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Quick Photo Tip: Get Dirt on your Shirt

Lots of dirt and mud on my knees and shirt.

Lots of dirt and mud on my knees and shirt.

In my four week online class with the BSOP, I give a lesson each week; made up of two parts. Unlike all the other classes, I allow each participant to submit up to two photos every day, and I create a video critique for every image.

After someone starts submitting photos that represent the lesson, I begin to get an idea of whether someone is taking or making pictures…what do I mean?

If all the photos look like they were taken at the same height, that is, the distance from the individual person’s eyes to the ground after bringing the camera (usually around their neck) up to said eyes. This shows me that there’s no effort to change the point of view, which would constitute making not just taking pictures pictures.

Btw, I don’t get this as much in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet simply because I’m always walking around with everyone at one time or another and suggesting that they look at their subject with a different POV.

What I’m always telling my fellow Photographers is to get some dirt on their shirt!!!

Going backwards in time to when you were a kid playing outside. Did you do everything while standing on both feet? Right now as I write this, flying a kite, or model airplane are the only two things that come to mind. I’m not talking about sports, ring around the rosie, etc., I’m talking about fun things to do while playing all by yourself.

I’m talking about things that required you to get down on your knees or stomach. Things that got you in trouble for getting dirt on your knees or shirt.

Well to me, being a grown-up should not mean that you can’t have fun anymore. Taking pictures is as much fun now as playing with small plastic soldiers in a boy-made pile of mud. Walking back to your car after taking one of your best photos and smiling as you look down at the mess you made on your shirt…is priceless; and you can’t get into trouble for doing it…or at least I hope you don’t.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. On July 30th I begin my 29th year at the Maine Media Workshops. I’ve had the same week since the beginning. It’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops than one would expect when coming to photograph the coastline, lighthouses, and fishing villages of Maine. Come join me and spend a week completely immersed in your love for photography.

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

JoeB

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    I see triangles.

    I see triangles.

    I know what most of you are probably thinking right about now…has Joe sold out and embraced the rules of composition? Oh no Joe, say it ain’t so!!!

    Well relax my fellow photographers because I have definitely not sold out, or ever will; you’ll have to pry my dead cold fingers of the shutter release before that happens. In fact, it took  a lot just to even mention the word RULE….why? Because rules are a hindrance to creativity, the shackles of artistry,  imagination,  and inspiration…that’s why.

    Having said this, there are times when certain “guidelines” are in order and when and whether to shoot odd number or even number of subjects when applicable. I will tell you this, in almost fifty years of shooting I’ve never thought about it. Anyone that ever tells you to never shoot an even number of anything has no idea what he’s talking about.

    The pundits that look over and down on us to make sure we don’t do anything that would result in a downright just awful looking photograph, have absolutely nothing better to do than make you feel like a stooge if you break any of their silly rules. Case in point, the Rule of Thirds, and the Leading in Rule are two that come to mind.

    Ok, the Rule of Odds states that having an odd number of subjects or objects in a photo will have more visual interest. Conversely, an even number of the same subjects or objects will result in the viewer separating them into pairs; creating symmetry and dare I say it…dullness.

    Even numbers, the powers that be contend, will result in our brain dividing the subjects or objects, and what happens is that the photo is no longer viewed as a whole, but separate pieces. What a bunch of drivel….it’s pure BS…these people are all immature children all dressed up in their parent’s clothes!!

    Total absurdity…what I would give to meet some of these people that think they know what they’re saying. If anyone out there knows of someone, please send them to me.

    Don’t you think that the arrangement of said even number subjects or objects just might have something to do with it? What about the light and the color? Aren’t they two elements that are this just about as important as it gets???? Isn’t it possible that they could be wrong? Damn right they are, and I have countless photos to prove it.

    As I said, there are times and places for everything, and I for one agree with a lot of  what shooting odd subjects or objects does.

    You see I teach an online class with the BPSOP, and I also conduct my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops around our planet. In these classes and workshops I show people how to incorporate the basic elements of visual design into their imagery.

