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My Favorite Quotes

My Favorite Quotes: Ralph Waldo Emerson

No blue ribbons here.

No blue ribbons here.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was a writer and poet who led the Transcendentalist movement in the mid 19th century. I’m not by any means a big lover and follower of quality literature and poetry, and not a follower of Transcendentalism, but what I remember reading about him was that he was a big supporter of individualism…and so am I. Only recently did I find a quote he said somewhere in the late 1800’s. It immediately stuck to me as it fits perfectly into the way I present my way of thinking to both my online classes with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet.

He once said, ” Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”. This really hit home to me a few weeks ago when I was asked to give a talk and show my work to a local camera club at their yearly Christmas dinner.

First, let me say that being a member of a local camera club has a lot of advantages. If you’re into the social aspects as in: meetings where you get together with people that share your love of photography, drink diet cokes and unsweetened ice tea while exchanging current trends, or enter into club competitions where the best photo is not always picked, then a camera club is the way to go….and can be a lot of fun. You can also take workshops given by other members…if you’re so inclined.

Having said that I’ve spoken at many camera clubs over the years and have judged several of their yearly competitions. At some point during my visit several of the members have pulled me aside and said that although they love my presentation, if they were to submit photo composed the way I compose, they would be made to stand in the corner and subsequently ridiculed in front of the entire membership.

Ok, maybe they didn’t say it exactly that way, but as far as the way I seen things, the truth is that my photos would never be accepted into their show; certainly not win any ribbons.

:-(

Here’s my standing reply to these few souls that have evidently lost their way, “Start your own camera club”.

These are the photographers that were given coloring books when they were young and were told to color inside of the lines. As a result, now, as grown-ups, they strictly adhere to all the rules of photography and woe be to those that deviate in any way.

I’m talking about the staunch supporters of the Rule of Thirds, never clipping the highlights, and the Leading in Rule, to name a few. They will never give up their life long beliefs nor have any of them ever been interested in my online classes or workshops…which is absolutely OK with me!!

Live by the rule, die by the rule seems to be their hidden agenda and mantra.

The few of my fellow photographers that want to venture out into the creative world where coloring outside the lines is the best way I know to taking photos “up a level”, and that stand out among others…then as Nike would say, “just do it”.

To be sure, I’m not saying to never follow the rules, or not join your local camera club. I’m saying to not live and die by those rules If you don’t believe in always following the rules, and following the same path as your camera club members, then don’t. Go your own way and blaze your own trail then maybe you can help others that feel the same as you (or more importantly don’t) get together and follow the path you’ve blazed.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2105 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime. July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media Workshop…the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.

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

JoeB

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Quotes: W. Eugene Smith

It was light, and it was available.

It was light, and it was available.

When I first started out in photography some forty-four years ago, I shot primarily Black and White. I worked for AP, UPI, and I was a Black Star photographer, a national photo syndicate. It was several years before I started working in color, and in that beginning period of time all my favorite photographers shot black and white.

Among them were:Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorthea Lange, Walker Evans, Ernst Haas, most of the photographers in my favorite photo book called The Family of Man” to name a few. Having said that, my all time favorite photographer is W. Eugene Smith. His images speak to me like no others living or dead. As it happens, one of my all time favorite quotes was said by him. He said, “Available light is any damn light that’s available.”

As I tell my online students with the BPSOP, and also in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, light is everything. You find the light and you’ll find the shot. I’ll often have a discussions with one of my fellow photographers (who insist that an on camera flash is the way to go), that in my long career I’ve never, and I mean not once ever felt that I needed this kind of contrasty harsh, bluish, hot ancillary light to make good photos.

To digress a moment, don’t you just love it when someone a couple of rows down from you uses a flash to record what’s way down on the stage…and all he’s lighting up is the back of a few heads a couple of rows in front of him. I get a better shot with just the available light.

I’m mostly an available light photographer. I’ve always found a way to use whatever available light is around me when I thought it was needed. The problem is that photographers these days just don’t take the time to look around them for help that may very well be hitting them right in the face. Remember that if you can see it, you can take a picture of it…especially now in the digital age where cameras can record images in very low light.

