Most of us are familiar with the saying, “When a tree falls in the woods, and there is no one there to hear it fall, does the tree make a sound?” Well, here is a ‘similar’ question, but first the background story. On this particular morning a few weeks ago, outside Haines, Alaska, I SAW a bear cub, sitting right on this rock, and about 10 meters away, his Mom and two siblings were in the shallows of the river feasting on salmon.
But, let’s be clear, the wide angle shot you see here was initially photographed WITHOUT the bear cub anywhere close by (for reasons that should be obvious) and only later that morning, while shooting from the safety of my car, I was able to take a moderately wide angle shot of a bear cub sitting on a different rock. Upon returning home, and through the ‘magic’ of PS, I was able to drop that bear cub onto the same rock which I had seen him sitting upon earlier that morning.
And now to my question; If I ‘move’ a bear from one rock to another in the name of ‘art’ and I don’t make a sound about doing it, is anyone hurt by this ‘lie’? I have very strong feelings about ‘manipulated’ images, “Just because I can, does not mean I should, but when I do, you’ll be in the know.” Okay, now you know how I feel. How about you?
Nikon D500, Nikkor 18-300mm, at 21mm, F/22@1/30 second, 200 ISO.
This post is one in a series on how to create a sense of place.
CASE STUDY: A ROMANTIC GETAWAY
Next time you’re taking photos on holiday or during a celebration, include detail shots to flesh out your story. Details shots, when added together with photos of people, help show the mood of your scene.
Have a look at the images in this case study:
Do you see how each image tells part of the story? This is how you create a visually interesting story and capture a sense of place.
Each of these images is a single idea. By combining several ideas, a story is created.
TIPS TO GREAT DETAIL SHOTS:
Vary the camera angle in each shot. Shoot up, down, out, across, or through a subject.
Frame your subject tightly to omit clutter. Reveal part of the subject.
Ever wonder if the craziness of your life is, indeed, worth celebrating? The answer is a resounding YES!
Start taking images that that look like they came out of a glossy magazine.
This course focuses on the creative side of photography. You’ll learn how to capture images of your everyday life in a fresh and exciting way.
Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 2 takes you further by focusing on capturing the essence of your loved ones — think about the little things that you’ll always remember, such as how they hold their favorite coffee mug in their hands!
Do you wish you had images of your loved ones that capture who they are as a person? What about a series of images that portray your life as nicely as a wedding photographer portrays a wedding?
Get ready to have fun creating lifestyle photos that you can’t wait to share with your friends and family.
This course delves into creative ways to capture even mundane moments and beautifully photograph even camera-shy loved ones. They’ll finally stop saying they don’t like seeing themselves in photos!
Visual maturity often recognizes the need to slow down, observe, move closer, move back, move up or down, consider other lenses, return at a different time etc. all in an attempt to fully explore the subject and in the process we should make numerous other and equally compelling images; what I often refer to as ‘the picture with the picture.’ Work your subject, as if it were a block of wood or a stone and “chip away, chip away” and discover the pictures within the picture.
Take a look at the image on the right, and clearly their is ‘more’ to the story due to the larger angle of view; we see roses hanging from a ceiling, (a ritual similar to Mistletoe), three patrons enjoying a beer in the bar, and the bartender herself framed up in the ‘distant’ corner, as the light streams from behind her, into an otherwise darkened, somber room.
Contrast this composition to the image of just that same woman in the opened window, and clearly it is a composition that is solely a ‘portrait’ of light and framing with a frame, the larger room and patrons be damned.
In my view, neither is better, but rather both offer an intended purpose.
Working your subject is part of the maturation process of vision development, and one way towards expanding that vision includes the awareness of the picture within the picture.
The one simple thing that will improve your photos immediately
Creating a strong composition is that one simple thing.
Composition is a function of camera angle and framing.
Every time I photograph, these are the steps I follow to compose an image:
Decide what the specific subject is
Find a camera angle that shows off that specific subject
Frame the image…so there are no distractions
STEP 1: Decide what the specific subject is
Choose one specific thing. That means a key, not the key and the entire door. How the light shines through the pergola, not the entire sky. One specific thing.
STEP 2: Find a camera angle that shows off that one specific subject
As you learn to discern what specific part of a scene attracts your eye, begin to systematically explore the camera angles. By looking for your camera angle in a systematic way — rather than haphazardly — you’ll find that two things will improve: (1) the quality of your images and (2) your consistency getting good photos.
There are essentially three camera angles that I use because they work in most situations, from photographing people and animals to food and architecture. They are:
Camera angle #1: Put your camera at subject level
The easiest thing you can do that will really improve your photography is to put your camera at the level of your subject. Remember, your eyes do not have to be at subject level — only your camera does!
These odd heights, such as floor level and table height, result in unexpected view points. They also feel very intimate. So put your camera where your subject is and capture that unexpected angle!
Camera angle #2: Top-down
When shooting top-down, you can simplify a scene and get rid of clutter. Sometimes this also creates a new way of looking at something. Either shoot straight down or at an obvious angle — between 45-90 degrees.
Shooting top-down is great for just about any subject, from people and animals to food, interiors, and still life. The top-down angle is especially useful for showing hands at work, so if you have young children, start photographing them top-down while they’re playing, coloring, or even washing their hands in the sink!
The secret to this angle is to be between 45-90 degrees above your subject.
Start shooting top-down and see what great shots you get!
Camera angle #3: Bottom-up
We’re used to looking straight out at eye level. Start looking upward — you might be surprised what you see! The secret is to make your camera angle obvious, between 45-90 degrees.
Shooting bottom-up works especially well for architecture and interiors but can also be used for photographing people, animals, decor, and food & drinks served in transparent dishes.
. . .
(This was a quick peek into the first two steps of Brit’s method to finding great images. Learn more when you sign up for Photography Essentials.)
Instructor: Brit Hammer
In Photography Essentials you’ll learn the techniques Brit uses so you can arrive at your own great images quickly and easily. With a bit of practice, they will become second nature to you!
Everything is explained simply and clearly.
We’ll work on one essential aspect at a time, broken down into parts like building blocks. By the end of the course the pieces will be put back together again so it all makes sense.
This course is for both beginners as well as experienced photographers desiring consistently great shots.
“I’ve taken many classes. With the way Brit taught and explained things, I finally said, ‘I get it’. She made me enjoy taking photographs.”
“I have taken quite a few courses offered by BPSOP and learned so much from each one of them. All of your teachers are stellar. Brit Hammer’s class and method of critiquing took me to another level, and I am so appreciative. The video format and her commitment and energy she puts into her students’ work is inspiring and makes you want to work that much harder to utilize her suggestions for improving your photographs.” – Patricia Tedeschi – Galarneau (Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images)
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Thank you so very much for this course! It’s allowed me to take the blinders off and present my images for what I want them to be without being a slave to the “reality” of the camera. I would also add that in conjunction with your printing course, this has been the most useful course I’ve ever taken. Your notes are more than comprehensive and your comments and critiques are direct, clear, and always directed to the improvement of the art. Read More