Alycia Christine

Enchanting Tales, Intriguing Art

Tag: tutorials (Page 1 of 2)

Flashes of Perspective: A Balloon Story

InWonderACS3x5When artists talk about the different techniques involved in our craft, we sometimes forget that all of the technique in the world cannot replace the creative spark that guides our work. After all, my fondest memories of a particular photograph come not from the techniques I used to capture the shot, but from the beauty that I was able to record with my camera at that particular moment. Consequently I would like to share one of those moments of beauty today and tell you the story of how it came to be.

In 2011, my husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to go on our first vacation together since we have been married. To celebrate our anniversary, we decided to take a road trip from Texas to Colorado to see the sights. We had always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon and during our time in Colorado Springs, we finally had our chance. We bought our tickets well in advance and readied ourselves to wake up at 5 a.m. on the morning of the flight. Instead of waking up at 5 a.m., however, I woke up at 4 o’clock with an upset stomach. By the time my husband was awake, I was thoroughly miserable.

I was far too stubborn to stay in the hotel room and miss the possible fulfillment of a childhood dream, so my husband drove to the launch site outside of Larkspur while I rode in the passenger seat clutching a trashcan to my chest just in case. I stayed near the site’s port-a-potties for most of the morning, but finally felt well enough to fly the blue skies. It took a while for the wind to die down enough to make a hot air balloon ride safe, but once the winds and my stomach finally calmed, the journey skyward was spectacular. There were two huge balloons toting 12 passengers apiece. While Matt and I traveled in one, I was able to photograph the other.

I was proud of all my shots that day, but the photo that I call “In Wonder” remains one of my absolute favorites. I captured this particular photograph while our hot air balloon was traveling up the slope of the hill that is visible in the photo. The winds shifted at just the right moment to carry the other balloon into my camera’s field of vision. I waited until the balloon and the hill aligned just across the horizon from each other at more-or-less Rule of Thirds ratios and snapped the photo.

All too soon, we had to land the balloons and end our floating adventure, but the memories and photos of flying beneath a colorful envelope filled with hot air still bring a smile to my lips.

Until we meet again, I wish all of you brilliant flashes of perspective!

[ O*] Alycia

Flashes of Perspective: The High Life of Highlights

Glacial_Highlights-AC4x6Hi, everyone! Welcome to the fourth Tuesday of October and this month’s photography lesson. I can’t wait to discuss with you one of my greatest allies in the creation of striking photographs: highlights. There is something truly magical when the sun’s rays illuminate a photograph’s subject at just the right angle. It reminds me of a perfectly pitched high note in a song. Highlights are so important in photography because they allow the photographer to draw the viewer’s eyes to an image’s subject by making that subject appear brighter than its surroundings.

Let’s Get Started

Highlights work a bit like the Photography Rule of Contrast. If you will recall, I explained in my lesson on Contrast that the color of a subject can make it stand out more than anything else in the image as long as that color directly contrasts the colors used elsewhere in the photograph. A classic example of this is a bright yellow subject against a dark purple background. Instead of contrasting colors; however, the rule of Highlights contrasts amounts of light within an image. A subject that is highlighted will always be more brightly lit than anything else in the image (except the source of the highlight itself).

There are three main types of highlights: spotlights, leading highlights, and backlights. Spotlights are the most common and simplest type of highlights. Spotlights specifically illuminate the whole front or the top of a subject to make it stand out from its surroundings. Leading lights are a bit more complicated. These highlights are shown as a literal line of light which begins at one point in the photo and ends at the photo’s main subject. The most common leading light is a ray of sunlight coming out of a break in the clouds to highlight a subject below the cloud break. Our eyes follow the line of light from its start to its end to see the subject it illuminates. Finally backlights light up a subject from behind rather than in front like spotlights. Backlights can be used to create a sort of halo-lit subject or they can be used to make a full silhouette of a subject.

Let’s Break It Down

Front Spotlights

“Gilded Autumn”

“Japanese Red”

“Stone Straws”

Top Spotlights

“Metallic Pinwheels”

“Pasta Illumination”

“Sun Dabbled Dune”

Leading Light

“Glacial Highlights”

“Heavenly Highlights, No. 1”

Backlight Halos

“Crowned Glory”

“Sunlit Spines”

Backlight Silhouettes

“Hammering the Sun”

“Sunrise Florets”

Photographer’s Note

Try to shoot your photos during times of day like early morning or late evening when the sun is low in the sky and therefore gives you a better chance of using long rays of light to highlight specific subjects. Some of the best natural light happens during the 30 minutes after sunrise and during the 30 minutes before sunset on a sunny day. You can also use man-made light for this assignment. Look for narrow beams of light that illuminate only one particular subject. Also be careful not to overexpose your photos. Otherwise your subjects will look blown out or washed out because of too much light centered on them. Play with your camera’s ISO and shutter speed to help fix any over-lighting problems. Also keep in mind that good highlights can appear and vanish quickly so plan your shots so that you can work rapidly and efficiently.

