By admin | August 28, 2009
“He made me suddenly realize that photographs could reach eternity through the moment.”
~ Henri Cartier-Bresson
This week I’m doing much reflection as my brain is over-saturated with knowledge about photography. Or rather, how to capture moments in time and do so effectively.
I suspect that this week, taking Jay Maisel’s class, is only the beginning.
By Katherine | June 16, 2009
I’m shy, and it’s difficult for me to photograph people I don’t know, especially those I meet on the street or while wandering around town. Last year, while taking a photography class in Maine, we were given an assignment to photograph people, or rather, to make our photographs come to life through people. I really struggled with this. Oh, I got the concept, but the task of actually asking to photograph someone or take a picture of a scene with people in it was challenging.
However, as the afternoon headed toward evening, I got lucky. There she was, a little princess among the kayaks on the boat dock. A completely unexpected sight I assure you. So I bent down and said hello and told her that I loved her pretty, pink princess dress. We talked for a moment or two with lots of smiles in between. Then I asked her if I could take her picture (I also asked her parents who standing there close by).
Once I took a single photo and then showed her her picture in the camera’s LCD, she was quite taken with the camera and it shows in her ability to have fun while I took multiple photos of her. After a few short moments we were both laughing and having fun. You would never have known how nervous I had been when I had originally asked to take her picture.
While it was difficult for me to take a step (okay, maybe a few steps) outside my comfort zone, I was so glad that I did. The photos speak for themselves. Next time you have the urge (or an assignment) don’t be afraid to ask, “Hey, can I take your picture?” because you just never know … you might just get what you asked for.
By Katherine | May 16, 2009
Sometimes the best light is after the light is gone. Really. And that’s precisely what we were thinking as we huddled in the the chill of fall and after the other photographers, who were lined up with us, had packed up and left. There, my husband, also a photographer, and I stood on a cold October evening in Yosemite, snapping away, frame after frame, until all that was left was a dark blur and lots of digital noise.
Next time the sun sets, stay awhile and keep shooting. Resist the urge to pack it up and head back to the warmth of your car, your room, or a cozy dinner. The results are well worth the effort.
And if, by chance, you’ve left your tripod elsewhere, brace yourself and your camera on whatever you can find: the door of your car, the hood of your car, a tree, lay on the ground, whatever. Without bracing your camera in low light you’ll likely come up with blurry results. Do whatever you can to capture one single shot in the fading light.
By Katherine | November 23, 2008
I’ve had conversations with people who tell me that they love black and white photographs; they love the elegance and simplicity of black and white images. There are others, who claim that black and white images are boring, lack depth and can look a bit “cheesy.” So when people ask me what I prefer, black and white, or color, I have to honestly say that, “it depends.” It depends on what feeling a photograph is trying to convey. There are some photos that suit themselves so well to black and white images and I can’t imagine them in color. Other times, a scene is so naturally colorful that it almost seems sacrilegious to shoot them in anything but color. I will tell you, honestly, up front, that my first love is black and white photography so I am naturally biased. I beleve that black and white photographs do a better job of conveying feelings and a sense of drama long after you walk away from the photo. But I also don’t think that a single size fits all and this has never been more true than in the art of photography. I do believe that there are scenes and subjects that lend themselves better to one format over the other, but this is part preference, intuition and likewise, the skill of the photographer.
As a general rule, for myself, I choose black and white, over color if:
- The scene is naturally monochromatic. If there isn’t a lot of color to begin with, often times, the photo will look more dramatic if you remove what little color there is, and shoot for the drama that black and white can offer. For example, the first set of photographs below, there is very little color (the blue of the water, the browns on the dock and the white in the rope). There are too few colors to really make this image pop. So instead, I shot for the drama of black and white. The scene is simple, almost zen like, so the simplicity of the image itself also lends itself well to black and white.
- Weather conditions, such as fog or strong overcast weather, are such that the color are dulled due to lack of warm light. Now this one is a got’cha because on some days when the skies are all cloudy all day (yes, that song is in my head), the weather can be perfect for taking macro shots of flowers and other objects.
- Portraits, in which black and white photography can add drama or a sense of elegance that I’m looking for. Sometimes, when photographing children their innocence lends itself well to the monochromatic look of black and white. But I will state that some of this also depends on client wishes and the personality of the subject that I’m photographing. I would never think of photographing my dog, for example, in black and white, because he’s colorful in both looks and personality. Perhaps a lame example, but it’s an accurate assessment,
I never use black and white if the whole point of the photo is to show off the color of the subject. If the subject is bright and colorful and there is color contrast (contrasting colors) there seems little point in diminishing the importance of color by converting a photograph to black and white. It doesn’t make sense.
