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AskJoeB: I’d like your critique.

I’ve had Valeriano submit a photo for me to talk about. As usual, I like to let my readers see what the people say, because sometimes people have been in similar situations or have had similar questions. Here’s what he had to say:

“Hello Joe,
I’d like your critique on this photo. I think I’ve picked up the wrong subject to be rendered in silhouette. Lacking an interesting shape from any angle I was framing it against the sun setting, I’ve finally come up with this photo. It’s a lifeguard turret, and since it is in very bad conditions (lot of crap and clutter added to its stairs so people won’t climb on it) I opted for a silhouette photo.

Regards,
Valeriano.”

Ok, first of all to those that might not know what is meant by a silhouette, a silhouette is an outline of something or someone against a lighter background. Typically, you want it to be dark to begin with. I love silhouettes, they are the perfect idea to think about before the sun comes up (dawn) and after the sun goes down (dusk).<

In my online class with the BPSOP, one of the lessons in my part II class is on the silhouette. My class spends an entire week shooting them because they provide so much visual interest and tension…One of the ways to create visual tension is the use of light and another is contrast. We also work on them in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops that I conduct around our planet.

Valeriano, take a look at this video: http://www.screencast.com/t/tZgoIrznGv2l

I hope this helps.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and be sure to watch for my 2016 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.
Keep sending in your photos and questions to: AskJoeB@gmail.com and I’ll create a video for you.

JoeB

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Lots of lines going everywhere.

Lots of lines going everywhere.

I teach my fellow photographers how to incorporate the Elements of Visual Design into their photography. In my online classes with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet I explain that of all the elements, Line is the most important…why you ask?

Because without Line, none of the other elements would exist. In fact, you and I wouldn’t be around nor would trains, planes, and automobiles for the simple reason that we all have an outLINE.

Quickly, there’s all kinds of lines, but the three main ones are: Horizontal, Vertical, and Diagonal. Diagonal lines have the most energy and tension because it’s the anticipation of the lines falling forward.

Having said that, there are three things that all lines have in common: direction, length, and thickness. These three are what you want to be looking for when you’re out shooting. Forget that the road your standing, walking, or driving on is going to the horizon. Imagine it not as a road, but instead a Vanishing Point leading the viewer in a particular direction, either from right to left, left to right, or the foreground to the background. It’s anywhere from a few blocks to a few miles long, and it’s from two lanes in thickness to a four lane interstate.

What about a stand of Birch trees you often see in photos, especially when the leaves have turned during the Fall. They’re trees right? But what else are they? They’re a bunch of textured predominately white lines that all go in the same direction and are all different in length and thickness. They also form a pattern which incidentally is one of the basic Elements of Visual Design.

In the above photo, taken in Tuscany, After I had traversed the short distance from the bottom to the top of this small sidewalk from the street to another street above it, I looked back and saw a whole lot of lines, instead of the concrete ramp and railings.

This kind of thinking is what’s always part of my thought process. Since Line is so important to our virtual existence, not only do I look for lines but when I do see it, I break them down into the three categories to see what each one is doing and if they’re pertinent to my final composition.

So, the next time you’re out and about looking for subject matter, instead of using the left side of your brain and taking pictures of roads, golf cart tracks, and trees, switch that side off and click on the right side…the creative side and I can promise you that not only will your photos have more of an impact, but you’ll wind up having a lot more fun in the process.

They're golf cart tracks, but what else are they

They’re golf cart tracks, but what else are they

As Henry David Thoreau once said, “It’s not what you look at, it’s what you see”.

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

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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 Whenever I write one of these posts it takes me back to the days when I was traveling two hundred twenty-five days out of the year, and loving it. I was fortunate enough to hook up with some of the very best graphic designers in the country if not the world, and a whole lot of them were working in Texas; Houston, Dallas, and Austin to be exact.

Working with graphic designers in corporate photography was very different that working with Art Directors in advertising in that with corporate work you had more freedom to shoot what you wanted, and in advertising you usually had to follow a layout…or at least high-comped sketch of what the client expected you to come back with.

I was hired by s designer, that in turn was hired by an oil company in London to travel throughout Asia documenting the countries that they were either doing work for or about to. I was allowed to shoot anything I wanted as long as it represented the country in a positive way.

