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Food For digital Thought: Figure-Ground

Long lens at it's minimum/widest aperture.

Long lens at it’s minimum/widest aperture.

I teach three classes online with the BPSOP. My Part I and II classes deal with the elements of visual design and composition, and my third class is on the six concepts in the psychology of Gestalt. I also work on these in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet.

One of the six concepts is called Figure-Ground, and to master it is to take your imagery what I often refer to as “up a notch”.

Figure-Ground refers to the relationship between an object and its surroundings, or background. Do you see the figure in front of you or the background? There are times when it’s easy to pick out the figure, which is the object (the positive space) from the ground, which is everything else (the negative space).

There are also times when it’s difficult to pick out the figure from the ground, so it’s important to keep a balance between the Negative and positive space as well as making the figure a “quick read”. In other words, be sure to make a clear distinction between the figure and the (back) ground.

Dark against light.

Dark against light.

I typically like to have the subject (figure) stand out and be clearly defined. In these situations, I want the ground to support the figure. I can do this controlling my depth of field by using a longer lens with the widest aperture; focusing solely on the subject.

The use of contrast by either placing a dark objects against a lighter background or light objects against a darker background are two ways. I can also separate the figure from the Ground by the use of color and size.

Light against dark.

Light against dark.

If you’ve ever read anything about Henri Cartier-Bresson, you would know that he used Figure-Fround all the time when creating his photographs. In fact, he was a master at it.

Another use of Figure-Ground is to create the feeling of the figure being small and alone. By making the ground the overwhelming part of your composition, this message will come across to the viewer.

The feeling of being small and alone.

The feeling of being small and alone.

An interesting bit of trivia is the intentional modification of the Figure-Ground that comes in the form of Camouflage. This is when we want to blend the figure and the ground together. Strange as it might sound, Grant Wood (as in the famous painting called American Gothic) helped develop the camouflage used during World War I.

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

The Los Angeles Center for photography has invited me to come out and conduct a three day intensive workshop over the August 18th weekend. I’ll be making a presentation of my work on Thursday August 17th and the public is invited. The full description can be see at the top of this blog, with a link to the site. I hope to spend the weekend with all of you.

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

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

JoeB

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    Let the viewer fill in the rest of mom.

    I suppose I see as many or probably more baby photos as the next guy…why you  might be asking? Because I have four kids and two grandkids, and my wife has two kids and five grandchildren which would seem to qualify me as a semi-expert on baby photos.

    That’s not counting the times when someone shows me their kids on their phones…ad nauseam!!

     If you’re at all interested in showing off your kids/grandkids and not having the person you’re showing them to break out in hives, then here’s a great tip for you and it relates to one of the six concepts of Gestalt I teach online with the BPSOP and in my “Stretching Your frame of Mind”  workshops I conduct around our planet…the concept is called Closure.

    So, the next time you’re in a position to photograph one of your kids or grandkids, think about this concept and allow the viewer the chance to fill in the rest of the image…as in the parent. I’ll bet you a dollar to a doughnut that they will think it’s a really good photo and will even think you’re a creative photographer…besides being relieved from seeing just one more baby photo.

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

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

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

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

    JoeB

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      Life Before Photoshop: IBM

      Look ma, no Photoshop

      Look ma, no Photoshop

      In 1983 I was hired to shoot a series of ads for IBM. One of the ads featured a class of young students painting a mural of the United States. I wanted strong window light coming in from 9 o’clock to side light providing depth to the room. The clock is one of the most important topics I talk about in my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet.

      In the old film days, the days when the word Adobe meant a type of house in the Southwest part of the US, I couldn’t rely on post processing to help create the illusion of depth.; for that matter, for anything. I also couldn’t rely on finding a room that would give me nice sidelight on the kids; let alone count on a sunny day. There was too much money involved for the advertising agency and client to reach a level of comfort in my ability to arrange for everything needed..for example late afternoon light at 9 o’clock.