Any damn light that's available.

Any damn light that’s available.

Even in situations where there just isn’t any actual sunlight, look for man-made light like a flashlight over on a table, or a desk lamp, or as in the photo above, a welding torch laying over against the bags of cement. I had him pick it up and make it the brightest flame he could. As I say, you just have to open your eyes and look around…somewhere lurking in the shadows is the answer to your problem.

You just gotta…Stretch Your Frame of Mind!!!

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2105 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime. I still have a few spots in my next “Springtime” workshop to be in Lisbon, Portugal next May 21st.  July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media Workshop…the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.

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

JoeB

 

 

 

My Favorite Quotes: Elliott Erwitt

As some of you might know and hopefully read, I have a category I call “my favorite quotes”. These are quotes I’ve picked up over my forty-four year career as an advertising, corporate, and editorial photographer.. Some I’ve stumbled on by accident or by reading, and some I’ve been sent by friends who are always looking out for me.

These are not necessarily quotes by famous photographers, but quotes by well-known artists in their own right. Painters, musicians, poets and writers all share a common thread, the ability to think, see, and feel with both the left and right side of their brain. From Marcel Proust to Bo Diddley, and from Bob Marley to Claude Monet, these artist share a common bond…basically, the ability to make people feel good through each of their individual artistic mediums.

One of these quotes was written by Elliott Erwitt, an adverting, corporate and editorial photographer who at the age of eighty-six is still making his art. He once said,” Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them”.

In my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop I conduct around the world, I tell my fellow photographers that once you start seeing past your first impressions, you’re pictures will take on a different, more pronounced look. A look that will keep the viewer an active participant, and as a result will stick around longer.

So many photographers just don’t spend the time looking. They all seem to be in a hurry and as a result they miss out on the ‘good stuff’. I teach people in my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops how to incorporate the elements of visual design and composition into their imagery, and they walk away with what I call my Artist Palette that holds these elements.

I tell my fellow photographers  that there’s two ways to see things: with the left side of your brain and the right side. The left side is the analytical side and that’s what Erwitt’s message means when he says photography has little to do with the things you see.

The right side of your brain is the creative side. This is where the second part of Erwitt’s quote comes into play.He finishes the quote by saying it’s everything to do with the way you see them.

I had just checked into my hotel room and as usual the first thing I do is look out the window. What I saw is the image shown above. It was a bridge, according to the left side of my brain. However, upon closer observation, the bridge transformed into several elements of Visual Design. Here’s the elements that I saw: A Vanishing Point made up of two converging lines that moved the viewer across the frame and met at a point on the horizon. I saw shapes consisting of a beautiful triangle that the converging lines created, squares made by the trestles, rectangles made by the reflections of the trestles, and lots of diamonds. There was Negative Space that defined the trestles, and patterns created by the trestles themselves. Not to be missed is the Visual Tension created by showing the bridge and its reflection.

This is the way I saw the bridge.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. I have two openings left in my next “springtime” workshop in Portugal.Next July 26th I’ll be back at the Maine Media Workshop for my 27th year. a fantastic place full of energy and lot of photographers on the campus to share your experience with. I always pick this same week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. A different set of photo opts: people watching and portraiture, color, light, and design.

I have one spot left for my “Autumn in Provence” workshop to be next October 21st. We’ll be shooting during the Fall foliage.Don’t forget to send me a photo and question to:AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll send you a video critique.

JoeB

My Favorite Quotes: Hank Williams

I saw the light and the welder first, then moved the bankers into it.

I saw the light and the welder first, then moved the bankers into it.

One of my favorite quotes is actually the title to a famous country and western song entitled, “I saw the light”, sung by one of the true country legends, Hank Williams.  Not that I’m a die hard lover of country music or a religious person, but years ago whenever I was shooting on location, chasing and finding the light, I would sing a couple of verses to sort of celebrate my good fortune and timing.:

I saw the light, I saw the light
No more darkness, no more night
Now I’m so happy, no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord, I saw the light.