Homework

For this assignment, I want you to shoot 12 or more photos using the various highlighting techniques that I have discussed. Make sure that at least two photos demonstrate each type of highlight: spotlights, leading lights, backlit halos, and backlit silhouettes. I suggest using static subjects for this round of homework. Have fun!

Until we meet again, I wish all of you brilliant flashes of perspective!

[ O*] Alycia

Flashes of Perspective: Saturation Makes Perfect

Egg_Tentacles_AC4x6For this article of Flashes of Perspective, I thought I would discuss with all of you the photography rule of Photo Saturation. Photo Saturation is a very important aspect of photography, especially if you are going to shoot photography professionally. It was the first rule that I learned to use in the classroom and it is always the first tool that I employ in the field.

Let’s Get Started

The rule of Photo Saturation is a simple one. Basically it is the idea of photographing a specific subject several times in order to get the best possible representation of that subject. Many artists and craftsmen will create rough sketches of their work before they actually execute the final product. A writer, for example, might create an outline of a story before he or she actually writes it. Then the writer will take the rough draft and refine it correcting grammar issues, punctuation problems, consistency errors, and other mistakes until at last she has a final draft. In photography these rough sketches or rough drafts come from repeated attempts to shoot the perfect photograph (i.e. photo saturation).

Let’s Break It Down

My personal approach to Photo Saturation is to have a rough idea in my head of what I want the final image look like before I start shooting a subject. Sometimes I have a clearer image in mind that others, but always I strive to shoot a subject from as many different angles and vantage points as possible so that I can create the best quality image. These multiple images are my rough drafts. I always have to stay flexible while I am photographing because sometimes the rough idea that I have in my head is not always as good as the best photo that I actually shoot in the field. The give and take between planned photos and the spontaneous bonus images that I get on-site is the main reasons why I photography so much. No matter how much I plan a shot beforehand there are always surprises once I step behind the lens. Photo saturation helps me make the most of the surprises and the planned shots.

Most of the time I shoot a ratio of 10 to 15 photographs for every one final image that I show others. When I started shooting photography at the age of 10, I was lucky if I had one good photograph out of every role of 36 that I shot. Years of practice, better equipment, and continuous tutelage has led me to have a far better photo ratio than when I began. My eventual goal is to have a photo ratio of closer to 1 in 5, but for now I am very pleased with what I have accomplished.

When my husband and I vacationed in Alaska this last month, I purposely overshot everything I saw. My use of Photo Saturation meant that I came home after a 10 day trip with over 2700 photos. Of those 2700 photos, I will upload maybe 200 total shots to my website. I will be the first to tell you that shooting that many photos for so few publishable results is a bit extreme, especially for me, but doing going to the extreme of Photo Saturation has allowed me to bring back and showcase the very best images possible from the trip. While so many photos from the trip were very good and my photo ratio averaged about 1 in 8, I only want to upload the photos that I think are of award-winning quality. After all, I think my art collectors deserve the best quality products possible.

Last week I presented 14 photos from my Alaska trip. This week I wanted to reveal 14 more photos to further share my adventures with you. I have also included the number of photos I took before finally getting that final awesome image to give you an idea of my personal use of Photo Saturation.

Static or Slow Subjects

I took 5 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Boardwalk Parasols”.

I took 4 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Flower Pack”.

I took 7 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Ice Streams”.

I took 23 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Mountain Ice”.

I took 4 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Sawed Rust”.

I took 3 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Wall Walker”.

I took 4 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Wooden Waterway”.

Moving Subjects

I took 36 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Cumulus Pontoon”.

I took 18 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Egg Tentacles”.

I took 21 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Pale Mountain Moon”.

I took 30 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Steller Beach”.

I took 13 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Triple Starbursts”.

I took 17 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Urban Salmon”.

I took 11 rough photos before I shot this final image of “Victoria Legislative Lights”. By the way, this photo is under moving subjects because I was riding in a bus at the time I shot the photos.

Photographer’s Note

It is important to remember that different subjects often require different amounts of Photo Saturation. In some cases, the photographer may have a lot of time to shoot a subject from different angles and vantage points. In other cases, you may only be able to snap a single photo. This last situation is especially true when dealing with moving subjects such as animals or small children. Do your best in each circumstance and stay adaptable. If you have the time use your Photo Saturation techniques to practice some of the other Rules of Photography. If not, just use your instincts to shoot the best possible photo of the subject that you can.

