The Art of Seeing as a Photographer

The Art of Seeing as a Photographer

When I look back at my journey as a wildlife photographer especially as I scroll through my images on my editing screen a few things become apparent. Firstly, most of my pictures were either action or close up portrait, and secondly, the editing was awful.

Editing is an essential skill for a photographer, and you must be equally as good as editing as you are in capturing the image. I am still learning and improving my editing skills. Action images and close up portraits in wildlife photography — why do I have a problem with those images? Well, they needed little or no ability, action images with today’s technological advance focusing systems. It is just a matter of point and shoot. Close up portraits, requires a good lens a willing subject and then you fill your frame up and release the shutter.

Okay, maybe I am oversimplifying, but my point remains the same, little creative effort went into those images.

Wildlife photography, in my opinion, is one of the most challenging genres, why? We are reliant on all the elements that make a successful wildlife photograph. Timing, place, light, and subject matter are generally all unknowns for a wildlife photographer on safari.

That’s why we wildlife photographers on safari head straight for the waterhole especially in the dry season as that is the best place to capture wildlife action photography. But what do we do when all is quiet at the waterhole, and there is no action to photograph. How do we create a compelling photograph? The most important thing to remember is that we are crafting a picture.

We all know that a successful photograph needs a good composition. Some rules and guides can help you create an image. But it is your “vision” that will make it unique and compelling. That is what we all want from our photography no matter what genre — to stand out from the crowd to be different and for people to recognize our style.

Firstly I will talk about the guides and rules that are important in creating a composition. Then I will discuss how you can improve your “vision”, your unique way of seeing.

Ask any photographer about rules of composition and the Rule of Thirds will slip off their tongue. For some photographers it is all they will ever use.

There are numerous rules of compositions that can aid you to be more creative with your photographs. I have often heard, and I am sure you have too, that “there are no rules in photography,” or “learn the rules and forget them.” There may be some merit in these statements, I will leave that discussion to others, but for me and my photographic journey, increasing knowledge of my craft every day has helped me make better photographs. I want to discuss just a few rules, guides, and tips that I use most when out photographing.

Zebra Stallion Standing Guard

Negative space is one of my favorite rules of composition. I place the subject in the frame using either the golden ratio or rule of thirds; mostly I go with what feels right. Remember rules are only guides. For “negative space” to work in a composition, it is essential that there are no distracting elements within the scene.

This kind of image works best with a solitary subject with a clean background in an open space. I try and not include clouds as this will give the image a different feel and distract from the subject. Negative space creates a sense of calm and allows the image to breathe.

Shape, lines, form, and textures are essential elements of successful landscape black and white photograph. But we can make beautiful compositions in nature photography with these elements too.

Look for interesting patterns in clouds and include them with your wildlife subjects. Clouds give you shapes and textures which create a sense of depth, a three-dimensional feel.

An essential tip to creating a unique image is your viewpoint or angle of view. Always try and vary your perspective, go low, go high, if you are using a wide angle lens, tilt your camera and get exaggerated sky, adding impact to your photograph.

Lines create feelings within us; vertical lines give a sense of power; horizontal lines suggest a feeling of calm; diagonal lines a sense of movement; soft curved lines, which is probably the best known and used in photography, create gentle and soothing feelings.

The “background” of a photograph is not a “compositional rule”, but it is undoubtedly one of the most critical elements within a successful photograph.

A busy background is very distracting and will take the viewers eye away from the subject of the image and create a visual sense of unease.

Street photographers have favorite locations with beautiful backgrounds, and they wait till a subject walks pass and then press the shutter and create a photograph.

We can do the same with wildlife photography although it can be a lot more difficult to achieve.

In my last article, I talked about a recent safari. I had never been to this location before, and upon my arrival, I notice the distant mountains were magnificent, and immediately I set about finding a waterhole with the mountains as a backdrop and then it was a matter of waiting. Elephants arrived, within a few minutes, the elephants began their usual ritual of bonding. I press the shutter capturing an intimate moment between elephants with a beautiful backdrop to complete a compelling composition.

