How to Produce Compelling Photography – Shoot Video Too

Twice a month, we have the pleasure of listening to amateur and professional photographers talk about their work at our local camera club.  It’s typically entertaining, sometimes thought provoking, but truthfully, only rarely compelling.

What do I mean by compelling?  For me, that means photography with a clear message, obvious story and emotional reaction.  Compelling may show human beings, other lifeforms, places on earth (or not on earth), human activities, the impact of human activities and on and on.  But in all cases, there’s has to be something about the work, the way it is presented that is different from what I’ve seen before.

While the familiar can also be compelling – for me, any shots of mountain ranges or oceans, for example – the unfamiliar is another way to get my attention.

Dave SanfordIn a recent visit, a pro photographer by the name of Dave Sandford definitely got my attention.  Along with stunning photographs, Dave told story after story after story and backed it up with undeniable proof.  That proof was video. Continue reading “How to Produce Compelling Photography – Shoot Video Too”

Recording History

I recently became aware of an effort in Ontario to establish a museum of photography.  It’s intended to house artifacts and images relating to the history of photography in my home province.

In this day and age of instant history, with uploads to Facebook and a multitude of other social media platforms, with cloud storage options and sharing galore, I wondered what place there might be for a physical museum of photography.  So I set out to find out. Continue reading “Recording History”

Looking at Lookup Tables (LUTs)

A while ago, I began hearing a term that I wasn’t familar with:  lookup tables (LUTs).  Curious, I “looked up” the definition, and was mildly puzzled to see it defined as a series of values in table format that helps you interpret or translate another set of values.

Image DataWhat does that have to do with photography?  As it turns out, every part of a digital image is a set of values – for size, dimensions, camera settings, colour space, etc.  We’ve long had the ability to manipulate any one value to our liking through the sliders we see in modern editing software.  Now it seems we also have the ability to redefine broad swaths of data at once.  Find out how. Continue reading “Looking at Lookup Tables (LUTs)”

Believe

One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn as a photographer is not to limit myself to the immediate reaction I have when looking at a scene or subject.  There is potential in every situation, even those that to the human eye and the camera initially look like disasters.

A friend of mine invited me to join her to try to shoot car light trails from a highway overpass at dusk, achieving both the capture of the sunset and the movement of the cars through light trails.  Here’s what happened. Continue reading “Believe”

In Full Retreat

I’ve been out of touch for a month.  Sorry about that.  I seem to be busier now than when I had a full-time career.  Recently, I had the pleasure of heading out with my photography club to its annual “retreat”.  A chance to immerse myself in all things photographic for a full weekend.  We chose a destination that we could drive to in an afternoon, but also one that would require disconnecting from all the demands back home.  It was wonderful. Continue reading “In Full Retreat”

Photographers I Admire

To be a good photographer is to be a lifelong student of the craft.  There is no such thing as a photographer that knows it all.  Even if you are the most technically proficient expert around, the art of photography is something that needs attention for as long as you shoot.

I’ve noticed an evolution of my abilities and interests over the 4 years since I took to this seriously.  I’m not bragging.  Far from it.  Some things have become second nature while others send me down a rabbit hole of discovery, wrong turns and sometimes an “ah-ha” moment.  But the most mind-intensive introspection, for me, occurs when I’m examining the work of other photographers.  I’ve come to realize that this is a good thing, even if it leaves me with more questions than answers. Continue reading “Photographers I Admire”

Composition and Composure

Does your photography move you emotionally?  Do other people comment on how it moves them?  Is there a “wow” factor?

NotebookExperienced photographers who share their knowledge with new photographers spend a lot of time talking about composition and the “rules”.  Leading lines, rule of thirds, negative space, etc. help to teach the eye what to look for when evaluating a scene.  But they don’t spend a lot of time talking about why these rules matter at all.

I can only find one answer:  it’s an effort to disrupt the composure of anyone who views the image.  To get a reaction.  Most often positively, sometimes with delight, and sometimes deliberately negatively.  The “rules” provide a roadmap for the senses, and by extension, for the emotions.  To be truly successful as a photographer, you have to tap into that emotion – yours and your viewers.

Continue reading “Composition and Composure”