Creating a sense of place: Case Study #14

This post is one in a series on how to create a compelling series of images that convey a sense of place and tell a story.



Next time you’re taking photos, rather than trying to capture everything in a single image, take several detail shots to flesh out your story.

Have a look at the images in this case study:

  • Overview of al fresco brunch
  • Close-up of yogurt
  • Close-up of bread
  • Close-up of coffee

Do you see how each image tells part of the story? Each of these images is a single idea. By combining several images together, a story can be created.


  1. Vary the camera angle in each shot. Shoot up, down, out, across, or through a subject.
  2. Frame your subject tightly to omit clutter. Reveal part of the subject.



Amazing Travel Photos Made Easy

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 1

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 2

Photography Essentials

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



You can also work with Brit privately

Mentoring: Schedule a live session with Brit via Skype

Get a private image video review: Private Video Image Reviews

Find out about all of Brit’s courses, including Photographing Fine Art & Craft

Light in Four Part Harmony

One of my favorite topics to discuss with students taking my online BPSOP classes,  and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet is the Light. Unless you’re street shooting where timing and and capturing a moment are important, Light is everything.

I’ve been a student of light for as long as I can remember, including those B/W years spent shooting with AP and UPI. I studied art and design, with a couple of semesters plodding through  Art History, where we studied each of the Masters and later impressionists approach. This is where I learned notable techniques like Renaissance portrait lighting.

When I first started studying the Light, I broke it down in what I termed Four Part Harmony: Hue, Intensity, Direction, and Quality.

Hue: Refers to the color of the light. The color is dependent on the time of day you’re shooting. When the sun is low on the horizon, it appears warmer since it’s going through more atmosphere. As the sun rises in the sky, the color of the light becomes bluer. The reason being that it’s going through the shorter blue and violet wavelengths.

Intensity: The intensity of the light is associated with how hard or soft the light source is. When you consider the intensity, don’t think of it as being either bright or dim. It means a whole lot more than that. One needs to think about it in terms of how it will render the final outcome to your photos. When you consider the Hue, consider the intensity as well. The lower the light is to the horizon, the more atmosphere it’s going through making the light much softer than it is when the sun is higher and going through less atmosphere.

Cloud cover can have a huge effect on your images, mostly when the sun is high and it’s a day that’s considered partly sunny. It’s a good time to shoot as it’s referred to as open shade. The only drawback is that with open shade, it’s hard to create the third dimension (depth) since you need side light to accomplish that.

Using artificial light can greatly impact the intensity of the light. Aiming your flash directly at your subject will render it harsh and contrasty. Shooting through diffusion, or bounced off a white umbrella, or bounced off the ceiling will provide a softer light; it’s the only way I light when I’m indoors.

Direction: There are three basic ways to light a subject. Side, front, and back. The first thing I ever do, before raising the camera to my eye, is to determine where the source of the light is. I avoid front light like the plague…why? because Form is a basic element of visual design, and it refers to the three-dimensional quality of a subject. When you front light, you eliminate the third dimension (depth) and as a result you’re left with the other two…height and width. Front light provides the least amount of information.

When you sidelight your subject you create the third dimension…depth. A simpler concept is when you side light, you provide shading to your subject. Side light is also used to emphasize the texture of an object; or any patterns in your composition. It’s also a good way to separate the subject from the background.

Back light is when the source of the light is behind your subject. It’s my favorite way to light since it adds a rim of light around the subject. When I’m shooting something transparent, such as water, grass, flowers, leaves, etc.,  the back light makes those subjects glow. It also can add strong shadows, and as I always say, shadows are your best friend.

Quality: The quality of the light affects mood and drama. It also refers to the softness or hardness of the light source. What kind of look or mood you’re trying to create is determined by how the light is used. Harsh direct light gives you sharp and defined shadows, where a softer diffused or bounced light might not offer near as defined shadows, and sometimes none at all.

My favorite light is available light. As far as the quality of the light goes, most of the studio shooters I know, including myself try to emulate available light and will go to great lengths and expense to do so. I can’t tell you how many “North Light Studios” there are to rent in NY. I say North light because it’s the softest. Since it faces north, you’ll never get any direct sunlight coming in to affect your photos.

