≡ Menu

Quick Photo Tip: Outline the Person

I just followed her outline with my eyes.

I just followed her outline with my eyes.

It’s been sooooooooo long I can’t remember when I first started relying on my fifteen point protection plan, checking my four corners, and making sure I paid attention to my borders to guide me through the process of creating strong images before I clicked the shutter. I can tell you that it’s been thirty-four years since I first shared these concepts with my fellow photographers that took my first Maine Media Workshop in 1983.

I continue to work these concepts into my online classes with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet. Now there’s one more I recently thought about when I was shooting an environmental portrait, but had never really thought about sharing it with others.

It was in an environment where I couldn’t move the subject or change anything. It was filled with obstacles that could easily get in the way of what I was trying to achieve in the camera. Or having no other choice, one where it would either take a long time to fix so it would look natural, or one I couldn’t fix at all; given a reasonable time table.

I went through my photo process, which by the way now takes me a very few seconds. As though I was outlining the woman in pencil I quickly ran my eye over her entire outline to see if anything was growing out of her head or in a really bad position. Remember that this was a ballet rehearsal in Cuba and I had absolutely no control other than having her glance over her shoulder at the lens.

When doing this I could make adjustments by moving one way or the other to get her where the area around her was free and clear, and avoiding unnecessary time in front of a computer that may or may not have been successful.

So the next time you’re out shooting people give it a try. Let your eye become a pencil and draw an imaginary line around the person, looking for potential problems. You’ll thank me for it later!

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

Let people know you saw it here!
    { 0 comments }
    I was in doubt, so I left it out.

    I was in doubt, so I left it out.

    Over the past five years, I found that in both my online classes with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct, people that are just now starting to understand the “why and the how” of photography are not quite confident in what they put or don’t put into a photograph.

    As the level of my fellow photographers images goes up to what I refer to as up a notch, striving for that OMG shot, that photo that can become a wall-hanger, will become more difficult; at least in their minds. You can read more about it in a post I did under the category “My favorite quotes” and was about Edgar Degas, who once said, “Painting is easy when you don’t know how, very difficult when you do”.

    So, the tendency is to put more than you need to get your message across. To that I always say, “When it doubt leave it out”.

    This might mean taking a little more time when composing, and there lies the rub. I’ve found that after thirty years of showing people how to create stronger images, people just are not willing to take the extra time. I can tell you from my fifty years of shooting, that’s what it will take.

    Photography is the art of subtraction. When you have a blank canvas on an easel you fill it up with all different pigment until you get the desired effect; a camera on a tripod is just the opposite.

    When you raise the camera up to your eye and look through the viewfinder, it’s already filled with some sort of composition based on the environment you happen to be standing it. To me that’s when the real thought process, the real photography begins.

    It begins by the photographer choosing what to leave in and what to take out, and this is where it gets a little tricky! This is when you decide what you need to create that illusive keeper.

    This is when, and I’ve seen it a thousand times, one will tend to put or keep in too much because of the lack of confidence; the moment when your photo is about to go up one level.

    In the above image I shot on a very cold and foggy day in a small Medieval village north of Taromina, People walking around were few and far between. I saw these two men walking down a very small cobblestone street and was immediately drawn to his red sweater; since finding color anywhere would have been a blessing.

    However, I didn’t want to show very much of the sky sine it was so gloomy. I decided to come in close to the older man while still giving the viewer a clear message that he was being helped by a friend or family member. To me leaving the rest of the man out added another dimension…Closure in the Psychology of Gestalt.

    If you have happened to take my online classes where I show photographers how to incorporate the elements of visual design into their photos, the job is considerably easier; because now you know what to look for.

    Although I’m a firm believer in the expression, “if more’s better then too much is just right”, in this scenario more is definitely not better.

    I leave you with one last thought…if you have the opportunity shoot it both ways and look at both images side by side on your monitor and them make the decision.

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

    JoeB

    Let people know you saw it here!
      { 0 comments }

      Nikon 300mm F/2.8 lens shot at F/2.8

      I’ll often have people taking my online classes with the BPSOP submit a photo and then talk about how they should have used a telephoto lens to compress the elements in the composition.

