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Food for Digital Thought: Form

Light from 9:00 O’clock

My background is not in Photography, rather in Art. Up until I was twenty-0ne I had either a colored pencil, brush, or a piece of charcoal in my hand.

I studied just about everything there was to study as far as courses in art were concerned. Throughout my years of study, I was always interested in the elements of visual design, and how they made a drawing or painting stronger.

When I changed the medium to a camera, those elements came with me, and now as I help students in my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet become stronger photographers, these same elements play a key role in developing their eye.

One of the elements of visual design that I talk about is Form. To many of my fellow photographers, Form can be taxing and difficult for photographers to capture, although if you pay attention to where the source of the light is, it’s really quit simple.

Form simply refers to the three dimensional qualities of an object. Since the camera has just one eye, it can only see in two dimensions…height and width. Where the light is coming from is critical on creating the third dimension, depth.

Light from 3:00 o'clock

Light from 3:00 o’clock

To best create the illusion of depth, the light should be coming in from the side. On my imaginary clock, for straight sidelight the light needs to coming from either 9:00 o’clock or 3:00 o’clock.

Value refers to the lightness and darkness of an object, and it defines Form. I talk mostly about the sidelight on a subject or even a landscape, but what you also have to consider in sidelight is the shadows that will be created. The soft to strong contrast within a composition will also define the limits where the  highlights and shadows edges are placed.

It’s the shadows that give the illusion of depth, and as I always tell my students, shadows are your best friend.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2016 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. The end of July marks my twenty-eight year at the Maine Media workshops. It’s a wonderful way to immerse yourself for a week and think about nothing but photography. It’s the same week as the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland, and offers a completely different set of photo ops than the beautiful Maine coastline, amazing lighthouses, and quaint fishing villages. The full description is at the top of this blog.

The Los Angeles Center for photography has invited me to come out and conduct a three day intensive workshop over the July 15th weekend. I’ll be making a presentation of my work on Thursday July 14th and the public is invited. The full description can be see at the top of this blog, with a link to the site. I hope to spend the weekend with all of you.

I have added a new workshop to my 2016 schedule. On September 21st, ten photographers will get together with me at my evening “meet and greet” to begin a fantastic five-day workshop in New York, New York. Check out my description at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me.

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


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