Homework

This assignment will be an odd one. I want you to shoot 30 images or more photos of only 2 different subjects. I suggest using static subjects for this round of homework. Statues or monuments work well for this project, but you can find other things too like architecture. Make sure that you look for unique subjects with lots of interesting angles because you will be shooting each subject a lot! Work until you get the very best portrait of that subject. Have fun!

Until we meet again, I wish all of you brilliant flashes of perspective!

[ O*] Alycia

SCRAWLS: Photo Cull Alert and The Writing Comparison Trap

Inuksuk_Singular_AC4x6So far my September has seen lots of sniffling, many hours of photo processing, and a little writing. My husband and I got back from vacation on August 27, rested two days, repacked, and then spent Labor Day Weekend in Lubbock with my family. While there I developed a killer sinus infection which left me pretty much useless for half of last week. I muscled through the blog post last Tuesday, but didn’t work on any other writing or photography until Wednesday afternoon. Thursday saw me working on a fiction story called “Thorn and Thistle” and Friday found me sorting through the last of the 2700 or so photos I took on our Alaska Vacation.

I apologize that I have been unable to upload any additional photos from the trip besides last week’s blog photo “Totems to the Sky” and this week’s blog photo “Inuksuk Singular”. Processing the best photos from the trip has been very slow because I am being extra picky with which photos I want to include on the website. Incidentally, for those of you interested in purchasing my photos, I suggest doing so now. I am about to make a major cull of photos off the website to make room for the trip photos and I cannot guarantee which ones will be left standing when the dust clears.

Also look for a special issue of the Flashes of Perspective blog next week as your guide to my Alaskan adventures and all of the beautiful photos I shot while on tour. Today I will continue our discussion of SCRAWLS writing advice.

In our previous writing lesson we discussed how to cut your giant problems down to size. Today let’s talk about how to keep confidence in your writing.

Lesson 4: Don’t ever compare yourself to others.

I am a slow writer. Every time I sit down to write, I have to battle three different disabilities: dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and perceptual dysfunction disorder. I’ll spare you the boring details of what each of these things do, but basically they all interfere with my ability to read in one way or another. Consequently I have made every imaginable excuse as to why I am not fit as a writer. And, guess what, they are all lies. I can write, I write well, and I love to write. In the end, these are the only reasons I need to be a writer. Writing is not always easy nor is it always fun, but it is always fulfilling and rewarding. I know some authors who write four or five times faster than I; most write at least twice as fast as I. Many of them write with more punctuation and spelling accuracy in their first draft as I do on my third! After years of comparing myself to others, I realized that it just was not worth the frustration it causes. I will always write slower and less accurately than some authors, but I will also write faster and “better” than others. In the end, no one else can write exactly the way I do or care to write about the same subjects that I like.

My writing is unique and that uniqueness is what makes it special. Your uniqueness is what makes your writing special. Do not ever let anyone try to change your writing unique voice to make it sound like someone else’s. God did not make you to be anyone other than you. Therefore you should be proud of the person that you are and the writing that you do. By all means, hone your craft and better your skills. Study correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. so that your stories are technically well-written and therefore easier for others to read, but always be true to your own writing style!

Until our next meeting, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

🙂 Alycia

P.S. – I will continue reorganizing the alyciachristine.com website and my photography website through the end of September. Don’t forget to order your photo prints this week before I begin culling photos off the photography website. Expect more of the Alaska photos on the photography website on Tuesday, September 17, 2013. Thanks!


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the desk of Alycia Christine Sears and/or Alycia C. Cooke with love and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts on this particular topic and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

Flashes of Perspective: Patterns Verses Textures

Metallic_Pinwheels-4x6ACGood day, everyone! I hope you are all bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready for today’s lesson. As for me, I am running on a few hours’ sleep and strong coffee, so if you see a line of zzz’s show up in today’s photography lesson, it means that have I accidentally fallen asleep at the keyboard. Please feel free to poke me on Twitter to wake me up. Now let us get on with the lesson before I forget what I wanted to teach you.

Today, I want to share my thoughts on the significance of patterns and textures in photography. I love shooting pattern photos because they are so fresh and fascinating. Pattern photos tend to be minimalistic in their design and composition. This simplicity can be fun but challenging due to the tendency for pattern photos to feel austere because of their severe simplicity. The trick with these types of photos is to find a balance between the overall pattern being shot and an “anchoring element” within the photo.

