Themes: an answer to the question, “What is there to shoot?”

Shooting to a theme is one way to keep your mind quietly alert to photographic opportunities.  In the context of photography, a theme is simply a coherent set of subject matter.  A theme could centre around a set of objects, (Doors, Abstracts, Hands) or it could be a concept (Contrasts, Sorrow, Joy, Indifference).  Photographing to a theme doesn’t mean heading out to shoot examples of your theme to the exclusion of all else (although you could); for one thing, good examples of a theme don’t always present themselves every time you are out shooting.  Instead, these are ideas that stay in the back of your mind, and that you shoot as opportunities arise.  Having them in the back of your mind helps you to be mindful while you are out, always looking for images that fit your chosen theme(s)

A few simple themes I work on are “Doors”, “Complementary Colours” and “Colour Harmonies”.  Sometimes you get lucky, and more than one theme is present in the same image.

I’m always intrigued by the doors of private homes in Europe.  Doors and front porches often seem to be vehicles for personal expression, to difference one’s home from your neighbour.  Here are two examples from Provence.

 

image-1

 

Aside from being eye-catching, these two doorways also represent examples of complementary colours (on the left), and colour harmony (on the right).

Complementary colours occupy on opposite sides of the colour wheel, examples include red-green and yellow-blue.  When they occur next to each other they reinforce each other, increasing the impact of both.

Harmonious colours exist together on the same side of the colour wheel, examples include blue-green, and yellow-orange.  Harmonious colours placed next to each other tend to reduce the impact of each other.  The images below show the effect of this.  Which of the two circles within each square is the most pure and saturated red?  The answer is, “Both!”  Placed next to its complement blue, the red circle appears more saturated.  Placed next to orange, a harmonious colour from the same side of the colour wheel, the impact of the red circle is diluted, and appears less saturated (in fact it almost appears to take on an orange cast)

 

image-2

 

image-3

 

In the image on the left, the magenta flowers (which have a large dose of red) and the yellow shutter sit on the opposite side of the colour wheel compared to the blue doorway.  Their presence next to each other makes each appear stronger than they would on their own.  Complementary colours also impart energy and excitement to an image.

In the image on the right, all of the principal colours exist on the same side of the colour wheel.  This is an example of colour harmony. Rather than reinforcing each other and imparting energy, the harmonious colours in this image impart a sense of calm and tranquility.  In other images, colour harmonies derived from the red-orange-yellow side of the colour wheel may impart a sense of warmth and comfort.

So, here’s a short list of some possible themes you might consider:

Abandoned Buildings, Abstracts, Bad Weather, Balloons, Bark, Barns, Bicycle Parts, Black and White, Bridges, Broken Glass, Butterflies, Car Details, Cats, Celebrations, Church Windows, City Skylines, City Street Scenes, Close-up, Clouds, Contrasts, Eyes, Femininity, Fences, Festivals, Fire Engines, Flower Petals, Flowers, Forms in Nature, Gardens, Gates, Glass, Hands, Harvest, Hats, Isolated Objects, Joy, Kids, Lazy, Masculinity, Opposites, Opulent, Patterns, Peeling Paint, People At Work, Peppers, Polished, Porches, Railroad Cars, Railroad Tracks, Raindrops, Rainbows, Red, Reflection, Rust, Rustic, Sand dunes, Sand Patterns, Sea Shells, Seascapes, Seasons, Self, Shadows, Signs, Silhouettes, Skulls, Sky, Smiles, Snow, Soft Curves, Sorrow, Speed, Spring, Stacks, Stairs, Statues, Steam Railroads, Still life, Strange Signs, Sunrise, Sunset, Sweets, Swings, Tattoos, Textures, Toads, Tombstones, Tools, Transport, Tree Knots, Trees, Umbrellas, Uniforms, Urban, Utensils, Vacation, Valves, Vegetables, Vines, Water, Waterfalls, Weather, Weathered Wood, Wet, Wheels, White, Wildlife, Windows, Winter, Woods, Yellow, Zig Zags

Now pick one or two and get shooting!

 

– BPSOP Instructor: Mark English

Mark Teaches: The Art of Printing & Selling Your Art

(Join me for a photo-workshop in Provence or Tuscany next year)

 

“I just wanted to thank you for another wonderful class. I have to confess that each week when I read the new assignment, my first reaction was mild panic and a deep certainty that I would not be able to produce anything worthwhile that fit within the parameters you had set. But before I knew it, the ideas started to flow, and I quickly became obsessed (no, that isn’t too strong a word!) with exploring the possibilities. I can honestly say that the photos I produced in response to your assignments are among my favorites. Thanks for bringing out a creative side I didn’t know I had!”

Barbara Geiger
Understanding Color

“Thank you so very much for this course! It’s allowed me to take the blinders off and present my images for what I want them to be without being a slave to the “reality” of the camera. I would also add that in conjunction with your printing course, this has been the most useful course I’ve ever taken. Your notes are more than comprehensive and your comments and critiques are direct, clear, and always directed to the improvement of the art.”

Bill
After the click

” I want to thank you for this class and for your patience and availability to answer all of my questions. I have learned very much through this class. I have used LR in the past, but mostly for editing images. I now have a better grasp in the organization of my images, an even better understanding of editing images, and an understanding of the value of presets. I still have a lot to learn, but this has put me on the road to be able to improve my photography. Again, thank you! ”

Dale Yates
Lightroom Quickstart

Classes Starting Soon!

Understanding Exposure and Your DSLR

Instructor: Bryan Peterson Duration: 6 Weeks Cost: US$169 Without que…

Wireless Flash Techniques for Outdoor & Nature Photographers

Instructor: Rick Burress Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 Learn Photoshop…

The Real Photoshop Course

Instructor: Charlie Borland Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 Are you a …

The Ultimate Guide to Adobe Bridge CC

Instructor: Rick Burress Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 The Anti-Catalo…

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

Instructor: Mark English Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 Why do some ima…

Editing in Adobe Camera Raw

Instructor: Rick Burress Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 If you love pho…

Exploring Adobe Photoshop Lightroom & Lightroom for Mobile

Instructor: Holly Higbee-Jansen Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 In this …

Lightroom Quick Start

Instructor: Holly Higbee-Jansen Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 Do you w…

Mastering Apple Photos

Instructor: Jon Canfield Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 Mastering Apple…

Luminar Essentials

Instructor: Jon Canfield Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 Luminar is an …

The Art of Printing and Selling Your Art

Instructor: Mark English Duration: 2 Weeks Cost: US$76 The print is the…

The 50 Most Useful Tips in Photoshop CC and Photoshop Elements

Instructor: Roger Morin Duration: 2 Weeks Cost: US$76 This two-week cla…

50 MORE Photoshop Tips & Tricks

Instructor: Roger Morin Duration: 2 Weeks Cost: US$76 This two-week cla…
Translate »