When out and about, you see an awesome scene. Whip that smart phone out and take the shot. Not thinking much about what you are doing, you get an average image. If in the future, just before you take that shot, stop, look again for color, angles, where is the most exciting part of the scene, then press that button.
I recently purchased the i Phone 11Pro and challenged my self to take it on vacation with me instead of my normal travel camera. That would be a big no-no for me, but this time I thought "DO It". I was pleasantly surprised at the images I made, especially after I learned how to use and visualize what the 3 lenses on the camera would capture. Of course, now, I make sure that I have my i phone 11Pro wherever I go so I am ready at a moments notice to capture what I see.
There are certain rules that apply to whatever you are using and whenever you are trying to take an photograph. Look for complimentary colors, angles that create visual energy with their direction, that the point of interest is in the best place and check your angle of view.
I like having flowers in bloom all over my home and property and am lucky to have this red amaryllis flowering. The red flower and the blue pot behind it are complimentary (opposite) colors, so they create a certain amount of visual energy. That energy is in the bottom third which is a dynamic area and a good place for those colors to be. You also can see the arrow shows the angles that are created by the direction of the flower petals.
In this image, on the Goddard Park beach, the angles created by the clouds and shadows dynamically lead to the trees and the rising sun behind them. This image is simple and strong. The sun is in the upper right third of the photograph and that is a very good place to be.
While skiing in Lech, Austria I took this photograph. The image has an incredible amount of angles expressing a powerful amount of energy. The river and the sun are in the important intersections of thirds (see circles). The amount of textured trees (also angles) are opposite the smooth sky which is creates good balance and relaxes the eyes.
This is a skylight in my bathroom! We had just taken down a very large tree that always filled that upper space and I was very excited to see the sky that morning! The molding of the skylight makes an interesting frame and the walls of the space add another dimension. The texture of the clouds and trees kind of tickle each other and the strong division of that space emphasize that activity. Lastly, the color of the tree bark and the blue of the sky are complimentary colors and work very well together.
I recently posted this image on Facebook. I was walking around my yard inspecting all of the emerging buds and leaves when I bumped into this tree, a chestnut. I don't think that I had ever paid much attention to it in the past, but now while looking I was struck by the engineering of the leaves. It starts as one big bud and then multiple leaves pop out, just incredible! I cropped the photograph on the left to get the bud more into the upper left intersection of the thirds. Note the arrows that show the leftward angle of the stalk, very dynamic. I purposely changed my angle to the subject and made sure that there was mostly sky behind the bud so that the viewer could see the detail of the bud which would make more of an impact.
If you keep practicing taking photographs and thinking about the space, colors, lines and placement of the subjects you will become more masterful at capturing the story impactfully and it will show in your photographs. It actually doesn't matter what you use as a camera, it matters how you make use of what you have.
That is what I do the minute I feel that twinge of excitement when I visualize a future photograph. I think about what camera and lens I have on hand and what I can do. Sometimes I even think in black and white, strange brain! I think that is from studying Anzel Adams and using the Zone System. That's OK if you don't know what that is, that was the film days but you certainly can use those references now.
These images were taken on the Green River in Rhode Island, while paddling around in my kayak, with a Canon Rebel SL1 and lenses Canon EFS 24 mm and a Canon EF 75-300mm. Once I have captured the images I bring my equipment back to my studio and process them using Adobe Bridge, Light Room and Photoshop. Here is what I made, original file on the left and enhanced file on the right.
The minute I saw the grasses and the composition I knew that I could create an impressive image using post processing in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. When I was thinking about the image from my kayak, I realized that I needed some paddle movement to make the grasses float in the direction that I wanted. Once I had that, I imagined the tools that I would use in Lightroom, specifically the dehaze, texture, clarity, and black & white tools. After working in Lightroom, I moved the image into Photoshop and did some fine tuning and cleanup.
Composing and Cropping
Another thing that crosses my mind when I am composing in camera is cropping. Sometimes you get more of the image than you would like and know that you will have to make changes in your computer. I processed the image below first in Lightroom, saved it as a working image in my selected folder (I always keep a master folder separately of camera raw images untouched) and then I moved it into Photoshop for cropping. These images are a good example of how cropping can enhance an image and make your message much stronger.
Changing the tones with Photoshop Tools
You also can see in the images above that I have toned down the background and lightened the bird just a bit using the dodge and burn tools. This moves the bird forward as a light object against the dark background. In addition, the cropping that I did along with changes made to tones in the fore and backgrounds creates many new directions for my eye to follow and an entirely different energy to the story. This is what I saw in my mind, visualized, as I was taking the shot. Sometimes, you might have to take several shots to get the perfect placement of the subject. You might have to change your position to accomplish that. In this case, I am in a kayak and can't do much. One exciting thing is that I am positioned well below what the normal eye level view would be and in fact the tide is low so that puts me in an unusually low angle for a more creative view.
Looking at the scenes above of foliage and water, notice that I enhanced the tones to create more of a direction from left to right. There is a rhythm that was in the scene in the light colored leaves that really enhanced the story. Here is where you can really see what the dehaze tool does, not only enhancing the leaves but look up in the right corner where the trees meet the sky. It was a very moist morning and that certainly distorted what I captured. Knowing that I had the dehaze tool to use in Lightroom gave me the confidence that I would achieve a stronger image than what my camera captured.