      So, what do you do? You bring out the “big lights”, 12K HMI’s, the lights I often used both in print and when I was acting as a director/cameraman on TV commercials. These lights were 12,000 watt daylight balanced lights that needed a big generator and ballasts to operate…and a package that included a gaffer, assistant, truck and portable generator would run about $2000.00 a day for just one light, CTO gels (warming gels since the light was on the blue side) and barn doors.

      An all day shoot.

      An all day shoot.

      In order to create an even exposure from one end of the kids to the other it took six lights and several hours to set up and shoot. It was the “good old days” where it was fun creating the look on one piece of film and one exposure.

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

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

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

      Keep sending me photos and questions to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique on your image.

      JoeB

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        Playing with my fork.

        Playing with my fork.

        How many times growing up did a parent, usually your mother, tell you to stop playing with your food? How many times have you been guilty of saying those same indelible words to one or more of your children?

        I don’t know about you, but I lost count way back when. As an adult I also admit to saying those words or something like them to each of my four kids…and grand kids. By the way, if you were lucky as I was, you wanted your mom to say it more than your dad, if you know what I mean.

        Well, my fellow photographers in both my online classes with the BPSOP and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet, I’m here to tell you to start playing with your food again; only this time with your camera.

        Since I’m always carrying my little Lumix DMC-LX7 in my pocket, I’m always at the ready when that illusive photo epiphany suddenly reveals itself to my imagination. It can be just about anywhere, including a bathroom. I see it a lot at restaurants, dinner tables (mine or friends), or anywhere where food and/or utensils are served and used.

        This epiphany or sudden revelation usually occurs when some form of light comes into play, and as you know by now…light rules the photo world. You find the light and you’ll find the shot.

        The above photo was taken during the beginning of breakfast on the terrace at the Royal Hotel in San Remo, Italy. While waiting to be served, I noticed the early morning light casting a shadow on our two-top. I began moving around the fork and silver tea service until I had the composition I wanted. By the way, all this was happening while Mikki was patiently watching…waiting until I was through “playing around” so she could pour herself a cup of coffee.

        Played with this one for a while.

        Played with this one for a while.

        So the next time you have one of those photo epiphanies and you have your camera with you I encourage you to start playing with your food. I promise I won’t tell your mother.

        Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and watch for my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. We’ll play with our food together.

        The end of July marks my twenty-eight year at the Maine Media workshops. It’s a wonderful way to immerse yourself for a week and think about nothing but photography. It’s the same week as the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland, and offers a completely different set of photo ops than the beautiful Maine coastline, amazing lighthouses, and quaint fishing villages. The full description is at the top of this blog.

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

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

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

        JoeB

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          My Favorite Quotes: Ansel Adams

          I knew where to stand, when to stand there, and how long I had standing there.

          I knew where to stand, when to stand there, and how long I had standing there.

          Here’s a quote that I absolutely relate to, and in one form or another I’ve been preaching it to my online class with the BPSOP and my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops that I conduct around our planet for as long as I can remember. It was said by one of my all time favorite photographers Ansel Adams. He once said, “A good photograph is knowing where to stand”.

          One of the most common mistakes I see is when one of my fellow photographers is at a location, walks up to an object or a subject, takes the camera that’s dangling around his/her neck and starts shooting. Oblivious to where the light is coming from, and the environment surrounding said object or subject.

          Now I’m not saying that you can’t walk away with a good photo, I’m saying that the chances of walking away with a REALLY good photo greatly diminishes. If a good photo is enough to satisfy you, then I say to each his own and more power to you. If you’re looking to improve your chances of going home proud to have taken one of the best photos ever, then I suggest you adhere to a few steps that’s been my line of thought for nearly fifty years of shooting.

          First of all, and the most important step is knowing in what direction the light is coming from. Is your subject one that will look better if it’s side lit? Perhaps to show off the texture? Is part of your subject translucent where backlight will make it glow? Do you want it to be a silhouette? Do you want to emphasize the shadows? These are all possibilities that are front and center in my thought process.

