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Art of Seeing & Using Pattern as a Design Element

I decided to attend another photography class on a whim last night over at Unique Photo in Fairfield, NJ. The class was called The Art of Seeing and its primary focus was to train your eyes to see differently. We touched on compositional elements such as lines, shapes, forms, shadows, color, texture, pattern, picture within a picture, and framing the subject using natural features.

The Art of Seeing was divided into three parts; the first was lecture followed by an hour for completing an assignment on what we just learned. We were tasked with using these compositional elements in a series of photographs taken within three rooms of the superstore.

We then gathered as a group again and shared photographs using the projector. Here, we each had a chance to explain our motivation of a particular photo and describe the compositional element we used. We saw the same subjects from different perspectives which is the reason this exercise was extremely valuable.

Two photographs of the same subject, where one is dull and boring, the other is a work of art. This can be achieved by using perspective and compositional elements within the photograph.

The Photographer’s Eye

For those that choose to learn these techniques by way of book, I highly recommend The Photographer's Eye by Michael Freeman. Michael uses the same principles and divides the book into several flowing sections with beautiful examples to support each design element.

Using Pattern as a Design Element

Here, I used a shallow depth of field to focus the viewers eyes towards the wrinkle in the lower left third of the photograph. Also, the black and white pattern adds dimension.

Photography Websites – Behind the Scenes

Updated for 2013

I decided to change it up a little today and share my knowledge with you on a vitally important piece of the photography puzzle (or any online business presence for that matter).

I’m talking about photography websites and I’m going to share with you why you need to be smart and choose the best solution for your online photography portfolio.

Photography websites are important for a few reasons:

  • A well designed site will define your brand.
  • It’ll showcase your best work.
  • Customers can find you.
  • It’s your 24/7 marketing machine

That means more customers knocking on your door looking for your services.

You Need To Avoid Flash

With so many different and emerging web technologies, finding the correct solution could be like searching for a needle in a haystack. You want photography websites to look professional, beautiful, and they have to be able to showcase your work well. I’ll say this up front – don’t use Flash!

Use WordPress Instead!

Search engines have a hard time indexing Adobe Flash sites because they’re bundled inside a container that cannot be crawled by the major search engines; yes, the engines are getting better and they can handle Flash to a certain degree, but not like pure HTML.

My advice here is to feed the search engines the language they understand and that’s HTML & CSS. The W3C is moving in the right direction by providing a lot of the pretty Flash functionality into HTML 5 and CSS 3 so it’s only a matter of time before it becomes mainstream. Technologies like jQuery can assist with pretty presentation features such as photograph fades and shadowboxes. I won’t get into too much detail here because this topic is way out of scope for this article, but you have options and most of the heavy lifting is already done for you.

There are technologies out there that will help you build beautiful photography websites. Joomla, WordPress, and Drupal are all extensible and easy to understand content management frameworks that will run circles around any Flash based site. Stick to the basics and don’t reinvent the wheel. Beautiful photography websites are attainable; you just have to be in the know, or at least in the know with the tech savvy. 🙂

Behind the Scenes

Diving into a 365 project has been exciting! It’s been more than just a project, but a way of life. I eat, breathe, and sleep photography and I love every minute of it! I may miss a day or two here and there and that’s okay; the instant this becomes a job is the same time it’s no longer fun. There’s more to this photo-a-day project than meets the eye – at least for me. Let me elaborate and give you a behind the scenes look…

See, I know there are books, tutorials, DVD’s, photography websites, even similar blogs that publish photography tips. The difference is, these publications don’t have my mark on them. It hasn’t been taught with my own unique spin. Maybe you relate to me better than someone else teaching the same subject. If you don’t, that’s okay too – I just hope that in the end, I help a few people along the way.

That’s why I am working on a formal photography tutorial section for this website. My illustrations, my storyboards, my tutorial skeletons, and all the little sticky notes with pointers, insights, and raw material will become your foundation for comprehensive photography lessons. Time consuming, yes, but think of it as my way of giving back.

This is long enough for tonight… I leave you with a photo of some raindrops on a windshield; I tend to do my best work alone in silence while the rain pelts my office window.

Raindrops collect on a car windshield with the rest of the scene out of focus.  You can also see out-of-focus tail lights adding some beautiful colored bokeh to the image.

Minimize and Simplify – Frosty Yin Yang

Simplify, simplify, simplify! I find that it is more pleasing to fill the frame with your subject and to minimize and simplify everything else. Doing this will help your subject jump out at the viewer.

Giving your viewer just enough information to distinguish the focal point can add interest to a photograph. Lead them, but let their imagination fill in the blanks.

You should also always pay close attention to contrast in your shot because the eye is led to the brightest or most contrasty area of the picture.

Rules are meant to be broken, but understanding the fundamentals and why you chose to break them is even more important.

Frosty Yin Yang

It’s cold out there and frost is forming everywhere! Today’s photo is about frost, and the underlying concepts are to emphasize contrast, simplification, and dynamics.

Diagonal lines usually create tension, but I think that this example is harmonious because it’s evenly black & white; each "wedge" complements the other just like a yin yang balances its own energies.

Frost formed on a black car with a clear diagonal line separating the black from white background.  It's not a real yin yang, but a creative representation using contrast, simplification, and dynamics.

Christmas Tree Star Topper – Flower Abstract

Tomorrow is a sad, sad day. The Christmas tree is finally coming down and making its way to the trash. All those days of coming home from work and enjoying that winter pine scent will soon be a distant memory. This year, the tree was especially small, but it made up for its size by overpowering the room with pine tree scented bliss; I can’t tell you its type, but I do know it was not a Frazier fur. Our Christmas tree had a star topper this year, which added a little bit of color to the already festive red, white, and green lights.

Blur Your Focus to Create Light Bokeh

The weather has finally turned cold and windy which is capable of sending chills through bones so what better way to introduce memories of warmer weather with an abstract flower from the Christmas tree star topper! This technique is simple to do with any sort of light. Simply switch your camera to manual focus and pull the lights OOF (out-of-focus). You can make this as dramatic as you like and for added punch rip the shot with a fast shutter speed to render your lights in a sea of black like I did here.

A Christmas tree star topper is photographed while out-of-focus to create a beautiful golden flower abstract.

365 Project – Day 6 – Klipsch Speaker Abstract

For those of you that are not familiar with Klipsch, now is a good time to find out simply because they are one of most efficient and beautifully sounding speakers when paired with the right amplifier. Music can be soft and delicate, then hard and edgy. Crescendos are meant to impact and boy do Klipsch speakers know how to deliver in the dynamics department. Listening to a properly mastered CD or vinyl record is actually satisfying.

Klipsch Makes Beautiful Music…and Movies Come Alive!

That little introduction just highlighted music; THX certified Klipsch speakers breathe life into movie scenes. I am a Marvel Comics movie fanatic and the sheer impact of watching The Dark Knight on a proper 5.1 system must be heard. Sure, you can go to the movies, but what about bringing the movies to the comfort of your own home.

Klipsch Cerametallic Speaker Abstract

Speakers move air. Larger speakers have larger internal cabinet space so they can move more air. I’m a believer in that you cannot listen to life-like, concert sound through small speakers. Either frequency response is compromised, or the sound is boomy and artificial. I’m not saying it’s the only way – I still love those little Bose Sound Docks for what they are, so no argument there.

I share with you today a glimpse of beauty, and that beauty is in the form of a Klipsch Cerametallic Speaker Cone Abstract.

An abstract of an RF-7 cerametallic speaker cone with internal details like baffle and hex screw.