Shooting the Minds Eye

If someone where to bring up the topic of “Depth of Field” to these people, they probably wouldn’t care; as long as their subject was in focus they could still capture the memory they were after. If each member of this family only had a point and shoot camera where all the decisions are made for you; each member would have to settle for a picture that wasn’t quite the way they remember it.

On the other hand, if they had a few more options and wanted to take the time, they could each create the memory they envisioned to begin with. They may all be looking at the same exact scene before them, but that doesn’t mean that they all saw it the same way. If they chose to use a narrow depth of field, each person would be able create a memory of what they saw.

In the scene that we’ve already described, let’s call Jimmy – the foreground. For the sake of visual placement, we will call the field of corn – the midground. Of course, we can call the red barn what it all ready is – the background.

If the mother took her shot with a narrow depth of field using a small f-stop like f-2.8, Jimmy and his little truck would be in focus, but both the cornfield and the barn would appear gently out of focus. They would not distract the viewer from her main subject. Jimmy would be in focus, and for her that is what is important.

If the father focusing further back used a narrow depth of field, part of his corn field would be in focus and part of it would not. He might want to consider using a mid range depth of field, like using an f-stop of f-8. This way, most of the corn should be in focus, but both Jimmy in the foreground and the barn in the distance will appear gently out of focus. If someone looked at his shot, the corn field would be the first thing they noticed. To Dad that is what’s important.

Now when Grandpa goes to take his photograph he realizes that the barn is important, but so is Jimmy and the cornfield. After all, he’s been here since the beginning; so when grandpa takes the shot, he wants to make sure it’s all in focus. He will be using what we call a wide depth of field, probably using an f-stop of about f-22. Because his memories involve everything in front of him; to grandpa everything is equally important.

To correct what I said earlier; grandpa may have actually been satisfied with a snapshot from a point and shoot camera. Both mom and dad would look at that picture and feel something just wasn’t right. It’s not that his picture was a bad picture; it just didn’t match what they had in mind. By using depth of field you can make people see what you saw, not only with your natural eyes, but in your mind’s eye too. If every photograph tells a story, it becomes important to get the shot just right. You can do that when you learn more about the creative process and the concept known as Depth of Field.

Photography Clubs

This is the basic question asked by all the budding photographers. The amateurs and professionals dwell on this question as they feel little hesitated or fearful to share their clicked photographs. The answer is very simple that sharing photos on the club’s page gives the desired recognition by the people. All members of the club watch and spread the photos by sharing them on social media and download for their personal use. The more photos get downloaded and shared, the more recognition a photographer gets.

Gradually a photographer builds his or her own fan base. That is how uploading and sharing photos over club pages could prove very useful.

Aren’t their photo galleries which can showcase photographer’s work?

Definitely, there are a number of photo galleries in the city, but they usually give permission to showcase a photographer’s work if they already have some kind of fan base or photographers can pay a huge sum of money to these galleries. Both of the situations don’t suit well for an amateur or fresher. Therefore, the photography club acts as free photo galleries for photographers. These clubs can be a huge launch pad and if not, then surely it can be a nice platform to start the work at least.

Importance of Photography Clubs

  1. They have permanent members – As said above clubs have their own circles where the uploaded photographs are shared and downloaded by members. They appreciate good work and the photographer’s motivation goes up. Uploading photographs free of cost and getting recognition is a win-win situation for photographers.
  2. Sole focus on photographs – Photographers always have this guilt that their work does not get appropriate attention and reputation, especially the freshers do think that. The photography clubs are solely dedicated to showcasing good and excellent work to the world. Their determination, dedication, and focus, always make the photographer proud of their work and profession.

Photographic Exhibition

I was immediately drawn to the pigmented ink-jet prints of Dawoud Bey, which present themselves in the form of portraits of high school students in their classrooms, accompanied by a few lines of the student’s own verbal self-description. The photographs, though richly colored and saturated, remain stark in their documentary style shooting and presentation. The verbal statements help to further the subjects’ expressive demeanors, although sometimes confusing the viewer by offering two conflicting positions. The self-description that the high school students attribute to themselves is not always reinforced through their actual expressions, which gives the work another layer of meaning that is less about a specific residential spirit and more about traits that are universally human. Even still, the subjects of these portraits serve to represent the future of Eatonville as its most potential-filled residents.