          Let me digress for a moment and interject this thought: If I’m walking around some city street looking to capture a moment in time, then that moment can trump directional light; but to me that’s the only time.

          “In a perfect world” is a personal pearl of wisdom I mention from time to time. In this scenario, I’m talking about being able to scout a location before you actually go and shoot to determine where the light is coming from. If you’re like me, you like to shoot at sunrise and sunset when the sun is low on the horizon…the golden hour.

          The last thing I would ever want to happen is to be at a location at sunrise when I should have been there at sunset, and vice-versa; or at a location that doesn’t get early morning light until mid-morning. Conversely, a location that loses the late afternoon light well before it’s time for me to start shooting.

          For as long as this old mind can remember, I’ve been using a program called Sunpath, and with the readings I get from it (anywhere in the world), I use a hand bearing compass called a Morin2000. This enables me to know exactly where the sun will come up and go down. If I’m able to scout the location ahead of time, I’ll know where to stand, when to stand there, and how long I have to stand there.

          If scouting is not possible, I at least walk around and look for places to stand...in relation to the source of the light.

          As far as the environment that surrounds my subject is concerned, I want to make sure it’s in sync. In other words, the relationship between the subject and what’s around it is of equal importance; especially the negative space that’s between them…defining them. I call it taking care of “the whole enchilada”.

          Balance is one of the basic elements of visual design, and it refers to how you distribute the positive space (everything that has mass or weight) evenly in your composition. Strive for balance, but don’t worry about everything being an unimaginative fifty-fifty proposition as far as equal weight and size. All the elements can be of different importance on their own, but will add up in your finished photo. Balance can be symmetrical or asymmetrical. If it’s balanced, it will feel right.

          The photo above was part of a advertising campaign for Pacific Bell where we went to four small towns (actual places) and set up a phone booth and photographed it. We arrived in Nameless, Tennessee the day before to scout the location, decide when to shoot it and where to put the phone booth. Without prior knowledge, this photo could not have been set up before the sun came up and taken moments after sunrise. It felt right!

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

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

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

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

          JoeB

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            Framing within a frame.

            Framing within a frame.

            Ok, I know what a lot of you are probably thinking when I say the word Tension., but it’s not what you’re thinking. When you hear the word tension you more than likely associate it with mental or emotional stress since that’s the most popular definition. After all, how many commercials have you seen or heard where they talk about “the tension headache”, and that their pill works better than all the rest to get rid of it?

            I’m talking about the kind of Visual Tension that’s comes as a result of forces acting against one another; which creates energy and visual interest. When Visual Tension is present, it’s the feeling that something is going to occur that will change the dynamics of the message we’re trying to get across to the viewer.

            In the psychology of Gestalt, we want to make the viewer an active participant when looking at our photos, and generating visual interest is a good way to keep him around longer looking at our imagery. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I want.

            In my three online classes with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, we work on several ways to create Visual Tension, and one of the ways is called, “Framing within a frame”. This happens when we place a frame of some sort around our subject or centers of interest. This can be anything, including one of the four edges that surrounds our composition. BTW, it’s one of the reasons why it’s best not to crop your photos, so you can use the edges of your frame as a compositional tool.

            The frame directs the viewer’s eye to not only the subject, but the environment it sits in; giving it a frame of reference. Framing within a frame adds depth and it’s the feeling of the frame closing in that also provides tension. Also, when you put a frame around your subject or center of interest, it will lead the viewers eyes directly to it and the energy it generates to focus his/her attention takes work and work takes time, which requires energy, and energy equals tension.

            Here are some examples of “framing within a frame”:

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

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

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

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

            JoeB

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              Explaining the How and the why.

              Explaining the How and the why.

              Several of my students that take my online class with the BPSOP, and also in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet say to me that what they like most about my classes is not only do I show people how to make stronger photos, but why they are.

              The how comes from teaching people how to incorporate the elements of visual design into their imagery: Line, Pattern, Form, Texture, Balance, Color, Light, and Shape are the elements that my students will eventually wind up putting on their new Artist Palette. With this palette (that also has shadows, silhouettes, and vanishing points on it) they can start using the right side of their brain (the creative side) instead of the left side (the analytical side).