Let’s Get Started

When I talk about the pattern photo, I am not just talking about a photo that has a pattern of some sort in it. Rather I am talking about a photo that is dominated by an overarching pattern. The pattern of this type of photo dominates so much of the image that the pattern itself actually is the photo’s subject. This is different from a texture photo which simply features a pattern within its composition that adds interest to the overall photo’s subject rather than becoming its subject. The main difference between a Pattern-Based Photograph and a Photograph with Texture is the use of an anchoring subject element in the photo. An anchoring element acts like the subject within the subject and is used to help “ground” Pattern-Based Photos.

Let’s Break It Down

To understand a pattern photo and its anchoring point, let’s look at the example “Metallic Pinwheels”. “Metallic Pinwheels” actually showcases the pattern on the side of Disney’s Epcot sphere when lit at night. For this photo, I wanted to focus just on the pattern itself instead of on the sphere as a whole. To do this, I zoomed in so that only the pattern was featured instead of the building as a whole and used the two brightest lit triangles as the pattern’s anchor element. Because these two triangles stand out a little more than others in the pattern, they give the viewer’s eye a specific place to focus his or her vision, thus grounding his or her attention in the image.

Pattern-Based Photos

Pattern-Based Photos have a main subject that is part of the dominant pattern of the photo and acts as the viewer’s eyes “anchoring point” such as:

The brightest lit triangles in “Metallic Pinwheels”

The smallest diamond shape in “Industrial Diamonds”

The largest square in “Mauve Blocks”

Photos With Texture

Photos with texture usually have a main subject that is something other than the pattern itself like:

The leaf in “Iron Ripples”

The spider in “Spider Spots”

The sun in “Sun Dabbled Dune”

Photographer’s Note

When shooting Pattern-Based Photos it is important to remember that a pattern’s anchor point subject will always be something within the pattern that is slightly different than the other parts of the pattern. Most often this variation shows up as a difference in color, size, shape, or placement. Notice that my anchor point subjects almost always line up in some way with at least one of the photograph’s axis discussed in the Rule of Thirds lesson. Try to do this with your own work.

Homework

Because Pattern-Based Photos and their textured cousins can be difficult to find, I am only asking you to find 4 of each photo type for this assignment. The easiest place to find these 8 total photos will be in the middle of the city, where man-made patterns crop up often as part of buildings’ structures and facades. If you prefer to look for your photos in the great outdoors rather than in suburbia, try areas with lots of windswept sand dunes. The key to success will depend on how uniform the patterns and textures are that you discover. Good luck and have fun!

Until we meet again, I wish all of you brilliant flashes of perspective!

[ O*] Alycia

Flashes of Perspective: Vertical or Horizontal Photos

TwilightMushroomsACS3x5Welcome to today’s photography lesson. Over the past several weeks, I have discussed the differences in photo sizes, close-ups, and crop ratios. While my discussions on these three previous topics are largely complete, I still feel the need to explain a camera technique that relates to these three: the art of choosing between a vertical shot and horizontal shot. I touched on vertical photos a little while discussing close-ups and cropping, but now I want to really make sure that you understand when and how to use a vertical shot over a horizontal shot and vice versa.

Let’s Get Started

The type of camera that you use, whether it is an SLR for a simple point-and-shoot phone camera, will often determine what default image orientation you use. An image orientation refers to which way a camera sensor is held during the process of taking a photo. There are two standard image orientations: vertical and horizontal.

A digital SLR like the Canon Rebel T2i camera that I use is set up to automatically take horizontal photos because its viewfinder and its camera sensor use a 2 by 3 image ratio where the longer side (the 3 ratio) is at top and bottom and the short end (the 2 ratio) is on either side. My Samsung smart phone camera is set up just the opposite. If I hold the phone upright, the longer side of the photo will be up and down, and the shorter side will be at the top end bottom of the image, so the default photo will be a vertical image. What this means is that my SLR camera will shoot horizontal photos unless I tip the camera on one end, while my smart phone camera will shoot vertical photos unless I tip the phone sideways.

Here is why you should care about the difference between vertical and horizontal shots: not every photo subject looks good in a horizontal photo. Remember the example that I gave in my cropping lesson where I took a vertical photo of an actress as she walked down her movie premier’s red carpet? Why did I decide to shoot vertically? The answer is because I wanted to capture all of her—from her perfectly quaffed hair to her breathtaking gown to her stunning shoes. I can’t do that as easily in a horizontal photo as I can in a vertical photo. If I try to shoot the actress in a horizontal photo, I will have to zoom farther out to make sure that all of her is in the photo (i.e. that I do not accidentally crop off her head or her feet). With a vertical photo, I do not have to zoom nearly as far to capture all of her sleek silhouette. This makes the use of a vertical photo better than a horizontal photo when shooting this particular subject.

