WHY AM I THANKFUL?

bryanWhy am I thankful? It’s an appropriate question to reflect upon and to answer on this Thanksgiving Day in America! I am of course extremely thankful for my son and two daughters for their unwavering love and support of what I have been able to do with a camera throughout my life as an adult.

Over the course of the last 35+ years, I have been afforded countless opportunities to share my love of image making with a world-wide audience through my books, my online photography school and in my live workshops that I conduct around the world. Everyday, (okay, not everyday, but almost everyday), I wake up with a passion to share my love of image making with whoever wants to listen and I am just as eager to listen to others share their passion for image making with me!

These many years of shared experiences with like-minded people have taught me one vitally important lesson, a lesson that has really served me well in dealing with the many tragedies that the world has seen these last few months.

Although it is tempting for some, I remain a firm believer that you can’t paint everyone with the same colored brush, no matter whose side you are on, no matter where you live in the world, no matter your gender, no matter your religious views, no matter your education and certainly no matter what kind of camera you use. I have seen far too much uniqueness in this world!

Without fail, anytime I have felt tempted to paint a given neighborhood, group, culture, city, country or business with the same brush, I end up hurting myself, closing myself off from the very thing that keeps me hopeful! And that thing that keeps me hopeful is a constant belief that most of us on this earth are really and truly, at our core, good people, with many good and unique intentions!
(Some of you may have just recognized that I just painted most everyone with the brush of ‘goodness’ in that above statement…yes, I did!)

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I have felt for years that most everyone comes into this world with a unique and very individual ‘brush’. With time and circumstance, that brush will leave a lasting and nurturing mark, perhaps on just one person or perhaps on many but a healthy mark none the less.

It might be hard to imagine, since this image is just a “wildly colorful and crazy display of used paint brushes”, but now that you have read the above, you can perhaps understand how deeply this image affects me. It serves as a reminder that the world I live in is really a color-filled world of people, with each person desiring of leaving their own unique and lasting mark, big or small, for the good of mankind.

“You Keep Shooting!”

Bryan F Peterson/Founder
BPSOP.com

Enhancing the Third Dimension

The world we live in has three dimensions which we can perceive visually. Photography only gives us two dimensions with which to recreate this three dimensional world. As photographers, we must learn to play on the cues our eye-brain visual system use to decode our three dimensional world in order to create strong photographs.

Our eye-brain visual system uses several visual cues to determine relative distance or “depth” in a scene in front of us, among them relative size — whenever we have familiar objects in the frame, we use their relative size as a clue to which one is nearer or farther from us. Other visual cues such as receding lines that appear to converge create the illusion of great depth; lines on a highway would be a familiar example.

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The two images above use size as one visual cue to let us figure out which objects are closer and which are farther away. The flower also uses differences in sharpness to aid in creating an illusion of greater three-dimensional depth: the bloom that is both sharper and larger appears to us as being closer. The image of the Amsterdam canal boat uses relative size, as well as converging liners to create the illusion of depth.

There is also another visual cue that we can use to create or enhance the illusion of “three-dimensionality”: the relationship between light and dark tones in an image.

All things being equal, areas in a picture that are lighter in tone will appear to advance toward the viewer, and those that are darker will appear to recede.

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The Abbey Senanque near Gordes in Provence sits in a roughly north-south oriented valley. Because of this, by the time the sun rises above the surrounding hills in the morning, we are well past the time of best light for landscapes. The situation is a little better in the evening, so I prefer to arrive just before the sun’s last rays leave the valley. By then the valley floor with its the rows of lavender in front of the abbey are in shade, while the bell tower is still catching the last warm rays of sunlight. In this image I liked the arrangement of lines and shapes, but the flat lighting of the open sky makes the lavender rows appear flat and a lifeless.

This is a good opportunity to work on the light – dark relationships in the foreground to re-create some of the dimensionality that is missing, but which is so immediately evident when standing there. Creating the illusion of greater depth and dimension is a simple process of making the tops of the rows appear lighter than the ground between the rows. This difference in tone is already present to some extent: all we are going to do is enhance what is already there naturally.

There are several ways to accomplish this task, but this is one that I like because it is simple to do, and easy to control.

1) Begin by opening the image in Photoshop

2) Next, add a new layer by selecting Layer>New>Layer from the menu.

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3) Set the Mode for this new layer to “Overlay” and select “Fill with Overlay neutral color (50% gray). Name the layer with a something descriptive… like “Dodge & Burn

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4) When set to overlay mode, the neutral gray we have filled the layer with has no effect on the image. If however, we paint on the layer with a gray shade that is lighter than 50%, we will lighten the underlying tones in our image. Painting on the overlay layer with a shade of gray which is darker than 50% gray will darken the underlying tones in our image.

5) You are going to paint on the overlay layer with either white and black, NOT the image layer labelled “Background”. Make sure by clicking on the new layer you created before moving on. Now, hit the “D” key to make sure your foreground and background colours are set to the default of black and white.

6) Begin by setting your foreground colour to white (if it isn’t, hit the “X” key to swap it so White is the foreground colour)

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7) Pick up a soft-ish brush and size it for the areas you want to lighten

8 ) Set the opacity of your brush quite low, say around 10%, set the “Flow” to something less than 50% As we paint, we want to build up the areas that we are affecting slowly. It’s easy to overdo the effect of this adjustment..