If you’re interested, here’s Hank singing it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtolv9kM1qk

Btw, my crew thought it was REALLY getting old!!!

The analogy I’m drawing is what I teach in my online class with the PPSOP, or in one of my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet.  I tell my fellow photographers that light is everything; you find the light and you’ll find the shot. The only exception is in photo-journalism/street photography where capturing the action can be more important.

I’m always looking all around my environment and peripheral vision for that moment when I see the light hitting or falling on something. Light is so fleeting that once you see it, you have to act fast or you’ll lose it. Sometimes the light returns, as in a cloud moving across the sky, but I’ve found after forty-four years of shooting that once it’s gone…baby it’s gone!!! Light will make the difference between going home empty handed, or being less satisfied because of a gray day when you could have slept in.

When you do see it, while running towards it, you should also be thinking about how you’re going to use it. Sometimes there’s a subject or center of interest already in the light, and sometimes I look around for something to move into the light.The faster you can determine that the better your chances are in capturing it.

Are you going to side light, back light, front light? These questions need to be addressed and put in order of importance. In other words, try to light your subject from as many points of view as you can. I always try to start out back lighting or from the light in the ten or two position. Then I’ll look at my subject as it’s side lit. Finally and rarely will I front light anything…why?

Because when you front light, you lose the third dimension, depth. The one exception is when the background behind your subject is dark, making it stand out.

Here’s what I saw when I see the light:

Imagine me singing away when I’m seeing the light!!!

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. I have two openings left in my next “springtime” workshop in Portugal.Next July 26th I’ll be back at the Maine Media Workshop for my 27th year. a fantastic place full of energy and lot of photographers on the campus to share your experience with. I always pick this same week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. A different set of photo opts: people watching and portraiture, color, light, and design.

I have one spot left for my “Autumn in Provence” workshop to be next October 21st. We’ll be shooting during the Fall foliage. In April of 2016, in conjunction with Epic Photo Tours, I’ll be leading a group to the coastal cities of North and Central Viet Nam. You’ll see and take pictures of subject matter you would only see in magazines like National Geographic.

Come shoot with me and we’ll sing in two part harmony.

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

JoeB

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

 

My Favorite Quotes: Ansel Adams

Shooting right into the sun at sunrise is about energy.

Shooting right into the sun at sunrise is about energy.

Ever since I started teaching workshops, back in 1984, I’ve collected quotes written by various artists. Whether they were photographers, painters, writers, musicians is of no relevance. The important thing to me is that they are artists, and at the top of their game in their respected fields.; of course the quote has to deal with some area that I’m interested in.

Years ago while studying a body of work by Ansel Adams, I came across a quote he said that has stuck with me all these years, and one I mention in my online class with thePPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet. Ansel Adams said, “There are no rules for good photographs, there’s just good photographs”.

What makes this quotes so important to me is that I’m always defending it to my fellow photographers. If I had a dollar for every time a student told me that he was taught to never clip the highlights, shooting into the sun is a bad thing, or practice the Rule of Thirds, or the Leading in Rule (always have your subject walking into the frame), or how about this one….stay away from the color red, it’s to hard to photograph (who in the world said that?), I’d be on my Island right now. I’d be sitting on a chaise lounge on my beach, waiting for another blue and frothy drink to be brought to me; a drink with an umbrella hanging perilously down from one side.

Now I’m not suggesting that you don’t know what these rules are, as it’s important to know them. I’m suggesting that as soon as you know them…forget them. That is unless you want to be taken down the one way rode to mediocrity.

So my fellow photographers, what constitutes a good photo? Well, if you’ve been following my posts, you would remember a category I called “did it do it”. On my list is concepts that I think makes a good photo. At least they do for me, and I’ve thought about this list for most of the forty-four years I’ve been a photographer.

I can tell you from years of experience, the students of mine that stop listening to people who lived and died by these silly rules and started shooting what felt and looked good, never looked back. As I’ve always told my kids, “Color outside the Lines”.