    Color, Light, Pattern, Texture, Balance, Form, and Shape are the elements and the one I want to talk about as far as the Rule of Odds is Shape. Although there are countless shapes, the four basic ones are: circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles; it’s the triangles that are important here…and what I want to talk about.

    If I’m going to shoot an odd number, the reason will be two-fold: First, and this is about triangles, I like to arrange the subjects or objects in such a way inside my frame as to create a triangle; a visually interesting basic shape. Sometimes I try for an equilateral triangle as shown in the portrait above I took in Cuba of three waiters. Some times it’s an isosceles triangle with only two side equal…this can be implied to the point of being esoteric.

    Btw, if I have to shoot an even number of four, I use a diamond as the shape; as in the photo of the four ballet dancers.

    This is a good time to tell my fellow photographers why you should only crop in the camera. It’s important to use the edges of the frame as a computational tool. I have often used two of the edges to complete triangles.

    When you have an odd number of images, and they are all close to being the same size and weight, the viewer will usually look at each one about the same amount of time, before going back to the one that drew the viewer in first. Btw, this will depend on things like the amount of light each will get. The above photo is a good example of always thinking of shapes.

    If one gets more light than the other two, then the viewer will always travel to where the brightest light is first. Color will be another denominator.

    Colors near the warm part of the spectrum will get more attention. For example red is bold and the viewer will be more aware of it in your composition.

    The other reason to shoot an odd number is to create a line. Line is the most important of all the elements of visual design and without Line, none of the others would exist. You and I, planes, trains, and automobiles would cease to exist…why? Because we all have an outline.

    I’ll use my subjects or objects in such a way as to move the viewer around the frame. They are no longer organic or non-organic things, but leading and/or directional lines.

    So here’s some examples of odd and even photos. Let me know which of the photos that has an even number are dull and boring:

    Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. On July 30th I begin my 29th year at the Maine Media Workshops. I’ve had the same week since the beginning. It’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops than one would expect when coming to photograph the coastline, lighthouses, and fishing villages of Maine. Come join me and spend a week completely immersed in your love for photography.

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

    JoeB

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      Smoke or No Smoke?

      I have many pearls of wisdom as my fellow photographers that take my online classes with the BPSOP, and those that shoot with me in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet will attest to.

      The one I use the most during the daily reviews/critiques in all my workshops is, “OK, what’s your next shot”? What do I mean by that you’re asking yourself?

      For the most part, when I observe a photographer shooting, I see him/her usually take one maybe two shots then move on. WOW, the odds of taking one photo and walking away with what I call a keeper is quite a bit. I wonder what odds Vegas would give it. I’m a pretty good photographer and I wouldn’t necessarily bet on me doing it with any regularity. There’s just too many factors involved and they all have to click (no pun intended) at the same time…unless you’re the type that relies on post processing to “save the day”.

      🙁

      First of all, before I bring the camera up to my eye, I determine where the source of the light is coming from; to me the most important part of photography. I’ll take my first photo then I’ll look for another POV, which might be getting some dirt on my shirt. I’ll walk around it and look for different ways to say the same thing.

      If I’m shooting people in the street I’ll shoot then watch him or her for a different expression, or I’ll move around to change the background or if I have the time I’ll change my DOF to either make everything sharp behind the subject or I’ll quickly change the aperture so the subject is the only thing that is sharp. It’s all about giving myself choices. The more choices the lower the odds get so I can go home with one of those very illusive keepers.

      The above photos were taken in about a two minute period of time. I took the first image of the woman who wasn’t really doing anything except talking to her friends; it was more about the light and the waiter behind her carrying a tray with some backlit drinks on it. That’s what I was going after Still, I though there was something else there so I waited with my camera virtually next to my eye.

      The woman lit up a cigarette and began blowing smoke out her nose (move bar under photo). Then the other woman was shielding her face from the sun…BINGO!!!!! I had my shot.

      So the next time you go out shooting don’t rely on your first photo being the wall-hanger, because the odds are against you. Think about what your next shot will be and you’ll level the playing field to what Vegas calls…even money!!

      Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. On July 30th I begin my 29th year at the Maine Media Workshops. I’ve had the same week since the beginning. It’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops than one would expect when coming to photograph the coastline, lighthouses, and fishing villages of Maine. Come join me and spend a week completely immersed in your love for photography.

      Keep sending me photos and questions to: AskJoeB@gmal.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.

      JoeB

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        Quick Photo Tip: Pay Them For Their Time

        Fifty cents for Aylie, a steak bone for Lucy

        Fifty cents for Aylie, a steak bone for Lucy

        I’ll bet that when you saw the title of this post you were thinking that I was going to talk about professional model fees…right? Well, you would be wrong…half wrong.

        I teach an online class with the BPSOP, and I also conduct my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops around our planet. What inspired me to write this post was a photo that was submitted to me yesterday from my part II class.

        This week’s lesson is about creating silhouettes and how important they can be in “making good photos”. A woman submitted a photo she took of her daughter along with a disclaimer. The disclaimer was that her daughter, who from the back looked to be about five, didn’t want to pose for her…and let her take just one shot before skipping out of sight.

        Here was my reply…in so many words:

        I have four children the youngest being twenty-nine, and I have photographed them since they were born. As soon as they understood the value of money (it didn’t take very long) I began paying them for their time…why not???

        After all I was asking them to give up whatever they were doing to help me out. I thought it only fair to compensate them for their time; and it worked all the time.

        Twenty-Five cents

        Twenty-Five cents

        At first, around the age of five, I would offer them twenty-five cents; back then that was a pretty good rate. As they got a little older it was fifty cents, then seventy-five, then depending on how long I was going to keep them, I would give them a dollar for thirty minutes…a long time for any kid to stay interested.

        A dollar to get wet.

        A dollar to get wet.

        After a few days my online student told me that it worked perfectly, and she had never thought of that; most people don’t.

        Again, let me say that I do not consider it prostituting my children, or turning them into money hungry kids, or spoiling their innocence. If anything I think it shows them the value of working for an allowance…beside cleaning their room or giving the dog a bath.

        Pay them for their time…but I do suggest you pay after the photo session is completed!!!

        Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. On July 30th I begin my 29th year at the Maine Media Workshops. I’ve had the same week since the beginning. It’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops than one would expect when coming to photograph the coastline, lighthouses, and fishing villages of Maine. Come join me and spend a week completely immersed in your love for photography.

        JoeB

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          Despite the ominous sky, we went for it anyway.

          Despite the ominous sky, we went for it anyway.

          Most of you have heard this expression that’s been around for a long time. Yogi Berra, the Hall of Fame catcher for the NY Yankees made it famous; that is if you follow baseball. Yogi said, “It ain’t over til it’s over”. I know I’ve said it myself hundreds of times during my nearly fifty year career as an advertising, editorial, and corporate photographer…Why you ask?

          Well it’s all about the weather, and why it’s so important in your coming back with a good photo or not..or a photo at all. I teach an online class with the BPSOP, and I conduct my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops around our planet, and I’m constantly hearing the sad cries and complaints from my fellow photographers that say that the reason they didn’t go out shooting was because the weather was forecasted to be bad; or they went home because it got bad.

          Well just think about the mailman’s motto that says, ” Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Actually, this really isn’t their real motto, it’s written on New York’s James Farley Post Office, and has no official status. What I saw when I first woke up.

          If I had a nickel for every time it was raining when we were about to go out and shoot for a client and it cleared just at the right time, I would be writing this post from my private island; a blue and frothy drink with an umbrella hanging on one side in my hand…typing with the other

          Don’t listen to any weather reports the night before, or even when you wake up. If you have a destination in mind don’t start worrying until you get there; don’t even look up at the sky!

          It wasn’t over until it was dark.

          In the above photo for Ford, when we woke up the sky was very dark and very gray. As always, I decided to go and set up anyway just in case. Sure enough just as the sun was about to set it came out behind me and created a look I couldn’t have prayed for; and this is the actual way it looked since it was shot before the days of computers.