-BPSOP Instructor: Joe Baraban

Joe Teaches:

Stretching Your Frame of Mind I 

Stretching Your Frame of Mind II

Using Collections in Lightroom Classic CC


One of the reasons I like Lightroom Classic CC so much is its power of organization. Between the folders, collections, keywords and star ratings, it is very easy to create a catalog that is simple to navigate. Most images can be found in a matter of seconds if you organize them correctly. Part of the secret of the organization is using collections effectively.

It’s important to know the distinctions between the different aspects of Lightroom, which include the catalog, your files, and your collections.

The Catalog
The catalog comprises of all of the images you have imported into Lightroom and their adjustments. Lightroom doesn’t actually import the images, just the information related to the location of the original image and the adjustments. The images and the adjustments are separate until you export that image out of Lightroom either as a DNG or RAW file. When you export as a DNG, the image can be reopened in Photoshop or Lightroom with all of the adjustment information intact. If you export as a Tiff or JPG, that image information is not stored with the image, only in the original Lightroom file.

Folders consist of the files that you have imported into Lightroom. I use folders as the primary organizational tool in my workflow. It is an exact copy of the files from your hard drive, but it only shows the files that you have told Lightroom to recognize. If you decide you want to move a file that has been imported into Lightroom, it’s best to do it from within the Lightroom program. That way Lightroom won’t get confused and give you an error message that a file is missing. If you do move a file outside of Lightroom, it’s best to go back and right click on the Lightroom image, then navigate to the file to tell Lightroom where it is located. As you can see from the image below, the folders can be set up to reflect the number of images in your folders and exactly where they are located.



Collections in Lightroom consist of a group of images that you want to keep as a set, like virtual folders. Collections work best when you want a group of images that are located in multiple folders. It basically holds the image information so that you can create a book, or have a set of similar images in one location. You can create subsets of collections as well.

Here are a couple of ways that I use collections.
If I have just returned from a trip and I want a quick way to navigate to those new images, I will create a collection. If a collection is removed from Lightroom, it doesn’t remove the images from the catalog, it just removes the collection or just that set. It’s a good idea to remove the set once you are done working with the images and leave space for new collections.

Collections are most helpful when working on a project that involves photos from multiple folders.

Of course, it is worth keeping in mind that collections only exist within Lightroom, and the metadata for your actual photos won’t reflect membership in collections. If you were to lose your Lightroom catalog, you would lose all the collection information. Other standard metadata (such as keywords and star ratings) can be saved out to the actual photos, beyond the Lightroom catalog. That’s why it’s important to use other metadata fields (such as the Keywords and star ratings) to record information related to the use of collections. That way you will have multiple ways to pull up the collection or set of images.

If you want more information about my Lightroom Quickstart class, please head on over to the class page here.

Hope to see you in the next class!


BPSOP Instructor – Holly Higbee-Jansen


Holly Higbee-Jansen is photographer, trainer, blogger, and workshop leader who enjoys teaching and the creative process. Her passions include teaching photography workshops in beautiful locations in California, Iceland, Costa Rica and the American West with her husband Mark. Holly also teaches online classes on Lightroom, Photoshop, and photographic technique. Get Holly’s Free E-Book on “Landscape Photography and the Light and find out about her newest workshops at Jansen Photo

Reach Holly by email at [email protected] and read her blog at

Holly Teaches:

iPhone Photography

In this class, we will introduce you to the magic of iPhone photography using several shooting and editing apps that will give you the ability to make your pictures sing in a fun and easy way.You will learn how to crop, change saturation, brightness and affect the overall look of your pictures with HDR, drama and grunge filters and other techniques. You will be amazed at the simple and effective methods.






Lightroom Quickstart


Do you want to learn to create images that show the beauty of the scene you saw when you took the photograph? Do you want to learn the other essential side of digital photography, photo editing and get up to speed quickly?

This course is designed to get you up and running FAST in this incredibly powerful program. In this two week information packed class, you will learn how to import, organize and perform simple and effective editing processes that will let you produce beautiful adjustments to your pictures.



