Week 11 Composition: Fill the Frame: (Using Fill the Frame is a great way to isolate your subject and create interest in your photo. Can you do it with only one color in the frame? Fill the Frame with one color.)

Image submitted in response to Dogwood Photography’s annual 52-week photography challenge.

While reviewing old blogs, I came across an October 19, 2012 post entitled, “photo friday, vibrant.”  I thought it would be fun to create a new “photo friday” blog with updated vibrant images created a few weeks ago.  Hope you enjoy!

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P.S. I have found that “gratitude” is an antidote to feelings like resentment/anger.  I am finding that photographing color just may be an antidote for sadness/boredom.

Sony RX100 3    f/11  1/250    8.8m   800 ISO

Learning should be a continuous, life long process. Each stage represents a learning curve and every time you feel yourself reaching a plateau, it is time to move on to the next stage of your development. Initially you learn from the greats, then you learn from your peers, then you learn from your own body of experience, but the key is to persist and break out to the next level. ~Dan K

This week’s a photo study is a continuation of last week’s blog, The Photographer III , in which I focused on the Dan K’s first step, “Get an Eye for Photography.”  So to help us learn the art of photography let’s move on to Steps 2 through 7.

Step 2: Grasp the Basics

  1. Develop an understanding of perspective (position and focal length).
  2. Gain knowledge about focus (distance, aperture and depth of field).
  3. Explore the shutter speed and exposure.
  4. Study all aspects of color.
  5. Create a project that combines a learning experience with a presentation
  6. Return to Step 1, Get an Eye for Photography.

Perspective refers to the visual phenomenon where objects that are nearer to us appear bigger while those farther away seem smaller. In photography, perspective is influenced by 3 factors: Focal length, Shooting distance, and shooting angle.


Focal length is a measure of the lens’ angle of view and is normally expressed in millimeters (mm).  Using a short focal length will offer the photographer a wider angle of view and less magnification.  These two elements create a strong perspective effect.

Conversely, the longer the focal lengths creates a narrower angle and  greater magnification while weakening the perspective effect.

Distance from subject (shooting distance or “focusing distance”): The nearer the camera to the subject, the stronger the perspective effect. The further away the camera from the subject, the weaker the perspective effect.

Shooting angle: The more parallel your camera is to the subject (the shallower the shooting angle), the weaker the perspective effect. Conversely, if you align the camera at a steeper angle from the subject, you will get a stronger perspective effect.

In short, the easiest way to get the strongest perspective effect possible is to use a wide angle lens, move as close to your subject as possible, and shoot from a steep, diagonal angle.

The perspective exaggeration effect unique to a wide angle lens can help to create impressive photos with a strong sense of depth, dimensionality and scale. This is a good effect to use with deep focus.

Depth of field:

Aperture & Exposure:

To demonstrate differences of exposure with variations of aperture the images below were photographed with the same focal length (8.8m), ISO (100), and shutter speed (1/500s).  The aperture in the first image is f/5.6, the second f/3.5, and the last f/2.8.

To demonstrate variations of exposure each of the images below were photographed with the same focal length, ISO settings, and exposure composition of -.03.  The shutter speed of the first image is 1/1000s. The middle image’s shutter speed is 1/2000s, and the last is 1/250s.

Color:  visit: A Color Primary, an elementary review of color theory.

At this stage it is good to develop a basic understanding of these basic so that you will be able to have some control over the composition of your images and to build your technical skills with each click of the shutter.

By starting out right, with an understanding of what a good photo looks like, confidence may take a beating at first but you’ll be on the right path with less time wasted with follies into unnecessary gear or special effects ~Dan K

Step 3:  Be Reductive

This stage includes developing awareness of the elements within your image that have the potential to be distracting and learning techniques such as selective focus and lightening to help you direct the viewer’s eyes within the image.  Learning the restrictions within elements of focal length, black and white, and ISO.  Explore bending  rules and identifying where the edge of the performance and aesthetic overlap.