You always want to capture an object in a way that makes it look its best. As I have said before, some objects look better in a vertical image than in a horizontal image and vice versa. So how do you decide which image orientation is better? Well, if the subject of a photo is taller than it is wide, it will likely look better in a vertical photo because the longer edge the photo parallels the longer line of the object. If, however, the subject of a photo is wider than it is tall, it will look better as part of a horizontal photo. The easy way to remember this is: when in doubt, follow the length.

Let’s Break It Down

Horizontal Photos

The photo’s length runs parallel to its subject’s (the water ripples) length in:
“Blue Undulations”

The photo’s length runs parallel to its subject’s (the lemonade stand) length in:
“Lemonade Dusk”

The photo’s length runs parallel to its subject’s (the two mushrooms) length in:
“Mushroom Duet”

The photo’s length runs parallel to its subject’s (the two kangaroos) length in:
“Red Roos”

The photo’s length runs parallel to its subject’s (the mountain railroad) length in:
“Simmons Vision”

Vertical Photos

The photo’s length runs parallel to its subject’s (the relationship between the blue bench and the clouds) length in:
“Blue Bench”

The photo’s length runs parallel to its subject’s (the little girl) length in:
“Shy Flower Girl”

The photo’s length runs parallel to its subject’s (the sword) length in:
“Silken Sword”

The photo’s length runs parallel to its subject’s (the relationship between the tree branches and the mountain ridge) length in:
“Twig Window”

The photo’s length runs parallel to its subject’s (the lamp) length in:
“X Marks The Lamp”

Photographer’s Note

Perfectly square and round objects, by definition, have a 1:1 ratio. These objects can therefore be photographed either horizontally or vertically with equal ease. When choosing an image orientation for these subjects, I find it helpful to look at the width and length of any secondary subjects or predominant textures within the photo. For example, the horizontal bricks helped me make the decision to take a horizontal photo of this lovely young woman in “Beauty Beyond the Bars”.

Homework

Shoot 20 images or more photos using the vertical and horizontal shot techniques. Half of these should be vertical shots and half should be horizontal shots. If you really want to challenge yourself, try to shoot two photos of perfectly square or round objects and use your math sleuthing skills to decide what image orientation works best in each case. Make sure that you look for unique subjects and let each subject determine what type of photo will make it look the very best. Have fun!

Until we meet again, I wish all of you brilliant flashes of perspective!

[ O*] Alycia

Flashes of Perspective: Supersize Me!

Photo_Sizes_AC4x6In previous lessons, I talked about photography close-ups and cropping. Today my lesson about actual photo sizes deals with the idea of photo sizes, how they impact a photo’s ratio, and how that ratio affects the rules of photography.

Let’s Get Started

Photographs come in various sizes. Some standard photo sizes (for Americans, at least) are:

    3×5 inches
    4×6 inches
    5×7 inches
    8×10 inches
    8×12 inches
    11×14 inches
    20×30 inches
    24×36 inches

Look at each of these sizes again. Notice anything odd? Many of the different sizes have different aspect ratios. This means that, depending on which size you wish your photo print to be, the comparative correlation between an image’s width and its height will change. This means, for example, that an image of a boy running after a bouncing ball may not show all of the boy and/or all of the ball depending on what size you print the photo.

In order to properly understand how the aspect ratios of photographs work, we need to do some simple math. Don’t worry, this won’t take long and it should be relatively pain-free. Let us look at the photo sizes again. This time, however, we are going to use whole numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…) to divide the width and height of each image size to its smallest whole number measurements. In other words, we are using fractions of the current sizes to find out their ratios.

3×5 inches: 3 cannot be divided by any whole number to make it a smaller whole number so it stays the same (3/3=1, 3/2=.6666, 3/1=3); 5 cannot be divided by any whole number to make it a smaller whole number so it stays the same. Therefore, the aspect ratio of a 3 inch by 5 inch photo is 3:5.

4×6 inches: 4 can be divided by 2 to equal 2 (4/2=2). 6 can also be divided by 2 to equal 3 (6/2=3). Therefore, the aspect ratio of a 4 inch by 6 inch photo is 2:3.

5×7 inches: 5 cannot be divided by any whole number to make it a smaller whole number so it stays the same; 7 cannot be divided by any whole number to make it a smaller whole number so it stays the same. Therefore, the aspect ratio of a 5 inch by 7 inch photo is 5:7.

8×10 inches: 8 can be divided by 2 to equal 4 (8/2=4). 10 can also be divided by 2 to equal 5 (10/2=5). Therefore, the aspect ratio of an 8 inch by 10 inch photo is 4:5.

