Archive for the ‘Digital Story’ Category

Week 8: Color

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Last week I didn’t have time to take pictures and used the opportunity to explain my project for this week: using color in photography. (In that post I explain the very basics of color theory, so I won’t reiterate them here.) My plan was to test out what I’d learned about color over Thanksgiving break.  My camera is still in set in the strange 16:9 aspect ratio that appeared when I used it for the interviews I did with Brian and Gretchen, so I’ve had to work around this weird stretched out shape.  I wish I could change this setting back to normal!   If nothing else, the elongated frame has forced me to approach subjects knowing they’ll be placed in “skinny” frames before cropping.

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I started out by mentioning the effects of different lighting on color.  Keeping light in mind when walking around town, the cloudy skies gave me a chance to compare the same subject under different light conditions.  I think the following images emphasize the difference between the muted colors under diffused light and the brighter colors created by direct light.  I didn’t use a software slider to adjust these colors, either–the differences are completely created by lighting!

Two views of the same street from different positions (in November & October, respectively):

DSC04413

Diagonal IIThen I mentioned color moods. Here’re “warm” (red) and “calm” (green) pictures, respectively.

Warm

Abstract/Harmonic III

I *think* the cabbage image also exemplifies both abstract and harmonic colors.

Before looking for complimentary colors, I didn’t realize how correctly pairing them can make different objects stand out.  This juxtaposition of orange and blue creates quite a sharp contrast between otherwise boring newspaper stands.

Complimentary

Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without some primary colors!  Now that I know what complimentary colors are, however, I think I like them better…

Abstract/TriadicLike UMW, the campus near my house is fairly squirrel-infested.  But the upside to rogue rodents?  Easy monochromatic silhouettes!  FYI, the “help me” sign is one of many creepy doodles in our basement, and the third monochrone example is a detail shot of the spectacular Romanesque doors on Lee Chapel.

Monochrome I

DSC04579

Monochrome II.1So I’m disappointed that the osage oranges are a little out of focus, but I think they still do a good job showing how “a little bit goes a long way” when it comes to color.  The flower picture is actually by my sister, but I think it pairs well with the image above it.

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Thanks for reading this giant post!  I decided to go “all out” this week because it’s going to be tough to get in much more photography before finals.

Irrelevant to color, but I like this concluding action shot!

:)

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Week 7: Color Basics

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

This week was pretty intense for me, so I didn’t have time to take pictures.  (Sadness!)  Instead, I’m going to talk about some of the tips I’ve learned from John Hedgecoe’s book, which has been, by far, my fav. photography reference I’ve used this semester.  If you want to get started with photography, I definitely recommend checking it out from Simpson.  For using color in photography, Hedgecoe discusses different types of color to a satisfying extent without taking it beyond a beginner’s comprehension.  Over break I plan to take some photos to experiment with what I post about here.  PS Art majors out there, feel free to interject wherever I screw up with this, because color theory is completely new to me.

It turns out my last post about light was a a perfect segue into color, because apparently it has a significant effect on what colors your camera captures.  For example, the camera can obscure true colors by over-correcting for white balance.  At least in digital photography, this problem is easily corrected for in the editing stage.  For example, these photos from cambridgeincolour demonstrate incorrect (left) and correct (right) white balance.

Light affects color intensity.  Direct/harsh light tends to enhance colors, whereas reflected light mutes them.  Sometimes the light is “just right” to capture a subject.  In this case, don’t wait–just shoot!  Good lighting is often fleeting and difficult to recreate.

Different color moods are created by the “warm” and “cool” ends of the color wheel.  Hedgecoe categorizes colors as “hot” (reds), “cool” (blues), “calm” (greens), and “bright” (yellows).  Thus, each color category has a different effect on the viewer.

Among other things, colors can be abstract, harmonic, or monochromatic.  “Abstract” colors are easily captured in close-ups so that color dominates the subject composition.  Hedgecoe points out that “the bright artificial colors” of man made materials are also a good place to start when looking for abstract color compositions.

Cuba Gallery: Organic / macro / closeup / garden / leaves / leaf / natural / nature / rain / water droplets / photography“Harmonic” color schemes are created by using adjacent colors on the color wheel.  (Therefore, the image above exemplifies both abstract and harmonic color.)