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

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

JoeB

My Favorite Quotes: Marcel Proust

What else do you see besides a window?

What else do you see besides a window?

Here’s a quote written by Marcel Proust, a French Novelist that lived in the late 19th century and early 20th. In my English Literature class we touched on his writings, but it wasn’t until I started teaching online with the PPSOP, and conducting my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops that I happened upon one of his quotes. It’s a quote that has stuck with me and one that I constantly tell my fellow photographers that say they can’t find anything worthwhile to shoot anymore.

Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

When I think about the part that says “new eyes”, My Artist Palette immediately comes to mind. I teach my fellow photographers how to use the elements of visual design and composition to create stronger photos. We work on “making pictures” that include Texture, Pattern, Line, Shape, Form, Balance, Perspective, Vanishing Points, and Negative Space. It’s a lot, but they all fit comfortably on a palette.

Before students have taken my online class or my workshop, they’ve gone out and photographed what they saw. The problem is that they never thought about “seeing past first impressions”. A tree is just a tree to them. They are of the mindset that looking at a label is fine, never mind that they’ve haven’t a clue as to what’s inside.

I had a student that lives on a ranch in Montana. She told me that there was nothing left to photograph, and was ready to give up photography. I had her create a path or trail if you will, that surrounded the house, the barn, farm machinery, the pens for the animals, and the fence line. I told her to follow the path exactly the same way each time, going past the exact same things each time. The first couple of times I just wanted her to take pictures of whatever she saw. As expected, her photos lacked substance, and meaning. It was obvious that she had become bored with her ranch.

Then I told her to take her ‘(imaginary) Artist Palette’ with her and look for the elements that were on it. When you go past the fence, forget that it’s a fence. instead, think of it as a way to frame one of the other buildings, Think of the areas between the posts as a Shape…a long rectangle that’s created by the Negative space that surrounds and defines it. Look at the texture, and try getting “up close and personal” to it. Image the top and bottom of the fence as converging lines that move the viewer around the frame…maybe to one of the structures. Most important, I told her to walk the path at different times of the day. Walk it at sunrise, the middle of the day and sunset to see how the light can play a huge part. How about side lighting the sides of the bard, to emphasis the texture.

As I knew it would happen, she started seeing things she never knew were there before. It was a true “voyage of discovery” that she was able to see with her “new eyes”.

So my fellow photographers, you don’t have to travel to take good photos. Sometimes you only need to look in your own backyard.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2014 workshop schedule. I have a few places left at The Maine Media Workshop starting this coming July 27th. It’s the granddaddy of them all, and a wonderful campus filled with energy and photography talk everywhere. It’s the week of the Lobster Festival in Rockland just down the road and the State Fair in Bangor. A great week to forget everything and immerse yourself in photography. I also have three places left for my coordinated trip with Epic Photo Tours in Myanmar next February. a fabulous country rich in photo opportunities. Come shoot with me.

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

JoeB

My Favorite Quotes: Kenny Rodgers

I knew when to hold em.

I knew when to hold em.

Ok, you’re asking yourself what Kenny Rodgers (a well known CW singer from the past) might have said that has stuck with me and became a euphemism that applies to my Photography. In the song “The Gambler”, Kenny Rodgers sang these lyrics:

You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, know when to run. I’ve always loved those words, and I’ve actually found myself singing them (discretely) when out shooting. Ok, let me finally explain:

In my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, I’m constantly asked when do I walk away from taking a photo? How do I know when it’s not working the way I thought it would? Do I just take the photo anyway and try to fix it later? This last question really gets me!!!!

Here’s what I have to say on this subject:

For me, It doesn’t take very long for me to fold em. For one thing I “Pre-visualize”  Over the years I’ve managed to create an imaginary 2X3 rectangle right behind my eyes. When I’m either walking the streets or setting up an actual photo. I look through this rectangle and try to visualize the composition before I ever bring the camera up to my eye. It’s an easy exercise and one all my fellow photographers should at least try.

