How to Take Better Holiday Photographs

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Food For Digital Thought: Harmony

23colorDM-768x1176Although it would be nice if everyone lived in harmony with one another, that concept will most probably have to wait. Until then I would like to talk about something that can happen right now, and that would be to seek out and use colors that are in harmony with one another in your photos.

Since my background is not in Photography but in painting and design, I’ve learned through my studies which color is in harmony with another. I taken that knowledge and have applied it to my love of photography. By the way, I still consider myself an artist, I’ve just switched the medium from a paintbrush to a camera.

I tell my students that take my online classes and those that have taken my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct all around the planet that a camera on a tripod is just like a blank canvas on an easel. I talk a lot about color since it’s a basic element of visual design, and should be thought of as a very important tool in creating those works of art…the same ones you find on a canvas.

The methods we use to gain attention to our photography will vary, but what’s important is how we manage what the viewer perceives and processes when looking at the visual information we lay out to him in the form of a photograph. Humans rely on perception of the environment that surrounds them. Visual input is a part of our everyday life. Color, and understanding how the viewer perceives color, is what we as photographers have as a tool to present this information in a way that creates a sense of harmony.

monoIn my opinion we spend far too much time dwelling on so called ‘Rules’ in Photography: The Rule of Thirds (the silliest of them all), The Leading in Rule, Never Clip the Highlights, are three that come to mind and I’ve written posts about them going back six years.

We also think about shutter speeds, DOF, cropping (please don’t do that!), White Balance, etc., etc., ad nauseam. I can tell you that color should be considered right alongside every other facet when composing your photo.

Color is a great resource when trying to get across an emotion, drawing the viewer into our photos, making the subject stand out against the environment he or it is in, creating visual tension, visual interest, balance, and a sense of order in our present day chaotic world.

Screen-Shot-2017-06-24-at-4.01.22-PM-500x483Ok, let’s first talk about ways to achieve harmony through the color wheel, which as a trivia question for you to someday know, it was invented by Sir Issac Newton….yes it’s the same guy, the one who discovered gravity.

There are four main ways to create harmony using color: Using Monochromatic,Analogous, Complementary, and Triad colors.

The word monochromatic would usually conjure up the old black and white days, but it can also apply to color. In this application it’s made up of just one color, and different shades of it. This will create a visually balanced and appealing photo, albeit one that’s low in contrast; good to use when you don’t want a particular object stand out from the rest of the environment.

 colors are those that are next to one another on the color wheel. They live in harmony because of the similar hues. They’re pleasing to the eye and appear more often in nature than monochromatic and complementary colors do. That said, if you’re looking for contrast these colors wouldn’t be my first choice…complementary colors would.

Complementary colors are those that are opposite one another on the color wheel. They generate visual tension because of the contrast of one to another.

triTriadic colors on the color wheel are those that are evenly spaced on the color wheel, and will form a triangle. When using this form it’s important to achieve balance between the three colors.

Pre-visualization” is one of the guidelines in my “did it do it” list for good composition I pass out to my students. Being aware of colors that are in harmony and the effects it will have on the viewer will help you do just that…pre-visualize.

So my fellow photographers, the next time you go out think about all the tools you have on hand and make sure color and the harmony are included. Observe the effects colors have upon each another, study the color wheel and become a student of their visual relationships.

-BPSOP Instructor: Joe Baraban

Joe Teaches:

Stretching Your Frame of Mind I 

Stretching Your Frame of Mind II

Using Keywords in Lightroom

Have you found the power of keywords in Lightroom? If you haven’t, I would highly recommend using them to organize your images quickly and easily.

Keyword sets

If you would like to learn more about this great program, sign up for the upcoming Lightroom Quick Start or Lightroom Preset Class. 

Why do you need to use keywords? Keywords are the “key” to finding images quickly and efficiently in your catalog. There are many different ways to organize images, but the keywords will add one more added dimension to your search function in Lightroom. Don’t worry, there are easy ways to apply keywords so you get the benefit of the tool without spending your life in front of the computer.

There are several different ways to use keywords,
the easiest way to apply keywords is upon import into Lightroom.

The best way to think about keywords would be to apply the simplest terms globally upon import and then add additional keywords after they are in Lightroom. This method will make it easy for you to keyword a batch of images, and not get bogged down in a long drawn out process of labeling each image individually.