I’ve never been completely clear on “monochromatic” until Hedgecoe explained it in terms of paint swatches.  (I’d always thought of it in terms of black and white, which can be monochromatic, but monochrome isn’t limited to B&W.  However, black and white are “neutral” colors, so they can be present with other colors and a monochromatic scheme won’t be affected.)  To create a monochromatic composition, constrain the colors in your photo to different shades of the same color.

A monochromatic photo:
pure gold

The most aesthetically pleasing combination of strong colour contrasts are created by complimentary colors (left).  Primary/triadic colors (right) also pair well together for a dramatic color effect.


ComplementaryLastly, a photographer should be careful not to use too many colors.  Sometimes “a little bit goes a long way,” especially if the colors in a composition come from random places on the color wheel.  Hedgecoe suggests placing a strongly colored subject against a monochromatic, muted, or blurry background to achieve a color-popping effect.  Not only do the harmonic colors work well in the following image, but the blue and yellow also stand out because of the relatively homogeneous background.

Verdant–WHEW!– That was a lot of info for me.  Well, stay tuned for my own examples coming soon!  I haven’t forgotten my promise to try out panoramas, either, so it looks like I have a busy week coming up!  Until then, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  We’re almost there!  :)

Digital story…finally coming together more clearly

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

So, for the past couple weeks, I’ve been in this crazy, yet stagnant struggle to figure out what I need to do for all my classes and what I need to do for my future (dental hygienist). I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to transfer to VCU. I have to transfer in order to hopefully be accepted into their dental hygiene program.


(VCU Medical Campus)

I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty depressed about having to leave UMW, because I really like it here…but it’s better for my future to transfer and save a bunch of time and money. All of my credits from UMW will transfer, with the exception of tennis classes and computer science 110 (nothing to cry about, thankfully). My next step…will be waiting to find out whether I get accepted or not. I’ve weighed the possibilities, and I think I’ll be accepted. Not to count my chickens before they hatch, but I meet their requirements (yes!!), and they have a rolling admissions process–which means I won’t be compared to other applicants. I have some important things to think about if I am accepted:

1. I need to decide whether or not I will live on campus (if I live on campus, the cost is added in to the full amount, like UMW or any other school. The downside is that living on campus is almost always more expensive. Living off campus could be more beneficial, but paying out of pocket for an apartment could become difficult)

2. Which classes should I sign up for? (I need to look at their general education requirements and see how I can fill in the gaps after my UMW credits have transferred)

3. Should I get a small, part-time job? (A job can be helpful because I will still be about 2 hours from home, yet I might need to see how difficult classes are before I attempt to get a job)

I am glad though that I have my parent’s support. I think they were surprised when I told them I wanted to transfer. They’ve known for years that I want to be a dental hygienist, but this is the first step in serious pursuit of my future. So, I guess we’ll see how it goes!

Week 6: Light Sources

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Last week I discussed light quality, but that’s only half of the story in photography. Light sources are also important to consider when capturing a photographic subject. For this post, I referred to advice from John Hedgecoe, Tom Ang, and Paul Comon.

The three main light sources are front, side, and back light.

Front Light IFront Light I - Sepia

Lighting on these columns were created by the direct afternoon sun outside of DuPont.  The version to the left was taken for a daily shoot requesting a “subject low in color saturation,” but I think I actually like the sepia version better because it directs attention to the strongly patterned shadows.  Front lighting is supposed to enhance a subject’s detail but reduce its three-dimensional qualities.  I think this picture I took during Week 1 of my project is a better example of front lighting and how this light source affects detail and dimensions:

Side LightAs I walked past Pollard during the late afternoon, I noticed the strong side light on the building’s columns.  According to Comon, side lighting is more difficult to work with than front light, and therefore “Good sense tells us to first play it safe, and then experiment.”  I think the side lighting on Pollard was more interesting in “real” life, but I think it’s at least noticeable in the photo.  On another note, the image’s horizons are a product of both the aspect ratio (16:9) and, of course, the subject’s lines.  The aspect ratio was actually completely unintentional here, but it worked out anyway.  (Somehow I changed my camera’s aspect ratio and can’t figure out how to readjust it!!)