              For example, a photographer looking at a tree with the left side sees only a tree. That same photographer looking at the same tree with the right side sees patterns made by the bark, the texture of the bark, negative space separating and defining the leaves and branches, the lines that make up the trunk and branches, the way the light falls on the tree (side, back, or front lighting), and the color of the leaves.

              The why is all about perception. The goal is to present your photo in such a way as to take control of how the viewer perceives and processes the information we lay out to him in the form of a photograph. If that same tree is presented in such a way as to keep the viewer around longer by looking at the warm late afternoon side light emphasizing the patterns and texture of the bark, then you’ve done your job.

              If that same light is coming from behind the tree, it passes through the negative space that was created to define the leaves. It will turn the tree into a two-dimensional silhouette but because of those green, yellow, red, and orange leaves being translucent, they will glow; and don’t forget about that wonderful shadow (your best friend) that lies on the ground stretching out to the camera…again you’ve done your job, and a job well done.

              In the photo above taken at LaDefense in Paris with the left side of my brain, I saw a man sitting on the steps. with the right side I saw Line, Pattern, Texture, Shape, and Figure-Ground…a dark subject against a lighter background.

              The people that look at your images created by the right side of your brain will undoubtedly find more visual interest than those created with the left side…they just won’t necessarily know why…it will be our little secret!

              🙂

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

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

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

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

              JoeB

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                Anecdotes: My New Best Friend

                My new best friend.

                My new best friend.

                A million years ago, I was shooting the Annual Report for Apache Oil and Gas. They were about to start drilling in Egypt so they sent me there to basically shoot what ever I wanted that would capture the flavor of the country.

                I was more than a little surprised when I found out that the hotel I was staying in was right across the road from the famous Pyramids of Giza. Not only did my room look out to the pyramids, but there was a casino in the hotel.

                The biggest sand trap I had ever seen.

                The biggest sand trap I had ever seen.

                For some reason most people think more on the romantic side about the pyramids, and a lot of that is owed to Cecil B DeMille for his portrayal in his iconic movies. In actuality, the pyramids are not even outside of Cairo and besides the hotel, there’s a shopping center where tourists can buy everything imaginable that has to do with the pyramids or the Sphinx. Oh, did I forget to mention the eighteen hole golf course next to them????

                Upon arriving at the pyramids, you’re swarmed/accosted  by guides that promise you secret ways to enter the pyramids, and know one else knows these passages. One such man would not leave us alone, and kept showing us all his badges he had concealed under his coat. He said that he had all the necessary permits to allow us to take photographs, and was not to be denied…I liked him right away!

                As it turned out several more of these guides kept bothering us about our cameras, but Mohammad was always right there to protect and defend.

                One of the photos I took at the pyramids.

                One of the photos I took at the pyramids.

                 

                Check out my website at: www.joebaraban.com, my online class with the BPSOP, and my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet. Come shoot with me sometime. The end of July marks my twenty-eight year at the Maine Media workshops. It’s a wonderful way to immerse yourself for a week and think about nothing but photography. It’s the same week as the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland, and offers a completely different set of photo ops than the beautiful Maine coastline, amazing lighthouses, and quaint fishing villages. The full description is at the top of this blog.

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

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

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

                JoeB

                 

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                  Food for Digital Thought: Form

                  Light from 9:00 O’clock

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

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

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

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

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

                  Light from 3:00 o'clock

                  Light from 3:00 o’clock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                   

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                    A sense of rhythm and harmony.

                    A sense of rhythm and harmony.

                    The psychology of Gestalt has been around since the 1920’s and was founded by a group of German psychologists. I started reading about it several years ago and began applying these six different concepts to the way I was approaching the way I took photos.

                    It’s all about managing what the viewer perceives and processes when looking at the visual information we lay out to him in the form of a photograph. Visual input is a part of our everyday lives, and it’s our objective to present this information in a way that will keep the viewer around longer…looking at our photos. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I like it when people look at my images for a long time.

