Abstract Photos of Nature.

The time is great to go out and find interesting looking things to shoot. I mean with a camera. I want to challenge you to go out and look close at things. The abstract world is very interesting and even more so when you can take a photo of it and stump friends. I am talking about a close up of a leaf a bug or a unique angle of a plant.

I will be posting new images of abstract world over the next few days. Go out and give it a try. You do not have to go too far from your door to find an interesting angle.

Winner of the Naming Contest

I would like to announce the winner of the naming contest. Undercover Sunflower — Gary I like your name for its double meaning. Not only is it not really a sunflower, the back ones are in part covered. Thank you for all the possible entries. More to come in the future.

Macro Photography

The Art of Taking Pictures of Small Things

Introduction

The idea of Macro Photography is to create a close up images.  The traditional definition of Macro Photography relates to the size of an image in respect to the film.  The photographed images size that is projected on the film or CCD should be close to real life. (one to one ratio)

Equipment

There are dedicated lenses for Macro Photography but when you are getting started many basic lenses have a form of macro capability. This is a great place to start for the beginner. I would recommend using a 70-200 or 300 mm zoom lens to give the best results. The actual image that you shoot will be the same as if you were using a dedicated 100mm Macro lens but there are some issues.

In my opinion the main drawback to using the zoom lens option is that you have to be as much as 6 feet away from the subject to use your lenses minimal focal range. (the closest the lens will focus)  It will work but practice is important. The other drawback is that the focal depth is greater and harder to control. This is the range of focus within the photo. (what you can see clearly in the shot) Even with the issues outlined they are a great way to get started.

You can also buy filters that magnify the image to allow you to shoot macro with standard lenses. This looks like a standard filter but it magnifies the subject when attached.

A solid tripod and a time release is almost a must for this type of work. When shooting small things any camera shake is magnified and frustrating. The force required to pushing the shutter button can cause enough shake to cause problems. It is better to not touch the camera when shooting. If you do not have an off camera release, (remote) use the timer feature on your camera.

Camera Settings

You can use a point and shoot camera to create some very interesting macro TYPE images with the auto setting plant close-up.  Look for the setting with a flower, or something that is close-up. It is actually the macro setting on many point and shoot cameras.  Focusing is the challenge for most of these cameras.

On the SLR cameras you can use the auto setting discussed above to get started but you want to move to the manual settings as soon as you feel comfortable with the advanced operations, because it will give you so much more in the way of control.

Focusing

In most cases I use manual focus because it gives me greater control as to the area that is in focus. When I photograph without a tripod, the hand motion alone will change the distance from the camera to the subject enough to cause the auto focus drive system to go crazy. My trick when hand holding is to do basic focus and then focus the image by moving the camera.

How to control the Depth of Field?  There are 2 answers to that.

1. Aperture

Remember that the aperture controls how much is in focus. An f2.8 will have a shallow depth of field where an f8 or f22 will have a greater depth of field. What that means is the amount of area in front and behind the subject that will be in focus. You start out by selecting the specific part that you want in sharp focus. Then select the F Stop to give you the amount of area around that you want in focus.

2. The Distance from the subject

Everything that was said in part one still applies, the only change is your distance from the subject. When you back up from the subject and zoom in using a zoom lens, (same image in the picture as before with the same settings) your depth of field increases. Where before the area in focus could have been 2mm in front and behind what was in focus, the new area of focus when you backed off could be 20mm in front and behind. Creating 40 mm of in focus area compared to the 4mm in the earlier example.

Summary

Get close and have fun.  Try some macro and let me know how it went.

PS: The images in this blog were shot with a zoom 70-300 mm lens.

 

 

Naming Your Photographs, the Art of Titles.

Photography is a well recognised and appreciated form of art. With that said, you should treat your masterpieces with the same respect that any other artist in any other media would give their work. I am referring to the concept of giving your photos a TITLE. I do not mean that every shot of your dog, cat or kid needs a creative title but, special shots should qualify for a name.

When a car manufacturer builds a new car, they give it a name. The name is part of the image of the car. The Ford “Explorer” already has a personality just with the name alone. It congers up an image of the great outdoors and going too hard to find places. Why have we not had a car with the name, “Slug?”

Images that are displayed in galleries, entered for competitions, sold to collectors or hung on your wall should have a title. It allows the artist to show they value their work enough to give it a name and it also presents an opportunity to give the image greater depth. A work that has the title of “Untitled” is missing something.

How To Name Your Work
As an artist it is totally your creative choice to name your work in any way you wish. Feel free to disregard anything I am about to say, but there are some ideas for helping in deciding how to title your work.

Start by deciding what you want the focal point to be, and then explore that. From there you have a couple of ways to continue.

1. Say What It Is

  • What is in the image and then call it that?
  • Give it the name of the location or subject.
  • Do not give it personal names like the name of your dog.  It is very important to you but irrelevant to the majority of the viewers.
  • Will the person who dies not know you, and lives half way across the world, understand your title?
  • That is my litmus test for a title using this process.
  • Photo Titled, “Dear Crossing

2. Think About How The Picture Makes You Feel.
Decide the emotion, feeling or mood that you were trying to capture in the image and use them as motivations for names. When I use this technique to name my work, I use a Thesauruses.
Photo Titled, “Here She Comes

3. Common Phrases
Use something that is already common in our society that has an emotion or feeling already attached to it. An example of this is using a song title. “Pretty Woman” It is already an established idea so our brain does not have to work as hard to gather meaning from the art work.