8×12 inches: 8 can be divided by 4 to equal 2 (8/4=2). 12 can also be divided by 4 to equal 3 (12/4=3). Therefore, the aspect ratio of an 8 inch by 12 inch photo is 2:3.

11×14 inches: 11 cannot be divided by any whole number to make it a smaller whole number so it stays the same. Because 11 cannot be divided, we cannot divide 14 by any whole number to make it a smaller whole number either so it stays the same. Therefore, the aspect ratio of an 11 inch by 14 inch photo is 11:14.

20×30 inches: 20 can be divided by 10 to equal 2 (20/10=2). 30 can also be divided by 10 to equal 3 (30/10=3). Therefore, the aspect ratio of a 20 inch by 30 inch photo is 2:3.

24×36 inches: 24 can be divided by 12 to equal 2 (24/12=2). 36 can also be divided by 12 to equal 3 (36/12=3). Therefore, the aspect ratio of a 24 inch by 36 inch photo is 2:3.

Photograph print sizes directly affect the aspect ratio of photos and, therefore, change what rules of photography exist in a certain photo. After all, if you have a 5×7 inch print and a 4×6 inch print of the same photo image, the image will look different because different parts will be trimmed from the original image.

Most cameras (including my Canon camera) capture images in a 2×3 aspect ratio format. Consequently a photo using The Rule of Thirds or Leading Lines will look great as a 4×6 inch print or an 8×12 inch print, but terrible as a 3×5 inch or 8×10 inch print. Conversely, photos using the photography rules of focus/depth of field, color and contrast, or centering will likely look good using almost any print size because the different edge-cropping amounts will not adversely affect the look of the subject.

Let’s Break It Down

Leading Lines: (usually an aspect-ratio sensitive rule)

“Look-Out Mountain, Idaho”
The sky and part of the hills will be lost if this photo is printed as a 3×5 inch size, 5×7 inch size, 8×10 inch size, or any other size that does not have a 2:3 aspect ratio.

Flanking: (usually an aspect-ratio sensitive rule)

“Floating Between Paths”
The lines of road may not meet the photo’s corners if this photo is printed as a 3×5 inch size, 5×7 inch size, 8×10 inch size, or any other size that does not have a 2:3 aspect ratio.

Rule of Thirds and Balance: (usually aspect-ratio sensitive rules)

“In Wonder”
Essential parts of the sky and land will be lost and the balloon will not appear near the upper right axis of the image if this photo is printed as a 3×5 inch size, 5×7 inch size, 8×10 inch size, or any other size that does not have a 2:3 aspect ratio.

“Blue Undulations”
Essential parts of the sky, land, and water ripples will be lost in the image if this photo is printed as a 3×5 inch size, 5×7 inch size, 8×10 inch size, or any other size that does not have a 2:3 aspect ratio.

Focus/Depth of Field: (can be EITHER an aspect-ratio sensitive rule or not depending on the main subject’s location within the image)

“Budding Serenity”
Nonessential parts of the out-of-focus lily pads, but none of the lotus bud main subject will be lost in the image if this photo is printed as a 3×5 inch size, 5×7 inch size, 8×10 inch size, or any other size that does not have a 2:3 aspect ratio.

Centering: (usually NOT an aspect-ratio sensitive rule)

“The Lord God Loves Them All”
Nonessential parts of the background and hands, but none of the butterfly main subject will be lost in the image if this photo is printed as a 3×5 inch size, 5×7 inch size, 8×10 inch size, or any other size that does not have a 2:3 aspect ratio.

Color and Contrast: (can be EITHER an aspect-ratio sensitive rule or not depending on the main subject’s location within the image)

“Contrast”
Nonessential parts of the purple prickly pear pads, but none of the flower main subject will be lost in the image if this photo is printed as a 3×5 inch size, 5×7 inch size, 8×10 inch size, or any other size that does not have a 2:3 aspect ratio.

Framing: (can be EITHER an aspect-ratio sensitive rule or not depending on the main subject’s location within the image)

“Colorful Perspective”
Nonessential parts of the hot air balloon envelope, but none of its center or the framed pilot will be lost in the image if this photo is printed as a 3×5 inch size, 5×7 inch size, 8×10 inch size, or any other size that does not have a 2:3 aspect ratio.

Close Ups: (can be EITHER an aspect-ratio sensitive rule or not)

“Aqua Dust”
Essential parts of the bottle will be lost in the image if this photo is printed as a 3×5 inch size, 5×7 inch size, 8×10 inch size, or any other size that does not have a 2:3 aspect ratio.