                    Besides the part I and II classes I teach online with the BPSOP, relating to the elements of visual design, I now teach my fellow photographers how to incorporate these six concepts in a class strictly on gestalt. These are also areas I talk about in my “Stretching Your Frame of mind” workshops I conduct around our planet.

                    One of these concepts is called Similarity.

                    Similarity is perhaps the easiest of all the concepts to recognize and therefore explaining it without going into too much detail.

                    Similarity occurs when forms, colors, sizes, and objects look enough alike to be perceived s a group or pattern in the viewer’s mind. All these different elements, when occurring in your photos, give a sense of rhythm and will connote harmony.

                    The viewer loves to see photos that are designed with a variety of colors, shapes, and forms, and when the viewer sees these similar characteristics, he’ll perceive the elements as being related due to the shared characteristics.

                    Here’s a few examples of what I mean:

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

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

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

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

                    JoeB

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                      Quick Photo Tip: Using Body Language

                      After winning the tournament...could you tell?

                      After winning the tournament…could you tell?

                      One of the ways to bring visual interest and tension into your imagery is the use of body language. It’s a way to communicate without the talking, and can disclose a person’s character or attitude without a word being said. this is very important in still photography for obvious reasons.

                      I teach an online class with the PPSOP, and I conduct my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops around the planet. One of the areas we work on is ways to create Visual Tension,  and the use of body language is one of them.  I shoot a lot of environmental portraits, so for me body language is an important part of the overall composition. Body language is one of the pieces that make up a good photo, and other pieces of the same puzzle will influence how we interpret non-verbal information by the subject.

                      The use of hands is so important in expressing thought and conveying the feeling of warmth or strength. If the way people use their hands wasn’t significant, and you doubt that it can help you take your imagery what I refer to as “up a level”, then one only needs to think about sign language and the way the hands are used in a way to send a message to others.

                      What about the face? A simple expression can send so many different meanings and can portray the range of emotions we all have; don’t we all occasionally carry our disposition, mood, and temperament on our faces.

                      When taking photos of just one person, the body language can be both compelling and enchanting, but when there’s two or more people, then the outcome can be extremely entertaining and thought-provoking when put in the right situation; especially when light plays a big part…as it always should.

                      The next time you’re taking pictures of people, try to incorporate some body language and see how much it helps in generating visual tension and interest.

                      Here’s are a few examples of both one and more than one subject. Can you tell by their body language what’s happening?

                       

                      .

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

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

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

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

                      JoeB

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                        Let kids be kids.

                        Let kids be kids.

                        Fortunately, I’ve never had to photograph kids to make a living, but over the course of my almost fifty years as a professional photographer, I’ve had my share of  advertising and corporate assignments where children of all ages were the end users for the company that made the products that fed them, clothes them, protected them, fixed them, and played with them; as a result I took the little darling’s  pictures.

                        My approach was always to lower my thought process to their level and photograph them the way they wanted to be photograph. Whatever pose they had in mind is the pose I almost always went with. As I tell my online students with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet go with the flow. Don’t try to force an idea on them, because I can bear witness to the fact that it’s a good way to get them NOT to do what you want…just to spite you!!!

                        I’ve had many kids that wanted to be photographed with their pet. YIKES!!! I can tell you from many years of experience, as far as subject matter goes kids and animals are the two hardest  to photograph…especially at the same time!! Forget about anything predictable (not a bad idea anyway) and again, let them dictate how they want to be photographed with their pet.

                        Alex and her dog Lucy.

                        Alex and her dog Lucy.

                        Eye to eye

                        Eye to eye

                        Another tip is to get down on their level. I’ve seen way too many photos where the photographer bent over and took the picture from their height.If you’re down where they are, it’s a lot more engaging and whatever direction you’re able to give them will work better “eye to eye”.

