Diagonal lines are pleasing to the eye and make pictures more interesting. That's it!!! Short and simple!! As you compose your picture, look to include natural diagonal lines, or see if you can create or emphasize one or more by changing your point of view, or the placement of your subject, or where you are standing, or the orientation of your camera. Study the following photos:
It is more interesting to look at the fence dividing this scene as a diagonal element rather than if it were in a straight horizontal line. The soft diagonal lines of the background hills also add interest.
Notice the diagonal line of the lanterns is complimented by the shape of the building in the background. I could have taken this shot with the lanterns in more of a horizontal line, but moved to where they were in a diagonal line because it looked more interesting to me.
I wanted to add emphasis to this quirky little store so I made sure there were no straight lines. Even the lens flare forms a diagonal, although that was not planned.
And last, the diagonal fence and tree line visually lead to the subjects in this engagement photo of Dalin and Emily. (So does the lighting and the bicycle facing in their direction.)
While the kids are napping, pick up your camera and compose a picture in your home that shows a definite diagonal line. Now set a timer for 15 minutes and see how many photos you can take showing diagonal lines. They can be natural, or compositions you create. How many can you come up with in 15 minutes??? Here's a simple one to get you thinking: Take 5 pieces of fruit, place them in a straight line on top of a colorful tablecloth on your kitchen table, then photograph them from all different angles. (Be careful to simplify your background.) Then see which angles make the most interesting pictures. I'll show you mine tomorrow, and if anyone is brave enough to email me your best shot, I'll post those too!
P.S. If you are interested in looking back at past "Tech Talk Tuesdays" I've listed them on the right sidebar so you can click rather than spend time searching.
While I'm on a waterfall kick, I'm posting this beautiful scene taken at La Paz Waterfall Gardens in Costa Rica. The 'liquid gold' was actually red mud caused by an earthquake about a year ago. Our guide said this waterfall is usually crystal clear and it may take several years to clear up again. He also said it used to be twice as tall. At any rate, this place was one of the most beautiful places we visited, but it was raining the whole time. To get to this waterfall we had to walk down a ton of steps, and then of course, we had to walk back up, all in the rain while trying to take photos and keep cameras dry at the same time. Well worth the effort, don't you think??
After my recent waterfall post, I just had to post one of my all time favorite waterfall pictures. It's probably my favorite because I love where it is. As most of you know, Jeff and I spend a good deal of time exploring southern Utah red rock country. This area is called Calf Creek, and is in between Escalante and Boulder on scenic Highway 12. It is so, well, unexpected, considering it's in the middle of dry, desert. Off the road there is a campground called Calf Creek. From there you take a 3 mile hike along a small stream that winds around beautiful red cliffs. The hike is easy and pretty enough, but it ends in a box canyon with this beautiful waterfall to enjoy. Not only was the waterfall beautiful, but there is also green trees and vegetation. Because it is an enclosed box canyon and you are surrounded by cliffs, it is all misty and seems about 20 degrees cooler. It is truly an oasis in the desert. The year we took this hike for the first time, we left very early in the morning. When we arrived at this waterfall it was so beautiful and peaceful that Jeff laid on a grassy spot and took a nap while I took about a thousand photos. It was so nice and relaxing because of the cool breeze from the water that we couldn't bring ourselves to leave. We finally left in the early afternoon and after walking out of the canyon and out of the mist we could really feel the temperature which was probably 100 degrees. The rest of the hike was hot and miserable because we didn't bring enough water. We learned how well the cool, misty canyon masked the true temperature. This has become our Memorial Day weekend trip we take almost every year. Now, however, we take plenty of water, and we never go later on in the summer when it gets really hot. If anyone wants to go with us this year, let us know. We'll be your personal guides.
This is one of the most fascinating things I have ever seen! Last summer when we were in Moab with Dalin and Emily, they took us to a place called 'Helldorado'. Here, men with too much testosterone decide that the lack of a road is not going to stop them from going anywhere they want to go. No challenge is too great, they will conquer any boulder in sight! And they did!!! We watched for about an hour, and in an hour they only went about 25 yards, but they made it. What was really amazing is that they were prepared for any mechanical failure. I think one broke an axle and they hauled out a portable welding machine and welded it back together while it was stuck on a boulder. They also fixed a flat tire while precariously stuck between two boulders. This sport-activity-hobby is called 'Rock Crawling' and it is truly.... man and machine vs. wild.
Subtle differences can change the look and 'feel' of an image
The photo above is a nice enough picture of Jaron and Michelle in front of a waterfall. The waterfall is the main subject and Jaron and Michelle add interest and show scale. I wanted to experiment a bit to come up with a slightly different look. See if you can tell the difference in the photo below:
In the top photo, the waterfall is SOOTC, (impressive photo jargon meaning 'straight out of the camera'). In the bottom photo, notice the waterfall is different, more soft and silky. Not a huge change, but noticeably different. Nothing right or wrong about the two photos, just a personal preference for the photographer. In photography circles, this effect is called "veiling", because, well, it looks soft and silky. To achieve this look you must check out a few things. You need to have a scene where the parts that aren't going to be veiled can remain still. In this case, no wind to move the foliage and Jaron and Michelle who were able to hold perfectly still for longer than the usual snap of the shutter button. Then depending on the speed of your lens, and the lighting conditions of the scene, you have to be able to slow down your shutter speed, (while maintaining a proper exposure), so that only the moving water is slightly blurred. (You know the thousands of pictures you take of your kids who are always in motion and when the photos come back the kids are blurry, but the background is sharp???? This is the same thing, only now you are doing it on purpose!!!) Often this involves using a darkening filter (neutral density filter) screwed onto your lens so the shutter can stay open longer without 'blowing out' or over exposing the photo, and a tripod because of the slow shutter speed.