Lightroom Import-Screen

Keyword Panel Upon Import into Lightroom

For example, if you have a series of images from Iceland, the first and most obvious keyword to use upon import would be Iceland. What other features of these images are alike? If you were there in winter, maybe consider using snow, or ice, or white. Use words that you will remember easily. If you have used similar keywords in the past, keyword suggestions will pop up for you and you can select from them as well.

Once I have imported my images into Lightroom, then I will go back and start to cull down the keyword process. In my collection of images, I have pictures from the North Coast, from the South Coast and from the city of Reykjavik. I then will select all of the images from the North Coast and type “North Coast” into the keyword panel box. Then I will select all of the images from the South Coast and do the same thing and continue with my collection of images until they are keyworded.

You can also “spray” keywords with the paint can tool. The paint can is located on the bottom of the  library module. If you click on the spray can, you will see a drop down menu that will allow you to select the parameters you would like to spray. You can spray meta data, keywords, labels, star ratings and a number of other variables.


The spray can will speed up your labeling process significantly. Click on the keyword tab and type in the word you would like to “spray”. Then just go through your images and tap on the image with the spray can and it will spray your keyword.  This is a very easy and efficient method.

There are many other ways to use keywords and we go into that in more detail in the Lightroom Quick Start Class. Learn to use this great program and create more creative beautiful images!

BPSOP Instructor – Holly Higbee-Jansen

HollyHolly 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: 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.

Lightroom Presets: Taking Your Photos from Good to Great

Lightroom Presets ClassIn this two week class, we will show you how to create your own presets to use over and over and create your own signature style. You will also learn to use third party presets to help with your creativity and enhance your editing power. You will receive detailed information on the website page each week, as well as tutorial videos to help you understand the course material.


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

Jansen Photo Expeditions –

Holly’s Blog:

Facebook –

Instagram –

YouTube –

Google+ –

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Food For digital Thought: The Road Less Traveled

Coloring Outside the Lines

Coloring Outside the Lines

I Invariably have the same conversation in both my online class I teach with the BPSOP, and I now have it down to occasionally in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet…why so you ask?

Because in my workshops a lot of my fellow photographers have taken either my online classes, several past workshops, or both and they know by now that I always encourage photographers not to take the road well traveled; take the one with fewer footprints.

After a fifty year career in advertising, editorial, and corporate photography, while also teaching for thirty-four of those years, I’ve talked to a wide variety of photographers that are content with listening to others tell them (in so many words) to follow the rules, aka the Yellow Brick Road and at the end of said road will be a great and powerful wizard that will show them the road to photographic Nirvana; the ultimate happiness and spiritual liberation.

But perhaps they won’t find a great and powerful wizard, maybe they’ll find an old circus magician from Kansas (that would be Oz) that will instead take them straight down the one way road to mediocrity…and a state of non-creative purgatory


Without sounding like someone that always assumes the worst, it seems to me based on years of experience, most photographers out there are afraid to step out and color outside the lines; better safe that sorry is their motto. They have their close friends and family to tell them that their pictures are wonderful, and that can be just good enough; enough to get you through the day.

I’ve found that the majority of the students that come to me are not sure of themselves, and without some level of confidence they trust others to guide them; when in fact they just might know more that those offering advice.

What’s the worst that can happen? They’ll laugh at your art, call you names behind your back, make you cry in front of strangers, and maybe even kick you out of their camera club!!!

There’s worse things in life; however, I can’t think of any as I write this post.


In my opinion you should venture out, get some dirt on your shirt while looking at things from a different perspective. Forget about encountering the ubiquitous negative viewer that may not like what you’ve created in the form of a photograph. Your first attempt may or may not be a “wall hanger”, but that’s to be expected. One has to learn how to balance themselves while trying to stand up, and stand before they can walk, and walk before they can run.

Open your eyes to new ways of thinking. Try to remember you’re an artist with a camera as your medium. Work on making not just taking pictures. Bob Marley conveyed it best when he said, “Some people feel the rain while others just get wet”.

Take some chances and follow the road less traveled…even if it means getting wet.

-BPSOP Instructor: Joe Baraban

Joe Teaches:

Stretching Your Frame of Mind I 

Stretching Your Frame of Mind II

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  • Bryan & Chris, What a great class. I just want to tell you how much I learned by taking this course. I have been shooting for more than 20 years and avid fan of you and your photography. I needed something to jump start my photography since I retired recently, and this course was exactly what I needed. I recommend this course to anyone wanting to start learning or need a refresher. Thanks you so much for the work you do in helping your students become much better photographers. On to the next class and as I say to you both "you keep teaching"
    John OBrien Understanding Exposure & Your DSLR
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