Another useful and effective backdrop is to use the “subject” as a background, for example, photographing a young animal against the side of its parent, zebras are the most common ones that come to mind.

When you find the backdrop for an image, be it beautiful mountains or something uniform, you can then go about creating a series of pictures with different animals or the same animal in various poses.

Rules of symmetry and rhythm are two essential guides that will help you become more creative in your photography. Symmetry is achieved when one side mirrors or balances with the other. Best-known use of symmetry in nature photography is the reflection.

In the image below with elephants on the horizon, I tried to create balance and symmetry with the elephants at either end. I included the clouds for shape, form, and texture this adds a sense of depth, the line created by the horizon gives a feeling of calm.

When photographing try and include as many compositional elements as you can to create an engaging photograph.

Using patterns in your photographs help create rhythm. Patterns appear everywhere in nature, try and photograph a pattern that has a repeated shape as in the image below of lines in the dunes, these repeated patterns will add rhythm that the viewer will easily follow. In this image, I used a low angle of view and tilted the wide angle lens to create diagonal lines and exaggerated the stormy sky which adds mood.

Framing your subject is a very nice way to lead the viewers to your subject, in wildlife especially with adults and young, the young will always try and shelter underneath the parents for protection, giving us opportunities to use the adults as frames as we focus on the young.

Depth of field is another useful aid to isolate your subject from a distracting background. I love to use DOF with the rule of rhythm, finding similar subjects as in the image below of the baby zebra, I focused wide open on the foals eye creating a pleasing blur of the stripes in the foreground, which form a pattern and sense of rhythm.

The Rule of Odds is not a well-known rule of composition and one that I struggle to accomplish in my wildlife photography. The theory behind the rule of odds is that the viewer’s eyes are drawn to photographs with odd numbers, and within the odd numbers the eye will be drawn to the subject in the center. It sounds easy enough, but in practice it’s not so, or at least for me.

I have only managed to capture one photograph that I am happy with, the lion and zebra image below, for balance I have cropped the image to square with the horizon in the middle. The three subjects, the two zebras and lion accomplish not just the rule of odds, but the rule of balance and symmetry too. The dust gives a sense of action and movement and creates a mood within the image.

Color theory is an essential part of a successful color image, as I tend to favor black and white photos over color images, this something that I want to learn about in more depth. What is color theory? You are using specific colors in a way that are harmonious. My favorite one I love to use for wildlife photography is using complementary colors — shades of cool blues and warm/orange tones, which are opposite on the color wheel.

I have briefly explained some of my favorite rules of composition which will help you in the “Art Of Seeing.” But the most critical part of creating or crafting a compelling photograph is your vision — that is what is going to separate your portfolio from somebody else. We can all learn to know and understand the rules of compositions. But how can you create that unique vision, the “x” factor, in your work? The only person that can do this is you!

Every time you look or scroll through your images, be your own harshest critic. I have heard photographers say they are unable to choose their best photo. If you are not able to recognize your best image, how are you going to know an excellent compositional photograph in the field?

Be selective in what you photograph. Do not shoot for the sake of shooting. A feeling should overcome you, an inner voice shouting at you. Then ask yourself what is it that draws to you this scene? How can you successfully capture this feeling? What kind of mood or emotion do you want to create in this photograph? Then shoot the subject from every angle possible, use different focal lengths, different shutter speeds, and remember to check your frame, what you leave out is just as important as what you leave in.

There is nothing as frustrating getting home, downloading your images, and wishing that you had shot the subject with a different lens, aperture, or angle. Cover all the bases when you come across a subject that connects with you. And remember to try and convey that connection, mood or feeling as you edit the image. Your images must connect on an emotional level with the viewer.

When I photograph it is a balance between my mind and heart; my brain looks after the technicals while my heart looks after the emotion within the photograph. Too much of one will leave an emotionless image or a poorly executed image. To sum up, I think the words from one of my favorite songs, “Reverence” by Faithless:

“You don’t need eyes to see… you need vision.”

