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.

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Some Inspiration…

One of the joys of photography is simply the chance to talk to other photographers.  So many topics to indulge, so many experiences to compare.  And of course, best of all, the chance to admire good work.

I had the pleasure yesterday of attending a talk at our local camera club by Kas Stone, a Canadian photographer based in Nova Scotia.  In addition to her work as a landscape and nature photographer, she regularly teaches, holds workshops and speaks to groups like ours about the art of photography.  Continue reading

Why Are My Photos Blurry?

Something a bit different for today’s post.  I gave a short presentation at my local camera club today to answer a question on why photos taken by club members are sometimes blurry.  You might find some of this information useful.  Click on the pause button to stop on any slide.

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If you would like to download a copy of the presentation, click below.  You will need either Microsoft PowerPoint or a compatible presentation viewer to open the presentation.

Why Are My Photos Blurry?

The Myth of Fast Lenses

Since I took up photography full-time 3 years ago, I’m much more informed about equipment and techniques.  There are some well-rehearsed lines in this industry:  photography is about shaping the light; remember to work the shot; don’t take pictures – make pictures.  And on and on.

Many of those tomes are also around gear – usually put out by manufacturers I think.  As an example, fast lenses (those with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or larger) are always better than other lenses.  Better for low light capture, better for managing depth of field, better for autofocus performance.  Always buy the fastest lens you can afford.

SaleWhenever I venture to purchase a new lens, I’m typically presented with the fastest lens first – the advanced option.  But the more I’ve shot, the more I’ve come to question this equipment mantra.  Most of the time, you DON’T need the fastest lens.  Here’s why. Continue reading

Competition is Good for the Soul

It’s the dog days of summer here in Canada.  Photographers everywhere are getting out to capture the hum of life.  Vacation photographs, outdoor events, family events, outdoor location shoots or special projects that have been waiting for the perfect day are all being recorded now.  Even indoor work is at its height, with many hours of natural light available to help get the best shots.

In a month, we return to routine, which for some might include membership in the local camera club or association.  I personally belong to three.  Typically on hiatus in the summer, they launch with a bang in September.  And we’ll all have lots of new material to share.  But will we? Continue reading

Some Common Sense Advice on Photographing People in Informal Settings

Photographing people comes with some additional complications not present when photographing still life.  An obvious statement, you say.  One such complication is the question of permission when photographing people informally.

Last week, I had dinner with acquaintances who insisted that photographers own all their images from the moment they are shot.  Permission to use them is not required.  I was also out shooting with others who believe that documents get in the way of artistic freedom, particularly in informal settings.  I wanted to know more.

The-Fine-PrintFirst, a disclaimer:  this post is NOT legal advice.  Every jurisdiction is different – it’s up to you to understand the laws that apply to you and how best to protect yourself.  You should always follow any copyright and privacy laws, particularly if you hope to profit financially from your work.

And this post is not about formal portraits or events for hire (weddings, family milestones, freelance event photography, etc.), which typically include negotiations and signed contracts; it’s about the more spontaneous form of people photography known as “street” photography.

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Tools That Make Macro Photography Easier – Helicon Focus Pro and CamRanger

Spring has sprung.  New life all around us, providing a wealth of photographic subjects.  Perfect for macro photography.  Macro photography reveals the smallest of these subjects, from tiny lichens to the wing details of insects to the inner sculpture of a summer bloom.

Canon Macro LensMacro photography requires only one unique piece of equipment:  a lens that can focus within a tiny distance of the subject, resulting in an image that is the same size on the camera sensor as the subject is in real life.  But macro lenses have an amazingly small depth of field, almost guaranteeing that some part of the image will be out of focus.   What’s a photographer to do? Continue reading