From my own experience I normally have a collection of 15 to 30 works that I need to title, per year. My process is that I will lay out all the images and each one will have a sticky note attached. Over the course of a week I will record possible titles that come to me on the notes. I start by looking at the image and decide the focus of the photo. Then, do I want to be direct to the point or do I want to make the viewer work.
This Activity is not just limited to me. My wife is a very creative language person and I will have her brainstorm as well. All the ideas are collected and then I pick the best one. I do not throw out the sticky notes when I am done. The rejected names are all recorded for possible future use.

A Warning in the Art of Naming.
You as an artist can negatively narrow the perspective of the viewer with a name. An example was seen in the February meeting of the South Sask Photo Club, using an image of an old car with a nice country background. One person named it rust, which was accurate but some were looking at the way the car fit into the landscape but when we heard Rust. The viewer was directed inward to the car and lost the background.
Now for a challenge. What Do you think I should name this image? I will use one as the title and the person who gives me the winning name, I will send them an art card of the below image.  Good Luck.

Taking Photographs in the Snow.

Overview
The most difficult seasons to take photographs is winter. Many photographs that are taken during the white season are not what was intended and are never printed. You may have had a great shot planned but the camera let you down. The issue is the automatic setting on the camera. Throw out the auto setting and go manual or almost manual for happy winter photographs.

Basic Background
The white is throwing out the automatic settings of the camera and it will not give the correct reading for a good exposure. The rule of snow photography is very simple. “Most of your photographs will probably turn out too dark with possibly with a shade of blue, if you let your metre be your guide.” There is also an old saying, “If it is bright, add light.”

Advanced Background
When your camera metre is pointed at a predominantly white snowy scene, the metre “thinks” that it is measuring a very bright scene and recommends an exposure that makes the white snow appear gray (midtone, or darker than white). Snow should to appear to be white but the internal camera settings try to set them to 18% grey. A photographer needs to overexpose from the incorrect metre reading. (be sure to metre just snow). The amount of overexposure necessary to do this varies, depending upon the lighting conditions, and just how white you want your snow to look.

Shooting Solution
If you still aren’t quite sure of what you want, set your shutter speed at increments of ½ and experiment, try bracketing your exposures. There are so many approaches to snow photography, use the method that works the best for you.

Editing Warning
When editing digital photos, the areas that are blown out or overexposed are not salvageable for most cases using Photoshop. The overexposed area has no data to salvage so it is white and nothing will change that.

Protecting Your Camera

• Keep your camera in the car for a bit before you go shooting. Give it time to acclimatise to the weather. Do not take it in and out of warm areas because it will freeze up and condensation will form.
• Take along as many extra batteries as you feel you might need based on the temperature. Cold eats Batteries
• If it is snowing, protect your camera with a zip-lock bag..
• Do not blow the snow off the camera lens as the condensation from your breath might freeze on the lens. Brush all snow off instead.
• When you are done for the day, place the camera into a small plastic bag to protect from condensation on the camera when it is brought inside.

Photography during the winter is a challenge, even for the most experienced photographer. So, don’t get discouraged, keep learning from your mistakes.

Check this out.

http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/winter-photography-flakes-white-escape/

Framing Your Photo Within an Image.

By Jon Gillies
Introduction
When taking a photograph it is natural to try to avoid things that are in the way of the subject. Most point and shoot images you will find the subject (Little Bobby) standing front and centre and the wonderful scenic view in the background. In this edition I an going to encourage you to throw out the rule of thirds and try to stick stuff in front of the focal point of the image to frame the subject.
People pay big money for framing finished work but I am not discussing post framing, I want you to explore the possibilities of framing the subject when taking the photo. There are two main areas that I wish to discuss. One, framing your subject using natural surroundings in front of the subject. Two, framing your subject by finding an interesting background.

Theory
Our eyes naturally look at an image from the top left to the right just like we are reading a book. The contents of the image will influence if our eyes travel through the image and out the other side or if we are stopped to study what we see.

NATURAL FRAMES IN FRONT

Framing an image causes our eyes to be brought back into the image and not leave the other side.

I used trees to draw the viewer into the picture. The sunset is not very interesting by its self but when I frame it with the trees, it causes the viewer to study the sunset longer that if they were not there. The eyes are captured. 
The frame does not have to be all around the image like a traditional frame. The composition of the image may call for a frame on only one side. Give it a try.

NATURAL FRAMES BEHIND

In this concept the photographer places the subject in front of an object that will bring focus on the subject. Portrait photographers will use this concept in the form of a  backdrop to bring the focus on the subject.
I am not encouraging moving or sitting a natural object onto something (I believe in looking for nature where it sits) but look for something that catches your eye. An example could be a mushroom growing from a log where you can take the photo close enough so the log is surrounding the mushroom. A car in front of an old wall can lead to great composition. One piece of advice is try to look for items that contrast. I mean light background to a dark subject.

RULE OF THIRDS

Something has to be said about the rules of thirds in this project. You may find that you are breaking the rules for a framed image. That is Ok I believe that the rules are recommendations only. The frame does not have to follow any rules as long as you like what you get in the end but the subject within the photo should still follow th rules of thirds.

Activity

Go out and find at least two images that you can try the natural frames in front and behind the subject.