          In the photo taken by one of my online students, the weather started out gloomy and went downhill from there. Still, because she was using her “Artist Palette”, she walked away with this image; taken late in the afternoon in a snowstorm.

          So remember what I say, it’s never over until it’s over…as in the dark.

          Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. On July 30th I begin my 29th year at the Maine Media Workshops. I’ve had the same week since the beginning. It’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops than one would expect when coming to photograph the coastline, lighthouses, and fishing villages of Maine. Come join me and spend a week completely immersed in your love for photography.

          Keep sending in photos and questions to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.

          JoeB

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            Do you believe it?

            Do you believe it?

            Since my background is in painting and design, I still consider myself an artist. I just changed the medium from a brush to a camera and I use my camera to style my photographs; creating my art.

            What I mean is I move things around in my composition, or I add things or props if I have them or they’re easy to get on really short notice. I rarely see what I want, I photograph as though my camera was a canvas on an easel, and I take pictures of what I’d like to see.

            If by moving a chair to the left or right…or taking it out all together makes the composition stronger then I’m all for it. If the waiter has better light on his face if he’s looking in the other direction then I’ll ask him if he will.

            This type of picture taking is beyond the scope of those that call themselves purists. It’s not the type of purist whose dogmatic approach to photography means absolutely no digital manipulation after the shutter is pressed. Btw, for those that think this way I got news for you…if you’re shooting JPEGS and not RAW, your image has already been manipulated inside the camera. I’ll leave this argument for another day.

            The kind of purist I’m talking about is the kind that walks up to a scene and shoots it the way it is and criticizes those that don’t. It would be beneath him to add or subtract something…move a chair or a trash can, etc.

            I digress.

            So let’s get down to the title of this post, “Do you believe it”….what do I mean?

            If you’re like me and you consider yourself a painter whose medium is a camera, which you should, and you want to change something just make sure it looks like you didn’t do anything.

            I teach an online class with the BPSOP, and I also conduct my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops around our planet. I always tell my fellow photographers that when they add something or move something to take a step back and ask themselves if they believe that what they did looks believable; it’s exactly what I do.

            For example, you’re in your kid’s bedroom and a shaft of light is falling on the floor next to the window. You want to say to the viewer that it is indeed a child’s bedroom so you put a pair of red high top sneakers in that shaft of light, and you put them in a perfect position side by side. This is when you take a step back and ask yourself if your kid would really put his shoes that way or would one of them be laying on its side and the other facing the other direction; this is what I mean by do you believe it.

            In the above photo, do you believe it? Was it exactly like that when I walked into the kitchen, or did the artist in me paint it differently than the way I was actually seeing it? How about the waiter in Venice?

            Do you believe it?

            Do you believe it?

            Do you believe he was standing there?

            Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. On July 30th I begin my 29th year at the Maine Media Workshops. I’ve had the same week since the beginning. It’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops than one would expect when coming to photograph the coastline, lighthouses, and fishing villages of Maine. Come join me and spend a week completely immersed in your love for photography.

            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: Bokeh

              Good Bokeh going on here

              Good Bokeh going on here

              Bokeh, usually pronounced Boo-kay (but that’s incorrect) refers to the artistic quality of the out of focus parts of a photo created by a lens. The correct way to pronounce this word is bo (like the bow in bow and arrow), and ke (like the ke in kettle)…in case anyone’s interested in saying it with enough confidence that you’ll never be questioned or challenged. In any event, I love the look whenever I’m in a position to create it.

              It also has to do with the Gestalt concept of Figure-Ground; ways to separate the figure, the subject, from the ground, the background. I teach this concept in one of my three online classes with the BPSOP, and also in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet.

              You might be thinking that Bokeh is the blurry area behind the subject when you use a shallow DOF, making the subject the only area that’s sharp; this is not the Bokeh that I’m referring to. What I’m talking about is the out of focus highlighted points created by light. Although the blurry area is considered Bokeh, to me the quality of this Bokeh is what creates the visual interest and sometimes visual tension.