Although the subjects of these portraits are specific to the town of Eatonville, I felt that their youthful naivety could transcend geographic location and therefore, I could relate to the subjects without having knowledge of the importance of the town itself. This work alone could represent various towns or cities, but combined with the other three artists contributed to a unique spirit of the Eatonville that I was constructing for myself.

Lonnie Graham’s photographs, also pigmented ink-jet prints, contrast Bey’s photographs by embodying spontaneity, which for me is then transformed into a certain type of sentimentality. The photographs depict the people of Eatonville during a several day town festival. The photographer includes a range of age groups, depicting Eatonville’s present a useful addition to the future that Bey represents. My “imaginary” Eatonville is coming together.

Carrie Mae Weems’ silver gelatin prints are the only works to directly reference Hurston, offering historical re-enactments of some of the writer’s days: jotting down some observations in her notebook, walking beneath willow trees, washing her feet in a basin, among other daily rituals. I was not immediately interested in Weems’ photographs, perhaps because my unfamiliarity with Eatonville’s historical roots causes me to reject the town as a historical real place in favor of something that I am able to construct on my own, something more imaginary, immediate, and contemporary.

Returning to the medium of pigmented inkjet prints, the photographs of Deborah Willis embody the timelessness of Eatonville, as well as representing social sites and gendered places that maintain historical importance by transforming it. Willis photographs socially charged locales: a high school football field, the view from a preacher’s pulpit, and perhaps most notably in this series, the beauty salon. This specific location speaks of a site of female power, which has replaced other gendered spaces of Hurston’s era, like the storefront porch which is a social site of male power.

The approach of this exhibit is not an uncommon one: an embodiment of the spirit of a place. The wonderful thing about this type of exhibit is that the viewer can extract the elements of his or her choice to construct his or her own imaginary place with its own personal significance. What’s important is the photographic embodiment or encapsulation of the importance of place and home, both real and imagined.

Aerial Footage Photography

Background

Aerial footage can be taken above any place in the world from an airborne location, whether inside an airplane, balloon, satellite, paraglide or from other flight vehicles. The history of aerial photography goes back to 1858 when French airman, Nadar, introduced it for use it in war. During World War II, airborne footage was used extensively to locate enemy troops and to spy on their locations. This type of photography was also used to assess ground situations during battle, topography, and other circumstances around the world. Today, aerial spying has increased in its tactical prominence for helping on strategic battle grounds.

Advantages of Aerial Photography

Pictures taken from overhead locations can be very helpful in producing topographic maps for various locations in cartography, planning how to use a particular parcel of land, movie productions, international espionage, and environmental studies, just to name a few.

The proliferation of technological advances have paved the way for airborne footage as an important niche of photography. Progress in photographic capabilities has also enabled the use of aircraft models to gather terrain information through radio controlled aircraft that can fly at low altitudes. It is even used for something as basic as real estate advertising. The reason for using radio controlled aircraft for advertising is because aircraft piloted by people are not authorized to fly at low altitudes in populated centers It doesn’t hurt the decision-making process that these radio controlled aircraft handle this responsibility very well.

Public Domain

Pictures taken from the air are normally considered as public domain because they are snapped in airborne locations which are viewed as public places. Such aerial photographs can be seen online.

One of the major search engines to provide an aerial view of locations is Google’s earth.com site. It zeros in on targets from satellites orbiting the planet. The service can be used to see places such as landmarks, water beds, and hotels. Best routes can be tracked down to specific locations all over the world. You can tap into 3 dimensional views of specific structures as well as tilt and rotate a building image, for example, by the click of your mouse. A person is also able to measure the distance between one city and another. If a road between two cities is under construction, browsing Google earth to identify an alternative means of travel to the desired location is an option.

Raising the Bar of Excellence

Centuries ago, Greek artists discovered that the eye tends to focus on certain points in any given image. If you divide your picture into thirds both horizontally and vertically, the points at which those lines intersect are the points where most people focus comfortably. You don’t have to draw an arrow, in most cases this is where they will look without any coaching from you or anyone else. This is commonly referred to as the “Rule of Thirds”.