Back lighting was the most challenging light source to find examples of, so I’m going to pull some pictures I’ve taken in the past to supplement this part.  (I did, however, take the sunset shot a few weeks ago.)  Backlighting is commonly used for silhouette portraits (e.g. this photo from ohaylalala), but more generally, it produces good high contrast images if approached correctly.

Evening

Backlight II Backlight - Sidelightx

All of these back lighting examples were photographed in the evening, but this isn’t the only time of day that back lighting works. When using back lighting, Ang suggests “expose for the background alone” and “try to position yourself so that the subject itself obscures the light source.”

x

x

That being said, I’ve found specific times of day offer the most cooperative light sources.  For example, oblique morning light is realtively forgiving (e.g. the MWC sign on Sunken).  Night photography works if you can adjust your camera for a longer exposure (e.g. for fireworks).  Bright afternoon light is the most difficult light to work with.
Morning
Night

Now that I’ve got a handle on lighting, in the coming weeks I want to  look at colour in photography.  It seems like a fairly complicated topic, so it’ll probably take multiple weeks to cover the basics.

Week 5: A trick of the light?

Monday, November 8th, 2010

This week’s plans were drastically altered on Thursday. I’d originally planned to experiment with landscapes and image stitching/panoramas, but I’ve decided I can do these topics much more justice once I’m a) home for Thanksgiving and b) find my mini-tripod.  (But if you can’t wait, Jessica just covered stitch assist in her latest post!)  For now, I’ve decided to take a closer look at the use of lighting in photography. Last week I briefly touched on lighting issues and correction, but this week I’ll stick to some of the basics of light quality. Because of the late change in plans, I’ll be posting more about light sources next week, and, if I find the time, I might add something else into the mix too.

~~~~~Light Quality~~~~~

Regardless of the reason why we are shooting, when dealing with light, quality, not quantity, is of the utmost importance“  –Paul Comon

I am constantly having issues with quantity over quality when it comes to light. This issue is partly the product of a busy schedule (I don’t always have time to take pictures when the light is right for a particular subject), and part of it is forgetfulness that the camera doesn’t always “see” things the way I do.  For example, I thought the following picture would turn out just fine. It wasn’t too sunny out, and it wasn’t yet dusk, so I figured the camera would “think” the conditions were good, too. Wrong! I have no idea what happened here, but I’m pretty sure my “internal” light meter was a bit off!

DSC04254~

Light can be “soft” or “hard”/”harsh,” and different subjects are best photographed in specific light qualities. Comon uses the examples of “male” versus “female” subjects. While I’m not entirely sure what these categories mean beyond their literal interpretations, his examples include using soft light for flowers and children (female subject) and harsh light for male subjects.

The following photo was taken on a cloudy day.  Notice that there’re few shadowy black spots in the image, which is an effect generally associated with soft light.
Point VI

This leaf was also captured under soft/diffused lighting conditions…
DSC04145…as was this familiar shot from our Daily Shoot assignment.

Afternoon SunHard light, on the other hand, produces images with higher contrast and more shadows. This usually happens in direct light from one source. I’ve found that turning on your flash can help reduce unwanted contrast.  These aren’t particularly noteworthy shots, but they make a good flash off/on comparison. In general I prefer natural light (left), but using flash (right) seemed to be the easiest way around the dim kitchen lighting.

DSC04158DSC04159

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In the next photo, I interpreted “male” to mean more angular subjects, such as architecture. Direct afternoon lighting (~12:30 pm) made these shadows possible. I think there might be something to this male/female thing because, when I tried photographing architectural elements in soft light, the images turned out rather dull; I’d say the fence picture is a good example of this issue.
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DSC04148

Coming attractions: Front, side, back, and oblique light!

Week 4: Lines

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

If you read my last post, you’ll know that I’ve working on an entry describing the use of lines and linear elements in photography.  Again, my primary resource for this project was Harald Mante’s The Photograph:Composition and Color Design I’ve been using Mante’s book for awhile now because it extensively outlines the use of point and lines in compositions, and I highly recommend borrowing a copy from Simpson if you’re really interested in these topics because there’s way more to it than I can possibly cover here.

