Portraits – B&W

Black and White portraits are often the most intriguing. This however will make greater demands on composition.

Black and White photos have greater potential for contrast and with this potential, the composition can in monochrome print allow the viewer to see the colors and hues which they fancy. Several photographers I know have black and white photos I have seen and when some time later we talked about them, I described them in color. They looked at me confused and verified that we were talking about the same photo by discussing the features of the photo’s subject and elements. Seeing a black and white photo in color is not a gauge on whether the photo is properly composed, but something which viewers may experience where exposure and composition are well done.

One of my favorite fall shots is from above the subject as they are seated on a thick grassy lawn, looking up toward the camera which uses the grass and fall colored leaves as a background!

However, since we are on the topic of black and white photos, how can we capture this same stunning color composition in black and white?

First, it is important to have the best clarity possible and this is achieved with a high-end lens. If you are using a consumer level camera which cannot alternate lenses, do not worry, it should do well for you.

Second, work diligently to make sure the focus is absolutely set on the eyes. If there is one thing that must be in total focus it must be the eyes.

Third, some editing may be done to a black and white photo to add color. \"Bird-Owl This photo illustration is a perfect example; digitally signed by Chris D. Jones, this photo draws from the contrast of the black and white giving definition to the feathers, the clarity is displayed in the eye and draws your attention with the iris color.

Enjoy!

“All aboard!” Part 1

There are so many things that can be used  as a fresh “vein” in cultivating creativity, but I do not want to ware you out with all of the possibilities. There are literally a million and more options waiting for you!  So this will be the final post in the series of “Cultivating Creativity”.

Could it be possible that we give ourselves too many options in a photo shoot and therefore hinder our ability because we are not focused on the best two or three shots with any variation requested?

Shooting by location can be one of these “open ended” opportunities. On the other hand, there could be some “creative” ways of narrowing the probabilities to make the possible become reality.

Take a train station for an illustration: A train station contains so many possibilities that to use it as a portrait location would require some organization in order to come away with a profitable portrait set. In the same way it can be too much for one imagination to work in for stock photography.

Let me first define some terms: (Or at-least this is how I define these terms.)

  • Portraiture – photography which centers on a person and generally includes a recognizable portion of the face.
  • Stock – photography designed as art for any range of uses which may include the human figure for interest.

The basic issue comes down to this; portraiture is photography designed to sell because of emotional attachments, whereas stock sells because of the artistic value. I would sound rather cold if anyone were to hear me say it this way without this explanatory context. This by no means is a put down to portraiture! Portrait photography is one of the most recognized markets in the art world and a very good job done by all of my photography peers, professional and hobbyist alike!

Now let us consider some more ways to narrow our options of shots by location. Shooting some of the basics of composition, such as; leading lines, focal direction, rule of thirds and time lapse.

How about photographing components of an object, or vehicles that come and go from the location? Buildings on the grounds or doorways? You can even make it complicated if you wish; regarding physics, shoot the components of an object which create or absorb friction. …

 

Part 2 will come out this Friday. Stay tuned!

Color Obsession

I take so many things for granted. Then when is lost something I frequently use, I pretend to myself that everything has ended!

I believe that creativity comes from looking at our surroundings with a different view while still maintaining those tangible means to define the different perspective.

Take for instance, vision or sight; “the ability to see.” What would change had I not the ability to distinguish color because of monochrome sight? Photographers call this a style of art, formed in “Black and White”.

Perhaps you have previously seen “Black and White” images, never noticing before that they were “colorless”. I continue to be amazed how our brains will add color to something with which we are familiar when there is not any such information being given by our eyes!

This actually is another option in our discussion of “creativity rejuvenation”.

There are a great number of things that are typically one color. For instance in the United Kingdom police cars are, in majority, colored with blue and yellow squares. Fire engines in the United States of America are almost always red. Quite often universally, taxi cabs are yellow.

Shoot your favorite color until your creativity is once again filled and be amazed at what you find in the process!

“Rules”

You could say that I have never grown up because I keep bending or breaking every rule I have ever been taught! Not to worry there are a few rules that I have learned can not be bent or broken.

Rules as they apply to photography though are a different story! Each photograph is made for the purpose of communicating a message. Not every message is formatted the same way as every other, and thus you have creative expression! Just as with crafting a message in language, framing a picture requires some insight, forethought and creativity.

For example, in photography there is a rule named “the rule of thirds.”

This photo illustrates the rule of thirds. The white space of the corn field, even the sky in the mirror. The mirror frame provides the containment for the subject and finally the road leads you to the subject which is a farm house.

Each image requires a third to consist of “white space”, the second third of “framing” and the final third being your “interest” or focal point. There are many ways of making this “rule of thirds” way too restrictive! On the other hand it can provide a wonderful guideline as you frame your next photographic interest.

Do not obsess with getting an exact third each time you release your shutter, only focus on a third until it is naturally formed every time you lift that camera to your eye. If you shoot every day, a week maybe all the time you need. If you do not shoot a frequently, say a minimum of 3 times a week, I would suggest 4 weeks. Again, this is setting a rule hard and fast of the time it takes us to learn. I merely suggest these time frames to give a bench mark so that you may set your goal reasonably so as not to burn out.

Here’s a little humor on the lines of “Burn Out” for your pleasure:

Original found on Despair.com

So please do not take my suggestions so seriously as if you were to carry them out that you will be a better photographer. Perhaps you would be and then again my attitude may be far too aggressive causing you to burn out. That would surely be a sad event and one that I would be ashamed to cause!

Besides the “rule of thirds”, other guidelines are utilizing leading lines, lighting techniques, focus points,  setting for the point of view and best perspectives for starters! I find it most helpful to take a rule and break it down into manageable portions.

I suggested working on one-third of your photo when speaking of the “rule of thirds”, and this illustrates how something can be brought to manageable portions to learn one piece at a time. For leading lines, practice shooting only leading lines and then when you feel comfortable with adding something, add a subject and use the leading line to draw your viewer toward the subject.

I truly does not need to be complex. Some of the best photos are the simplest in message.