By placing your subject (or point of interest) at one of these natural focus points, you have greatly increased the odds that the viewer will indeed be captivated by your work. As you do this more and more; people will notice that for some reason your work seems more interesting than their “Bull’s-eye” type snap shot. They won’t understand it, but they will be drawn to your work just like a magnet.

The Greeks and Egyptians were great mathematicians. I on the other hand; am not great at math, but I do understand the concept of 1/3rd in from the left or right and 1/3rd up or down. Those who know the formula will argue that it’s not exactly 1/3rd, but that’s OK. One of the things the rule of thirds does for your image is to give it movement. But wait a minute; you’re asking what if my subject isn’t moving? That’s fine, but it gives your mind somewhere to go with the image. When your subject is dead center, your mind takes one glance and says, “Ok, next.” Remember: “It’s kind of hard to experience a photograph, if there’s nothing left to the imagination.”

Even when doing extreme close-ups it is possible to use the rule of thirds. Think of a beautiful models face, what’s the first thing you look at? Do you immediately look at the nose? No, I doubt that very much. Usually you either look at the eyes or the lips. Both of these happen to be located where? Both of these heart stopping subjects are located 1/3rd up or 1/3rd down from dead center. Since the nose is usually located dead center; that’s why I tend to doubt that it was the first thing that would catch your attention. I’m not saying a person can’t have a cute nose, but where it’s placed in the picture will determine just how much attention it will get.

Most girls are self conscious about their looks, that’s why they tell you to back up. But in reality, that’s exactly why you should NOT back up, in fact, you should probably get closer. If you shoot full body on a regular basis, what is usually at 1/3 from the bottom? If a girl is thinking she’s fat, you don’t want people staring at her waist. Force the viewer to look at her strength’s. Draw his attention to her dreamy eyes; or her wonderful smile, not a few extra pounds at her waist.

This same concept works for other subjects besides people. Let’s say you have a beautiful stream coming down a mountain side. If you shoot horizontally with the stream dead center, you cut the photo in half. Now in this example, we also have to consider leading lines. If you shoot the stream diagonally and it ends somewhere in the lower left third of the picture, you have still taken advantage of the rule of thirds. This is one of those “professional photo tips” that allows your viewer to experience your photo and not just glance at it.

When you can guide someone into an image and allow them to have an emotional response, your work is much more likely to be remembered. When you use the rule of thirds on a regular basis, you have raised the bar of excellence in such a way that people can not help but to be refreshed and invigorated by your work. If they feel that good just by experiencing your photo once, think how much better they will feel when they start buying your work and enjoying it everyday.

Aerial Photography

The view from the air is different. The observer is no longer rooted to the ground, but instead can soar above it, without the need to follow roads or footpaths. It is possible to take in wide areas at a glance, and gain a far greater understanding of the relationships between the man-made and the natural landscape. From the ground, often only the largest features of the landscape – mountains, rivers, lakes and valleys – can be appreciated for their form and scale. From the air, you can gain a much greater insight: a tidal estuary appears as an intricate network of channels, almost mirroring the roots of a tree; farmland often resembles a patchwork quilt; towns and cities, which may appear formless from the ground, can be seen to have grown around natural features, such as a river or surrounding hills.

Nowhere is this more true than in Wales, and aerial photography reveals where the landscape has largely determined how the built environment has developed. In the north, the major settlements hug the coastline whether they are the coastal resorts of Llandudno and Prestatyn, or the defensive towns of Conwy, Caernarfon and Beaumaris, guarded by the fortresses of Edward I’s castles. Further inland, the rocky cliffs and crags of Snowdonia safeguard the land from too much human encroachment. To the south, the Brecon Beacons mark the northern end of the industrial south. Today, little remains of the mining industry and the valleys that flow down to Cardiff are crammed with former coal and steel towns such as Merthyr Tydfil, Ebbw Vale and Pontypridd.

Warm Color Balance

You have already shot some video and on playing it back the colors just don’t seem right, the sky is not the blue that it was when you shot the clip and your face appears ‘different’ than what you see looking in the mirror.

So what do you need to do to to capture the rich colors that you would expect to see in a Hollywood movie and that nicer on the eye for your viewers.

The answer is that you need to ‘[tag]warm balance[/tag]’ your camcorder before you shoot to obtain better results. Now this is new to me and it is important that you appreciate what warm balance is compared to white balance.