~~~~~Lines~~~~~

Last week I left you with the interaction of points and lines in my photograph of the James River.  A second example of points and lines in composition comes straight from the UMW mailroom.  While I took this photo for its pattern in Week 1, I thought it was worth doing double take.  Obviously there’re points and lines in this photo; however, the linear arrangement of points (in my opinion) really makes this a better example of linear elements than individual points.  Regardless, I think it demonstrates that a line doesn’t have to be created by a continuous surface; points, when arranged correctly, can be just as effective as a literal line.

Points & Lines I

I should note that the convergence of points and lines can create a vanishing point, which is a type of point that I forgot to mention last week.

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Lines, according to Mante, accomplish three things in a composition:

  1. Lead the eye
  2. Divide surfaces (and in doing so create new surfaces)
  3. Create shapes

The following photo was an attempt to “lead the eye” via lines, but I think it’s also a good excuse to talk about depth of field.

DSC04096~

Line IV

In top image, I was hoping the shallow depth of field (DoF) would lead the eye to the hazy background.  I experimented with different DoF combinations and wasn’t sure which version I like the best.  (Opinions, anyone?  I can’t decided which orientation leads the eye most effectively.)  In general, though, I personally think this image could be improved by leading the eye to a more interesting background (my desk lamp will have to do for now–too much study time this week!)

A photographer has more DoF control with an SLR camera.  Because my camera doesn’t have manual aperture control, sometimes I have to trick the viewfinder into thinking something’s closer or further away than it actually perceives (or at least I think this is what’s going on inside my camera!)  I turn the macro on, focus on a relatively close point, and then shift the viewfinder away to capture what I’m actually going for.  I did this to create different DoF’s for the pictures above.  By the way, I’m constantly forgetting to turn macro off once I’m done with it, which can make your non-macro shots turn out poorly (I usually don’t realize what’s happened until it’s too late.)  Anyway, just a word of warning to pay attention to that feature if you ever use it.

The following images from cambridgeincolour.com were created by manually adjusting aperture size (or F-stop):

——————–decreasing F-stop number——————————>

—————increasing aperture size (amount of light going through lens)———–>

Here’s an attempt to create shapes from shadow lines.  The shadows also divide the image plane into fairly discrete surfaces in terms of texture.

Line II

Line IOften I don’t have time to take pictures when the light is “good.”  (I prefer overcast and partly cloudy days when it comes to photography.)  This is true for the day I took the last two pictures.  The light was SO bright; it was really hard to capture anything that didn’t look completely washed-out.  I really thought it would be impossible to salvage these pictures in particular until I started playing around with gamma correction in my basic image previewer (in the Preview program for Macs, you can do this by viewing an image and selecting “Image Correction” from the “Tools” menu.)  Honestly, I’m not sure if I understand the intricacies of gamma correction, but to make a long story short, it at least appears useful in adjusting lighting during the editing stage.  The fact that Ansel Adams didn’t seem to care about gamma correction makes me feel a little better about my confusion.

Other examples:

Lines dividing surfaces:

Line IX

Lines creating shapes:
Point II

Week 3: Points

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Week 3 was a bit of a throwback to Week 1′s adventures with photographic composition.  This time I was specifically looking for points and lines in compositions.  If you’ve taken Design Principles, I’m guessing these basics won’t be new to you (I’ve never taken the class) because apparently points and lines are fundamental to design in general.  So, art majors out there, I’ll try my best, but I’m no expert!  I’ve also decided to break points and lines up into two posts because they’re  surprisingly complicated (esp. lines), so I don’t want to rush through the basics if I can help it.  That being said, I primarily looked to Harald Mante’s book, The Photograph: Composition and Color Design, to research points and lines in composition.  Also, please check out my Week 3 set; I tried to do a more thorough job with the captions this week and hopefully they’re helpful!

~~~~~Points~~~~~

I thought this quote from Mante was an appropriate introduction to the concept of “the point”:

“Usually a picture’s effect is determined by the interaction of several design elements and/or color contrasts. But sometimes certain elements and contrasts dominate to the extent of disturbing the viewer’s experience. One of these design elements with the capability to dominate or disturb is the point” (p.20)

As you’ll find in this week’s entry, a point might be more than a simple spot in a frame.  Irregular shapes can represent a point and multiple points can act together to shape something else (e.g. a line).  Points can be imaginary, competing, or just plain dominating.

One point dominates the viewing experience in this photo.  The emphasis on the point was created by natural side light filtering through the petals.  There’s a second similar photo of a different flower in my latest set.

A simple way to emphasize a point (or points) in an image is to look for something that breaks up a repetitive texture, shape, colour, or lighting scheme. This is exactly what I had in mind when I took the sun picture.  Because of the background contrast, this individual point dominates similarly to the flower from the first picture.

Points can also be subtle. According to Mante, “Straight lines on an image plane can form shapes, but can also form imaginary points at their visible beginnings and ends and where they touch or cross each other” (p. 21).  In the last photo, the horizontal lines intersect those extending from the image plane to create an imaginary point.  (I could not find an example photo for this concept, so I’m taking my best guess at imaginary points here!)

This image clearly has multiple points in multiple forms . When a second point enters a composition, the first point’s “absolute visual weight transforms into a relative weighting–each successive point on the surface is in optical competition with all the other points” (Mante p. 22).  I think the two blue points dominate in this image, but the dashed and dotted points, as well as the central green point, present some decent visual competition, in my opinion.

Here, I don’t think the points so much compete as they cooperate to form a new line.  These points in turn intersect at a vanishing point across the James River.  (While I didn’t take this picture this week, I decided it was worth putting up an old photo since it ties in well with this week’s topic.)