This is also the point where you start to develop a signature style. As always, go back to the beginning and see how your new knowledge applies to what you’ve learned before. ~Dan K

Step 4: Once you can TAKE A Picture, Learn how to MAKE A Picture

This is the stage where you learn creativity rather than observation. Learn how to arrange things for best composition rather than position yourself. Learn how to find and use natural light, or how to mimic it with flash. Learn how much control you can exert over the subject, context and equipment without losing the dynamic of the moment, the freshness and spontaneity. The goal is to be able to pro-actively get the shot that you wanted rather than being a passive observer.

This is a watershed in many a photographer’s career, when they become dependable shot makers rather than opportunistic photographers. Do not consider taking on any semi-commercial work until you can reliably deliver a consistent work product…~Dan K

Step 5:  Learn to Edit

We all need to be better editors of our own work. It’s not just about fixing things in post; I’m talking choosing about which images to show and which to throw.

A portfolio is often let down by a bad image. Unfortunately, if you haven’t worked through from step one, you might not be able to tell the difference between a mediocre image and a good one ~Dan K

Step 6: Find Yourself

We eventually get to a point where we are comfortable with a certain look, a certain subject, or genre. Our work becomes recognizably ours. Sometimes this is done intentionally, sometimes we become well known for a subset of our work and everyone wants more of it.

Once you have your signature style and something to say, individual images take on singular meaning, rather than being about the gear and the mark it left on the image. You can’t buy this in a camera store and you can’t pay someone to teach it to you. ~Dan K

Step 7: Reinvent Yourself

Break out of creating essentially the same image again and again with subtle variations.  Break out of this rut and find a second and a third style.  Once well known many artists, especially commercial painters, get stuck reproducing essentially the same picture again and again with subtle variations.

By this stage, you no longer reference other people’s work; they reference yours. May we all reach this point! ~Dan K

For this week’s photo study, I decided to continue with Ian’s creative composition posts as they seem to be an ideal way to revisit basic elements of composition and explore how to incorporate them into street photography.  He begins the second positing with noting the importance of slowing down with intentional “seeing” as a foundation to finding the ideal background and good light and then deciding to or not to press the shutter.

via Creative Composition in Street Photography – Part Two

Photography is not what’s important. It’s seeing.
The camera, film, even pictures, are not important.
~Algimantas Kezys (cited: H Zehr, The Little Book of Contemplative Photography)

Setting the Stage, Timing the Steps (fishing)  Ian writes, “The key concept for this approach is to establish the static elements in your frame first (i.e. background and light), then patiently work to add interesting dynamic elements by moving close and far, exploring various angles, adjusting the camera’s settings, and finally with patience waiting for the person who fits into your story to walk on your stage.


Frame within a Frame  Create a frame within the image through the use of doorways, windows, window displays, trees, or any object that creates a frame around your subject.


Leading Lines  Drawing the viewer’s eye is an important compositional element  especially when lines converge toward each other and draw the eye to the subject.  I found that the gaze of both the man and the dog create an implied line as well as invite a story.


Juxtaposition  Ian describes juxtaposition is where two adjacent objects appear to contrast with each other, as within the image below.   The person in the foreground leans to the left opening us to the elderly man in the midground who is leading left.  The Starbucks coffee cup in the center adds a social justice element as well as a contrast to both men.


Perspective – create high-angle images by standing on stairs, platforms, balconies or low-angle photos by  getting close to the ground and shooting upwards.


Scale  Images where the subject is dwarfed by the environment seems to be a way of introducing feeling into the image and drawing the eye to the person within the frame.


Color  Color intermixed with light, shadows, and silhouettes have the potential to create unique photographs that nudge images away from the photojournalism and documentary genre.


Reflections  Entire stories can be created through the layers that are created when photographing through glass.