For a complete list of Holly’s current workshops go to:

Jansen Photo Expeditions –

Holly’s Blog:

Facebook –

Instagram –


Waiting for the Trigger

This is such a simple concept, and yet it’s so often overlooked by many photographers.

I’ve been re-reading Jay Maisel’s “It’s Not About the F-Stop”.  Among so many jewels of wisdom contained there, this one stood out: “Wait for the Trigger”.   How often do we encounter a lovely scene, point our camera at it and press the shutter?  How often is the result a lovely well-composed background without anything significant going on?  I see this often in my classes and workshops, particularly so in travel images.  How may pictures of the Eiffel Tower have you seen that look remarkably alike?

The question to ask yourself is, “Why this image – why right now?”  What makes it unique?  What makes it “my image”?  Jay’s point is that every image needs a “trigger”, a reason to make that image at that exact moment.  Without it he points out, “your picture can become wallpaper”.

The image below is from the Jardin de Marqueyssac, above the Dordogne River in Southern France.   The first is the postcard shot, virtually identical to many you will find on postcard stands throughout the region.  I wasn’t happy with this rendition; it needed something more, something to make it unique.  Fortunately, it had been raining earlier in the afternoon and a little patience soon paid off when a few minutes later a lady walked into my frame holding a red umbrella.  That was the trigger.  Click… got it!

Another trip, a different time.  From the top of the Campanile in Venice’s Piazza San Marco, I was taken by the pattern of tables below at one of the restaurants in the Piazza.  While the pattern was interesting, it also needed something to provide the trigger.  At that time of day, the restaurant was just setting up for the evening rush and not much was going on other than a few waiters milling around the tables.  I watched this for a while shooting the odd exposure with different combinations of waiters and other people.  Nothing was really working, until all but one waiter left the scene leaving the remaining fellow to strike a pose.  That was the trigger.  Click… got it!  Time for dinner.

In Iceland, Skógafoss is a popular stop along the southern ring road.  Here again some patience is all that was needed to allow most of the tourists to clear from my field of view, leaving a lone figure in red to provide the trigger, along with scale, visual interest and balance to the composition.  It’s also a nice counter point to the cool greens and bluish tones that dominate the rest of the image.

Sunrise on Kauai.  I watched this group of people at the top of the cliff as the sun rose over the horizon.  Amidst all the selfies over the next 10 minutes nothing stood out visually. Nothing provided the trigger… until one brave fellow ventured near the edge of the cliff.

The trigger isn’t always related to a specific moment (let alone, to the presence of a human figure).  I love the patterns on Hosta leaves, and we have several growing in containers on our patio.  As lovely as they are, after a while you begin looking for something different, something unique to difference your next image from all the others.  The lone water droplet clinging to this leaf was the trigger, breaking the symmetry of the pattern on this leaf and providing a unique centre of interest.

Jay’s idea of “waiting for the trigger” is really a variation of Sam Abell’s idea of finding an interesting background and waiting for something interesting to happen in front of it.  (yes, I know –  I’m a terrible name-dropper!) This often requires patience, but just as often requires thinking about what needs to happen in your image to create the trigger and make the image uniquely your own.

-BPSOP Instructor – Mark English

Mark Teaches:

After the Click: Refining Your Vision in Lightroom & Camera Raw

The Art of Printing & Selling Your Art

  • Can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed the class. Up until now I’ve carried my Canon EOS 80D wherever I go and only rarely shot with my iPhone. But thanks to you I’ve discovered a wonderful world of options and now have great fun playing with my iPhone. It’s definitely addictive! Many thanks for your generosity with your time, your patience, and introducing me to this exciting new photography tool. Read More
    Janet iPhone Photography
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25
  • 26
  • 27
  • 28
  • 29
  • 30
  • 31
  • 32
  • 33
  • 34
  • 35
  • 36
  • 37
  • 38
  • 39
  • 40
  • 41
  • 42
  • 43
  • 44
  • 45
  • 46
  • 47
  • 48
  • 49
  • 50
Translate »