Tuesday, April 06, 2010

photo of the day: public service announcement

So today we're going to add something to the collective knowledge base and I'm going to pass on a handy tip so you can avoid my rookie mistake. Here we go.
I talk all the time about changing your perspective, seeing things differently, looking for a new shot or angle. However. Turning your camera so it's crooked is not the answer. A BAD PICTURE IS STILL A BAD PICTURE EVEN THOUGH YOUR CAMERA IS AT AN ANGLE. If the photo is boring, turning the camera all wonkified isn't going to change that. Get a different subject, get rid of distracting backgrounds, whatever. Don't just turn your camera slightly and call it "arty." It's not arty. It's lazy.
Exhibits A-E:
vintage porkchop
This picture is about 8 years old and was taken with a point and shoot, so, um, I'm sorry. But seriously: what exactly does the angle accomplish here other than chopping off her hand? Expression is good, light is decent; make this a vertical and it would be frame-able. As it is, this picture is stuck in limbo.

le cake
It looks like the cake is about to fall off the plate.

shoes one
See? Angle does NOT equal artistic. Nor does uber-crappy vignetting.


And again!

amongst the greenery
Gah! If I had walked in front of him a tiny bit so the background was filled with green and then turned it so the camera was straight, this image would be awesome. As it is...eh.

So I took all these pictures, ok? I just went and pulled them off my flickrstream. LEARN FROM IT, people. I've exposed my lameness (and there's more where that came from) and don't let this public humiliation be in vain. Straighten those cameras and make your subject the interesting part.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

photo of the day: thirds

Last week was career day for Wicomico County freshmen at Salisbury University, and I was privileged to present for (I think) the third year in a row. I'm supposed to talk about what it takes to have my career (photographer) and I do, but I like to take a good portion of the time and show the kids simple ways to make their photos more effective. After all: they're the same age I was when I picked up my first real camera, and about 95% of them have access to a camera of some kind (I asked). So anyway, I went over several points with them, and thought I'd share at least one of my examples here: the rule of thirds.

If you've messed about with photography at all you've almost certainly heard of the rule of thirds--place your focal point on the third line instead of in the middle--so it's nothing revolutionary. I actually had a hard time finding illustrations for this point, since I almost inevitably shoot with lots of negative space in my images. But then I happened across this pair of pictures, and they're an excellent example of several things, not just the rule of thirds.

Part of being a photographer is choosing what to show in photos, and a good photographer can make a really bad venue look impressive. I was shooting at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens here, but as you can see from the first image, it's still possible to make an incredibly beautiful location look lame! Distracting foreground, unattractive walls, and a bland pose combine to make the first photo incredibly eh. (Yes, "eh" is a technical term.)

So I moved a little closer, stood up a little taller, turned my camera to make a vertical instead of horizontal, and added action to the photo, and it turned into one of my all-time favorite images. I mean, look at that expression on the left! Gold!

thirds2001

thirds2002

So I guess I'll sum up this post (and this week!) by telling you what I told the kids last week: I don't care what kind of a photographer you want to be; your job is to see things differently. If you see the way everyone else sees your photos will look like everyone elses. Push yourself to see in a new way.

See differently, people.

PS: I have three photoshoots lined up for the weekend, so there will be much activity next week! It's getting to be wedding season again, so we'll see if I actually manage to keep posting with any kind of consistency at all. But being busy is a good problem to have, right?

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