- Living With (and Without) the Rule of Thirds
- Should Professional Photographers Crowdsource New Camera Gear? (Video)
- Interesting Photo of the Day: Lightning Storm Over the Menindee Lakes
- Behind the Scenes: Fiat Body Paint Photo Shoot (Video)
- How to Capture an Iconic Bridal Portrait (Video)
Posted: 10 Mar 2014 06:36 PM PDT
For beginners in photography, composition can be a real obstacle. Even when you have all the technical skills, it can be difficult to compose a photo that is pleasing to the eye. I have news for you: it is just as tough to teach to others. That’s because composition can be so personal. What appeals to me may not appeal to you.
However, many photographers, beginners in particular, are not happy with the way their photos look. But often they can’t quite put their finger on why.
There are plenty of rules and guidelines to help you with composition. Possibly the best known is the rule of thirds. This rule suggests your composition should be divided into a nine-part grid, by running two lines horizontally (a third from the top and a third from the bottom) and two lines vertically (a third from the left and a third from the right). According to the rule, large objects (trees, buildings, etc.) should be placed on these lines, and small objects are most effective if positioned where the lines intersect.
Photos composed around these guidelines have a balanced look. Objects seem to appear exactly where your eye expects to find them. So when you build a composition around the rule of thirds, your photo satisfies the viewer’s natural sense of proportion.
Some people have an innate sense of visual balance. They have a natural flair for creative composition that does not need to be guided by rules. However, if you were to examine their photos, you would be sure to find that most of their photos fit the rule perfectly–even if they were not aware of it.
The rule of thirds is an excellent place to start if you are a photographer struggling with composition. I recommend that every beginner learn it, practice it–get so familiar with it that you start to apply it without even thinking. Then, once you are truly comfortable with the rule of thirds, ignore it about half the time.
Recently a man walked into my gallery, and before I even said hello I heard him telling his friends: “You see, this is a good photo because it fits the rule of thirds. This is a bad photo because the kangaroo is right in the middle. This sunset is no good because the horizon is too low when it should be here, a third of the way up…”
This man was obviously an ardent devotee of the rule of thirds. For him, anything that stepped outside the boundaries of the rule was automatically a bad photo. But is composition really so simplistic? Of course not.
The real world is not nearly so neatly organized as the rule of thirds. More importantly, being creative means finding your own way to express the character of a subject, which may not always require a traditional approach.
I can give you two very simple examples from my own collection. One of my outback photos has a very detailed foreground and some tall bushes in the background. I have positioned the horizon right through the center of the photo. If I raised it higher, I would have lost the foreground. If I dropped it lower, the tops of the bushes would be cut off. In this case, the composition was influenced by the circumstances.
The other example is a sunset photo. The sky in this photo is truly spectacular. I dropped the horizon very low so the colors of the sky fill the frame. If the horizon had been set a third of the way up, that would mean one third of the picture was black. Not only would this be wasted space that did nothing for the photo, it would also diminish the impact of the sky.
Choosing to ignore the rule of thirds is not the same thing as not being aware of it. In each case, when taking a photo I would consider the rule of thirds and judge whether its application will make my picture better or worse. If I choose to ignore it, it is a deliberate method of adding impact to the composition, possibly by drawing attention to a particular feature like the sky in my sunset photo.
So, back to my earlier statement. If you are struggling with composition, the rule of thirds may be the best thing you ever learn. Not because you should use it for every photo (you shouldn’t) but because you should have the judgement to know when to use it and when to ignore it. That way, when you choose to compose your photo differently, it is not just a clumsy mistake, but a creative choice to improve the impact of the photo. Once you cross that threshold, your photography will become a true expression of your artistic eye.
About the Author:
For Further Training:
There is a popular downloadable multimedia guide with videos that teaches you how to take control over your camera, and get creative and confident with your photography. By combining illustrations, text, photos and video, it will help you get control in no time. Includes a bonus Field Guide—a printable pocket guide with some of the most essential information beautifully laid out inside.
