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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.

Teavana Tea Anyone? – Emperor’s Clouds and Mist

Updated for 2013

Teavana tea shops have been popping up all over the map and for good reason. Their tea is fantastic and fresh! Over the past few years, I have amassed a pretty decent collection of greens, oolongs, and black teas. Each one is unique so its important to have a good variety on hand for when the mood strikes. There is nothing better than steeping a pot of green tea about an hour after dinner and sitting down on an oversized cushy couch with a laptop in hand relaxing the night away.

Emperor’s Clouds and Mist

Green teas come in a variety of different complexities; some are vegetal with a strong earthy taste – think grassy here. Others can be mild and bring back a touch of sweetness to your palette. Emperor’s Clouds and Mist is a delicately soft green tea that adds a touch of honey to its taste. I suppose this can be indicative of the region its grown or how it is harvested, but that’s what I taste here. I’m a fan of Teavana tea and most recently, a newer tea shop called DAVIDsTEA, which can be found in the NYC village at 275 Bleeker Street.

Mix Your Teas to Create Flavorful Blends!

Teavana is all about mixology and their iPhone app will give you suggestions to create new blends! I particularly love black teas that have chocolate undertones combined with dried fruit like acai and blackberry. Write this down… this blend is to-die-for and was my own creation!

Combine equal parts of Golden Monkey black tea with Wonderberry Chocolate Truffle Oolong Tea. This blend is not listed under the pairings section, but it really should be. Try it! You won’t be disappointed!

Speedlights for Detailing Tea

In the spirit of everything speed light from class yesterday, I decided to mess around with an off-camera strobe and try to extract as much detail from these tea leaves as humanly possible. My SB900 was placed on the floor in line with the tea and in pretty close. Notice the soft shadows? iTTL mode was also used.

Tea leaves spell "Tea Anyone?" with three pieces of rock sugar used as the period in the question mark.

365 Project – Day 8 – Still Life Photography

I am not a morning person and it’s tough for me to wake up for the sunrise. This is not an ideal situation as a photographer, but if I tell myself enough times that waking up early will be worth it the night before, I sometimes get lucky. It’s funny; I had every intention of shooting the wooden bench at sunrise, but there was just too much cover to make it work like I had intended. What I did find after firing off a few shots was a perfect view of the horizon way up past the rock wall in the woods. Today’s photo is not a sunrise photo per se, but instead a rendition of still life photography that does a nice job of showing elongated rock shadows from the low angle of the sun.

I know my secret sunrise vantage point will be a photography heaven for a while so expect more to come from this little find.

Still life photography of a small rock that hugs the bottom left frame with an elongated shadow from the low angle of the sun. Twigs, moss, and leaves add interest to the surrounding area.

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.

365 Project – Day 4 – Soapstone Glow

Soapstone is a remarkable rock. I find that it is quite beautiful and smooth and no two items are alike. It’s also a great material that works really well with fine art items such as candle holders, tea light incense diffusers, and soap dishes. A tea light candle will illuminate a room in a soft soapstone glow. The warm glow in addition to the aroma therapy is soothing. Stress and worries melt away.

I’ve had tea light incense diffuser since high school and still use it from time-to-time. Yankee candles are good for every day use, but essentials oils are better for aroma therapy. The oils are strong so only a single drop is needed. They will open your sense of smell and promote a state of calm from within. If you have never tried aroma therapy, give it a shot!

A soapstone incense diffuser illuminates intricate cutouts with a soft glow.

365 Project – Day 1 – Pine Cones!

I’m giving in and starting this project just before the new year! Either I’m an overachiever, or my excitement has reached new levels and I cannot wait to begin. I’m going with the latter.

So, I love pine cones. I love their shape, their texture, and their ability to play with highlights and shadows. I found this little guy a few years ago and he’s been sitting in my dining room in a "La Cucina Italiana" porcelain dish that sits atop my wine refrigerator. I think he’s perfect so he’ll be sticking around for the long haul. Actually, he’s even going to travel with me if and when I move.

Note, my photos are available for viewing in high resolution with lots of detail over in my SmugMug gallery. You can even view my other favorite photos from this website in their high resolution glory.

An old and weathered pine cone sits on top of a table thinking about its future.