Something happened when I went to upload this blog entry.  The entire thing disappeared.  I have to go now, but will rewrite later.  LL49@Wat

Color Me...Soothed?


Color Me....Happy?

I talked in my last blog about the importance of light for the photographer.  If there is no light [this includes the infrared as well as the visual spectrum], there is no picture.  I mentioned that Thomas Kincaid was told to "paint the light".  As photographers, we are to "catch the light"; and to do that, we need to understand that there are different kinds of light. Light can be direct, like  sunlight at noon on a cloudless day.  Light can be diffused, like the soft light of a cloudy day.  Then we have the weaker light of the moon and stairs, and, of course, different kinds of artificial light which can also be direct or indirect.

Take a look at the picture that I posted yesterday.  What can you tell  about the light?Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DSCN8164.JPG
Can you tell if the light is direct or indirect?  Do you notice how yellow the light is?

One reason the photographer must be aware of light being direct or indirect, natural or artificial, is that the source and direction of the light determines the color of the light.  The color of the light is very important for the photographer, especially for the color photographer.  Look again at the picture of the old bridge.  As I asked in the last blog, hw does it make you feel when you look at the picture?  Does it appear depressing, bleak, mysterious, cold?

For myself, when I look at this picture, I think more of old castles and the possibility of adventure than of coldness and bleakness.  However, the scene is of a crumbling bridge and gaunt, bare trees. Yet the picture does not make me feel depressed or cold because of the color of the light...how about you?

Many studies have been done on how color affects people.  In general, the "cooler" colors like green and blue make people feel calmer and more peaceful while "warmer" colors make people feel more excited.  Some people find yellow light a bit agitating, while many people find that yellow makes them happy.

Look at this variation of the old bridge picture:
Thumbnail image for DSCN8164_3.JPG

Does the picture make you feel any differently than the previous picture?  This version of the old bridge is almost identical to the previous one that I posted, except I used digital manipulation to push the picture into the blue spectrum of light.  For me, the picture seems much colder, darker, and far less inviting than before.

We can use filters to control the natural light that we find outdoors.  However, we must also be aware of the differences in artificial light that we encounter, especially the artificial light that we find indoors.  There the differences in the colors of the light  sources that are used can have an incredible affect on our pictures.

When I took my photography course [back in the days of film SLR's], I dutifully learned how the different types of artificial light can affect my pictures and how film developers had manufactured different types of film to deal with the different artificial light sources. However, when I shot a wedding rehearsal for a friend, the lesson on the color of light came home to me in a new way:  the church had florescent lights, and my friends all looked green in their pictures!  Later, I ran into the same problem when I shot pictures of the small mammal exhibit at the Columbia Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina.
Monkey--125 at 5.6,200iso (1).jpg

While the back of the exhibit had natural light, the front of the exhibit had florescent lighting.  I was using regular Kodak 200 Iso film at the time and ended up with a green monkey.

So when you are shooting, whether an interior or exterior shot, think of the color of the lighting that you are using.  An interior picture lit by firelight can be warm and cozy.  A night shot lit primarily by the moon can feel mysterious and austere.  While a cloudy day is good for avoiding shadows, heavy clouds can give the color a blue tint and can make a scene seemed washed out and a bit depressing. 

I personally like bright colors; autumn is one of my favorite times to shoot because of the golds, reds, oranges, and greens.  Now that it is winter, I find myself struggling a bit to motivate myself to shoot.  Bright days in which the early morning light can pool on the ground or color the washed out leaves of a tree make me smile.    What about you?

Till next time, color me...happy!


I'm Back . . .

Thumbnail image for DSCN8164.JPGI had no idea when I posted my last blog that circumstances would call me away from the Nikonian community for over a year.  It has been so long, it is hard to pick up the train of thought that I was trying to establish.  However, I am back; I hope that my return will be of benefit to someone who is just getting started in photography but who wants to take pictures with the "wow" factor.  

I had talked about a couple of simple rules that anyone can follow to elevate the quality of their photography.  While the rules can be stated simply, following them can be more difficult.  For example, everyone understands that a photographer must use light in some wavelength to create a picture.  A photograph, whether printed or in digital form, exists as an interplay between light and shadow.  However, a photographer must learn: 1]  how to observe the light that illuminates the subject that he wants to photograph, 2] how to adapt to the differences between how his eyes observe the light and his camera records that light, and 3] how to manipulate the light in a scene to create the emphasis and emotion that he desires to achieve in his picture.

Take a look at this picture that I shot of an old bridge.  Notice how the contrast between the bright area of sky and the darkness of the woods gives the picture, not only great tonal range, but also introduces a sense of drama. the splashes of light on portions of the bridge and in the foreground pull the eye to certain portions of the picture.  Looking at this photograph, what emotions do you feel?  Do you feel a sense of mystery, decay, or intrigue?  Would you like to explore the surroundings?  Remember, this is a flat image.  Your interest in this image is created by the pattern, color, and intensity of light that falls on the scene that I wish to record with my camera.

I have been told that Thomas Kincaid's mentor told him to "paint the light".  The photographer must also be aware of and be ready to manipulate the light to create a powerful photographic image.

More later!  LL49Wat

Elements of the "Eye-Catching Picture"

Okay,  I wrote yesterday that I  wanted to go from just "okay" pictures to taking eye-catching, "wow"pictures.  How does one do that?

I think you need to begin by looking at pictures that make you, yourself, go "wow" at and thinking about what make them "wow" for you.  

{Hmm...I was going to insert a picture here but have been unable to.  Sorry about that...I'll give a link}.

To see what I mean, take a look at the Nikonian finalists for the best photograph of 2008:

I would be delighted to say any of these photographs had been taken by me, but none were.  Nevertheless, I can enjoy them and can learn from looking at them. However, as I look at this images analytically, I notice that all these photographs consistently show:

  1. simplicity--None of the images is cluttered
  2. strong lines
  3. strong, vibrant colors
  4. a strong composition
  5. dramatic and appropriate lighting.
I would also add that the pictures cause, in almost all cases, an emotional response.

Now, great photographs have also been taken in black and white.  For me, it seems that the "wow" black and white photographs, while not in color, seem to have a dramatic contrast between light and dark.

So there we have it--six easy rules for taking great pictures.  Did I say "easy"?


Pictures that Catch the Eye

I have never written a blog before but decided that writing a blog might help my thought processes and perhaps provide encouragement to someone else.  I have been a Nikonian a couple of years now.  Much of my photographic knowledge has come through my contact with other Nikonians.  I am still learning and would classify myself as an enthusiastic hobbyist.

A recent shoulder injury has slowed my shooting so I have taken some time to do an introspective review of my photographic work.  I realize that I'm at the point where I can take a fairly decent looking picture, but I want more than that.  I want to take photographs that catch the eye; pictures that make you take a second look; photographs that make you think, "Wow"!

So this blog is going to be about my attempts to go to the next level; to take consistently better photographs, and my attempts to bring more of the "Wow" factor into my photographs.

I'll explain more in my next post.