This exercise will eliminate a lot of time and energy I go through in composing a photo. To add to this exercise is a critical step in my thought process. Determining the direction of the light. If the light isn’t right, I’ll walk away sooner. If I can’t get the light to work for me, I’ll run away.

So now, the light is right and I’ve brought the camera up (horizontally) to mt eyes. I look for balance between the Negative and Positive space and if it isn’t feeling right within a few seconds I’ll try it as a vertical.I’ll look around for props or people I can add. I’m not the type of photographer that won’t change or move something to create a better photo. I’m out “making pictures”, not taking them. Finally, I’ll also ask someone if he or she would be in my photo.

If none of this works, I won’t spend any more time on it…why? Because as I’m always telling those students that stay with it too long, “The best photo you’ve ever taken may will be your next one, and that could be right around the corner”.

Don’t feel like you have to stay with it and take something as so many photographers do…just to be taking a picture. And don’t think about fixing it later in front of a computer. That’s not going to make you a stronger photographer. However, it will make you a better computer artist…if that’s your cup of tea.

In the above photo, I was just about ready to fold em. It just wasn’t doing anything for me. Then I saw the boy and his mom walking down the pier. I asked if I could put him in my photo. Then, I knew to hold em.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and check out my new 2014 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. My first one so far is my “Springtime in Paris” workshop in May. Come shootwith me sometime.

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

JoeB

My Favorite Quotes: Bo Diddley

I saw a fork, but what else did I see?

I saw a fork, but what else did I see?

Here’s another of my favorite quotes, that may have been written long ago, but I’ll always remember it being sung by an old friend named Bo Diddley. The name of the song was, “You can’t judge a book by looking at the cover”.

In the early eighties, I was on the board of the Houston Art Director Club, and my job that year was to find and provide the entertainment for the year’s award show. I thought long and hard and was told to look up agencies that represented well known artists. On the list of possibles that fit into my budget was Bo Diddley. I couldn’t believe it!!!

I called and we worked out the details and I couldn’t believe that Bo was actually going to preform for our gala. I picked him up at the airport, took him to lunch, and stayed with him the entire day right up to the time he went on. He was soooooo cool!!!

Ok, I might be digressing a tad, but there’s method to my madness and here’s how it applies to the present day task of making pictures.

So many students that take my online class with the PPSOP, and the ones that attend my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop will walk up to something and just start shooting…blindly so to speak. They just look at it with the left side of their brain and just see the obvious. If it’s a tree, then they just see a tree. If it’s railroad tracks, then that’s all they see. If it’s a fountain with a naked baby in it spitting water out of its mouth, then that’s all they see, and that’s how they judge it; by only looking at the cover.

When I look at a tree, I look at it with the right side of my brain…the creative side. I see the negative space that defines the branches, I see the texture provided by the bark, and any shapes that might be hidden between the leaves. I move around it to see how the light may backlight the leaves, and look for the important shadows that are being created and laying on the ground.

If I’m looking at railroad tracks, I see patterns created by the ties, texture created by the rocks, and a Vanishing Point I can use to move the viewer around my composition. If I’m looking at a naked baby spitting water into the fountain it’s sitting in, I imagine he possibility of creating a silhouette with backlit water spewing out of his mouth.

My point is to not just walk up and judge your subject by looking at it’s cover. Open the book and reads what’s inside.

HEY BO DIDDLEY!!!!!

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and check out my new 2014 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. My first one so far is my “Springtime in Paris” workshop in May. Come shoot with me sometime.

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

JoeB

My Favorite Quotes: This One Comes From Yours Truly

What do i do with my camera? I set it on manual, go to Scotland, and take photos of famous race-horses.

What do i do with my camera? I set it on manual, go to Scotland, and take photos of famous race-horses.

Since so much of the last week’s news was the coming of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK on November 22, 1963, I thought it might be good timing to suggest for your approval, one of my recent quotes. Like so many people of my generation, I remember exactly what i was doing the moment I had heard. I was sitting in a barber chair getting my hair cut.