About the author: Peter Delaney is an award-winning wildlife, architecture, and landscape photographer based in George, South Africa. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on his website, fine art site, Facebook, Twitter, 500px, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

Source: PetaPixel

The Art of Seeing as a Photographer

Emerging Designers Score With Adidas and MLS

Emerging Designers Score With Adidas and MLS
Kicking off the 2019 soccer season, Adidas and Major League Soccer hosted Seams, a sporty fashion show in downtown LA’s Fashion District. The MLS jersey-inspired runway looks, courtesy of the day’s MVPs—emerging fashion forces Sara Gourlay of Frankie Collective, Corey T. Stokes, Pierre Davis of No Sesso, and stylist Andrew Andrade—reflected a stadium-meets-street aesthetic, ranging from athleisure to the avant-garde.

Hardly in competition, the featured designers’ aesthetics played o…

Keep on reading: Emerging Designers Score With Adidas and MLS
Source: V Magazine

Emerging Designers Score With Adidas and MLS

This Beer Was Developed to Process Kodak Super 8 Film

This Beer Was Developed to Process Kodak Super 8 Film

The popular craft brewery Dogfish Head is launching a new gose beer called SuperEIGHT. The brew shares more than a name with Kodak’s famous Super 8 film format: the beer was actually designed to process the film.

The 5.3% ABV beer is made with 8 special ingredients: prickly pear, mango, boysenberry, blackberry, raspberry, elderberry, kiwi juices and a touch of quinoa, along with an ample addition of Hawaiian sea salt.

Back in 2018, Dogfish founder and CEO Sam Calagione joined the Kodak podcast The Kodakery to chat about analog processes in the digital age. And during the conversation, Calagione learned that the heightened levels of acidity and vitamin C in certain beers can actually allow them to serve as processing agents for film stocks.

Dogfish founder Sam Calagione.

It just so happened that Dogfish was already working on a new beer that would feature extra acidity and vitamin C, so Calagione had them specifically design it to process Kodak Super 8 film well. The result was SuperEIGHT, and early batches of the beer were sent to Kodak to confirm that it could successfully develop film.

Here’s the recipe for using SuperEIGHT beer as a developer with Kodak Tri-X film:

Want to see how well the beer does as a film developer? Dogfish actually teamed up with Kodak to create a short film shot on Super 8 film and developed with SuperEIGHT beer:

“From the can to the stop bath, there’s a whole lot of science and alternative processing that takes place to bring the imagery to life,” Dogfish says. “And it’s so totally worth it.”

Doghead SuperEIGHT will be available across the United States in 6-packs of 12-ounce cans in late March or early April. The “vibrant red” beer “has a slightly tart taste and pleasantly refreshing finish, with delicious flavors of berries and watermelon.”

Source: PetaPixel

This Beer Was Developed to Process Kodak Super 8 Film

10 Tips to Speed Up Your Photoshop

10 Tips to Speed Up Your Photoshop

Is your Photoshop running a bit sluggish at times? There might be a way to speed things up. Here’s a helpful 10.5-minute video by photoshopCAFE that goes over 10 tips that will help you squeeze the fastest possible performance from the program.

Here’s a rundown of the 10 tips covered in the video (along with the timestamps where they’re found):

  1. 00:50: Lose the welcome screen
  2. 01:30: Shrink the New Document window
  3. 02:00: Increase Recent Documents to 100
  4. 02:45: Use 80% of your RAM
  5. 03:20: Fix display issues
  6. 03:48: Legacy compositing
  7. 04:15: Scratch disk
  8. 05:38: Don’t copy and paste
  9. 06:40: Free up resources
  10. 07:42: The fix all (resetting preferences)

Here’s an article we published a few years ago with a closer look at a few of the tips covered in this video.

Source: PetaPixel

10 Tips to Speed Up Your Photoshop

Why Size Matters: Lens Compression at 400mm in Landscape Photography

Why Size Matters: Lens Compression at 400mm in Landscape Photography

Most the time when I am out doing landscape photography, I have a Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS and Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS with me. On road trips, I try to bring my Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II — it’s a fantastic lens with great image stabilization and impressive image quality. Unfortunately, it is a bit too big and heavy for me to bring out more often!