We were in the Philippines for several days with one of their employees as our guide and interpreter and one sunrise we found ourselves at a place somewhere in Manila Bay. It was a gray day and I was about to call it a morning when we saw this small boat anchored  on the shore. The sky was opening up a little so I thought I would shoot the boat against what I was hoping for something dramatic to happen in the sky.

As I tell my online students with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet that Eddie Adams ( a well known Pulitzer prize winning photographer) once said, “When you get lucky, be ready”. As is usually the case, sunrise shooting is very quiet since there’s no one around that time of morning, and especially when you’re far away from the cacophony of morning sounds given off from a large city.

I was beginning to compose my photo, when all of a sudden a teenage boy jumped up from inside the boat and proceeded to scare the morning daylights out of us, while at the same time those same daylights had been scared out of him.

With the help of an idea, I quickly ( as in losing the light) regained my composure and had our guide ask him if he would pose for me. I had the young boy trade places with me (it’s a great way to show your subject what you want him to do). As I started to shoot the silhouette of the boy, the sun was rising creating this wonderful sky.

I got the shot (without any post processing) and gave the boy a five dollar bill for his time. He looked at it, smiled, then laid back down in the bottom of the boat and went back to sleep. As we were leaving, our guide told us that the five dollars we gave him was more than he made in a month. Wow, talk about making someone’s day…or month.

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

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

JoeB

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Quick Photo Tip: Take It Indoors.

A rainy day.

A rainy day.

I teach three four week classes with the BPSOP, and I also conduct my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops around the planet. Mostly in my online classes, I’m always telling my fellow photographers that just because it’s cold, gray, and sometimes raining when you want to shoot outdoors, that doesn’t mean you have to put your camera away until the sun comes out.

Think of locations that are indoors, for example museums, churches, antique barns nearby, the lobbies of interesting buildings, historical homes, old train stations, etc. If you live in or just outside a big city, Google up the city or state’s Film Commission and or Tourist Bureau, and you’ll get a list of places that might just be the answer to your photographic woes.

For example, I live in Houston and if I wanted some indoor locations, I might go to this link: http://www.houstonfilmcommission.com/…or the Houston Tourist Bureau.

Btw, Museums usually wont let you take in tripods, so to get low light photos take a friend (another photographer) ) and use his/her shoulder to rest your camera on…works like a charm!!!

What about a farm nearby that you could get permission to shoot at. An old barn just might be a great place to spend some time in while your waiting for better weather. In fact, it would be a good place no matter what the light might be.

Sitting up a still life next to a window is always a good idea to pass the time; especially if it happens to be in an antique store or a house in an historical part of town. In the photo above, it was cold, gray, and rainy and all around dreary outside of an old house in Scotland I happened to be in. I saw this bowl, then I happen to see a bunch of fruit in the corner of the kitchen. I put the two together by a window and the two hours I spent playing around with different compositions was a lot of fun…and took my mind away from the gloom outside the window; the glass of wine didn’t hurt!!!

Always shoot variations.

Always shoot variations.

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

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

JoeB

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My Favorite Quotes: W. Eugene Smith

It was light, and it was available.

It was light, and it was available.

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

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

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

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

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

Any damn light that's available.

Any damn light that’s available.

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

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

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

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

JoeB

 

 

 

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Anticipating the action

Anticipating the action

No, I’m not talking about the song Carly Simon sang in 1971…for those old enough to remember it. I’m talking about how the word anticipation plays a key role in “Street Shooting”.

In my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, I often talk about being aware of your surroundings at all times. This is when it will happen…that shot that could make your day!!!

I’m usually talking about keeping an eye out for the light, and how important it is in coming home with that illusive OMG photo. That keeper that will either go on your wall or in your portfolio…or both.

But in this post I’m talking about anticipating the action. The action that can occur at any moment when you’re walking down a street looking for photo opts.

A good sports photographer knows the sport he’s covering backwards and forwards. He knows it well enough to be playing in it, and at some level sometimes does. A good street shooter has that same instinct, or he at least should if he’s going to be successful.

I watch everything when I’m walking, and even have those proverbial “eyes in the back of my head”. If I see someone that’s sticking out of the environment around him for one reason or another, I’ll watch him/her for several minutes…with my camera halfway up my chest. If nothing happens, I’ll move on to someone else. Sooner or later I’ll see something that makes me focus in tight. I’ll watch and anticipate their next move. A move that I would maybe make myself. It’s people watching at it’s finest.