~~~~~ Lines ~~~~~

By now you’ve probably noticed there’s some major overlap between points and lines.  While I was generally going for one element or the other in when composing my photos, the two are often inseparably linked.  I think I’ll take a step back and wait on the line pictures because I want to make sure I really understand what I’m talking about before I continue!

Week 2: Aspect Ratio, Framing, & the Rule of Thirds

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

It’s time for the Week 2 update of my photographic adventure!  This time around, I wasn’t quite as ambitious and took fewer pictures, but being home last week inspired me to go overboard for Week 1!  (Fun fact I learned over break: Michael Miley, the first photographer to develop a colour photography technique, lived two blocks away from my house! So cool!)

Miley’s equipment on display at the Rockbridge Historical Society.

This week I researched aspect ratio (which was reiterated in Thursday’s video lecture) and experimented with different types of photographic frames. All of the images featured in this post, as well as the original versions for comparison, are posted in my Week 2 set. I’d like to mention that there’re a few new additions to my Trial & Error set.

I looked to Paul Comon’s advice for information about aspect ratio and framing photographs.

In terms of aspect ratio, Comon’s main advice is “The camera format and finished print format must agree in terms of aspect ratio.”   If the print format and aspect ratio don’t agree, cropping might be required or some of the frame will be left unfilled during printing. In general, I’d say aspect ratio (at least for photography, because I think video will be different) was more of an issue prior to the editing luxuries of advanced digital photography software. Digital photography, however, is not entirely removed from the issues of aspect ratio agreement. Comon reminds readers that you must consider what you plan to use the image for to know what aspect ratio will be most effective for your shot.  If, for example, you’ll be cropping a lot of the image away, be sure to leave some margin space in the frame or else some of your subject might be removed in the printing process.

From digicamguides.com:
Original 3:2 image:vs.
8×10 cropped print

Some commonly used aspect ratios:
Wallet size: 2.25 x 3.25
Ablum size: 3.5 x 5 & 4 x 6
Desk & wall hanging: 5 x 7
Wall display: 8 x 10

Furthermore, the LCD screen on your digital camera (even for expensive SLR’s) may not actually align with what you’re trying to photograph.  The only way to correct for this offset is to experiment with your camera’s LCD screen and actual images produced. I thought digicamguides.com (as reference above) was a good resource for aspect ratio examples, particularly since my end products for this week focus more on framing than frame proportions.

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The four main types of geometric frames are ovals, circles, squares, and rectangles. To achieve these frames, I had to use Corel Photo Paint to crop my original images to an appropriate shape.

Oval frames are infrequently used in modern photography, but were once commonly used in portrait photography because they focus the viewer’s attention on a central subject. I found that this frame reminds me of vignette effects applied to digital images.

Circular frames, according to Comon, are the most uncommonly used of the four frame shapes because “it takes a masterful artist to create a great image confined to a round frame.” Some of the neatest examples of circular frames, in my opinion, are achieved using fisheye lenses. My circular image of Grey Cat (my neighbors’ willing model!) was created by cropping the subject out of an originally rectangular photo (see my Flickr set).