Light and Shadows  Using your exposure compensation to drop the exposure on the frame (which protects the highlights while creating wonderful deep shadows) will create amazing interactions of shadows, light, and silhouettes.


The Candid Frame  Within “Less than Obvious”, Ibarionex encourages us to open ourselves to “seeing” the world’s amazing detail and “being” intentional before we press the shutter.

I hope you find Ian’s educational blog and the Candid Frame to be an invaluable sources of information as well as doorways to a world of creative possibilities.  I’m looking forward to seeing your creative work as well as reading your throughs about the use of basic composition elements into street photograph.  Let’s tag with #aphotostudy.  Until next week…

Photography is representational by nature in that the subject(s) within most images depict the real world and usually are easily recognizable; for example, a photograph of tree generally looks very much like a tree.


Ted Forbes notes that abstract photography within the art world is drawn from skills that are different from other forms of art and, “It is something that we are not used to seeing in every day life…When it is done well, it stands out and it’s really exciting. When it is not done well, it is weird.”


Fundamentally, abstract art is a visual form that does not convey a realistic depiction of the world.  This departure from reality can be partial or complete; therefore, we are often uncertain about the identification of the subject.  Photographs within this genre diverge from a realist depiction of the world through the use of form, color, and lines.


Form is the shape of the elements within the image and is the foundation of an abstract image. When creating abstract photography, ask yourself, “is there an interesting form/shape with this image?”


The variations and contrast of colors within art create interesting images and evoke feelings within the viewer.


Lines within the image directs the viewer’s eye and creates a dynamic image by emphasizing movement.


There are different techniques photographers use to create abstract image: 1) selective focus, 2) light and shadow, 3) lines and textures, 4) blur, 5) zooming, 6) moving the camera or subject, 7) double exposure, and 8) moving in close or standing far away.


I’ve come to understand abstract/non-representational imagery as an absence of the type of discrimination and labeling process that seeks an answer to, “what is that?” to one that invites the viewer to explore, “what feelings does this image evoke?”


Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and for the exchange of ideas and photographs.  I am inspired by the process of viewing and exchanging ideas with other bloggers and am excited about walking through your galleries of abstract/nonrepresentational photographs.   I hope you find Ted Forbes’ video interesting.


Imagine the dimension of time as a vertical line. Place yourself in the present on that line with the past above you and the future below you. Establish yourself in time. See all your ancestors that have come before you. The youngest generation of your ancestors is your parents. All of them are above you on this line of time. Then below you, see all your dependents, your children, your grandchildren, and all their future descendants. If you have no children, your descendants are the people you have touched in your life, and all the people they in turn influence. 

In you are both your blood ancestors and your spiritual ancestors. You touch the presence of your father and mother in each cell of your body. They are truly in you, along with your grandparents and great-grandparents. Doing this, you realize their continuation. You may have thought that your ancestors no longer existed, but even scientist will say that they are present in you, in your genetic heritage, which is in every cell of your body. 


Look into a plum tree. In each plum on the tree there is a pit. That pit contains the plum tree and all previous generations of plum tree. The plum pit contains an eternity of plum trees. Inside the pit is an intelligence and wisdom that knows how to become a plum tree, how to produce branches, leaves, flowers, and plums. It cannot do this on its own. It can only do this because it has received the experience and heritage of so many generations of ancestors. You are the same. ~Thich Nhat Hanh (No Death, No Fear, 137-138)


This posting  was created in memory of Dustin, Bob, Elberta, Donna, Chris, Larry, and Margaret who all live on within the lives of my beloved.

For this photo assignment I have included two versions of the motion blur image taken during this past weekend’s St. Patrick’s celebration in Old Town.  I generally prefer street and motion blur in black and white…yet, the color image with the green and purple does give the image a bit of pop.

St. Patrick's celebration in Old Town
St. Patrick’s celebration in Old Town

St. Patrick's in Old Town
St Patrick’s in Old Town