Sunday, March 18, 2007

A flower for you!

Mum Blog Post Photo
I'm giving away virtual flowers at my photo blog, Points of Light. Just click on the picture for more information how you can get yours and spread this meme throughout the blogosphere!

Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dominant elements

I studied art in college under a gentleman named Harry Worst, a landscape painter who created his compositions in the studio, then would go into the field to find references for the details in his paintings. Harry preached two ideas to the fledgling artists in his flock. One was to build three distinct zones - foreground, middle ground and background - to establish depth. The other was to create a dominant element - one that commanded attention - with all other elements subordinate to it.

Your photographic compositions will benefit from the same advice. I've previously posted about building depth in your photos. Think of the dominant element as the "star" of your photograph and look for ways to make your star grab the attention of your viewer.

One way is to make your star physically larger than all other elements, as I've done with this tree in a cemetery. Another way is to set it apart is by framing it with other elements, as I've done with the lighthouse in the second photo. The monochrome of the woods and foreground shadows frame the sunlit area in which the lighthouse sits, drawing the viewer's eye. the lighthouse also sits on a diagonal line from top right to bottom left - placing your subject on either of the diagonals of a photo will naturally draw the eye of the viewer.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photos © 2007 James Jordan.

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 4, 2007

What light through yonder window shines

Here’s a quick setup for taking some very impressive photos indoors. I set up a table near a window (make sure it’s not getting direct sunlight) and create a background of colored paper purchased from a craft/hobby store. I then use a piece of white poster board or foam board to reflect some light into the shadow side of the subject. The top photo shows the setup with an antique camera given to me by my wife’s father. The lower photo shows the finished image taken with a digital point-and-shoot camera (a Kodak Easy Share C633).

The result is soft light in a low-key ratio that even the point-and-shoot’s autoexposure catches well.

Hints for using this setup with a digital point-and-shoot: Use a tripod. Depending on the brightness of the day, the exposures will be fairly long. A tripod will make sure the camera is held steady throughout the exposure. Use the self timer. I set the timer for ten seconds. This gave me enough time to press the shutter button, then position the posterboard reflector before the shutter opened. I found I got sharper results when using the center-weighted autofocus function. I also set the ISO to 80, but you should play around and note the results that changes of ISO settings create.

This setup also works well for portraits consisting of one or two people. For a head-and-shoulders shot, seat the subject(s) near the window and prop the poster board (or have an assistant hold the board) to cast reflected light into the shadow side of the face(s).

And did I mention you should use a tripod?

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2007 James Jordan.