              Most lens will create interesting Bokeh. Prime lens come to mind as probably the easiest way. They are usually very fast, i.e., F/1.4 so the DOF is very shallow at this aperture. If you are at the minimum focusing distance to your subject, and the background is several feet away, you can shoot at F/1.4 and create Bokeh. The type of Bokeh depends on the kind of light, and it’s direction.

              I like using medium to long telephoto lens to create Bokeh. By getting as close as you can to your subjects while still being able to make them sharp, will result in visually interesting Bokeh.

              In the above photo, I used a 200mm F/2.8 lens and I got as close as I could and still get the boy sharp. I was also cognizant in having his yellow slicker in front of the yellow flowers, as I’m always thinking about the use of color to communicate ideas; as well as colors that are in harmony with one another.

              Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2017 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.

              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: Juxtaposition

                Juxtaposition at it's finest

                Juxtaposition at it’s finest

                Here’s a great photo tip, but you’ll have to really be looking for it: juxtaposition.

                Juxtaposition is when two elements are placed side by side to one another. They are usually in contrast to one another, unlike things, but can also can share certain ideas.

                I teach an online class with the BPSOP, and I conduct my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops around our planet. I show my fellow photographers how to incorporate the element of visual design into their imagery.

                To do this takes more than just looking around the environment that surrounds you, this takes seeing things that also surrounds you; there for the taking.

                I love to look for things that when placed side by side creates a sort of dichotomy. Things that either have nothing to do with one another but merely exist together, or things that do relate in one form or another. In any event creating an image that stirs the viewer’s interest.

                In the above photo, I was in the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, and because of the way the architect designed the space, I was sort of spiraling my way down from the top to the ground floor. I had my little friend with me so I could go relatively unnoticed among the ever present security ready to toss me over the railing if I was seen taking pictures.

                By happenstance, I stopped in front of a large black and white painting (the artist names escapes me right now), and was looking it over for some sort of meaning, when this man walked up. The juxtaposition hit me right smack dab in the kisser and before he could take a step in any direction, I had my camera up to my eye and captured this wonderful relationship that I suspect no one else was paying any attention to.

                That’s one kind of juxtaposition.

                The second and more traditional definition of juxtaposition is in the photo of the woman selling tamales from her truck, i.e., sharp contrast. While walking in front of a construction site in Houston, I came upon this food truck and immediately saw this fantastic juxtaposition of an Hispanic woman selling tamales for five dollars a dozen, and about as prominent as an American flag could ever hang, there was the red, white, and blue…Old Glory at its finest.

                A more traditional juxtaposition

                A more traditional juxtaposition

                Only in the US of A I thought to myself, then took the shot!!!

                And so my fellow Americans, go forth and seek out your own photos that are all about juxtaposition, it’s a lot of fun when you see them.

                Visit my website at:www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2017 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. This coming July 30th I’ll be at the Maine Media Workshop for my 29th year. It’s a great place to completely immerse yourself for a week in the art of picture taking. The campus is alive with an incredible amount of energy, while conversations about photography waft through the dining hall where everyone gathers to eat each day. Check out other workshops I’ve conducted there under the category called “workshop stuff”.

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

                JoeB

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                  My Favorite Quotes: Helen Keller

                  It was 1899 and I was Edgar Degas

                  It was 1899 and I was Edgar Degas

                  As the people that follow my blog know by now, not all my favorite quotes have been said by photographers. There have been several that have been said by painters, writers, and musicians, all artists in their own right.

                  After recently reading an article about the work Helen Keller did, I started reading some of her quotes, and one in particular stood out to me as having a profound effect on not only my photography but in my teachings as well.

                  First, it’s important to give you the true meaning of the word Vision since several of my online students with the BPSOP, and my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop participants can sometimes confuse a word that actually might mean something else; something I have done from time to time.

                  [vizhuh n]

                  noun

                  1. the act or power of sensing with the eyes; sight.

                  2. the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be.