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9) Paint along areas you want to lighten. I painted along the tops of the lavender rows… adjusting the size of the brush as needed. If you work slowly and build up the effect gradually with a low flow setting, you won’t have to be extremely accurate in your brushing.

Swap the foreground and background colours to make black the foreground colour (hit the “X” key), and paint in areas that you wish to make darker. I painted in the spaces between the rows of lavender in this image.

10) Here is my completed overlay layer, and the layer stack in Photoshop. If you wish you can further adjust the intensity of the effect by adjusting the opacity of the overlay layer.

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Here is the completed image:

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By playing on a few prejudices of our eye-brain visual system, we can easily restore some of the feeling of texture and three-dimensional form lost to the flat lighting of our foreground.

My course “The Art of Printing and Selling Your Art” deals with the basics of establishing a solid colour managed workflow to produce prints that match what you see on your screen as close as possible; that’s the technical part. Along the way we share images to demonstrate techniques like this to produce stronger images; that’s the art. The next class begins November 6th, I hope you will join me!

– Mark English – BPSOP Instructor

Mark teaches:

The Art of Printing and Selling Your Art

Learning is the Best Piece of Gear I’ve added to my Photo Equipment

Let’s take a look at some work and words from a BPSOP student! This week our look takes us to Italy!

When Chris Hurtt got in touch with me and asked me to be featured in this newsletter, I felt proud, but mainly I felt that my photography wasn’t quite ready for such a stage. Therefore my hope is that people reading this will not think I’m here to brag, but rather they would understand that I’m exactly like you all of you: I’m still striving to get some good photography which will be enjoyed by others.

Since I’ve started to take some BPSOP classes I’ve really understood that no matter which camera model or lenses type you’re using, the most important piece of gear we have is our creativity and who’s around us helping take it to the next level.  I’ve learned to make a photo, rather than just take it.  It’s important to thank the people that are helping you, modeling for you, or just being supportive.

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That is why I’d like to dedicate this little essay to every single person who has supported me in these years where I’ve approached photography more seriously. Family, friends, teachers, even those people I don’t know personally but have inspired me. Moreover this is especially for my ex girlfriend Alexandra, who really helped me out a lot in my learning experience by modeling for me and assisting me; by teaching me her sense of art. She also made me understand how important it is to have also fun while doing art.  Well probably it’s time to stop to sound like a grandpa, even though I really mean it!  Fell free to call me nuts!
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As I mentioned before, I’m nobody to give you some tips and tricks about photography. You can learn how to use your tools by trial and error, even though probably the quickest and most productive way is to take a few classes at BPSOP. What I’d like to outline here is the great improvement in my vision I had by not being too anxious to get good photos. And that’s something I’ve learnt at BPSOP by its fantastic warm and mind opened environment.

For example, by enjoying a stroll without bringing my camera backpack in order to look at things with a photographer’s eye and mind, trying to immagine how a scene will look like under light conditions which are better for photography, using a certain lens, seeing things from different point of views with a renewed sense of wonder. Than get back there with my photo gear and try to make a photo out of what I’ve seen in my head, using my -yet too limited at this very moment- artist palette.

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Well that’s all folks, I hope you’ve enjoyed my photos as much as I did taken them.

Just one more thing: another trick I’ve learnt  at BPSOP is to close my eyes for a while before taking a photo (when I’ve setup everything following my creativity) and then look again in camera with a left-ish use of my brain -meaning using more rational thinking in order to achieve what I got suggested by my intuitive thinking mode. It’s far way more easy to say than to actually do it!   Some teachers will call it the “15 points protection plan”, Bryan Peterson explained it a different way during one of his workshop using a metaphor with interpersonal relationship. Either ways, the challenge is to always find a balance between what we imagine to achieve in camera and what we’re actually really getting.

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Cheers from Italy.
Valeriano Della Longa – BPSOP Student

As The Fog Rolls In My Vision Clears

As the fog rolls in, my vision clears. Its ethereal mist contrasts the ordinary and awakens my camera. Clicking away, I celebrate.

 

At f/22 (optimal for great depth of field), fog slows the shutter. I secure the camera on a tripod and set the ISO to 100 (fog is noisy). Fog has many nuances. Wanting accurate color, I shoot in RAW and set my white balance to “cloudy.” (Cloudy white balance counters the generally blue bias of fog and synchronizes all jpeg thumbnails). With image stabilization (aka vibration reduction) off and manual focus on (fog impairs auto focusing), I rely on a shutter release cable (or a self timer) to eliminate camera shake.

 

Perhaps the only unromantic thing about fog (from the camera’s perspective) is the dampness. Consider weather gear.

 

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Exposure is tricky because of fog’s reflective nature. Manual exposure mode is your best bet and bracket even if you are shooting RAW by one stop, plus or minus, so you have these exposures to suit your post processing mood.

 

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Notice how fog (gray) emphasizes green’s vibrancy. Try this: close your eyes, count to five and then look again. Do you see red? This phenomenon is known as simultaneous contrast which you’ll learn about in my color class.

 

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Self Portrait: I like the fog so much, sometimes I jump into the action. Hand painted silver gelatin photograph.

 

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Hand Painted silver gelatin photograph

– Cheryl Machat Dorskind – BPSOP Instructor

Cheryl teaches:

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  • "I can't believe how much I have benefited from your courses over the years. And after 10 years, I'm still in business as a professional photographer. So thanks!"
    Mark Gardner BPSOP Student
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