When I was younger and shot primarily B/W on the streets, I was always looking for that one shot, and if I was very lucky, and I mean very lucky, I might capture someone in a moment where they are expressing their thoughts in some form of body language or gesture. In the above photo, that’s exactly what happened. I was shooting and writing a story for a local Sunday supplement on Mardi Gras day and what the locals had to deal with as far as the crowded streets and sidewalks were concerned. I watched her for some time and just had a feeling that something was going to happen. In a brief moment she had summed up her day to me and because I had waited and anticipated I got the shot.

Btw, this photo is now in the permanent photography collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

One of my favorite things to do is to put on my longest lens and then put the camera on a tripod. I’ll position myself in a crowded area and in a 360 degree movement I’ll pan the people. An analogy for you old movie buffs is watching Robert Mitchum in The Enemy Below when he’s in a submarine panning the horizon at periscope depth looking for targets..Ok,  not actually an analogy, but for me it’s mighty close.

I could literally do that for hours, and on occasion have come close…as in the photo of the woman in a crowded square in Toledo, Spain.

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

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

JoeB

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Look ma, no Photoshop.

Look ma, no Photoshop.

 

Every time I write one of these posts it takes me way, way back to the days when Adobe was the name of a style of house in the Southwest part of the US.

The good old days when you had to do everything in the camera, and as a result got the occasional ulcer for doing it. Yes, those do-da days where it took just one screw-up and you became persona non grata at not just the agency you were shooting for, but if that Art Director that picked you went to another agency, and they often did, your name went with them. That’s just the chance you took because the money was so good. In those days car shooters (the good ones) were getting $5000.00 per shot (plus all expenses) and up, and that day sometimes meant one shot at sunrise and one at sunset.

In my online classes with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, we work on incorporating the Elements of Visual Design into their photography. We also work on getting as much in the camera before the shutter is clicked so that my fellow photographers can become better photographers, not better computer artists.

That’s not to say that I don’t use Photoshop because I do with just about every photo; not to do anything except minor tweaking. For me, getting it in the camera is a great challenge, and as a result I fell good that I’m a good shooter that relies on my eye and imagination, not Histograms, blinking lights, and that insidious bane of existence that’s called…HDR!!!.

In the above photo, the Art director and I choose The Bonneville Salt Flats for the location because of the simplicity, the great light, and all that wonderful texture.

It may look like a simple set-up but I can tell you that it was anything but simple. The car company that brought the new-never been seen before Alpha Romeo got their huge van and trailer stuck and after hours of trying and a twenty foot hole, we were able to rent a back hoe to get the tractor out that got stuck trying to get the trailer out in the first place…what a mess!!! This took a day. Then, we had to fill in this giant crater so it looked like it never happened…another day of expenses.

Simple set-up????????

Simple set-up????????

The placement of the car was extremely important since as a prototype it came without a motor and had to be manually placed (by hands) to get the right angle of the light. When seconds counted, there wasn’t enough time to move it again (and keep those tire tracks out of the shot. To do this I used my Sunpath readings and my Morin 2000 hand bearing compass to get it at the exact angle to eliminate unwanted hotspots and glare, and the shadow that was important as well. I knew that the shot had to be taken right before the full sun was visible on the horizon. After that the car was subject to those elements that couldn’t be taken out since any thought of post-processing was years away.

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

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

JoeB

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Shot from the front, and with a red tractor.

Shot from the front, and with a red tractor.

I teach my fellow photographers how to use the Elements of Visual Design to create stronger compositions, as well as images that have strong visual interest. Unfortunately, it’s more than every once in a while that someone in my online class with the PPSOP, or someone that’s with me in one of my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the, that I planet tells me that a friend told them not to do something.

Just the other day, one of my students said that a friend of hers, that’s a photographer, told her to never shoot buildings from the front. WHAT????? Moreover, I’ve also been told that their friends have also said to never shoot anything that’s red. Someone please shake me because I must be in some kind of time warp. How about this one from a friend to another friend…”Why worry about it now, you can always fix it later”. “Always have people walking into the frame so you can give them room to walk into”, is another ridiculous statement.

My standard answer is…’Well I guess if they told you to follow them while they jumped off that bridge, you would?” If you do, leave your camera on the ground before you go so someone might use it.

