018 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. This February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will be in Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

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

            JoeB

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              Quick Photo Tip: Using Linear Perspective

              Linear perspective

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

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

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

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

              I like portraits with a vanishing point in them

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

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

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

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

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

              JoeB

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                Anecdotes: Ella Fitzgerald

                First lady of song

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                JoeB

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                  Quick Photo Tip: One Shot Per Smile

                  I had her turn around while smiling

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

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

                  One smile one shot in Sicily

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

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

                  One smile one shot in France

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

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

                  One smile one shot in Texas

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

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

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

                  One smile one sot in Myanmar

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

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

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

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

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

                  JoeB

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                    Look ma, no Photoshop!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                    The set up

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

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

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

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

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

                    JoeB

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                      Visual tension at work

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

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

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

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

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

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

                      An implied arrow

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

                      The importance of an arrow

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

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

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

                      JoeB

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

                        A walk in the park

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        Shot in the main plaza in Madrid.

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

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

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

                        JoeB

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                          Quick Photo Tip: Using People to Show Scale

                          Giving some sense of scale

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

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

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

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

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

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

                          I digress again.

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

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

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

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

                          JoeB

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                            Food For Digital Thought: Order Among Chaos

                            Order in chaos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                            JoeB

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