“Vibrant”
Nonessential parts of the lotus flower will be lost in the image if this photo is printed as a 3×5 inch size, 5×7 inch size, 8×10 inch size, or any other size that does not have a 2:3 aspect ratio.

Cropping: (can be EITHER an aspect-ratio sensitive rule or not)

“Egret Alphabet”
Essential parts of the bird will be lost in the image if this photo is printed as a 3×5 inch size, 5×7 inch size, 8×10 inch size, or any other size that does not have a 2:3 aspect ratio.

“Iron Mantis”
Essential parts of the insect sculpture will be lost in the image if this photo is printed as a 3×5 inch size, 5×7 inch size, 8×10 inch size, or any other size that does not have a 2:3 aspect ratio.

Photographer’s Note

I did not mention two photo sizes of squares and wallets above because they can be controversial. Squares have a 1:1 ratio. Wallets are often sized at 2×3 inches or 2.25X3.25 inches. Remember that the printers you use will what size formats you can choose. Keep these points in mind as you begin your homework. Please refer back to my lessons on the various rules of photography if you need help.

Homework

Shoot 20 images or more using the different rules of photography. Half of these should use photography rules such as Leading Lines, Rule of Thirds, and Flanking that cannot be easily printed in anything other than the camera’s original shooting ratio while the other half should use rules like Centering, Depth of Field, Framing, and Color Contrast that are more flexible when working with print size. As always I ask that you look for unique angles to use when shooting your subjects and have fun!

Until we meet again, I wish all of you brilliant flashes of perspective!

[ O*] Alycia

Flashes of Perspective: Get Ready for Your Close Up

VibrantACS3x5
Today I thought that we would discuss the photography rule that is, for some people, way too personal: close-ups. The idea behind the photographic close-up is a simple one. Basically the photographer zooms in on the intended subject so that that subject fills the photographic frame and becomes the largest object within the photo.

Let’s Get Started

Think about the close-up like this: you are standing in the middle of a field of wildflowers and you want to look at just one daisy. So how do you accomplish that? You survey the field for the one flower you really want to study and you walk over, crouch down, and inspect that one daisy up close. The whole act is simple, obvious even. But for some reason, people did not always follow this instinct when they have a camera in their hands. Instead they tend to zoom out and placed their subject in the middle of a very large scene. That is fine if your subject is a mountain, but not so useful if it is a daisy or an insect or even a human.

My suggestion for every budding photographer is, when in doubt, zoom in. So what will zooming in accomplish? Well, first, if the subject is the largest thing in the photo, then it will be easily noticed by the viewer. Having the subject fill the frame in this way works especially well to help minimize distraction from a busy and cluttered background. Second, when dealing with multiple subjects in a single photograph, you can make viewers understand which subject is the most important by making it the largest in the picture.

Some photographers take this technique to extremes and focus almost solely on getting close-ups of small subjects. These artists are known as macro photographers. Macro photographers essentially do the exact opposite of landscape photographers. Whereas landscape photographers tend to zoom out with their cameras so that they can capture as much of the scene around them as possible, macro photographers tend to zoom in on a single, small subject to examine every minute detail of that subject with their camera lens. Macro photography often requires the use of special macro lenses to capture all of the details of a subject, which is why I do not have many personal examples of it (since I currently do not own a macro lens). Primary subjects of macro photography include small insects, plants, flowers, and objects. You can also shoot macro photography of parts and pieces from larger subjects, such as the eye of a horse or the bark of a tree.

Let’s Break It Down

Close-ups:

“Thistle Fractures”

“Nectar Cup”

“Two Tone Susan”

“Aqua Dust”

“Vibrant”

“Virgin Beauty”

Macro photography:

“The Pollinator”

“Coiled In Wait”

“Pine Flakes”

“Lacy Anticipation”

Photographer’s Note

Because of its emphasis on detail, pattern, and texture, macro photography can create uniquely beautiful results. However, something to note, whether shooting simple close-ups or the extreme version of close-ups with macro photography, a narrow depth of field (i.e. having only one small area in hard focus) is unavoidable. This actually causes a nice result because the photo’s background will appear totally out of focus while your main subject is in focus. This means you will not have to worry too much about what’s going on behind your subject as long as nothing in the background is too distracting or jarring (i.e. more colorful, heavily textured, etc. than your main subject). If needed, please see my post on “Flashes of Perspective: Selective Focus Meets Depth of Field” to review how to use the rules of selective focus and depth of field in your photos before attempting this assignment.