Tools in Lightroom and Photoshop
In these images you can see the tip of my kayak in the photograph. Paddling my kayak to keep me positioned and steady did not allow me to capture the image without the tip of my kayak included. I knew that I could remove the tip of the boat in Photoshop with the spot healing and healing brush tools. Both did a great job at imitating the color, texture and information just next to the spot that I removed. Before moving the image into Photoshop I used the Lightroom tools: dehaze, texture, clarity, saturation, vibrance, hightlights and vignetting.Then I moved the image into Photoshop, retouched out the kayak and used the dodge bush to lighten certain parts of the image to encourage the eye to move toward the head of the river. The dynamics of the image totally changed and that is what I visualized when I was taking the image.
Visualize your final image before you push the shutter and...
Select the right equipment (or the best thing that you have), and use your software in post processing to finalize what you planned for and then I would suggest experimenting to try new things. Always, save your work and create new folders that you can place the finished work in.
Then enjoy and share your finished image!
I love this photograph!
The woman seated in the back seat, left side is 100 years old and going for her first automobile ride! Seated with her are my great grandmother and her sister. The date was August 10, 1907. Such a treasure!
I am lucky enough to have a Stereo Scope, cards to view of my family and some local landscapes and cards that were sold to the general public to learn about foreign lands.
From what I understand, at the Great Exhibition of 1851, Queen Victoria was introduced to the stereoscope and was immediately taken by it. Within three months, over 250,000 refracting stereoscopes were sold along with over a million stereoscopic prints. By this time, stereoscopic prints were made via the collodion process because of it’s nature to easily duplicate prints. In 1856, the London Stereoscopic Company had pushed mass production of stereo cards into most middle and upper class homes. With their success, the company began sending photographers around the world to create stereo cards of over 100,000 different places and views. This contributed to solidifying photography’s place as a tool for education, a tool for discovering, and a tool for recording people or places as a record to be viewed at a later time. In 1861, a hand held stereoscope viewer was designed that allowed individual adjustments for viewing distance. It had the bonus of being light weight and a cheaper contraption and since it wasn’t patented, copies flooded the market and it became the most popular version. This is the type of Stereo Scope that I have.
Below is a view of family members reading and relaxing. Maybe even sleeping!
Cyanotype is a 170 year old photographic printing process that produces prints in a distinctive dark greenish-blue. The word cyan comes from the Greek, meaning “dark blue substance.” Sir John Herschel invented the cyanotype in 1842. The process depends on the photochemical reduction of ferric salts into ferrous salts leading to the formation of Prussian blue, an iron-based pigment. The process was used sporadically throughout the 19th century, mostly by amateur photographers, and more frequently in the twentieth century for the reproduction of architectural plans and technical drawings, called “blueprints."
Below are two images from New Bedford, the Cook Family home and a carriage with Cook family members
Below are tintypes, also known as a melainotype or ferrotype, is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photographic emulsion.
A tintype with the full image has the black backing behind it and the image resembling a negative is without the black backing. I just realized that I have a family antique chair that looks very similar to the chair in the photograph. I think that this is a photograph of my great great grandmother.
These ladies had their photographs taken often. These images were taken in the late 1880's and are both tintypes.
This is a very early family album, possibly dating back to the mid 1800's. The images inside the album are just over an inch and I am thankful that some one took the time to label each image with the person's name.
You can watch this video and learn even more about photography and how it was used to record individuals, families and life in the past.
I hope that you have enjoyed seeing some of my family treasures! I am sure that you have some of your own. It is my hope that you will consider working with me as a professional photographer and consultant to help you manage your own family treasures and digitize, archive and create collages, albums, slide shows and wall portraits that your family can enjoy and pass on to future generations. I am happy to discuss this process with you. [email protected] 401-263-4065 cell
Why are you thinking about recording your family activity with a professional photographer? If you are anything like me, you are the person always taking the portraits and struggling with your family just to act naturally. Having a non-family member take charge of managing the people and pets included in your portrait can create a fun and non-confrontational situation. A professional may have some fabulous ideas that you never thought of such as:
The Best Location to describe your family and create an enjoyable situation. Do you have an active family like I do? Our boat or my son’s boat would be an ideal place to take our family portrait. Maybe you have a lovely yard that everyone gathers in or a beach that creates many memories for your family. Those are the things that make a portrait session much more memorable for your family and should be part of your gathering and portrait.
The Best Time of Day for lighting and temperature, and for the members of your family such as young children or older family members. Maybe your children are their best early in the morning. It is important to consider when people are feeling their best, it will create a more pleasing portrait and a more pleasant session.
The Best Clothing to wear for your portrait session. A visit to your home prior to the portrait session can make the planning so much easier. A discussion about the final location for the finished portrait and a review of your clothing selections can take the stress out of making those decisions.
The Best Way to Review the images and make your final selections a reality. A professional photographer can make the entire process very personal whether you review the images with them in the studio, in the comfort of your home or at your office.
I look forward to spending time with you, learning about your family and helping you to make some wonderful memories! Contact me today to book your planning and photography session. 401-263-4065
Artist Patricia Allen contacted me in the Fall of 2018 to work with her on a video project. Patricia and Mike Fink, a long time friend and writer, had been planning to collaborate on a story-telling project about Patricia's artwork. I was curious and motivated to engage in an art focused project and agreed to meet with Patricia and Mike. From that meeting forward we participated in two very enjoyable filming sessions. Once the capture was complete, I moved into the editing phase and both Patricia and Mike were immersed in that with me. I found that the process was comfortably collaborative and in many ways impromptu, innovative and creative. The final video is a blend of Patricia's lovely artwork, Mike's creative prose along with my photography and film making. A thoughtful, respectful, personal and ageless story of creativity and friendship. I hope that you enjoy it!
Patricia will be presenting the video at Hamilton House in Providence RI.