Instead of using pure white, you will often get far better colors in video by using a light color, but something other than white. If you use a very pale shade of blue when you white balance your camera, you will get much deeper colors from your camcorder. It will actually help give pale skin a healthy, natural glow.

If you use a ‘minus green’ to do a white balance, it will help eliminate the pale effects normally seen when shooting under fluorescent lighting.

The picture shows a comparison between shots taken with a white balanced camera, and one that was warm balanced.

Thousands of television cameraman, videographers, and digital photographers around the world use warm balance every day because it is an indispensable tool for high end video production and digital photography.

You can buy warm balance cards from WarmCards.com or make your own. Print out an A4 page on your ink jet printer colored warm blue (hex color code: #D1EEF2) and one colored minus green (#DDF4E2).

Normally you will want to use the warm blue but the minus green is used when shooting under harsh fluorescent lights.

To use your warm balance card and improve the color of your videos do the following.

  • Set up your video shoot as normal and turn on the lights if using them.
  • Set the camcorder to manual mood.
  • Place the card or have someone hold it at face level and zoom in so that the color card fills the viewable area of the screen.
  • Press the ‘white balance’ button on your camcorder.
  • Remove the card, keep in manual mode and shoot the video.

Successful Stock Photos

Fake water reflections

Too many pictures have a fake water reflection, courtesy of Flaming Pear’s Flood filter. Whilst the filter can do a reasonable job, it usually ends up look fake and clichéd. On the off chance that I need to use it, I have this filter insatlled on my computer.

Don’t submit only monochrome images

Much as I love them, monochrome images, either straight black and white or toned, are of no use to me. Give me the color version and I’ll convert it to black and white if I need to and I’ll have complete control over the conversion process.

Isolate images on a white background

If you’re going to isolate your image from the background, please put it on a white background. Don’t use a graduated color, especially if your photo is of something glass. If you object is predominantly white, another color can work, but an image isolated on black never seems to look good to me.

Don’t rotate images

Rotating the image can make it seem more dynamic, but, if I have to straighten the image and then crop it, I’ll usually loose too much of the image in the process. Just give me a nice level image please.

Don’t overly manipulate the image

My vision of the final image may be different to yours and this just limits what I can do to the image myself. Don’t darken the sky and clouds, don’t sharpen it, don’t radically adjust the brightness or contrast. What ever you do, don’t blow out the highlights or block up the shadows.

Positive and Negative Space

Many photo books mention the idea that you don’t want telephone lines
coming out the ears of someone you are taking pictures of. While this is
true, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. By the way, have you ever wondered
what people mean when they use that phrase? When you look at an iceberg,
what you usually see is just the part that lies above the surface of the water.
No matter how huge it appears, you are only seeing 10% of the entire iceberg.
Imagine missing 90% of a movie, or 90% of a book. Would it still hold your interest?

Imagine if you will that no matter what you are shooting, no matter what it is,
the subject is only 10% of the problem. How is that even possible, you ask?
Well let’s think about what type of things can detract from a really good photo.
The background can detract. Lighting can detract. Shapes can distract. Color
can distract. Lines can detract. Texture can detract. I could go on, but I think
you get the general idea. No matter how wonderful the subject is, there are
many more factors that make up a great photograph besides the main subject.

I refer to this understanding as positive and negative space. Positive space
is the area of the photo you want your viewer to concentrate on. Negative
space is everything else. Negative space can actually be a positive thing as
long as it supports what you are shooting. Let’s say for example, you’ve taken
a shot of a small young lady reading a huge book. If the background has a big
picture window with a storm outside, it says one kind of story. If, on the other
hand, the background has rows and rows of books it tells a completely different
type of story. Obviously, if the book blocked part of another person, such as an
arm or a leg coming out one side, that would not be supportive.

When you think about positive and negative space in every shot, you soon become
more aware of other elements you might have easily ignored before. Have you ever
seen one of those optical illusions where if you look at a certain picture one way it’s
a young woman and if you look at it another it’s an old lady? What makes an optical
illusion work? Every person on the planet sees things his or her own way, based on
the experiences they have had up to that point in their life. Some people only see a
young girl or an old lady in the illusion. They may know that the other exist, but they
just can’t see it.

