White on white – Flora photography

Flora photography is usually all about color, but there is something really special about the “white on white” color combination and when we see this kind of images in the student’s gallery of our of our PHOTOGRAPHING FLORA class – they are always our favorites. White flowers on white background images just feel so nice, airy and soft even ethereal we could say and yet so eye catching and powerful.

But this color combination is an exposure challenge too. Too much white will always fool the light meter in your camera and final results will usually turn out underexposed and greyish. The reason is that the meter is designed to read the light from middle (grey) tones which means your camera will give you a combination of aperture and shutter speed that leads to slightly underexposed final images and obviously that is not what we want.

The easiest way to handle this situation is to use exposure compensation – simply said to intentionally overexpose a little. How much to do that depends on your scene but usually 2/3 EV or even 1 EV. This will compensate for camera reading and underexposing and give you correctly exposed shots. However, at the same time while doing it, you need to be careful to have white subject really white but not overexposed otherwise your highlights become just blown out without any detail or texture. Always check your camera display if your exposure looks good and if not (too dark or too bright), make accurate changes. Do not rely on post processing adjustments – the more proper results you can get directly out of the camera the better… Plus, guys, this is FLORA photography we are talking about – time to take your “me” time, relax and enjoy!

Are you interested in how our students managed to capture those extremely challenging exposure situations? Is it so complicated or we are just exaggerating? Well, let us demonstrate what we really mean by “white on white” when photographing flowers, with several outstanding examples taken during our previous PHOTOGRAPHING FLORA classes… The results can be so beautiful, what do you think?

And what do our students have to say?

Thank you Patrik and Monika for a fantastic critique of my images. I did learn a lot and thank you very much as I did enjoy the class. Especially being able to interact with my classmates which really enhanced the experience.
Louise Reeves (class of June 2021)

Patrik and Monika – I just wanted to say thanks for all the great ideas.  I haven’t had time to try all of them, but they will keep me busy for quite awhile.  I have really enjoyed this class.
Bob (class of June 2021)

Patrik and Monika – just wonderful instructors and lessons are just plain ole awesome!
Louise (class of June 2021)

I truly enjoyed this course. It got me outside to shoot and to think about flora. The lessons were fabulous. The class photo were beautiful I would recommend this course to anyone interested in flowers and flora. Thank You, Patrik and Monika!
Martha Rumley (class of July 2020)


PHOTOGRAPHING FLORA class begins October 1st, please join us here and enjoy photographing this amazing subject with us!

We are looking forward to meeting you in class!

Patrik and Monika

Michele Baxley


Donna Sturla


Zuzana Novotna


Pam Corckran


Sarka Drapakova


Michaela Nesvadbova


Lucie Portesova


Louise Reeves


Karen Partridge


Linda Wolk


Darja Nezvalova


Laura Russomano


Jodi Fredericksen


Iva Ullrichova


Dave H


Darja Nezvalova


Andrea Zapotocka


My Favorite Quotes: Kenny Rogers

Ok, you’re asking yourself what Kenny Rogers (a well-known CW singer from the past) might have said that has stuck with me and became a euphemism that applies to my Photography. In the song “The Gambler”, Kenny Rogers sang these lyrics:

You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, know when to run. I’ve always loved those words, and I’ve actually found myself singing them (discretely) when out shooting. Ok, let me finally explain:

In my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, I’m constantly asked when do I walk away from taking a photo? How do I know when it’s not working the way I thought it would? Do I just take the photo anyway and try to fix it later? This last question really gets me!!!!

Here’s what I have to say on this subject:

For me, it doesn’t take very long for me to fold em. For one thing I “Pre-visualize”  Over the years I’ve managed to create an imaginary 2X3 rectangle right behind my eyes. When I’m either walking the streets or setting up an actual photo. I look through this rectangle and try to visualize the composition before I ever bring the camera up to my eye. It’s an easy exercise and one all my fellow photographers should at least try.

This exercise will eliminate a lot of time and energy I go through in composing a photo. To add to this exercise is a critical step in my thought process. Determining the direction of the light. If the light isn’t right, I’ll walk away sooner. If I can’t get the light to work for me, I’ll run away.

So now, the light is right and I’ve brought the camera up (horizontally) to my eyes. I look for the balance between the Negative and Positive space and if it isn’t feeling right within a few seconds I’ll try it as a vertical. I’ll look around for props or people I can add. I’m not the type of photographer that won’t change or move something to create a better photo. I’m out “making pictures”, not taking them. Finally, I’ll also ask someone if he or she would be in my photo.

If none of this works, I won’t spend any more time on it…why? Because as I’m always telling those students that stay with it too long, “The best photo you’ve ever taken may well be your next one, and that could be right around the corner”.

Don’t feel like you have to stay with it and take something as so many photographers do…just to be taking a picture. And don’t think about fixing it later in front of a computer. That’s not going to make you a stronger photographer. However, it will make you a better computer artist…if that’s your cup of tea.

In the above photo, I was just about ready to fold em. It just wasn’t doing anything for me. Then I saw the boy and his mom walking down the pier. I asked if I could put him in my photo. Then, I knew to hold em.

Btw, if you’ve never heard this song, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDwCMxPwJ_4

Joe Teaches:

Stretching Your Frame of Mind I 

Stretching Your Frame of Mind II

The Use of Gestalt in Photography

Food For Digital Thought: Creating Visual Empathy

According to the German philosopher and psychologist Karl Albert Schener, our minds whether we’re awake or asleep will transform things symbolically.

Visual input is a part of everyday life, and when we go about the world we’re not just taking in what we see, we’re relying on the perception of the environment that surrounds us.