For more information on macro photography, I suggest reading National Geographic’s
macro photo tips or Macro Photography Tips with Example Photographs and Images by Tanya Puntti

Homework

Shoot 15 images or more with at least five photos being macro shots. You can stage a few shots with found objects if you wish, but please go out and shoot natural elements like the insects, flowers, tree bark, animal eyes, and other things that I have previously mentioned to round out your photography experience. Remember that the way you light your subjects will be even more important than usual because these subjects are so small. You will need more light when working with smaller objects then you will with larger objects. The camera’s ISO will help with increased light sensitivity as will the shutter speed and aperture settings. Also, when trying to shoot subjects like insects, it is best to do so early in the morning when cool temperatures make them a little slower and, therefore, easier to photograph.

I’ll discuss the finer points of how to crop your close-ups in the next post. Until we meet again, I wish all of you brilliant flashes of perspective!

[ O*] Alycia

Flashes of Perspective: Make it Pop! A Lesson about Color and Contrast (Archive)

ColorWheelI am so excited! Today I get to discuss one of my favorite photography rules with you: the rule of color and contrast!

One of the things, I talked about in the last post was how to use color to balance out Rule of Thirds subjects. Today we get to delve deeper into the concepts of color, contrast, and how they make photos, well…pop.

Let’s Get Started

First of all, let us discuss a little thing you may remember from art class called the color wheel. For anyone who has ever seen a rainbow, you know that a rainbow is composed of the colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (purple). Science teachers often refer to these colors with the acronym ROY G BIV. For art students like me; however, ROY G BIV is usually just ROY G BV and is set up in a circle like the graphic shown with this lesson.

Red, yellow, and blue are called primary colors because they are the basis for all other colors. Orange, green, and violet are called secondary colors because they each are derived from two of the primary colors. Hence, red and yellow make orange, yellow and blue make green, and red and blue make violet.

The color wheel has two sides: the warm colors and the cool colors. Artists call red, orange, and yellow the warm colors or hot colors largely because they are the colors of fire and are used to brighten a scene. The colors green, blue, and violet are all considered cool colors and are used to soften or darken a scene.

If you draw a straight line from one color on the color wheel to its opposite, you have just chosen two contrasting colors. Since these colors are so opposite, they conflict with each other visually. This conflict is very useful to photographers (and artists in general) because conflict draws the eye to a particular subject. Thus, red and green, orange and blue, and yellow and purple are all contrasting colors.

Something else to note, is that if you take contrasting colors and mix them together you will get your neutral colors: brown, olive, and ocher. Thus, red and green make brown, blue and orange make olive, and purple and yellow make ocher. These colors are called neutral colors because they do not contrast with other colors and can therefore work with any of the primary or secondary colors without “stealing the show” so to speak.

Please keep in mind also that, since all other colors are reflected in the color white and all other colors are absorbed into the color black, that even though these colors are often considered neutral, they can still have more impact than any other color in a scene.

Understanding the relationship between warm and cool colors is very important when shooting photography because it helps the photographer understand how to light a subject. When you understand the power of color and can use it to create striking photographs, you will have the ability to amp up viewer interest in your work. The color of a subject will help distinguish it from the rest of the photo. In the case of Color and Contrast, the subject is usually the extreme in color compared to everything else — either the brightest color or the darkest color of the photo.

Let’s Break It Down

Primary Color Scheme Examples:

“Leaf Among Thorns”

Secondary Color Scheme Examples:

“Piranha”

White Color Subject Examples:

“Regal Plumage”

“Egret Alphabet”

Brightest Color Subject Examples:

“Variance”

“Ibis Ogle”

Darkest Color or Black Subject Examples:

“Black Hole”

“Colorful Perspective”

Color Contrast Subject Examples:

Yellow and Violet Contrast Photo
“Contrast”

Orange and Blue Contrast Photo
“Twilight Mushrooms”

Red and Green Contrast Photo
“Zendarians”

Photographer’s Note

Also something to note, is that color can and will affect how you shoot landscapes, so pay attention to your extremes even when you are using the Rule of Thirds and its Balancing principle to shoot landscapes or cityscapes. Remember, whether shooting vertical (the top and bottom are the shortest sides of the photo) or horizontal (longer sides are the top and bottom of the photo) shots, landscapes and cityscapes should be shot with the ratio: one-third land and two-thirds sky or two-thirds land and one-third sky.

Homework

Shoot at least 18 images: 3 of each color principle. You can stage a few shots by shooting crayons or colored pencils to get a feel for the principles, but please go out and shoot random objects that follow the rules. Remember, this is your time to express yourself, so have fun with the project. Trust me when I say that your attitude will directly affect the beauty of your photos.

Until we meet again, I wish all of you brilliant flashes of perspective!

[ O*] Alycia

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