To become the best photographer you can be, you have to open your consciousness
to see multiple possibilities. I once shot a wedding where there were a lot of small
children. This made for some great candid shots. In one case, the bride bent over
while in the reception line to pick up a little girl. I was ready to take the shot, except
for one small detail. When the bride bent over, she revealed much more of herself
than she had planned. If I only noticed the child, I would have taken a shot that would
have embarrassed several people, myself included.

I encourage you to simplify the background when ever you can. But don’t close your
mind to the possibilities of images within images. If in the positive space has a young
couple kissing, and the negative space is a clear blue sky, that’s an OK shot. But if that
same shot has a little girl covering her eyes in the background (negative space) now all
of the sudden you have a great shot. We usually define positive space by what is dominate
or what is in the sharpest focus, but as you can see from that last example . . . there are times
when the negative space can actually be more interesting than the positive space. There
are some people who will never see past the tip of the iceberg. Just remember
the main subject often only represents 10% of the possibilities.

Myth of Mega Pixels

The word itself simply means a million pixels and a pixel is the smallest individual part of a digital image. If you have some viewing software that allows you to zoom right in to an image then you can see them for yourself – they just look like different coloured squares. You might recognise the “pixellated” effect used on TV to obscure peoples faces.

Every digital image (including the screen you are looking at now) consists of a rectangular array of pixels, the more is has, the bigger the image. If you look at the display settings on your computer, you can find the number of pixels in the screen image you are viewing right now. This should tell you the horizontal and vertical number of pixels. Multiply these two numbers together to find the total number of pixels.

A very common screen size is 1024 (horizontal) x 768 (vertical) pixels. Multiply these numbers together and you get 786,432 pixels in total. In terms of mega pixels, that’s less than 0.8MP. So, if you are looking at an image from your 10MP camera on a screen that is only showing you 0.8MP, where have all the other pixels gone?

In truth they have just been lost. The fact is that you cannot see any more pixels than exist for the size of the screen on which you are viewing them. In order to see an entire 10MP image your viewing software has to “lose” 90% of the pixels. If it didn’t, you would only see a small part of the image at one time and you would have to scroll around to see the rest of it. This is exactly what happens when you get a large image in an email or a website.

The number of pixels or mega pixels in an image is often called the “resolution” of the image and the more you have, the higher the resolution your picture will be. Resolution means the ability to see fine detail in the image so you should expect that a 10MP image would show a lot more fine detail than, for example, a 1MP image. But does it?

Well, if you are looking at the whole of your digital image on screen, the simple answer is – no!

You don’t have to take my word for it, you can see this for yourself if you have software that allows you to resize an image as well as zoom in or out. If you take a large image, make a copy of it and then reduce it in size to something around the size of your screen, you can then compare a high and low resolution version of the picture side by side.

When you make an image smaller you are, of course, lowering the number of pixels in it and therefore, its resolution. This is also what happens when your viewing software zooms out to fit a large (high resolution) picture on your screen. The difference being that the zooming process has no effect on the digital file itself.

When you compare a high resolution image that has been zoomed out to fit the screen with a low resolution one that is the same visual size without zooming, you will find the level of detail in both to be identical. It cannot be any other way. The maximum resolution you can ever see on screen is that of the screen itself. There may be much more resolution in the original image but you cannot see it and look at the whole image at the same time.

The fact is that of the millions of digital pictures taken each day, very few are ever printed. Most are simply viewed on computer screens and stored somewhere for later viewing. Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with that if you are one those people who never print digital pictures, then the myth of mega pixels applies to you especially.

If you are looking for a new camera, you will probably not find anything with less than about 4MP, rising up to about 12MP. As we have seen however, both these cameras effectively have exactly the same resolution if you are just viewing the whole image on screen.

What is more, the 12MP image will take up more space on your memory card (so it will hold fewer pictures) and you will need to resize it for sending by email or posting on a web page. It will also take much longer to send by email and view on a web page.

Even if you have a high resolution, large mega pixel camera that does not mean that you are stuck only taking large pictures. Digital cameras can take pictures at different resolutions and you simply need to find your settings menu to make this happen. The setting may be called resolution or size. Depending on the camera, you may have numbers or just high/medium/low as your choices. Setting the value to the smallest number or low will give you images that are much better suited to viewing on screen.