A part of ourselves is out there and as photographers, it’s our prime objective to present visual information in a way as to take control of what the viewer feels and sees when we present information in the form of a photograph.

When I talk about what the viewer feels when looking at our photos, I’m talking about visual empathy. A brief definition of empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. The question is how do we create visual empathy in a photograph?

I can remember on numerous occasions during one of my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” when I mentioned this concept to one of my fellow photographers. I’ve also talked about it at great lengths to my online classes with the BPSOP.

Here’s one of the easiest ways to create visual empathy:

Imagine two people walking side by side, either down a street, on a beach, hiking, etc. If they’re talking to one another (of course the viewer won’t know what they’re saying) the viewer won’t necessarily know if they like one another or not; even though he’ll realize that they know one another…but that’s about all. This is one measure of empathy. Btw, if you play golf you’ll know that they wouldn’t necessarily know one another.

Now, imagine those same two people walking side by side, and either they’re holding hands or one person has his hand around the other. This is the true definition of visual empathy and will make the viewer think; making him think is a good way to keep him around longer, and that’s precisely what I like to do.

There are other ways to create visual empathy: the use of color and light, and I’ll be talking about these in future posts.

Joe Teaches:

Stretching Your Frame of Mind I 

Stretching Your Frame of Mind II

The Use of Gestalt in Photography

Finding your composition’s “sweet spot”

How do you find a strong composition?

The answer is to apply the concept of minimalism.

Minimalism leads you to strong images by embracing these three concepts:

  1. Simplicity
  2. Breathing room
  3. Free of clutter

When applied to photography, minimalism is the point at which an image would fall apart if any element is removed or pushed out of frame.

This is how you get your image in the sweet spot.


This is the best advanced class I have ever taken.”


The key to finding the sweet spot

If minimalism leads to an image’s sweet spot, then how do you find it?

The secret is to ask this question: How far can you go until the image falls apart?

The only way to to know…is to go beyond that point…using a systematic approach.



Hone in on the sweet spot

The systematic approach to finding the sweet spot is through iteration.

Each iteration moves you either closer — or further away — from the sweet spot.

The trick is to identify what is working and what is not.

Keep in mind that every scene offers you multiple minimalist images, not just one or two.

Once you understand how to find the sweet spot, you can apply it to every genre of photography.



“I loved this course! It awakened a new way of looking at things in me and I am excited!”


The question will guide you to the sweet spot

With practice you’ll know right away when you hit the sweet spot.

So remember to ask the question:

How far can you go until your image falls apart? How much can you remove until the image becomes boring?

This is how you arrive at a strong composition.



“If you are looking to move more into fine art photography, then Finding Beauty is the course that will help you get there.”


Ready to create strong images?

In Finding Beauty  you’ll learn how to find the sweet spot and capture the essence of any scene.

The emphasis in this course is on seeing and capturing images in-camera.

Use any camera — even your phone! No post-processing skills are needed.

The course material is richly illustrated with case studies in many photography genres.


“Taking this class has changed the way I see the world.”


What Bryan says about instructor Brit Hammer

In a previous newsletter Bryan wrote this:

“I rarely speak out with this level of enthusiasm for any of our instructors because ALL of our instructors are equally great in teaching their individual craft, so why have I chosen to call attention to one of our instructors Brit Hammer? Simply because of Brit’s ability to transform each of her students’ vision from good to great consistently, time and time again; in part because of her insightful lessons, but I can say unequivocally that Brit’s greatest strength is her in-depth and disarming critique style of each student’s weekly assignments.

This is the most often comment I receive from BPSOP students: ‘Brit’s critiques were the greatest value in this course. The assignments were great, BUT the critiques were by far the most valuable!’

If you have yet to take a class from Brit, consider [this] the best opportunity to grow your photography in ways you have perhaps never imagined!” — Bryan F Peterson




Finding Beauty

Beautiful Black & White

Photography Essentials

** No post processing skills necessary for any of Brit’s courses **



Brit Hammer is an international award-winning photographer, bestselling author, and a celebrated artist whose work is aptly described as fresh and optimistic.

Brit’s students love her intuitive eye, patience, enthusiasm and holistic nurturing because the results are unbelievably incredible and inspiring student growth.

Visit Brit’s website at brithammer.com

Learn more about creative development and one-on-one mentoring with Brit

Follow Brit on Instagram


“There are great photographers and great teachers, but it is rare to find a great photographer who’s also a wonderful instructor; Brit embodies that rare combination.” — Tennessee Rick Elliot

  • I've been a photographer for over 20 years, and thought I knew all the basics...along with some of the extras. However, over the past few months I've learned, through Stretching Your Frame of Mind, and the wonderful instructor, Joe Baraban....that all these years I've been taking pictures rather than "making" pictures. Through Joe's expert, involved, in-depth instruction, I've learned that there's always more to see than meets the eye! Every lesson is thorough and complete. And, as a bonus, Joe always sends along extra material so that you have a total understanding of the lesson at hand. He is totally accessible and responsive. His critiques leave nothing left to the imagination...and if you don't understand something, he is available through his personal email to clarify or answer any question you might have. I am currently taking Part II for the second time, and will most likely repeat it again and again. Every time I now pick up my camera to shoot something I see, Joe's words are in my head, and almost instantly I see something I missed the first time. The title of this course is exactly on target. At the end, you will definitely know how to stretch your frame mind and take your photographic skills up to a higher level. If I had to sum up the course and Joe Baraban in one word it would be"extraordinary". Read More
    Cathy Shotz Stretching Your Frame of Mind
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