      It also happens during my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops when right before we go out shooting I’ll be asked by one of my fellow photographers if we’re going to be somewhere where they could use a telephoto to compress everything.

      Ok, let’s get to the crux of the conversation: Lens compression will occur when you use a telephoto lens, but the compression is not a result of the lens or its focal length.

      So then what exactly is meant by lens compression? Why don’t we call it lens compression for the sake of the article even if we know that it doesn’t have anything to do with the lens.

      When we decide to use a long lens for whatever reason, we need to stand back from our subject to do so. It’s the camera to subject distance that will give the viewer the feeling of compression..why you ask?

      Because the camera to subject ratio will give the impression that distant objects are larger than they actually are; giving the appearance that the background has pulled in closer to the subject.

      In the photo above, I was shooting for the Sears Annual Report and I wanted to focus on just the commuter. I shot with a 300mmF/2.8 lens at it widest aperture. In doing so it pulled the train in closer making it appear as if the train is huge behind him.

      Conversely, a wide angle lens has a much wider field of vision so the opposite will occur. In other words, to keep the subject the same size as you do with the telephoto you’ll have to get much closer. Because we’re so close, objects near to us will correspond in size making the background elements smaller and seem farther away.

      So if we’re looking  at a small historical church in the viewfinder and visually it looks closer to the parishioners whose portrait you’re taking, it’s not because perspective has gotten compressed but simply because in the viewfinder we see a smaller portion of it.

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

      Let people know you saw it here!
        { 0 comments }

        Quick Photo Tip: ECU

        And now for her ECU

        And now for her ECU

        One of the terms that’s used in the film industry and you’ll see on movie scripts is the initials ECU, and it stands for extreme close-up. When I was a director-cameraman I would often put at least one close-up of a person on film just in case the powers that be would use it…they never did.

        The reason is not because it didn’t look good, there just wasn’t a lot of places for one…unless you were shooting a toothpaste commercial. That doesn’t hold water anymore when I’m shooting stills, because to me it’s a great way to really get up close and personal to their personality.

        I’m not talking about filling the frame with someone’s face. I’m talking about using a wide angle lens (17-40mm) putting the subject in the center, and including a lot of the environment around them or the background behind them.

        In my online classes with the BPSOP I’ll often show examples and encourage people to give it a shot. When I’m conducting one of my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I’ll create a scenario with  someone local, ask one of my students to take his or her portrait, then I’ll show what a ECU looks like to them…as in the photo above taken in my Springtime in Tuscany Workshop.

        Her ECU was on the Brooklyn with the camera nice and level.

        Her ECU was on the Brooklyn.

        Btw, when you put someone in the center and keep your camera level, you’ll avoid any weird distortion; otherwise, well you know what that looks like and it’s the primary reason my fellow photographers don’t like to do it. Again you have to keep the camera level and the subject right in the center or very close to it.

        I don’t advise you making that you’re first variation as it will probably freak out the person..which is sometimes a good idea to record their reaction. I would ease your way into it after a certain amount of rapport and then maybe the last shot is one you take..after switching lens and moving n for the ECU.

        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

        Let people know you saw it here!
          { 0 comments }
          Just on the edge of darkness

          Front light right on the edge of darkness.

          Light is one of my favorite subjects to talk about…why? Because light is everything to me, and that’s why over the past five years of writing these posts I have written several on the subject; my mantra is you find the light, you’ll find the shot.

          In one of my online lessons with the BPSOP, I talk about my clock, and always knowing where the sun is on it. In other words, Printif you look at my clock you’ll see where the camera is in relation to the subject. From there you can determine if your subject is going to be side lit, back lit, or front lit.

          For example, if the source of the light is coming from behind the 8,9 or 3, or 4 then you’re subject will be side lit. If the light is coming in from the 10 or 2, I call that the “law of the light where the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection; my favorite way to light people.

          If the light is coming from behind the 11,12,or 1, then it will backlight the subject. Last, if the light is coming from behind the 5,6,or 7, then your subject will be front lit.