                  3. an experience in which a personage, thing, or event appears vividly or credibly to the mind, although not actually present, often under the influence of a divine or other agency: a heavenly messenger appearing in a vision.

                  4. something seen or otherwise perceived during such an experience: The vision revealed its message.

                  5. a vivid, imaginative conception or anticipation.

                  Btw, I like number three, but so far after nearly fifty years of being a photographer, I’ve never had a heavenly messenger appear in my composition as a vision; which is unfortunate.
                  🙁

                  Helen Keller said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision”.

                  One would have to agree that vision is imperative and what fuels the engine that pushes creativity forward. The sad part is that with the coming of the digital age, some of my fellow photographers don’t rely on their personal vision, instead they count on their computer to create their imagery which over time will make them really good computer artists…and if that’s your thing, to each his own.

                  What the computer can do is important to this new age, and it should never be said that I don’t appreciate it, but to me it should be used to add the finishing touches, i.e., contrast, lighten or darken,  occasional sharpening, etc.. Those things that can enhance an already strong photo made before the shutter is depressed.

                  This is where vision comes into play, and what you can do to create strong images before the fact. This is all about definition number two, and what I want to write about: the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be”.

                  There are photographers (great photographers) out there, many of them teaching that photograph what they see and never looks for anything else. In other words what is will always be just that. To add or alter anything when composing is strictly against their beliefs, and to that they call themselves purists.

                  The funny part is that they have no compunction when it comes to sitting in front of their computers and altering the light, color, saturation, shadows, and some even apply some weird trick they picked up in one of the thousands of plug-ins available to them; and then there’s the crop and straightening tools!!!!!

                  Since I’ve never cropped one of my photos in nearly fifty years I can’t even or don’t ever want to think about that…but I digress.

                  Don’t photograph what is, photograph what could be, and that’s what my definition of vision is all about. I’m not talking about vision in Fine Art photography in this context, which I plan on talking about in upcoming posts. I’m talking about images that exist in nature and are readily available for all to see if you set your mind to seeing them. This is the kind of vision I’m talking about.

                  You can actually practice in your spare time!!! How???

                  Suppose you’re walking down a pier very early one sunny morning and you immediately stop to take a photo of a Vanishing Point created by the converging lines of the two sides of the railings extending out from either side of you.

                  Without any hesitation you quickly take the shot and now you have created a photo that via a Vanishing Point, leads the viewer down to the end where the two lines meet on the horizon exactly where the sun is coming up; a great photo by all accounts.

                  Now, you’re standing there and if you’re like me you wish that there had been a fisherman at the end of the pier, silhouetted against a warm, soft, and beautiful sun minutes after breaking the horizon.

                  Or what if you were walking in a park late one Fall afternoon and you noticed a bench next to a winding path covered with leaves painted by mother nature with every color known to happen during the peak days of Autumn. You bring your camera up to your eye and take a picture; another good photo albeit fairly predictable.

                  Again, if you were like me and were on your knees up close and personal to the texture and patterns of the leaves, you might have wished there was an elderly couple sitting at the other end of the bench feeding a group of pigeons that were milling around next to their feet.

                  These are the thoughts that are always running through my imagination when I’m out shooting. I think of various scenarios because it’s a way of exercising my mind, because you just never know when an opportunity might come up. An opportunity that will change a good photo into a special one.

                  In the above photo, While shooting in Cuba I saw this woman just finishing up posing for other photographers in an old house. I immediately envisioned Degas paintings of the ballerinas. At that memorable moment I led her into another room, had her sit and take off her slippers; it was 1899 and I was Edgar Degas.!!!

                  Give it a try sometime. Think of yourself as a painter instead of a photographer. Your camera on  tripod is a blank canvas on an easel; use it to color outside the lines.

                  Come join me this coming July 30th at the Maine Media Workshops; for my twenty-ninth year. It’s a great way to completely immerse yourself for a week.

                  Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and check out my 2017 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come paint with me sometime.

                  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: A Room with a View.

                    My view at sunrise.

                    My view at sunrise.

                    As I tell my online students with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet, light is everything and I’m constantly thinking about it.