In the end, what you gravitate towards, black and white or color, is strictly based on preferences and biased observation. But as a photographer, I think you owe it to yourself to give your best to both worlds to find your passion and play up your talents.
Check out the photos below to see what you think.
The first photo below was shot in color, but converted after the fact, to black and white. Depending on your bias, you’ll have a preference to one over the other. For me, hands down, the black and white version is much more dramatic.
By Katherine | November 22, 2008
A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed … it feels an im pulsion … this is the place to go now. but the sky knows the reasons and the patters behind all clouds, and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond the horizons.
I love to photograph clouds, especially those after a storm, like the photograph above. When I photograph clouds, albeit whether at sunset, a sunny day or before or after a storm, I always use a polarizer. Using a polarizer increases contrast and gives clouds more definition.
Here’s what I mean. Look at the photograph below. While it is a pretty photo, it lacks a certain definition, contrast and sense of drama that I was looking for.
Adding a polarizer to the pohoto (below), there is a huge difference in definition, contrast and drama in the photo. This was more a long the lines that I had envisioned when I pointed my camera up to the sky,
By Katherine | November 2, 2008
All of life is a journey, which paths we take, what we look back on, and what we look forward to is up to us. We determine our destination, what kind of road we will take to get there, and how happy we are when we get there. ~ Author Unknown~
The best way to take great photographs is merely to catch that which catches your eye. Many times the things that can be eye catching are things we take for granted. The photograph above of the trees hovering over the open road I found as I was driving back from a winery in Fort Bragg, California. I probably wouldn’t have noticed it if the light hadn’t been in the perfect position to highlight all the trees and the beautiful view on the other side of the trees. The photograph below is a close up of the fountain on my deck. This particular day, again the light was extraordinary and I loved the way the water tricked down into the pool below, leaving bubbles in the wake. So whatever it is that catches your eye, photograph it. Because, most likely, it will catch the eye of someone else as well.
By Katherine | October 27, 2008
I got an email from someone asking me whether taking photos of reflections must always be in a lake, a pond, a pool, etc. In essence, large bodies of water. The answer is: absolutely not! You can find great opportunities for taking photos of reflections in small pools, water in rocks and not even necessarily water. Reflections can come in many shapes and forms. For example, the photo below was taken while hiking in Yosemite after it had rained. No large pool of water, just a small hole in a boulder filled with enough water to reflect the looming rain clouds and the reflection of a tree.
By Katherine | October 25, 2008
I love photographing water. And one of the coolest things about water is its mirror-like ability to reflect images. The fall is one of my favorite times of year to take photographs of reflections because of the vibrancy of fall foliage. However, if you keep an open eye, you’ll find that almost anything can make a great reflection. Just about any image looks unique in the reflection of water. If the water is too still the reflection will appear lifeless, so I often toss a pebble in the water, or in the summer, I will gently stir the water with my foot. This provides soft ripples that can create dramatic images.
The photo above was taken at Yosemite where a natural pond had formed at the base of a mountain and water coming off the mountain created just the right amount of soft movement in the water.
The colorful photo below was taken at my parent’s pool, and is an ordinary beach towel hanging on a fence. For this photo I had to create my own gentle ripples. Simple.
Next time you see a body of water, check to see if there are any interesting reflections you can catch at just the right angle. To get vibrant and dramatic photographs, always look for objects that are colorful. Trees in the autumn, clouds and unusual or unique structures are some examples.
By Katherine | October 19, 2008
Sometimes, there are so many things to photograph at a given destination that I feel as if I’m on information overload. What to photograph? The day that I took this photo there was so much happening at the beach and my available light was limited. I didn’t have long before the cloudy skies wold bring heavy rain. Rather than running off in 20 directions, flitting from object to object, I decided to shoot where i stood. I stood still and looked what was immediately around me until I saw something that caught my eye: This single feather in the sand. What I love most about this photograph is its simplicity. A single feather. Simple. Elegant.
By Katherine | October 12, 2008
It takes both rain and sunshine to make a rainbow. ~ Author Unknown~
I remember the day that I took this photograph. I had driven all the way up to Big Sur only to have it rain for pretty much, the entire weekend. I felt as if my weekend had been ruined. Discouraged, I almost called it quits. However, I’m glad that I didn’t. I’ve learned the hard way that when the weather brings you rain, go outside and take pictures. You never no what you may be lucky enough to capture on film or sensor. This photograph was taken on a trail leading to the beach at Andrew Molera State Part in Big Sur, California. It had just rained and I had ducked under the trees until it let up enough to step out and take this photograph.