I find it interesting that a lot of photographers, especially those that haven’t been at it long don’t have faith in their abilities and creative ways to make good photos. It’s hard to be objective when looking at our work, and so we sometimes rely on what others tell us, and we take it in good faith to be the way it is. After all, they want to sound as if they know what they’re talking about, when in reality you probably know more than they do…at least as much!!!

Follow what you feel is right, and stop listening to your friends that just might have an agenda other than helping out. Take workshops from people whose work you admire. More than likely they’ll lead you down a better path. Read books like Freeman Patterson’s, The Art of Seeing. It’s one of my all time favorites.

Brw, I guess I really screwed up when I shot this building straight on and put s red tractor in front!!!

:-(

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

Keep those photos and questions coming into: AskJoeB@gmail.com

JoeB

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How would I have shot it?

How would I have shot it?

Mark sent me this photo to take a look at. I like to include what the person said because I’ve found that many of my fellow photographers have either had similar questions or have been in a similar situation. Here’s what Mark had to say:

“Hello,

The attached photo is from a photo outing in the area of Kansas City known as West Bottom, once the geographic location of the old stockyards. I hoped to show the solitude of the under bridge and convey a sense of “strength” by demonstrating it’s continuity. In the absence of any interesting graffiti, I elected to concentrate on the pillars and center lines. How would you have shot this scene? Attached are raw and post processed images. Thank you very much.

Mark”

Ok Mark, you asked how I would have shot this scene. Well that all depends on whether Armour and Swift are still operating. I grew up in Kansas City Missouri, (went to Mizzou) and my dad had a couple of grocery stores. One of them was in Kansas City, Kansas at 7th and Parallel, and during the summer I worked there. Several times a week I was sent to these companies to pick something up. I remember trying to hold my breath as long as I could because the smell of the stockyards (where they were butchering the pigs and cows) was beyond words!!!

So I would probably be holding my breath during the exposure.

If not, here’s how I would have shot it:

http://www.screencast.com/t/DT2gUwX7

BTW Mark, to me your name is too big, and since the viewer is going to look at your image from left to right, I think I would move it way over to the left and scale it back. That said, just because you have the ‘C’ in a circle, that doesn’t mean it’s protected…in fact it really isn’t. In order for your photograph to be fully protected it has to be registered with the Library of Congress. It has to have been registered before the date where someone used it without permission and published it.

As far as your post processed image is concerned, it doesn’t look real. The structure is way too old and your new “paint job” doesn’t fit. So many photographers tend to over process, to the point where it looks like it was over processed. In my opinion, if you’re going to do any post processing, then make it look like you didn’t. It’s one of the important areas I cover both in my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet.

Post processing doesn't fit the structure's timeline.

Post processing doesn’t fit the structure’s timeline.

Thanks for the submission, and I hope my critique helped.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and be sure to watch for upcoming workshops.

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

JoeB

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Shot with Kodachrome 25

Shot with Kodachrome 25

As I tell my online class with the PPSOP, and also in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, I didn’t pick up a camera until I was twenty, going on twenty-one. That’s not counting the Brownie Hawkeye I won on the boardwalk at Asbury Park, New Jersey. It was one of those machines where you move a metal claw around and drop it on something you had little chance in getting. I was thirteen.

No, I’m sorry to say that I was not a child photo prodigy who took that Brownie and went on to becoming the youngest photographer to have a one kid show at MOMA. My background was centered around painting and design, with areas of study in Art History, water color, figure drawing, printmaking, and color theory. My first 35mm camera was my twenty-first birthday present from my parents. A Pentax Spotmatic with a 50mm lens.

It didn’t take me long to decide that photography was instant-gratification. While It took me hours or days or sometimes weeks to create a “work of art”, it only took as long as to bring the viewfinder up to my eye, compose and click the shutter to create a photo.

The first trip I went on with my new camera was to Mexico with some friends. I can still remember walking around snapping pictures and absolutely loving it. Of course I had no formal or informal training whatsoever and barely knew what all the buttons were for. I just applied everything I had learned from the years of taking design, drawing, and composition classes.

I guess it didn’t hurt, as the above photo was one of the very first that I can remember taking, or at least it’s one of the few I can still find.

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

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

JoeB

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AskJoeB: Did It Do It…Create Tension?

Did it create Visual Tension?

Did it create Visual Tension?