          By the way, I avoid front light like the plague, and when I’m shooting with my fellow photographers that sign up for my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet, it’s easier to physically show them the difference between all the different ways just my merely turning the subject or have them move around the same subject.

          Light right on the edge at 10 o'clock

          Light right on the edge at 10 o’clock

          The reason I avoid front light is because you won’t be able to achieve depth, you’ll only be able to show height and width. You can show the third dimension by having the sun behind the 9 or 3…which is true sidelight.

          Now I’ve talked about the clock before but what I want to add to the mix is placing your subject just at the edge of darkness. what I mean is placing your subject right where the light ends and the dark background begins. I like to do this for a couple of reasons:

          The first reason is that it will create visual tension.  Two of the ways to create visual tension is through contrast and the use of light. The second reason I like to do this is because of the Figure-Ground concept in the psychology of Gestalt; putting a light object or subject against a dark background.

          I said that I don’t like to front light, but the one exception is when I have my subject in the light but right on the edge of darkness so that I’m taking advantage of Figure-Ground; as I’ve done in the photo above.

          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.

          After trying to work out the schedules for the past couple of years, next January I’ll be doing a workshop with William Yu in China:

          Yunnan China with William Yu

          Although the workshop/photo tour has filled, we’re putting people on a wait list, so be sure to check out the description.

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

          JoeB

          Let people know you saw it here!
            { 3 comments }

            Quick Photo Tip: Pet Portraiture

            Make a weird noise to bring out Gertie's personality.

            I made a weird noise to bring out Gertie’s personality.

            I teach an online class with the BPSOP, and I also conduct my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops around the planet. I’ve occasionally been asked how do I photograph pets, so since there’s a million links to this genre, I’ll put my two cents in and make it brief.

            I’m not a pet photographer per se, I was an advertising and corporate photographer that periodically would get a project that included shooting animals; specifically dogs…why? I’m not a cat person, I’m a dog guy so I guess it was just one of those reasons that no one ever called me to shoot cats. So what I know about shooting pets is mostly about shooting dogs.

            What advice I can offer is first and foremost, get it sharp! Make sure you’re shooting at a fast enough shutter speed to freeze any action, and above all make sure you have a comfortable F/stop to get the nose to the eyes in focus. This is not a rule because there’s always going to be times when having areas out of focus is more important; getting it sharp is  just generally a good overall suggestion.

            • Get on their level. To me it makes for a stronger connection, especially the implied line between their eyes and the lens.
            • Always use natural light. The obvious reason is that the light will be softer, but another reason is that electronic flash could either distract or scare them…or both.
            • Choose a background that’s familiar to your pet. A backyard (depending on the light) is desirable so he won’t be distracted by a new environment.  If it’s a portrait I’m after, then I like to have the background out of focus. A medium telephoto shot at it’s widest aperture will usually make this happen. Just don’t put Fido in front of something or close to anything that will look like it’s growing out of his head.
            • If you’re dog is dark put him in front of something light. Conversely, if you’re dog is light, put him in front of something dark.
            • If you use a small zoom, you have the option in filling the frame with just their head to quickly pulling out to reveal some kind of out of focus environment.
            • Remember that you’re dealing with an animal, so patience is going to be rewarded. If you need to take a Valium beforehand…then just do it!
            • Feeding your pet ahead of time is always a good idea as it will keep them relaxed…especially if you didn’t take your Valium
            • Having someone to help you can be a Godsend. If you have a large pet, getting someone to lay down and hold their feet in position has worked for me.
            • If you’re after their personality and that can mean getting an inquisitive look, try making some type of weird sound. Be sure to have your finger pressed firmly on the shutter release because more than likely they won’t hold the pose for you.
            • If you’re taking a portrait of a family member with their pet. Get the pose you want from them then tell them to keep looking into the lens and ignore any and all commands you give to the dog. This will help tremendously since you’ll only have to concentrate on one of them.

            Well that’s about all I can think of right now. I can tell you that if you follow these guidelines you’ll have an excellent chance in walking away the winner of the joint meeting or friendly confrontation!!

            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

            Let people know you saw it here!
              { 0 comments }
              Five seconds later he was gone.

              Five seconds later he was gone.