                    That said, I’ve been a professional traveler for almost fifty years, and my job has been to take pictures in the best possible light. That’s what I do, and that’s what I think about all the time…especially when I first research then check into a hotel.

                    The first thing I think about is the view I’m going to get every time I look out the window. I can tell you from experience that some of your best photos can be taken with your pajamas still on…or even if you sleep in “the all together, in the buff, or in the raw” as some call it.

                    Here’s what I suggest to my fellow photographers that are traveling on business, pleasure, with a group, or just by themselves:

                    When checking in ask what direction the rooms face. If you’re an early riser by nature, ask for a room that faces East. If you’re not then ask for a room that faces to the West. A suggestion here would be to take an East facing room over one that faces North or South. That way you’ll at last have a choice as to getting up early or not.

                    Another factor for me when I have a choice in picking a hotel is the number of floors it has. If you’re only interested in seeing the entire city and taking an overall panoramic, then ask for a room close to the top. If you’re interested in seeing more of a close-up, than ask for something closer to the ground floor.

                    The absolute best advice I can give you is to ask to see the room first. That way even if you get an East or West facing room, you won’t be disappointed when you pull back the curtains only to see the hotel’s roof top parking lot and/or the air-conditioning units.

                    Depending on the time of year, a North facing window would be my third choice after East and West. The light will be coming in from the side, which can be a great way to show the textures and the three-dimensional qualities of the city.

                    I can’t suggest strongly enough to set your clock to at last take a look out the window, you can always go back to sleep if nothing interesting happens. If it does and you get something great, going back to sleep is easy even if you’re only wearing a smile.

                    🙂

                    Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2017 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.

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

                    JoeB

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                      Anecdotes: Egypt

                      I finally had my few seconds.

                      I was sent to Egypt to photograph the country and it’s people by Oil Tools Limited, a company based in London. The company was going to partner up with the Egyptian government to begin drilling in the coming year; I had pretty much a free hand which made it all the sweeter.

                      Whether it was the country, the people, or the historical monuments, the company really didn’t care as long as they had enough of each to use for the next couple of years. In those days we called these kinds of assignments Plums.

                      Early one morning I went out with a group of Egyptians to take their portraits…my transportation? A stubborn, uncomfortable, smelly camel. It didn’t take long for my new friends to figure out that I wasn’t keen on the idea of spending several hours trekking across a very hot desert that even Moses wouldn’t have willingly done; especially when he had to do it for forty years!!!

                      Egypt 2 Getting to the locations wasn’t too bad, at least it was cool since the sun had not come up. I had a real band of comedians that laughed at everything, and would not give each other one second of peace as I was photographing each of them; In the photo above the model kept turning away from the camera.

                      Finally I told everyone that if they would give me just a few seconds with him I would jump on my camel and shoot while riding…they did so I did!!!!

                      FYI, the shift in color of me on the camel is what happens when the sun had been up for twenty minutes.

                      They did, so I did!!!

                      They did, so I did!!!

                      Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2017 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Sign up for one of my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, and come shoot with me sometime…but not on a camel.

                      Sign up for my online class with the BPSOP, and I’ll show you how to incorporate the elements of visual design into your imagery.

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

                      JoeB

                       

                       

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                        Much more better

                        Much more better

                        I’ll use it only when I know that the people reading it will realize that I really do know that it’s incorrect to say it… grammatically illegal!!!

                        However one must note that one cannot place more or most before better. Why is that? Simple. Better itself means “more good”. So “more better” would be “more more good” which doesn’t sound good.

                        But I digress!!

                        Ok, you’re asking yourself how in the world can he (Joe) segue this into something that relates to photography?

                        When I’m talking to one of my students that take my online class with the BPSOP, or when I walk up to someone that’s in one of my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops someone on the planet, or in the daily critiques during that said workshop, I’ll say it’s “much more better” if you compose your photo so as the subject is way off center…Why?

                        Well there’s two answers: The answer to the first why is to get a reaction from them since what I say is not grammatically correct. I want the short discussion to be remembered, and I’ll do that anyway I can; a brief chuckle before my explanation is just the ticket!