A past online student with the BPSOP, sent me this photo to review. Like always I like to show the actual message, since so many of my fellow photographers have experienced similar situations and have had the same questions. Here’s what tom had to say:

“Hi Joe,

Took this shot of the Sydney Opera House almost an hour before sunrise – 120 seconds at f/13, 70mm on a full frame camera.
When I’m shooting, I’m always remembering the artist palette you taught me in the online BPSOP courses – or at least trying to. In this shot, I was thinking about tension, perspective, negative space, line, texture, and of course, light. The main focus was to create tension by putting the strong, smooth, and very simple diagonal of the bow of the cruise ship close to the complexity and texture of the Opera House, leaving enough negative space to define each clearly but not so much that they become separated.

Did it do it (create tension)?

Also, I’m not sure how quickly a viewer will be able to see that the strong white triangle is the front of a ship, there may not be enough there for them to fill in the rest in their mind (closure). But also not sure it makes much difference to the overall appeal of the shot whether that is a ship or a building or a UFO. Would appreciate your thoughts on that.
I did make a few lightroom adjustments. Brought the shadows up a bit and the highlights down, as the sails of the Opera House were a bit dark but the lights around it were a bit strong. Added contrast and decreased clarity. And increased both the saturation and the luminance of the blues, but left the other colours alone..

Thanks,
Tom Beecroft”

 

Tom,

It’s a really nice photo. So many areas to look at, and besides my BPSOP class, I also talk a lot about ways to keep the viewer around longer in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet. Having him discover new things when looking at your image, and moving him around the frame are two ways to keep him around.

Take a look at this video:

http://www.screencast.com/t/xAWZ39FKNVqb

Thanks for sharing this beautiful image with us, and I’m glad you’re thinking about my “did it do it” list for good composition we worked on in our online class.

What do you think about it darker?

What do you think about it darker?

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

For those of you that like to make spur of the moment plans, I have a spot open for my “Springtime in Portugal” workshop coming up this May 21st.

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

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

JoeB

 

 

 

 

 

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Food For digital Thought: The Clock

light coming from 3:00 O'clock.

light coming from 3:00 O’clock.

One of the most important areas I cover in my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop I conduct around the planet is knowing where the light is coming from before raising the camera up to your eyes.

I give my fellow photographers a clock to install in the back of their mind. To me, light is EVERYTHING!!!!. If you look up the definition of Photography, you’ll see that it means “painting with light”. Unless you’re street shooting where ‘the moment’ is critical, and more important than the direction of the light, knowing where to put your subject is the key in taking your photos what I refer to as “up a notch”.

 Ok, imagine a clock in your viewfinder, but if it’s easier, imagine the clock on the ground with your subject standing in the center…imagine your camera and a subject set up just like it is in this drawing. Now, imagine the sun (or light source) coming from behind the 11,12, and 1. This is ‘back light’. It’s probably the way I light almost all the time…why?

Because back light makes everything glow: water, grass, hair, or anything translucent. It adds so much energy and can be effective even if your subject is a touch on the boring side.

Now, imagine the light source behind the ’10’ and the ‘2’. This is what is called “the Law of the Light”…light from the “Angle of Reflection”. When the sun casts light on a subject it comes at a specific angle, and that angle is called the “Angle of Incidence”. It’s the light falling on the subject.

When that same light bounces (reflects) off the subject and hits the lens, it also bounces off at an angle to the camera. When those to angles are the same, it’s called the “Law of the Light”…also known as “The Angle of Reflection”.

Now, imagine the sun at either ‘3’ or ‘9’. This is side light. If I can’t backlight or put my subject in the Angle of reflection, this is the light I go for. When the sun is at ‘4’ or ‘8’ it’s ok, still somewhat side lit, but bordering on front light…to me, this is the worst way to light…5,6,and 7 is front light and I avoid it like the plague…why? Because there aren’t any shadows or shading.

Form is an important ‘element of visual design’. Form refers to the three-dimensional quality of an object. When light hits an object from the side, part of the object is in shadow. The light and dark areas provide contrast that can suggest volume. Without shadows, the subject will be recorded without Form…appearing flat. Without shading/shadows Form exists in just two dimensions, height and width.

This is what happens when you front light. now, I’m not saying that you can’t take pictures that are front lit…I’m saying that those times for me are rare, and the sun should be low on the horizon.

So as I said, THE VERY FIRST THING I EVER DO when I get to a location…before I ever raise my camera up to my eyes…is to determine where the light source is coming from. Then I position myself to get the right/best light.