              This post really stems from my younger days when I was shooting advertising, corporate, and editorial photography, and was on the road over two hundred days out of the year. Once I did all my pre-visualization and the subsequent pre-production I moved fast. My policy was more shots per hour and because I shot very early in the morning and very late in the day, my actual shooting was limited to The Golden Hour when the sun was low on the horizon.

              That’s not to say that it was the only time I shot, but I can safely say that 80% of every photo I’ve ever taken in the past fifty years was taken during this time of day…Why? Because the color is more saturated and richer, the light softer and magical, and the shadows long and directional.

              I’ll often mention this pearl to my online class with the BPSOP, and with my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops, I’ll be able to physically tell my fellow photographers just what I mean…and what exactly do I mean by more shots per hour?

              Since light is so fleeting I want to shoot as many photos as I possibly can, whether they’re adjustments of the same composition or totally different ideas at the same location. Once I’ve gone through my fifteen point protection plan, my border patrol, and checking my four corners (all are done withing a few seconds) I take the shot and move on to the next one.

              I don’t stand there and study the silly histograms, or admire the photo, or anything that’s going to eat up any precious time. There’s plenty of time for that later when I’m home sitting in front of my computer with a nice Chianti!!  I trust myself to not click the shutter until it’s ready to be clicked; and if it isn’t, I don’t.

              In the old days when I was a director-cameraman, we had a phrase for any of us that were wasting time. We use to say to one another, “Hurry up, you’re burning daylight.”

              For me, one of my favorite times was when I got back to my studio and started looking at all my images. Because I was always shooting more shots per hour, I forgot a lot of what I had shot. It was a total surprise when I saw photos I didn’t remember taking.

              So my fellow photographers if I can give you some advice, the next time you go out don’t worry about anything but shooting. try going out either at sunrise or sunset and shoot as much and as fast as you can; adhering to my three ways to check your photo before clicking the shutter. For all you film people you don’t have to worry about paying for the film and processing anymore. Now you just have to remember to take more than one card with you…running out of cards when the light is perfect can be a real bummer!!!

              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@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.

              JoeB

              Let people know you saw it here!
                { 0 comments }

                Anecdotes: Alpha Romeo Shoot

                BTW, no Photoshop, straight out of the camera.

                I love writing posts for this category, although I never know when an anecdote will pop into my brain. A story will come to mind when I’m going through my images looking for one that will help explain something to one of my online students with the BPSOP. While sitting at some restaurant having  glass of wine with some of my fellow photographers that has signed up for one of my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop a story will also come into my head.

                I can tell you that over the course of my nearly fifty years of shooting there has been many. Some funny now but not so funny then, and some that are funny no matter how much time has gone buy.

                This is one that wasn’t so funny then:

                I was shooting a series of ads for Alpha Romeo, and the decision was made to shoot at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. I had shot there before so I knew how it looked and thought it would be perfect for the kind of simplistic environment the Art director wanted; he wanted something Zen.

                Through the Utah Bureau of Land Management (BLM) my producer secured a permit to shoot. A contract was signed and one of the major points , if not the most important point, was that it was to be left exactly as it was when we got there; they were and still are very proud of the Salt flats and woe to those that mess it up in any way.

                When a photographer is selected for the shoot, a car prep company is assigned, and it’s their responsibility to handle the car.

                They unload it where you want, they take care of the detailing, and they load it back up in the car truck when the shoot is over. The photographer and his crew never so much as touch the car with their pinky finger for any reason; some of these cars are prototypes with no motors.

                At first a small rut.

                The two guys assigned to this shoot were from California and not the brightest stars in the galaxy. The hero car was in a long trailer pulled by a big truck, and I told Sandy where I wanted it unloaded. The salt flats are very hard in the middle and it gets soft the closer you gt to the edges; which is why it specifically states in the permit to not get close to the edges…which is exactly what Sandy did, immediately getting the back tire of the truck and the back end of the trailer stuck.

                The rut got bigger, now it was time for a backhoe.

                For the rest of the day he tried everything to get the tire out of what was then a small rut. Finally, after the rut became bigger, he went into town and rented a tractor to pull the truck out. Well it didn’t take long before the tractor was deep in the rut that was now closer to a gully.