I reused Grey Cat as my subject for a square frame for comparison. Comon says “If all the vital image elements can be concisely contained in a square without any wasted space in the print area, [square] is the print format of choice.” I personally think the circular frame is more effective for this particular subject because of the cat’s rounded body shape.

Here’s the original rectangular image from which I cropped Grey Cat’s circular and square portraits.  The long dimension of the frame is supposed to “determine the mood and image tone,” and “a horizontal format denotes peacefulness, repose, and/or sweeping grandeur” (e.g. landscape photography).

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I also wanted to experiment with The Rule of Thirds because, apparently, it’s a fairly elementary photographic technique. Basically, imagine breaking the photographic frame down into nine quadrants. You then align the most important points of your subject with the quadrangles’ central corners, and voilà, you’re using the Rule of Thirds. The technique reminds me of last week’s symmetrical compositions because it seems like a good way to break down complex scenes into more manageable compositions. Because I think it’s a lot easier to picture this concept with an image, here’s a visual:

Note that the focal point of the image (Grey Cat’s mouth) coincides with the intersection of four quadrangles. I’ve also mirrored the original square image because it’s supposed to be more effective to place your subject to the upper right than left because we tend to view images the same way we read text (i.e. left to right).  (What do you think?  I guess the image flipped works better?)

digital-photography-school.com has a nice succinct article that I used to understand the Rule of Thirds after some of my previous references weren’t so clear. According to the article, the Rule of Thirds brings balance to a photo and directs the viewer’s attention (“people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points… rather than the center of the shot”.) Apparently, “using the rule of thirds works with this natural way of viewing an image rather than working against it.” For the most part, I’d say this statement is true, but easier said than done!  Here’re some of the example I came up with:

Thirds - AcornsFocal point: Oak leaf

Thirds - HydrantFocal points: Hydrant & Manicured tree

Thirds - Cat IIFocal point: Cat’s eye

Week 1: Photographic Composition

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

WOW.  This week was so busy, yet somehow I found time to experiment with photographic composition.  But, before I get into the photos, there’re a few things I’d like point out about my this project entry and those to come:

  1. The photos I’ll be featuring each week will be posted to my Flickr sets. This week, look to my first set to see the compositions I’ve created.
  2. I’ve also started a “Trial & Error” set to demonstrate some of my “failed” photos. (Although Ira Glass is an audio storyteller, I feel his words of advice (e.g. “failure is a big part of success”) can be just as applicable to photography.)  Heck, there’s no way the 186 pictures I took this week were all good!
  3. I’ve decided it’ll be most effective to comment on specific photos through Flickr descriptions, so be sure to view the “Detail” view of each set to read a more detailed commentary of my photographic journey!

Okay, now onto the good stuff!
To begin, there’re many approaches to explaining photographic composition, and this week I decided to followed Tom Ang’s guidelines.  I originally planned to combine advice from several sources, but Ang’s advice was the most coherent and seemed suitable for a week’s worth of work.  The following are examples of some of the photographic compositions I attempted this week.

    Diagonal VIDiagonals “lead the eye” to a particular point the frame and, according to Ang, more effectively impart “energy” into an image than horizontal lines can convey.

    Pattern II

Symmetrical compositions are good for simplifying complicated images, but the photographer must avoid creating symmetrical images that appear too “contrived.”

    Pattern III

Patterns “interact with the rectangle of the picture frame” and can be geometrical or irregular.

    Framing I

Framing (e.g. a “frame within a frame”) can “concentrate the viewer’s attention on the subject” and even suggest a photo’s geographic setting.

    Radial I

Radial compositions create a sense of liveliness in photos, “even if subjects are static.”

Other examples of photographic composition listed by Ang include overlapping and triangles.

Reflection

While I primarily captured photos according to Tom Ang’s advice, I’d like to share other photographer’s thoughts on composition:

“All you need to know: Composition is the elimination of all unnecessary elements” –Paul Comon

“Although there are plenty of rules that can help guide your compositions, it is important to realize that there is more than one way of framing up a perfect shot” –John Hedgecoe

I think the combination of Comon’s general rule and Hedgecoe’s general advice nicely summarizes what I learned this week.  There are no hard and fast rules to creating a “good” composition, but there are tried and true guidelines (such as Ang’s) that help point you toward photographic success.  That being said, some of my first Daily Shoot images cannot be simply categorized as symmetrical, radial, etc. (e.g. the ceramic squirrel or the bamboo), but I don’t think it necessarily diminished their effectiveness.