Now, in remembrance of those incredible times, I offer you this quote that you’ll hopefully take to heart and include in your thought process when composing your photos: “Ask not what your camera can do for you, ask what you can do with your camera”. There’s no disrespect meant here, since I like so many others in that generation loved the president and agree that his famous quote will go down as one of a poignant reminder of such a tragic time.

With my online class with the PPSOP and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, I work mainly with fellow photographers that have only been shooting in the digital era. The era where you no longer have to worry or think for that matter about how to take a picture…it’s so simple you see. All you have to do is aim the lens at something and pull the trigger; that’s Texas talk for clicking the shutter. The camera will do all your thinking for you, and what the camera leaves out, the computer and all the software you crammed in it will do the rest.

It will blink when you’re clipping a highlight, it shows you a histogram so you don’t have to actually study the light for yourself, It tells you what exposure to use, whether you like it or not, It focuses automatically which is a luxury not a necessity. It can bracket automatically which is a good thing, and some cameras even cleaned the sensor for you. Last, it provides so many different shooting programs that to know what all of them mean would take a degree from MIT.

I’ve heard of plans for some states to make it legal to actually marry your camera…No, say it ain’t so!!!

Ok, here’s some of the things you can do with your camera. You can crop in it so you’ll know where the edges of your frame are and use those edges as a compositional tool. You can move your camera to the ‘M’ setting. For those of you that have no idea what ‘M’ stands for, it stands for manual. From there you can set your own shutter speed/aperture combination thus beginning to study and learn about the light. You can focus it yourself when those weird times come into play where the camera can’t decide what exactly it is you want in focus. For those people that only shoot horizontally (and you know who you are), you can turn the camera 90 degrees and shoot vertically; btw, there’s more energy in a vertical than a horizontal. You can either look through the viewfinder or use live view when you’re in a weird spot. Some people even hide behind it to be invisible; war photographers did this all the time. If you put your camera on a tripod, you become the same artist as the ones that put a canvas on an easel. With the help of your camera, you can capture the beauty that surrounds you, making you feel good. And last, I seen people hammer small nails with their camera!!!

And so my fellow photographers, “Ask not what your camera can do for you, ask what you can do with your camera”

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2014 workshop schedule at the top of this blog.  Come shoot with me in Paris, France next May for my third “Springtime” workshop.

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

JoeB

My Favorite Quotes: Claude Monet

What do you see?

What do you see?

Since my background is in art and not photography, I studied Art History; among other areas in this field. My favorite painters were the Impressionists, and one of my favorite painters was one of the founders of that movement named Claude Monet. Actually, I really loved all of the Impressionist painters mainly because they saw things differently than the painters that preceded them, and as a result were not accepted for quite a while.

They broke all the rules and as I now tell my fellow photographers that I teach or mentor to.learn all the rules of photography, then as fast as you can… forget about them as they will most certainly lead you down the one way, one lane path to mediocrity…why you ask???? Because rules are impediments that will block your chances of ever observing the environment around you through better vision.

Monet said, ” In order to see, we must forget the name of the thing we’re looking at.”

In my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop I conduct around the planet, I talk a whole lot on being able to “see past impressions”. In fact, it’s one of my many mantras and it can be so hard to do for people that have spent the majority of their life seeing and doing things with their left brain.

First, a disclaimer: There are those out there that suggest that this is a distorted myth…psycho babble. However, most psychologists agree that there’s enough basis in facts to accept it.

You see, the left side of your brain is the analytical side. Left-brained people tend to be more logical and objective, and rarely see any artistic content. Their photos will tend to be those that are “for the record”. It’s the linear way or the highway for them!!! The right-brained person tends to be more creative, expressive,  and intuitive. Ok, just how does this have anything to do with Monet or my approach to teaching people how to see past their first impressions?

In the photo above, a left-brainer will look up and see two men framing a house. When I first looked up I immediately saw shapes, as in triangles and diamonds; then I saw the two men.  I saw them because over the past forty-three years I’ve trained my eye to “see past my first impression”. As a result I composed my photo to accentuate these important shapes…since Shape is a basic element of Visual Design.

