Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tech Talk Tuesday - WORK THE SCENE

Late yesterday afternoon I took a drive about an hour away from my home on the beautiful Mr. Nebo scenic loop,  (in northern Utah), that within a few short miles took me in elevation from around 4,500 ft. to near 10,000 ft.  I was hoping to find some late blooming spring wildflowers. 

I've mentioned this before, but since I just took my own advice with the following photos, I'll say it again.  When you find a location that begs you to pull out your camera..... make your time worthwhile.


Think out of the box and be as creative as you can.  Change up your view point, your perspective, the height you hold your camera, how close you are to your main subject.  Think of all the ways you can change the dials on your camera.  Use your aperture setting to create a sharp image from foreground to background, or the opposite with a narrow depth of field and only your main subject in focus.  Maybe you might try a slow shutter speed to purposely add motion.  Have you tried dialing up the exposure to try a 'high key' look.  So many possibilities.

After that it is time to switch lenses, if you have that opportunity.  A telephoto lens will bring the background closer, a wide angle lets you see the big picture, a macro will let you get close to a small subject.  Once again, so many possibilities.

And the fun doesn't end after you download to your computer.  If you are like me, you will delete most of your shots.  (Mediocre shots are not your friends.  If you can't decide if they are good, neither can anyone else, and to save them just takes up valuable computer real estate!)

You'll have a few that are 'keepers' for sure, and then a group that are 'maybes'.  First choose the ones you love immediately and are almost perfect, or need a minimal amount of editing, such as an exposure adjustment or a color correction and voila, you are happy with the result.  Then there are the 'maybes'.  These are the ones you just know have potential, but to bring that out you will need to use your imagination and your creative abilities.  Try a major crop, a change to B&W, or maybe experiment with a new filter or preset from one of the many photo editing programs available.  Yet again, so many possibilities.

I went through this procedure yesterday,   and here are a few of my 'keepers':

 wide angle 16-35 lens, taken at 27 mm

 My first priority was to find a composition with a leading line.  I need an example of this concept for a class I am teaching.  I thought the fence would work nicely, but fences are pretty common leading lines, so I positioned myself where I could get a bit of sun flare from the late afternoon sun.  (As a side note, my in camera flare was pretty weak so I embellished it in post processing.)  I also positioned myself very close to the flowers in the lower right hand corner so they would hold a fair amount of 'real estate' in the frame and give the leading lines something to.... well, lead to!  (One mistake new photographers often make is having leading lines that either take you out of the picture or that lead to nothing of interest.)  I also liked that the leading lines go from the background to the foreground which is less common that from foreground to background.

 wide angle 16-35 lens, taken at 19mm

After I got the above shot for my class, the pressure was off and I could just enjoy myself in these beautiful surroundings.  Here I was going for the big picture with interest in the foreground, (the flowers), the mid ground, (the fence), and the background, (another layer of flowers and the blue sky).
I positioned my lens within about 10 inches of these flowers so they would be the focal point of the image.  One thing to be aware of when taking grand landscapes is to figure out a focal point and make it stands out in some way.  If all objects are the same size, and all are similar in color and shape, there is nothing for the eye to rest on, and this makes the picture either boring or confusing to look at.

   100mm macro lens

After taking a bunch of wide angle shots, I then started focusing on single flowers.  As I've said before, my favorite macros are ones that include an interesting background which adds more color, or more texture, and more interest to the image.  Sometimes I like the background extremely blurred, and sometimes I like some definition.  In this photo, for example, you know you are looking at flowers in the background even if you can't see them clearly.

15 mm fisheye lens

When I'm through being 'serious', and it's time to be wild and crazy, I bring out my fisheye lens and see what happens!  One effect I really love is to use an extreme wide angle lens, (like a fisheye), and position my camera as close to my subject as the lens will allow me to focus.  The result is a subject that is greatly exaggerated in size.  This is an unusual perspective that most people don't see and unless they are photographers, don't quite understand why the photo looks 'different'.

15 mm fisheye lens

And finally, here is my best, really wild and crazy, out of the box shot that I kinda like.  Once again, taken with my fisheye lens, but this time, tilting the lens so that the curvature of the background forms a circle around the exaggerated flowers.