I was recently asked how many concerts I’ve photographed, and realized that it is coming up on thousand in the last 15 years. Any given week you can find me shooting anything from a 20 person house concert to The Who in a 30,000 seat arena, and anywhere in between. Tonight, it will be an up-and-coming band called The Spring Standards, who I’ve shot 7 times in the past. They are a dynamic, high-energy band with a lot of emotion, character and flying hair to capture.
We all have our strengths and weaknesses, as well as ways to deal with the latter. And it is only natural for us to sort of… drift towards our strengths. Hold on to them, practice as often as we can and, by doing so, get even better at them. And so, before I inevitably talk about close-up portraits (which I am not very good at), I thought I’d first discuss much more loosely composed photography (which, though far from having mastered, I dare say I am rather better at).
My word. This is such a relief to write about.
When publishing articles on our site, our team always cross-posts links to the same content on our Facebook fan page, where we have close to 250 thousand fans. One of the biggest frustrations we came across with Facebook, is when we post a link to an article that contains images, and Facebook refuses to show the image on top of the link. The strange thing is, sometimes deleting the URL and pasting it again will show images and other times, Facebook completely refuses to do it. And when the image does not show, no matter how many times you refresh the page or paste the link, it will never appear. Since a number of our readers have Facebook fan pages or personal pages where they paste links to their sites or portfolios, I thought it would be a good idea to share the way to force Facebook to show images in links.
If we see the rule of thirds as the default, “bread and butter” sort of composition guide, I can think of at least two ways to break that rule and distance your work from it. The first one is to use, against the advice of many photographers, central composition. It is a very natural, simple way of composing an image and generally results in a very “open”, peaceful, calm photograph. You could say it is classic. As I mentioned before, it is also one we instinctively learn first. The second way is completely opposite and perhaps much less “natural” to our eyes, yet one I adore at least as much as central composition. You see, if one naturally expects to find something of importance at the very center of a frame, the very edges of it might be the last place they’d look. And that sense of unexpectedness is perhaps the best part about it.
WARNING – this contains adult humor of the PG-13 variety, sassy double entendres, and a bunch of my trademark puerile humor too – read at your own risk.
A couple weeks ago Nasim climbed Mount Zeiss with his D810 and returned with Photography’s 16 Commandments (Nasim’s an overachiever, duh). Before Nasim laid down the law, I thought I was doing okay at this photography thing. Now I realize that I’m a really bad photographer, but a golly-danged good sinner. In the hope that confessing my sins in public will lead to absolution, I present the following evidence and beg for forgiveness.
What makes a good black-and-white photograph, how do I take one, and why should I try when I have this nifty hypersaturation preset that makes even my lamest photos look awesome? I’ll answer the last question first – your oversharpened oversaturated photos stink. Their gaudy colors may suck the eye in, but then the eye gets stuck, realizes there’s nothing more to look for in the picture and hastily moves on. Effective black-and-white photography relies on form, texture, lines, contrast, tonality and composition to engage the viewer. Without flashy colors to draw viewers in, the black-and-white photographer either masters the principles of composition or perishes. Shooting in black-and-white is a great way to improve your photography skills.
Back in the day when I was working in corporate life, I gained quite a bit of experience creating and managing advertising, usually print based. When we designed ads, it became second nature for us to constantly think about fundamental concepts like visual depth, dominating elements, and ad balance. The goal was to achieve good eye flow in our ads. Since leaving corporate life I’ve tried to apply what I learned about advertising design to my photography. This article deals with something seldom discussed on photography sites: creating corner exits in our images to improve image eye flow.
One of the most common mistakes I see when reviewing images submitted by our readers, or when reviewing portfolio images during our workshops, is a rather simple case of crooked horizons or badly aligned lines. Although most photographers are very well aware of this one, for some reason many simply fail to see such problems in their images. Now it is one thing when an image is tilted intentionally to create an interesting composition, and totally different when the photographer is not paying attention to or is unaware of the surroundings and background elements that are part of their photographs. In this article, I will demonstrate examples of crooked horizons and badly aligned lines, how they can be easily fixed in post-processing software like Lightroom, and talk about the importance of lines in composition.
Lacrosse, like American Football, is played on a large field, however the differences between the two sports are numerous. The ball used in Lacrosse is quite small, so you need a sharp eye to follow it. The helmets worn by the players cover most of their faces with a grid pattern, yet they are still open enough to get good face shots. Action moves up and down the field, with frequent changes in direction, so be prepared to move around, which is easily done with the large sidelines.
In the popular movie, “For Love Of The Game,” starring Kevin Costner and Kelly Preston, an aging major league baseball pitcher makes the gut-wrenching decision to retire from the game of baseball. The title of the movie reflects the pitcher’s response to the club owner regarding his decision. He walks away because he cares too much about the game to stay on beyond his time. A recent event in the Grand Teton National Park, the area where my wife, Tanya, and I recently vacationed, reminded me of the sentiment behind this movie title.