The next time you go out don’t just look at the labels, be sure to taste what’s inside…see past your first impression.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and be sure to check out the remaining workshops for 2013 at the top of this blog; and watch for my 2014 schedule. Come shoot with me and see what isn’t there.

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

JoeB

My Favorite Quotes: Bob Marley

One of my first photo taken in 1970. I was 25 years old.

One of my first photo taken in 1970. I was 25 years old.

This is the second in my new series relating to my all time favorite quotes. Some of the quotes I’ll examine will be written by photographers, while others were written by other types of artists; from singers, songwriters, and musicians to novelists and poets.

One of the quotes that has stayed with me over the years was said by Bob Marley. Yes, it’s the same guy you’re thinking of…the Reggae king from Jamaica. Bob Marley died from Cancer about thirty years ago at a hospital in Miami. He was only thirty-six, but his music and lyrics were filled with thoughts and ideas that I’ve found to be in keeping with the way I not only approach my online class with the PPSOP, but in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet. One quote has always stuck with me. Bob said, “Some people feel the rain, while others just get wet”.

If you think about it, it can have a profound impact in the way we approach picture-taking. Ok, my students and fellow photographer’s might ask, what does that quote have to do with my ability to take pictures”?

Well it’s all about the difference between taking and making pictures. It’s about the total immersion into your new found passion and craft. It’s about mastering the light and understanding exposure. It’s about taking on the challenge of being a good photographer, not a good computer artist or digital technician. Let me explain further:

Determining the light and the direction it’s coming from before you raise your cameras up to their eye to me is the most important factor. Making your own decisions as to the correct exposure to use instead of letting the camera and lightroom do the work for you, scouting ahead of time and pre-visualizing your ideas in your mind then executing it, and spending more time than the “I came, I shot, I left”  frame of mind I find happening all the time, is about “Feeling the rain”.

The “I’ll fix it later” mentally that has come along with the digital era, has sucked the life and breath out of the right side of our brain; the creative side.  Why should I bracket when I can do it in lightroom? Why should I worry about the horizon line being straight when I can just use my straightening tool later in front of my computer? It just goes on and on, and this is all about “just getting wet”.

I’ve been following this train of thought since I first picked up a camera over forty years ago, in the days before way digital. It’s always been the love of my life, and I suppose that’s what has made it easier for me to caress it and “feel the rain”.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and check out my October workshop with Julia Dean in Hollywood. Click on the mini-poster at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.

Be sure to send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com.

JoeB

My Favorite Quotes: Eddie Adams

 Over the years, I’ve managed to mentally acquire several quotes made by famous people in the arts that apply to my approach in teaching with the PPSOP, an online school I’ve been with with several years and my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet.

These are quotes that really hit home for me, and as a result have made me a better photographer for the past forty-five years and a better teacher for the last thirty of those years. This is the first of many posts that will cause you to “stop, listen, and learn”. The first quote I want to talk about was said by Eddie Adams, a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer. He once said, “When you get lucky, be ready”.

For years, that has been one of my many Mantras, and it couldn’t be truer. Over those same years, I’ve had dozens of my fellow photographers ask me how I can capture some of my photos that are exposed perfectly, especially since I take most of my pictures in the camera with little or no post processing. I tell them that when I’m just walking down the street with a camera over my shoulder I always take a few generic photos just to get the exposure down. I’ll take several different exposures, usually based on a fast shutter speed and pick the right combination of shadows and highlights. This is when the action is happening to fast to bracket. Now I’m ready and waiting to get lucky.

The above photo was taken in San Francisco. I was walking up the street and began to see the top of the Transamerica bldg, and as I walked higher more of the building started showing up. I was watching people cross the street and decided to stop take a reading and then take a couple of exposures just in case. As I continued to walk a cab drove by me, stopped on the crest of the hill, then suddenly a man ran to it opened the door and jumped in. This all happened in seconds. I got lucky and I was ready.

Although there’s many interpretations of this quote that apply to my style of shooting, this one sticks out the most as it seems to happens all the time.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2013 workshop schedule at the top of this post. Come get lucky with me sometime.

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

joeB

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