I am often asked what separates an ordinary photograph from an extraordinary photograph. Most ‘ordinary’ photographs have one thing in common; most were shot at EYE-LEVEL!
Most extraordinary photographs became extraordinary because the photographer CHOSE to change his/her point of view and in the case of many landscapes, this usually means taking the ‘extra’ time to get down low and use the very foreground that you are standing on as the ‘lead’ line of your story-telling image. That was certainly the case again when shooting the receding ocean waves here in Iceland a few days ago and it has certainly been the case many many other times
in my career.
Who would have thought that practicing the art of “reaching new low points in your life” could have such an impact in elevating your work to even greater heights!
You keep shooting! Nikon D810, NIkkor 14-24mm F/2.8, F/22, focus at one meter, 1/8 second shutter speed, 100 ISO, on tripod.
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This post is one in a series on how to create a sense of place.
CASE STUDY: BREAKFAST AT A COUNTRY INN
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:
sign pointing to “Eats” (i.e. the restaurant)
view from a window
overhead view of food on table
side-angle view of food on table
feet in casual shoes next to “Breathe” in floor
casual pillows on a wall bench
cat chin being scratched
cat feet, viewed from under a table
Do you see how each image is taken close up and is framed tightly? This is what you’re looking to do with your detail shots.
Each of these images is like a single idea, and by combining several, 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.
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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!
When you literally ‘move-in’ with the Hamer and Karo tribes of SE Ethiopia, it should come as no surprise that you find yourself in a constant position to create great shots.
Over the course of four days, my seven students and I set up camp in the villages of both of these tribes and on one of those afternoons with the Hamer tribe, we set up a portable studio, outdoors, against the north facing wall of a crumbling schoolhouse. (More about my hope to build a new schoolhouse in an upcoming post!)
We set up a portable studio, consisting of two nikon strobes, one front facing, into an umbrella, and the other, was placed behind the subject with an amber gel to create a hair and rim light. Finally, a black cotton long sleeve shirt that belonged to one of my students, Jeannie Griggs, was hung in the background. No doubt about it; an improvised studio to say the least but further proof that a simple portable makeshift studio is worth packing on your next outing!
Soon word went out into the surrounding hillsides and valleys that a photo studio was ‘open for business’ and the normally empty village of mid-day was soon crowded as both men and women put work aside and came in from the nearby Sorghum and Corn fields to get their portrait taken AND each was also given an Instant Print. The excitement and the lines of willing subjects that formed around the makeshift studio was akin to an IPhone release!
There were many favorites taken by all of us that afternoon, but this one is perhaps my most favorite of all!
Over the course of my commercial photography career, Henry David Thoreau, perhaps unknowingly, played a role in many of my advertising campaigns. I tagged many of my ads with his comment, “The question is not what you look at but what you see.”
I was reminded of this once again in my most recent trip to Myanmar this past February while visiting a small village north of Bagan.
I was initially drawn to the woman you see here because of her ‘unusual and beautiful blue eyes’, blue eyes that I would learn later were actually cataracts.
She was quick to say that she could ‘see’ but that her vision was always cloudy, a bit diffused. I volunteered that perhaps her vision was akin to seeing life through a soft-focus filter, where everyone looked “angel-like, almost heavenly” and she was quick to say that “long before my cataracts, I always saw everyone as angels, gifts from Bhudda!”
Like Thoreau said, the question is NOT what we look at but what we see!
The red/yellow background you see here, was initially a folded blanket sitting atop a nearby basket. With permission, my guide, along with the aid of this woman’s daughter, hung the blanket in the background. The woman was sitting on a bench, in an area of open shade, just out of the sun’s reach. Directly on the ground in front of the woman, the bright golden sand, lit up by the sun overhead, acted much like a golden reflector, casting its wonderful softened glow across the woman’s face.
From a distance of about three meters, and with the Nikon D500 and 18-300mm, I zoomed to around 220mm and shot the frame filling composition you see here at F/6.3 @ 1/250 sec.
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I really enjoyed this course on composition a lot and learned again as always! Have just been through some more of your critiques for others in class – I also love to learn by seeing work of classmates. A big “thank you” for a great four weeks! You are always kind and never discouraging! This has been wonderful and helps a lot!!