                So the next step was for Sandy to go back into town and rent a large back-hoe that would surely do the job…one would have thought…one would be wrong. Now the large back-hoe, the tractor, the truck and the trailer were all stuck in what was now a canyon.

                Now it was a problem.

                After two days we finally dug everything out leaving a thirty foot crater. Needless to say we took the car, set it where it would go, slept in the rent cars so we would be ready to shoot the next morning.

                As you can see from the photo above, the shot turned out great. We had to use the back-hoe to put the dirt and mud back in the crater as fast as we could and make it look like we were never there. If it hadn’t looked like we were never there, I would have been banned from ever getting a permit with the BLM…anywhere…a little too stressful for my taste.

                OMG!!!!!!

                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

                Let people know you saw it here!
                  { 0 comments }
                  I had seconds to run to this photo.

                  I had seconds to run to this photo.

                  I actually jotted this one down after waking up rather abruptly from a dream about this very scenario.

                  I teach an online class with the BPSOP, and I also conduct my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind Workshops around our planet. It happened the beginning of last August while I was teaching at the Maine Media Workshop.

                  If I might digress for a moment, I’ll be back there next July 30th for my twenty-ninth year. It’s the granddaddy of them all and a wonderful place to immerse yourself in photography while shooting with me for a week. Since there’s several other workshops, everyone has their meals at the Homestead so the energy level is awesome!!! Keep an eye out for the school to put the workshop description online and I’ll also comment on it in future posts.

                  I’d also like for all of you to send me a friends request on Facebook. I always posts my workshops there.

                  Ok back to what I was dreaming about.

                  I was standing by the water’s edge in Port Clyde (a location we always go to) and was observing one of my fellow photographers watching the sun about to come out from under a cloud and set. I would say that the entire length of time from beginning to end was about three minutes give or take a minute.

                  This person whose name I won’t mention to protect the innocent, was in a position that would have rendered a somewhat predictable photo. I mean how many times have you seen a sun setting over the water? I guess this photographer was from Tulsa, Oklahoma and didn’t get out much so he started setting up his tripod to take the photo.

                  I ran over to him and as fast as I could talked to him about “giving meanings to photographs” and suggested that he go over to where some boats were docked and put them in the foreground to create depth and some layers of interest.

                  He agreed and slowly began to separate his camera from his tripod. I quickly suggested that he didn’t have time for that and to keep the camera where it was and run over to the spot I suggested; now he had about a minute left of beautiful light.

                  He looked at me as if I had just landed from Neptune and finally got the point of my suggestion. That was the good news, the bad news was that he missed the shot.

                  These kinds of moments are few and far between so the more time you take to decide the bigger the chance in missing the shot. I can tell you that no matter what the subject is and where I am, I know better than to take my time.

                  Light is so fleeting that if you pause for even a few seconds, those few seconds can make the difference in going home with a great photo…a trophy worthy of being on a wall.

                  Next time you’re out, no matter where you are and what the subject is…even if the light’s not great and you’re going for a “moment”, don’t walk, run!!!

                  That’s what I do, I run for photos and I’m seventy-one years old.

                  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

                  Let people know you saw it here!
                    { 0 comments }

                    Life Before Photoshop: Toyota Trucks

                    Look ma, no Photoshop

                    Look ma, no Photoshop

                    I would say that the hardest assignments to shoot before the days of any form of post processing were car shoots. The cars had to look perfect or your automotive career was over. Your name would spread faster than a California fire during the Santa Ana winds.

                    Besides the projects I shot for most of the Fortune 500 companies, I shot a great deal of car photography; which included billboards, advertising campaigns, and full line brochures. These were incredibly lucrative with six-figure budgets, but one screw-up and you were done…making them fairly stressful.

                    I loved shooting cars and thinking back I really don’t remember feeling pressure to come back with “the goods”. I always felt confident that given enough pre-production time I could always make the agency and the client happy.

                    The trick was always knowing where the light was going to be anytime from the moment the sun came up to the last warm rays before sunset; I used a program called Sunpath and a hand bearing compass. Least I not forget the biggest part of a successful shoot, it was also incredibly important to surround yourself with a really professional crew; each one doing what they did best and then having a good producer to make it all work together.