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

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

JoeB

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Using the edges of my frame.

Using the edges of my frame.

I recently had one of my blog followers send me this note:

Hi Joe,

I’ve followed your blog and website for some time now, and things are usually very clear and instructive.
In this edition, you stated:

“BTW, when you crop in front of a computer, you’ll never know where the edges of your frame are, nor will you ever be able to use the edges as a compositional tool.”

I am completely unsure as to what you mean – can you elaborate?

Thanks and keep up the great work!

I’m glad he asked because it’s a question I often get either in my online class with the BPSOP, or in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet.

First, here’s an excerpt from an interview done on Henri Cartier-Bresson, who is adamantly against cropping. He said, “We have to have a feeling for the geometry of the relation of shapes, like in any plastic medium. And I think that you place yourself in time, we’re dealing with time, and with space. Just like you pick a right moment in an expression, you pick your right spot, also. I will get closer, or further, there’s an emphasis on the subject, and if the relations, the interplay of lines is correct, well, it is there. If it’s not correct it’s not by cropping in the darkroom and making all sorts of tricks that you improve it. If a picture is mediocre, well it remains mediocre. The thing is done, once for all.”

I’ve also read that shooting loosely and cropping in post-processing are signs of sloppy technique and a lack of discipline…that would include yours truly.

Getting back to the question at hand, for me the main reason I don’t crop gets back to my Artist Palette, I present to my fellow photographers that take my online class or my workshop.

Let’s take Shape, one of the basic elements of visual design. I’m always looking to include shapes to strengthen my compositions. Circles, rectangles, squares, and triangles are the four basic shapes. That said, take a look at this video:

http://www.screencast.com/t/fMCaITsf5x

Also on my Artist Palette is Visual Tension.There’s several ways to generate Tension, and one is called “framing within a frame”. It’s a great way to add depth, while leading the viewer into the photo. Here’s a video:

http://www.screencast.com/t/ivyYfNE2

The last area I want to cover is another way to create Visual Tension. First of all I’m not talking about the kind of tension that comes from mental or emotional stress. I’m talking about Visual Tension, and that comes from forces acting against one another. It’s the anticipation of these forces colliding with one another that creates the Tension. Placing a subject close to the edge of the frame is one way. Take a look:

http://www.screencast.com/t/mQctl4g3bXil

I hope this post helped clears it up, and thanks for asking.

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

Keep sending those photos and questions to: AskJoeB@gmail.com and I’ll create a video critique.

JoeB

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Rene painted with light.

Rene painted with light.

One of the biggest areas we work on in both my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet, is the use of light.

To me light is everything, and the cornerstone to creating memorable photos. Unless you’re street shooting where capturing the moment is so important, and is the only thing that can trump light, light (as I just said) is everything.

The word Photography comes from the Greek roots that means “drawing with light”. Although this can mean different things in different applications,  I want to center my attention to one area that really is about drawing with light; the use of a flashlight before the sun comes up and after it’s gone down; “Light Painting” is what it’s referred to.

I don’t mean any old  flashlight, I mean one that’s powerful enough to throw a beam (in spotlight mode) up to 200 yards. The flashlight I use is made by Red Line and is about six inches long and has an output of 300 lumens. It also works on regular batteries.

A great example of how you draw with light can be seen in the above and below photos.It was taken by a student of mine that was taking my Maine Media Workshop. Every year I take the class to Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, and it’s become a tradition. We arrive there an hour before the sun comes up so we can get a nice glow behind the lighthouse but not any direct sun.

Everyone sets up where they wanted, and opened their shutters. While their shutters were opened, I walked around with the flashlight and literally painted the building for them. When the sun comes up, the class starts shooting in the early morning light.

Painting with light.

Painting with light.

Afterwards, we all go to Moody’s Diner, and breakfast is on me.

My Maine Media Workshop is coming up on July 26th, and it will be my 27th year there. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland.  It offers a completely set of photo ops than the beautiful coast of Maine, the fishing towns, and lighthouses: light, design, color, motion, energy, people watching and portraits. Here’s a couple of links to past Maine workshops to show what my fellow photographers shot during the week:

http://joebaraban.com/blog/workshop-stuff-2014-maine-media-workshop/

http://joebaraban.com/blog/2013-maine-media-workshop/

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and be sure to check out further workshops as they come up.

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

JoeB

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