It can be found here: Extremely Essential Camera Skills
Posted: 10 Mar 2014 02:28 PM PDT
An Orlando-based wedding photographer recently made the unusual move of setting up a GoFundMe account to crowdsource his latest purchase, a Nikon D4s, which retails for around $6,500. He got the idea from a client who suggested that crowdsourcing might be an easier way to finance the gear, rather than taking on an four extra weddings. But photographers across the Internet weren’t so kind to the idea, and a huge controversy erupted in a matter of days.
Here’s an interview the photographer did with Jared Polin, wherein he explains his actions:
Steven Yanni, the photographer under fire, said he saw no reason why he shouldn’t offer the public a chance to pay for his gear. In fact, he says, nobody but other photographers–few of whom even work or live in Orlando–gave him a hard time.
The interview is fairly tame, especially because Polin hardly plays devil’s advocate. He does repeatedly point out that Yanni’s problem is almost certainly in his wording, which comes across as presumptuous, lazy, and perhaps a tad arrogant–if he’d reworded the project, the mess may have been avoided.
Here’s the full copy of Yanni’s text, copied from his now-offline GoFundMe page:
Below he offered several packages: $5,600 gets donors a wedding photo package that pays for itself; $3,800 gets his old Nikon D3s and extra battery; $350 gets a one-hour shoot; $100 gets a printed headshot and 10 extra pictures; $50 gets a workshop.
The deals are not totally unfair, and the idea actually seems reasonable in that light. Photographers would do well to consider a similar method of selling their skills for one-time gear upgrades, and Polin makes a strong point that Yanni may well have succeeded if he’d hired a proper marketer or copywriter to manage the campaign. Once again, we witness the unforgiving beast that is the world wide web.
Go to full article: Should Professional Photographers Crowdsource New Camera Gear? (Video)
Posted: 10 Mar 2014 01:30 PM PDT
Kinchenga National Park sits in the northwest of New South Wales, and is one of Australia’s most photogenic parks. The Menindee Lakes are shallow freshwater water bodies that connect the Darling River to a storage unit that feeds a host of nearby towns. Most take for granted the utilitarianism of the scheme, but the sparseness of the park itself makes for beautiful scenic views, like this one:
This shot was captured by Australian photographer Julie Fletcher. The colors are spectacular: the water is so densely packed with silt and minerals that it turns a mossy turquoise, which makes a lovely match for the deep azure sky. The composition is sealed by scraggly branches mirroring the sharp lightning, both starkly lit against the dark sky. It’s a really impressive display of timing and scene painting.
Go to full article: Interesting Photo of the Day: Lightning Storm Over the Menindee Lakes
Posted: 10 Mar 2014 12:44 PM PDT
While not entirely original (we saw this done in the form of human motorcycles a while back), the concept is still pretty fresh, especially when being used as an advertisement for a major car manufacturer. For a new Fiat ad campaign, the company is using body painted models as a substitute for a car. The results? Pretty awesome:
The talent in the shoot is a collective of circus performers, artists, and contortionists, and all of them were body painted by one of the best artists in the game, Craig Tracey. After planning all the shots and pre-production was finished up, photographer RJ Muna came in to take the reins.
Go to full article: Behind the Scenes: Fiat Body Paint Photo Shoot (Video)
Posted: 10 Mar 2014 10:33 AM PDT
When shooting wedding photographs, portraits are often just as important as the candid, in-the-moment shots. They capture the bride and groom looking their best at a crucial time in their lives, and they’ll be cherished for years to come. In this video, photographers Justin and Mary demonstrate how to capture what they call the “iconic bridal portrait”:
What makes an “iconic” portrait? A classic example would be carefully lit, posed rather than candid, and fairly serious in mood. Lighting is key, and the tool Justin and Mary use to achieve perfection is the beauty dish. This provides a crisp, dramatic light often used in fashion and beauty photography (hence the name). To soften the shadows made by the beauty dish, a reflector is held on the opposite side.
Recommended Gear for Bridal Portraits:
Whatever the setting or gear used, the goal is to capture a peaceful moment removed from the often hectic pace of a wedding day.
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