On a recent trip through the Canadian Rockies, I had this special lens with me. I knew of this tree in Banff National Park and knew I wanted to photograph it. While originally a typical portrait (vertical orientation) photograph, I later switched into landscape orientation and took a vertical panorama (8 individual images), yielding me a larger perspective and much higher resolution.

Now, this tree could have been photographed with my 16-35, or even my 70-200 – but to be able to shoot it at 400mm with my 100-400 lens yields far different and unique results. Thankfully, this specific area afforded me the ability to step back further from the tree, but by zooming in I was emphasizing the lens compression you get when you shoot at longer focal lengths.

What Is Lens Compression?

Lens compression (although it has more to do with a given focal length and nothing to do with the lens itself) works because we’re able to get further away from our subject but still zoom in as if we were much closer. As a result, it creates the appearance that the background has been pulled in closer, distorting it to be larger than it is. This in turns has a bit of a flattening effect on the scene, making subjects throughout the depth of the scene appear far closer to each other than in actuality. The inverse happens with wide angle lenses, as we will stand closer to our subject it appears larger proportionally to the background.


In the example above, we can see at both 20mm and 35mm, we can clearly see the space around the tree — we can see lots of foreground and background trees, and the trees along the side of the road also appear further away from our tree in the middle. At 20mm, we cannot get close enough (without tilting the camera too far upwards and distorting the photograph in a different way), and as a result, it looks small in the scene.

As we get out to 70mm and beyond, we start to see the lens compression phenomenon kick in. As we step back and increase our focal length, the scene gets flatter and flatter where once we reach 400mm we’ve included far more trees along the road, the trees behind our main subject appear to sit almost right behind it, and we lose the ability to sense that in fact there is about 100m (300 feet) of tree-lined road in front of the main tree (or more!).

Lens compression is often talked about in portrait photography for the same principles. Longer focal lengths give us the ability to increase our distance from our subject, which gives us the effect of creating a more flat, less distorted face.

Photographing the Tree

I shot this video when I was photographing the tree, so you can see first-hand the area and get a better idea of the area I was photographing in as well as just how far away I was from my subject when shooting at 400mm.

The stitched photo that resulted.

About the author: Kaitlyn McLachlan is a landscape photographer based in Vancouver, Canada. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of McLachlan’s work on her website, 500px, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

Source: PetaPixel

Why Size Matters: Lens Compression at 400mm in Landscape Photography

Team Re-Edition releases pages and pages from issue 11, we examine

Team Re-Edition releases pages and pages from issue 11, we examine

Eva Herzigova by Juergen Teller | Stylist Jo Barker With its latest, Re-Edition Magazine celebrates its 11th birthday––or 4 in human years as ink hit the page for the first time in 2015. That was then and this is now: Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott shoot for the publication for the first time; a Burberry […] More…

Team Re-Edition releases pages and pages from issue 11, we examine

Class of 2019: The Society

Class of 2019: The Society
This spread appears in the pages of V118 our Spring I

They say fashion is like high school. This model-off (dress code: SS19) puts theory into practice. In V118, The Society Management’s power players Mayowa, Sara Grace, Adesuwa, Vittoria, Liu, and Cat take “minimalistic drama” to new heights. 

Keep on reading: Class of 2019: The Society
Source: V Magazine

Class of 2019: The Society

Photos Inside the Art Institute of Seattle After it Abruptly Closed

Photos Inside the Art Institute of Seattle After it Abruptly Closed

I photographed the Art Institute of Seattle 3 days after it was abruptly shut down. I taught photography at AiS since October 2007. I think it is important for these images to get out as this is what it looks like when a school closes.

On Friday, March 8, 2019, the Art Institute of Seattle abruptly closed with just two weeks left in the winter quarter, leaving students, faculty, and staff scrambling in a rough situation.

On Monday, March 11th, 2019, I wandered the halls of AiS after having taught there for over twelve years.

This is what was left.