                        I’ve even gone to the extent of having them look in the viewfinder and let them take my picture first. You would be surprised on how often this works. Last but certainly not least, is to pay them. You would really be surprised with how often this works!

                        Finally, if you’re good enough you can direct them to do something that might look natural, but in reality the idea was conceived by you, the photographer.

                        😉

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

                        The Los Angeles Center for Photogaphy is having me come out for a three day weekend intensive workshop  beginning July 15th. The description is at the top under workshops. I’ll be making my presentation the evening of the 14th and is open to the public.

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

                        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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                          Life before Photoshop: Ho’okipa

                          Look ma, no Photoshop!

                          Look ma, no Photoshop!

                          Ho’okipa Beach is on the north shore on the Island of Maui, and probably the most renowned windsurfing site in the world. I was there working on another project and went up to see what we could get since the international championships was just a week away.

                          All the top windsurfers from all over the world were going to be there, so I figured it would be a great photo opportunity. In those days I was selling a lot of stock photography, so I thought why not make a few bucks while adding to my sports portfolio.

                          We arrived in the afternoon, and on that day it was overcast; rare for Maui. We had just this one afternoon off, so I couldn’t spend more than a few hours…so we waited, hoping for a break in the weather. I was set up on a pullout that overlooked the beach, with my 600mm Nikkor f/4 lens on, and was watching the windsurfers until there was just a handful of them left.

                          By that time all the other tourists had left, but as I tell my online students with the BPSOP, and those that take my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop I conduct around our planet, “it ain’t over til it’s over”…as in dark!!

                          Sure enough waiting around paid off because for less than minute the sun peaked through the almost solid gray sky, and as Eddy Adams once said, “When you get lucky, be ready”….and I was.

                          The three remaining windsurfers came around and for a matter of seconds had formed a perfect triangle. As the sun was back lighting the sails making them glow, I was shooting…and screaming in pure joy!!!!

                          What you see in the above is one exposure, on one piece of film.

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

                          I have added a new workshop to my 2016 schedule. On September 21st, ten photographers will get together with me at my evening “meet and greet” to begin a fantastic five-day workshop in New York, New York.

                          On July 15th I’ll be doing a three day workshop in LA and also a presentation on the 14th. Check out my description at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me.

                          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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                            What do you think?

                            What do you think?

                            Karen submitted this photo of three seagulls. She asked me what I thought about the photo, and I like to share what each of my fellow photographers had to say. In this case, all Karen said was ” Joe, what do you think about this photo”.

                            The first thing I immediately felt was how closed in the photo seemed…Why you ask? Because of the square format.

                            As I’m always reminding my students that take my online class with the BPSOP, and in my own “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet, we don’t perceive in a square, we perceive in a rectangle; which is why I always use a 3:2 aspect ratio. In my opinion it’s very difficult to achieve visual tension in a square, especially in a landscape.

                            I’m not saying you can never achieve tension, because it depends on the subject matter. Diane Arbus comes to mind as someone that could generate tension in a square, and if you know her photos, you’ll know why I’m saying it. Sh also committed suicide.

                            Take a look at my video: http://www.screencast.com/t/c900iYDpgchJ

                            As I said Karen, cropping is not necessarily a cure-all for creating strong photos. There’s so much more involved as far as deciding on what’s important in your composition. I would suggest you try getting it in the camera and not cropping it later in front of a computer. It’s just one opinion, but if you strive to being a better shooter, then design your shot before you click the shutter.

                            Here’s what it would look like if it was in a 3:2 aspect ratio. Which one do you like?

                            A rectangle

                            A rectangle

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

                            I want to announe my new upcoming three day intensive workshop at the Los Angeles Center for Photography this coming July 15th with my presentation on the evening of the 14th. I hope to see some new fces out there and say hello to some old ones: https://lacphoto.org/events/stretching-your-frame-of-mind-with-joe-baraban/

                            Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. July 31st starts my Maine Media Workshop. It will be my 28th year, and it’s a great way to immerse yourself in taking pictures for a week. Come shoot with me.

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

                            JoeB

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