Something I found helpful in assessing a composition was comparing the coloured version of an image to its black and white counterpart. When I was sorting through my pictures, sometimes I would remove the colour to see what the B&W version looked like.  I found this approach was particularly helpful when reviewing the photo of radial tree roots.

Radial I

In sum, I’d say week 1 was successful, but it also made me realize just HOW MUCH there is to photography.  Radial symmetry was definitely the most challenging compositional form to find, whereas diagonals were everywhere once I started looking for them!

PS: I have a new theme!  As much as I loved my old stepping stone header, I think the plain layout does a better job of emphasizing my pictures. I’ve also added two new pages to track my Daily Shoot and Digital Story entries.

Digital Horizons; Digial Story

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Digital Horizons

DS322: Make a photograph that emphasizes the horizon. It’s your choice whether to place it on the third lines or to center it.

As much as I want to just “jump in” and start taking pictures, I’ve forced myself to take a step back and read up on some of the basics to get me started with my digital story.

To begin, Hedgecoe reminded me to familiarize myself with my camera’s capabilities; so, to recap, here’s what I’ve discovered about my humble little Cyber-shot:

While my camera has several auto modes for specific scenarios (e.g. low-light/night settings or portraits/”soft snaps”), the “Program Auto,” or “P” mode (as I’ve always referred to it) allows the photographer to manually adjust more settings than I was aware of, including:

  • focus distance: auto/center/0.5 m/1.0 m/3.0 m/infinity
  • metering: spot/center/multi
  • white balance: flash/incandescent/fluorescent/cloudy/daylight
  • ISO: 1250/800/400/200/100/80/auto
  • image quality: fine (8.1 mpx)/standard (#? mpx)
  • REC mode (for recording?): multi/multiburst/burst/normal
  • contrast
  • sharpness

Unfortunately, the most important setting that I cannot adjust is exposure (which lets you take amazing pictures like this one.)  Anyway, I can work around this problem once I upload my pictures or gain access to a more versatile camera, so I’m not too worried.

I was also curious as to what the differences are between digital and film cameras.  Schaub outlines a good comparison in his first chapter. Basically, digital cameras are more convenient versions of film cameras; however, I personally disagree with Schaub’s assertion that “your digital camera can do everything a comparable film camera can do, and more.” While I agree digital cameras are more convenient than film cameras (e.g. no film changing, dark rooms, or excessive printing charges–and more), I disagree that the quality of digital images is better than what I’ve seen from film cameras.  There’s something about pixels that can’t quite touch the clarity of film images. Regardless, I don’t think I’ll be enlarging my photos to the point that 8.1 mpx will be an issue, but it was a statement that struck me as somewhat questionable.

I also uncovered some food for thought concerning the creation of “good” photographs.

When discussion digital photography, Schaub points out,

“the essential nature of making a picture has not changed all that much.  The effectiveness of a photograph still relies on the quality of light, the photographer’s point of view, and, of course, the content.”

This statement eased my apprehension about learning digital photography prior to film photography.  I’d initially wanted to work with film, which most of my friends did back in high school (while I was sentenced to taking physics—yes, I’m still bitter), but since the principles of composition and design still apply, pixels or no pixels, it’s just simpler to share digital photos than develop and scan a roll every week.

Lastly, something I noticed that I’d failed at with Daily Shoot and was verified by Comon, who asserts images that “cross language barriers, appeal to people of all age groups, and to individuals of both sexes equally” are what make certain photographers stand out.  I could be wrong, but I don’t think my photographs appeal to both sexes, which I’ll admit (if you haven’t noticed already) are often products of my rather “girly” style.  That being said, I was surprised that an even distribution of guys and girls liked my chaos entry considering it featured ridiculously girly jewelry.

Enough rambling!  The plan (thus far) for the week is to experiment with the fundamentals of photographic composition, which I’ll post the results of next weekend.