Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fun Photo Ops

Growing up in suburbia, I never thought much about cows. Sure, I drank milk, ate steak, etc. but those things came from the grocery store...

While on vacation in the Adirondacks last fall, I stopped along a roadside to take some cow photos and learned a great lesson: Cows are cool! This particular cow was very friendly. As you can see, she tried to greet my camera with a kiss.

So, what's the point? I guess the point is that there are great photo opportunities everywhere, sometimes you just have to stop and look. Since this particular photo, I have stopped two or three other times to take cow photos. They usually trot over to greet you (hoping for food I'm sure, but a friendly greeting is a friendly greeting), and they have really interesting features to photograph; hooves, horns, tongues, etc.

You may or may not capture great images when you have the camera out, but it's a sure bet that you'll get no images if it's sitting in the camera bag collecting dust. Remember, if you're not having fun when you're out shooting you're probably doing something wrong... to see photos. Happy Earth Day and Happy shooting!

Monday, April 12, 2010

"Rule" 1: The Rule of Thirds

Here's my first in what will hopefully be a series of posts on some of the "rules" of photography. I want to show how both following and breaking these rules can yield some good results. Here goes:
The rule of thirds is a great compostional "rule" that goes something like this:

Imagine a set of lines dividing the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically. As you get ready to take a picture, place important elements of your composition where these lines intersect. As well as using the intersections you can arrange areas into bands occupying a third of the surface. You can also decide to place important elements along the imaginary lines.

Here's an example that roughly follows that guideline. The great blue heron's open mouth is roughly at one of the intersections, as is the reflection of its head on the water. The eye tends to look at more of the image when points of visual interest are placed in areas that follow the rule of thirds.

Now, that "rule" is hardly carved in stone. There are images that look better when the subject material is placed in the center, and there are times when following the rule makes images less interesting...

The sunset below violates the rule of thirds; the subject matter is not at an intersecting point, the horizon does not follow one of the imaginary grid lines, etc. But the sun sprites are interesting, and they draw your eye into the the image. The photo was taken along a lake shore, where there were no other interesting elements to incorporate into the composition.

If the rule of thirds was applied here, there would be a very neat sun strategically placed, but the image would be boring. How do I know? Well, when I took this photo I also took one following the rule of thirds. I kep this one, and the other one wound up going to the digital image graveyard.

The moral of the story: Rules are important. Don't forget to learn them, don't forget to follow them, and most-important - don't forget to break them! You might just like the results. Remember if you're not having fun when you're out shooting, you're probably doing something wrong... Happy Monday. for more pics.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Dog Day Morning...

That will probably lead to a dog day afternoon...

Okay, enough obscure movie references. I will soon begin some posts on understanding the "rules" of photography, so that I can also post some thoughts on how to break those rules and still take great photos.

For today though, I'd like to remind everyone that there's always great subject material available to photograph, wherever you go. Look left, and you'll see my dog Cody breaking in my new couch. It's not a great technical shot; there's a harsh shadow behind his ear, the white fur is a little blown out, etc. But I took this as I was getting ready to put the camera away, and it made me smile.

So look for future posts about the rules and how to break them. For right now, just go shoot something that makes you smile. After all, if you're not having fun you're probably doing something wrong...Happy shooting! to see pics.