But wait! There's more! It's another way to accomplish this same look. Much to the delight of many photographers, and the distaste of others, computers, software, and post processing can allow the photographer many ways to change the look and feel of her images after they have been taken. For those of you familiar with Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, (or other software), there are always numerous ways to achieve variations of veiling. One way is to experiment with the 'motion blur' filter. Since my 'Tech Talk Tuesdays' are primarily to show beginners, (and non-believers), why photography is so fun, I've just done a simple overview. Let me know if you want more details. Below is another photo with soft and silky water!
Russ, Kay Lynn & Jacob flew in to help us celebrate Grandpa and Grandma's birthdays. It was Kay Lynn's birthday, too! Grandpa is 93, and I think Grandma is 87, (someone correct me if I'm wrong), and Kay Lynn is 39! We went out to dinner then back to Jan & John's house for birthday cake and movies. We also watched a video Kay Lynn made of their family trip to China last summer. It is always fun being together, visiting and catching up. What a blessing that our family is also our very best friends!!!
THE BEST FAMILY GAME EVER......WE CALL IT THE BAG GAME!
If you want a fun, simple, quick, easy, active game that EVERYONE of EVERY AGE can play, then this is it! From toddlers to grandpas, it's fun to play, and more fun to watch. I have photos of all the family playing this game on Christmas Eve that I've posted on the website, but here I'm posting just the oldest and youngest participants. I will have to mention that Scott won and I think Jaron was a close second. The rules are simple. Take a plain paper bag, bend over on just one leg and pick it up with your mouth without putting your other foot on the floor. We do, however, bend the one leg rule for players under 2 years old!!! (Hint - if there is a big group playing, the strategy is to go first so the edges of the bag aren't slobbery wet by the time your turn comes.) After everyone has had a turn, two inches are cut off the top of the bag, and those who were successful in the first round move on. And on and on it goes to see how low you can go! We were reminiscing about a Larsen family reunion at Lake Powell years ago, when Jaron & Lindsey were the two remaining players and Lindsey won with the bag about an inch high.
As I've often said, photography of all types can influence us in profound ways. And one of the best ways to become a better photographer is to study the work of talented photographers of all types of photography and contemplate why their images are memorable. Today, I only want to speak about photojournalism. These are photos that show a moment of reality as seen by someone, at some place, at some time, and are frozen by the click of a shutter button. With a click of your mouse I'm making it easy for you to view a group of exceptional photographs that summarize some world events of 2009. Through the magic of photography you will be able to witness, 'up close and personal', amazing scenes and events as they happened. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will be shocked. I think you will be profoundly moved by many of them. These photos are not to be skimmed through briefly. Please don't click on the following link until you have some quiet time so as not to be interrupted, then take time to observe, study, read, and ponder what is happening in our world, as seen by some amazing photojournalists. I tried to summarize my feelings and emotions as I took this visual journey, but there were too many; however, my overwhelming thought was a prayer of gratitude for all I have been blessed with, and that in my life, so far, I have been shielded and protected from most of the hardships that so much of humanity must endure. I have been reminded that no matter where on the planet we live, we all share the same spectrum of human emotions as we struggle to make sense of the circumstances we've been given throughout the course of our lives. I hope you find the experience thought provoking as well, and if you are so inclined, let me know how you were moved by this collection of photographs.
(When you click on the following link, note there are four parts. After you have looked at the first group of photos, scroll back to the top, and in the center, in small print, there is a place to click for the second group, third group, and fourth group.)
Here is something new for 2010. Every month I'll edit and resize an image to use on your desktop that will be large enough to fill your monitor without being pixelated. Just click here to download, then right click to set as a desktop image. Please let me know if this doesn't work on your monitor.
Oh My!! On our many road trips through the years, we have seen a fair number of weird....maybe I should politely say, non conventional, houses, the most prevalent being some variation of the classic geodesic dome. (I'd have quite a collection now if I'd taken photos.) Jeff and I always point them out, laugh, and say, "Well, there's the work of another 'wet behind the ears' architect fresh out of college, who's sure he'll become the next Frank Lloyd Wright, or Save the Planet Guru!" I think this house is in our top 10 most memorable. It is visible from a main road just outside Sedona. We had to stop on the road for me to snap this photo out the car window. It is in an upscale neighborhood that I couldn't access, so this photo does NOT do justice to this 'dwelling'. Obviously we were only one of many who have tried to get a better look, because there is a little sign that says 'private property' and then a website to see more. This photo shows only a small part of the many, multicolored eggs that make up this house. As I mentioned, it is in an upscale neighborhood, so I'm sure there has been a fair amount of controversy. Click on the following link to see the full impact, then decide what you think the neighbors are thinking?????? http://web.me.com/xanadunow/Site/iDome.html
Sometimes it's possible to catch great candids when you are supposed to be doing formal portraits. You've already asked them to look at the camera, smile, reposition the hands, change poses, etc. So now you tell them to take a break while you change your camera settings, clean your lens, check your exposure, etc. Because they are 'on a break' they often become more relaxed, less self conscious about having their picture taken, and start interacting in a natural way. This works great with family and couple portraits where you want to show connections or relationships with people. The following are a couple of 'out takes' from previously posted portraits.
Jeff & I took off for a few days to Sedona so Jeff could pick up a newly purchased car, and I tagged along hoping for some warmer weather. Jeff got his car, but I didn't get warmer weather. It was a mixture of clouds, rain, and snow, with a bit of sunshine thrown in the last day we were there. I ventured outside just long enough to take a few photos. The greens were all gone or muted with the season, but the red rocks just before sunset were as beautiful as ever.Hope everyone had a great New Year celebration.