                        The answer to the second why is that when you place the subject close to the edge of the frame, you’re creating visual tension. Don’t ever let anyone tell you different. Especially those old school hardliners (usually the officers in their camera club) that live and will die by the ever so silly Rule of Thirds.

                        So the next time you’re out shooting and you’re in a position to have your subject either somewhere in one of those pesky (Rule of Thirds) intersections go ahead and take the shot. However, before you move on to the next photo, try placing the subject close to the edge of the frame. Realizing you’ve probably been brain-washed, take a leap of faith while getting over the hump.

                        When you’re sitting in front of your computer place both versions side by side and really study them. Be honest with yourself and decide which one offers the viewer not only decidedly more visual interest, but visual tension as well.

                        Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2017 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.

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

                        JoeB

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                          I see three triangles with the help of the edges of my frame.

                          I see three triangles with the help of the edges of my frame.

                          In my latest part I post, I was dealing with distortion. I talked about the difference you get when you stand off to one side or the other while photographing a building, or standing in the middle of it to achieve symmetrical distortion.

                          In this post I want to talk about the entire composition; thinking about everything that’s contained within the four edges of your frame. I’m talking about both the positive space (the space that has mass), and everything else that would be called the negative space. I call it,  “The whole enchilada”, and several years I wrote a post on it.

                          When I talk to my online students at the BPSOP, and in my daily critiques with those that take my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around out planet, I talk about why we shouldn’t crop anywhere but in the camera.

                          There are several reasons, one of them is to use the edges of your frame as a compositional tool.  If you’re familiar with my teachings, that is incorporating the elements of visual design into your photography, You know that shape is one of the basic elements, and squares, circles, rectangles and triangles are the four basic shapes.

                          If you were to think about those four shapes when you’re composing one of your photos, it would open up a new door for you as far as creating visual interest and tension. Of course, this would take right-brained thinking to be able to see these elements.

                          Keeping in mind what I just talked about in my part I post on symmetrical distortion, and add to that thought this post on shapes, and using the edges of the frame as a compositional tool, you’ll come up with images as the one I submit to you now.

                          In composing this photo of an office building in the Galleria area of Houston for the oil company that took up several floors, I thought about shapes; specifically triangles. By using the right side of my brain, I no longer saw a building (left brain thinking), I saw a triangle. I thought about  the triangle I was creating with the building by standing (up close and personal) in the center, and the two triangles I created on either side all with the help of the edges of my frame.

                          So my fellow photographers, the next time you go out shooting, think about the effects of negative space that borders and defines the positive space ie., your subject, and try to create shapes wit

                          Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2017 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.

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

                          JoeB

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                            Symmetrical distortion

                            Symmetrical distortion

                            To many of my fellow photographers, distortion is very bad and would rather not take the shot than to have it look distorted; I agree, in part. Having said that, there are times when distortion is not a problem and can actually help you take your image what I refer to as “up a notch”.

                            There’s two aspects to distortion that I want to talk about in my part one and two posts on the subject, and that has to do within the  architectural  genre, and both come up in my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct all over our planet.

                            I often get submissions from photographers that have buildings in them, and the majority of the time they are falling/leaning over to one side or another. The most common reason for that is where the photographer decides to take the picture from. Where you stand is very important in keeping the building straight.

                            If you’re standing off to the right or left of the middle of the building and aim your camera back placing the building in where you think the center of the frame is you’re going to get some form of distortion; and to me it’s not the good kind.

                            You’re not going to be able to straighten both the vertical and horizontal lines at the same time, you’ll only be able to straighten one of them and there lies the problem. You’re going to have distortion if you tilt your camera up to get the entire building in no matter what; it’s called Parallax Distortion.

                            What you can do to make it look better is to make the distortion symmetrical by standing right in the middle of the building, as seen in my photo of the First International Building in downtown Houston.

                            My next post will deal with the second aspect of distortion, so stay tuned.

                            Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2017 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.

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

                            JoeB

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