About the author: Melinda Hurst Frye is a Seattle-based exhibiting artist, working in themes of implied environments and shared experiences within the still life aesthetic. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Her current work illustrates the mystery and activity of Northwest subterranean and residential Seattle ecosystems, including her front yard. Hurst Frye has been featured on Humble Arts Foundation, Lenscratch, WIRED Photo, and in various solo and group exhibitions. You can find more of her work on her website and Instagram. This series was also published here.

Source: PetaPixel

Photos Inside the Art Institute of Seattle After it Abruptly Closed

How a Joint Photo Shoot Helped Me Understand Style

How a Joint Photo Shoot Helped Me Understand Style

What is style? This is a question to which I’ve given a lot of thought. The best answer I’ve come up with is that your style is the sum of all your choices.

Warning: This article contains portraits that may not be safe for work.

Style is not presets or filters or film emulators. Those are all just choices that can contribute to your style. Style is not your in-camera “Picture Control”: Standard, Neutral, Portrait, Vivid, etc., but those too can contribute to your style if you use them with purpose. Black and white itself is not a style, but the deliberate choice to use it to achieve a specific result is (and for that matter, a black and white image is not automatically “artistic”).

The Rule of Thirds is not style either, but your choice to adhere to it, or to deliberately break the rule, can be part of your style. Your ultra fast prime, your new mirrorless body, your sensor size, and resolution; these things are definitely not your style, but how and why you choose each tool and how and why you use them, is.

Style develops slowly over a long period of time. When I first started out, I shot everything: portraits, still-lifes, street, landscapes, macro, sports, etc. I was sampling all these different kinds of photography and in doing so, learning what topics interested me and what topics did not. After some time, my focus began to narrow, and I found that I favored certain topics more than others. But I also found that I started making and repeating certain choices again and again: lenses, lighting, angles, models, poses, etc. At the same time, I also began to observe and recognize the developing style of my photographer friends.

Sometimes the best way to think about style is to think about it relative to someone else’s style. The choices you make consistently may contrast strongly with those of a fellow photographer and that could help you start to see and understand your style. I got a chance to see this in action in a joint photo shoot with my friend and fellow photographer, David Hatfield.

Since Dave did the work to put this collaboration together with Breanne, our model, and since they worked jointly on the concept, Dave took the lead in the shoot. He was the primary photographer, which meant that the pressure was on him to deliver good photos. This had two unexpected benefits:

1. With no pressure on me, it meant I was free to just play. I could experiment with different compositions and try out some ideas—ideas I might have otherwise not considered because I’d be too worried about getting a “safe” and usable shot (if only I could approach every shoot this way!).

2. It helped to really highlight the differences in our respective styles.

I was never a big fan of the idea of joint photo shoots. I always figured I’d end up with the same shots as the other photographer(s). But this photo shoot showed me otherwise. And the added benefit of being able to shoot without any pressure and without any real attachment to the result made for a really fun shooting experience. I’d recommend it to any photographer out there asking questions about style. Get together with a friend, set up a photo shoot, and see how different (or how similar) your results are.

Over the years, Dave and I have developed and grown together as photographers. I think he is the better photographer of the two of us. But in terms of pure technical ability, we’re at the same level. So we should technically be able to make the exact same photos. And yet, our style can and does differ substantially.

Check out the results:

First, Dave:

Now, me:

And here are Dave’s photos from the second half of our shoot:

And my photos from the second half of the shoot:

Dave likes grit and texture. He likes film emulations and film grains especially. But he uses them well. They’re necessary to his process. They work for him. When I use them, it feels weird, forced.

I like a really clean image that’s got minimal post process. And yet, I’ll obsess over every last detail. I didn’t like the position of some water droplets in some images from the shower scene, so I removed them or repositioned them.

I will go through multiple versions of each photo, taking weeks to arrive at a “final” edit (quotes added because I might come back at an even later date to make more tweaks to my photo!). Dave will take his JPEGs directly from his camera, make some quick global edits, apply and tweak whatever effects he decides are needed (and masks them out where they’re not needed), crops, and he’s done and on to the next project. I don’t think I’ve ever known him to go back and re-edit old work.