                    Truth be told, I was in a very small group that paid attention to where the sun was going to be, and an even smaller group that positioned the car in such a way as to create what was called “liquid light”, the nice soft light that ran from the car lights to the taillights. It had to be smooth, soft light that highlighted the side of the car…it had to look that way before you clicked the shutter. No small feat!

                    AS I tell my online students with the BPSOP, and the ones that take my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, Light is everything and the only time it isn’t is when you’re street shooting and looking for that moment in time; capturing a person’s gesture or body language that will usually reveal something about that person’s soul.

                    In the above photo taken for Toyota Trucks, I was to find a nursery where we could create a story based on all the different ways to use the  trucks. After having a location scout armed with the Sunpath readings and the compass find me several that would work, the Art Director and I checked out all the ones that received the early morning light I was looking for.

                    The location we settled on was perfect as it would back light all the flowers we put by the truck all the plants, dirt and fertilizer we put around and in the back of the trucks making them glow. I’m always telling my students and fellow photographers to try to back light anything that’s translucent; it’s my favorite way to light.

                    I had the car prep company put the trucks in such a way as to get the early morning light running down the side; it’s called the “Law of the Light”, and I’m always conscious of it.

                    When we were finished and I was satisfied as far as the way it was going to look, we waited until the sun came up. Just when I could see the full sun above the horizon and the light began to stream through my composition, I added one last touch…I had them turn on the sprinklers so they would be lit from behind creating a nice misty effect.

                    Everything you see here was created before the shutter was pressed and absolutely no help from Adobe; which at that time was a type of house in the SW part of the US.

                    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

                    Let people know you saw it here!
                      { 7 comments }

                      My Favorite Quotes: Oscar Wilde

                      Not what I saw, but what I wanted to see.

                      I just love this category since it affords me time for research as well as just keeping my ear to the ground to pick up bits of valuable information.

                      A lot of my research comes from the fact that I read, and I read everything from fiction, non-fiction, biographies, history, and just about anything and everything that strikes my fancy.

                      Years ago I first got acquainted with Oscar Wilde while reading his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. He once said, ” No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist”.

                      I teach online classes with the BPSOP, and I also conduct my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops around out planet. I tell my fellow photographers that we are all artists, and that instead of a paintbrush we use a camera to create our works of art.

                      A camera on a tripod is very much like a blank canvas on an easel, with one big difference. Photography is the art of subtraction, and when your camera is on a tripod you eliminate things in your composition until your satisfied enough to click the shutter. A blank canvas on an easel allows you to keep adding pigment until you’re satisfied enough to seek out a mat and frame.

                      In the above photo, I was sent to take a portrait of this woman who at that time was a big time player in computer software and was the go-to person for many of the Fortune 500 companies. The advertising campaign was about what several of these well-known people did in their spare time; being involved in their hobby. In her case she was a fairly well-known artist in her own right and the powers that be wanted an environmental  portrait taken in her art studio.

                      When I got there I discovered that she was in the middle of a major cleaning so her art and furniture were literally mixed together and piled on top of one another; pushed against the far side of her space. The only window in the studio, where I wanted to put her, was on the other end and surrounded by empty space…as in nothing there at all.

                      I stood there and envisioned something entirely different than what I was really seeing. I put my camera on my tripod as if it was a blank canvas on my easel and began to paint. I carefully moved pieces over and as I looked threw the camera’ viewfinder arranged them in front of the camera to the chair, s well as on the wall. The chair I put against the wall and next to the window where she was going to be seated.

                      I can tell you that the end results would have looked a lot different if I had seen things as they really were. I don’t take pictures of what I see, I take pictures of what I’d like to see. It’s not ‘what is’ to me, but what could be.

                      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 create a video critique for you.

                      JoeB

                      Let people know you saw it here!
                        { 2 comments }

                        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

                        Let people know you saw it here!
                          { 0 comments }
                          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

                          Let people know you saw it here!
                            { 2 comments }
                            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

                            Let people know you saw it here!
                              { 0 comments }