Dealing With Distortion

To many of my fellow photographers, distortion is very bad and would rather not take the shot than to have it look distorted; I agree, in part. Having said that, there are times when distortion is not a problem and can actually help you take your image what I refer to as “up a notch”.

Symmetrical Distortion

Symmetrical Distortion

There’s two aspects to distortion that I want to talk about in my part one and two posts on the subject, and that has to do within the  architectural  genre, and both come up in my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct all over our planet.

I often get submissions from photographers that have buildings in them, and the majority of the time they are falling/leaning over to one side or another. The most common reason for that is where the photographer decides to take the picture from. Where you stand is very important in keeping the building straight.

If you’re standing off to the right or left of the middle of the building and aim your camera back placing the building in where you think the center of the frame is you’re going to get some form of distortion; and to me it’s not the good kind.

You’re not going to be able to straighten both the vertical and horizontal lines at the same time, you’ll only be able to straighten one of them and there lies the problem. You’re going to have distortion if you tilt your camera up to get the entire building in no matter what; it’s called Parallax Distortion.

What you can do to make it look better is to make the distortion symmetrical by standing right in the middle of the building, as seen in my photo of the First International Building in downtown Houston.

My next post will deal with the second aspect of distortion, so stay tuned.

-BPSOP Instructor: Joe Baraban

Joe Teaches:

Stretching Your Frame of Mind I 

Stretching Your Frame of Mind II

Why Print Your Work?

Image 1
Digital imaging has fundamentally changed the way we work as photographers.  Digital brings immediacy, flexibility and lowers the on-going cost of creating images: once you own a digital camera, creating thousands of images entails essentially zero incremental cost.  For the most part those images live on our hard-drives or somewhere in the cloud.  We look at them on our tablets or smartphones, swiping right or left to skim past dozens or hundreds of images in a few minutes.  How much thought and consideration can you give to an image you swipe past in a second or two?  How easily can you consider your composition, your use of colour, of light and shadow when seen for an instant on a 4-inch screen?

Printing your work even at modest sizes, and holding that print in your hands, allows you to (in fact forces you to) consider your image more thoroughly; to slow down.  You will see things in a printed image that might remain unseen on a smartphone or tablet; you’ll find yourself asking, “What could I do better?”  “How can I improve this image?” 


“Printing your work helps you become a better photographer”


Historically, the print has always been the ultimate expression of the photographer’s art.  When you print your work, you complete the artistic process by taking control of the final expression of your image.  A fine print possesses tactile and aesthetic qualities that you control with decisions in post-processing on image size, paper choice and presentation method.  These decisions are yours when you print your own work.

Consider all the artistic choices you make when you compose and make your image in camera.  You choose a shooting position and a point of view.  You choose an appropriate aperture, shutter speed and ISO.  You choose an appropriate lens and focal length. You control lighting contrast with graduated filters, fill light, reflectors or perhaps you decide to use an HDR approach.   Wouldn’t you want to have the same level of control when you create the final expression of your image?


“Printing your work allows you to complete the artistic process by taking control of the final expression of your work”


Printing your work begins the process of creating a long-lasting record of your development as an artist.  Sharing prints with others allows to you to share your vision of the world around you with a tactile, long-lasting medium that will likely be around long after your ephemeral digital files are forgotten or lost in some unreadable hard-drive or long-gone cloud service.  Your life experiences, and those of your family are too important not to be committed to archival prints with an expected life up to 200 years or more.

Admittedly, printing your work involves climbing a learning curve; fortunately, it’s not that steep or long.  You will also have to acquire a capable printer, which is not without additional cost.  If you are serious about becoming the best photographer you can, once you have a assembled a basic kit, the next purchase you should consider is a printer rather than the latest camera body laden with features you probably aren’t going to use anyway.

Print your work!   Share it, give it away, frame it or just pin it to the wall… but print your work.

-BPSOP Instructor: Mark English

Mark Teaches: 

The Art of Printing & Selling Your Art


Join Mark for a photo-adventure in Tuscany this year!

What’s the Story of Your Trip?

Travel photos help you to remember and re-live the experiences you had, and for those who weren’t on your trip, your photos are a way for them to vicariously share your experiences.

Every trip you go on tells a story. Within the story arc of your trip are mini-stories. These are the many events that happen each day while on your trip.

For example, if you go on a game drive in the morning, that is a mini-story. Let’s say in the afternoon you enjoyed a picnic lunch in the forest — that is its own mini-story. If in the evening you went to a concert, that is a third mini-story.


Each event — each experience of your day, whether you go window shopping, visit a museum, go kayaking on a river, or have lunch at a cafe — is a mini-story with its own story arc. Each of these mini-stories has a beginning, middle and end. Do you see how your trip can be broken down into smaller stories?


Rather than shooting ONE image that has to capture the entire event — say, you standing in front of the Eiffel Tower to represent your entire experience in Paris — learn how to tell a story in a series of images. In “Amazing Travel Photos Made Easy” instructor Brit Hammer shows you how.

There are other ways to break a story down into mini-stories, such as the images shown here of Table Mountain (Cape Town, South Africa). Brit recently shot these as part of the behind-the-scenes story while filming for a museum project with her filmmaker/photographer husband, Armand Dijcks.

Join Brit in “Amazing Travel Photos Made Easy” and learn how to get your own photos like these.  The course touches upon several different types of photography:

  • landscape & seascape photography
  • wildlife photography
  • interior photography
  • food photography
  • cityscape & architecture photography

-BPSOP Instructor – Brit Hammer

Brit teaches:

Amazing Travel Photos Made Easy

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images (Part 1)

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images (Part 2)

How To Create Remarkable Nightscapes by Blending Two Images of Different Exposures from the Same Tripod Position

Here’s how to easily combine two nightscapes into a single, stunning composite image!


The next time there is a new moon and you can get totally away from city lights, do the following. Make two separate images: one with a 20 or 30 second exposure and the second with 2 to 3 minute exposure. The first one will have the sky well-exposed with minimal star streaking, but the foreground will likely be pretty dark (below, left/top). The second one should have the foreground nicely exposed by the sky will be badly over-exposed with egregious star streaking (below, right/bottom).


Next, open both images in Photoshop, and copy and paste the shorter exposure time image on top of the longer exposure time image, as shown below (1). Then after clicking on the top layer, create a layer mask (2). Using the brush tool (3), with a black foreground color selected (4) adjust the settings as shown in (5) below.




Next, use the brush tool to paint over the areas of the top image you wish to remove. You can see how I did this below, where I have also switched off the bottom layer’s visibility so you can see which parts of the top layer I have removed and to what extent:



After a little final editing, here is the final result! Easy, right? Give it a try and let us know how it goes!!


-BPSOP Instructor: Mike Shaw

Mike Teaches:

Star Trails & Night Photography







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    Dimitri The Art of Seeing
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