We both like high contrast images. But I prefer softer lighting while Dave often favors harder, direct light. For this shoot, Dave lit the shower scene mainly with handheld LED flashlights (usually ~$8 to $15 each). That would never have even occurred to me.

Speaking more generally, our approaches are different too. He’s more confident and tenacious. For the shower scene, he put his camera in a water housing so he could get water spraying directly on his lens (within the housing) while he made some portraits. Again, I’m not sure it would have occurred to me to shoot this way. Instead, I shot through the glass of the shower door, alternately focusing on Breanne, and also on the water droplets on the glass. I think both are good approaches and make for dramatic, moody portraits. Is one better than the other? I don’t know, but Dave’s work is pretty d*mn good if you ask me.

Dave working the scene from inside the shower

I’m the more introverted of the two of us. I prefer to observe, hang back a bit, and then approach a scene carefully and methodically. I like to do a bit more planning and studying. In a shoot like this one, it can take me dozens or even hundreds of frames to arrive at a scene and composition I like, and even then I’ll keep shooting, to be absolutely sure I have the shot I want. Dave gets there faster, and moves along to the next scene, faster. He’s more decisive with his compositions.

And yet, for all my indecision, all that clicking around can often get me to a shot that turns out to be really successful, one I would never had made if I hadn’t persisted. I’m not sure Dave has the patience for that kind of process. But my approach isn’t necessarily better. My persistence doesn’t always pay off. I’ll stay on a scene and shoot hundreds and hundreds of throw-away shots, looking for a something that works, where Dave will quit the scene and find another shot, and fast.

He likes to be spontaneous where I’m a bit more cautious, deliberate. I think we need both kinds of photographers. Both are valid. I like to joke that if he’s Kirk, I’m Spock. Our personalities are very different, and these differences are reflected in the kind of photography we do, and, ultimately, in the photographs we make.

To anyone thinking about how to further develop their style, the advice is simple: Shoot more. A lot more. Then go back over your work, and see what choices you’re making consistently. Better yet, get together with your fellow photographers, consider doing some joint photo shoots, and see just how different (or similar) you are. See what you can learn about your own style, but also take the opportunity to learn from each other. And of course, share the results.

About the author: Carlos Chavez is an aspiring photographer based in San Diego, California. You can find more of his work on his website. This article was also published here.

Source: PetaPixel

How a Joint Photo Shoot Helped Me Understand Style

How Lightroom’s Range Mask Tool Can Instantly Improve Your Photo Editing

How Lightroom’s Range Mask Tool Can Instantly Improve Your Photo Editing

Lightroom has a powerful tool called Range Mask that can transform the way you post-process your photos, but photographers are often unaware that the tool even exists. Landscape photographer Thomas Heaton decided to make this 12-minute video to show how the tool can be invaluable for improving your photos.

Range Masking was introduced in October 2017 and it allows you to limit local adjustment tools to a certain range of colors or tones. It’s non-destructive and re-editable.

For his first example, Heaton uses the Graduated Filter tool to reduce the Exposure and Highlights of the sky above snowy mountains. But the problem is that it applies in equal amounts to the darker side of the sky as it does to the brighter side, and it darkens the mountaintops as well.

The solution is to use a Luminance Range Mask to only apply the edit to the brighter areas of the sky. This reduces the amount applied to the darker areas of the sky and instantly ignores the mountaintops at the same time.

For his second example, Heaton shows a photo in which he wanted to use a Radial Filter to boost the shadows of the dark cluster of trees. But this would by default introduce a glowing halo area in the frame that’s centered on the trees since it would equally affect the sky in the background.

So to avoid this issue, Heaton uses a Luminance Range Mask to target only the darker trees and hills while ignoring the brighter sky.

“If you didn’t know about this and you haven’t used this in Lightroom, give it a go,” Heaton says. “It transforms the look of the processing of your image, so you get a much more natural finish on your image.”

Source: PetaPixel

How Lightroom’s Range Mask Tool Can Instantly Improve Your Photo Editing