composition: center frame portrait

Week 14: Composition: Center Frame Portrait (Center Framed composition is a great way to isolate your subject. Use this knowledge to create a portrait that exhibits loneliness.)

Nikon D750 f/8 1/250s 200mm 360 ISO

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

Composition: Fill the Frame

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.

a photo study: fifty-one!

Today,  is one week shy of my year-long photo study project! I began this blogging journey with the intention to explore, experiment, and learn about various aspects of photography.

Through the unparalleled sharing of knowledge Ted Forbes’ offered through his YouTube videos, The Art of Photography, I was able to set out learning about the basics of composition within photography: the rules of thirds, odds, and space; as well as, the elements of lines, shape, simplification, negative space, repeating patterns, sub framing, and triangles. And from this ground work we explored perspective, seeing, low and high angles, tone, color theory, and the characteristics of light.

The genres of abstract, landscape, sequence, contemplative, and street photography were introduced with the assistance of photographers such as:

Four posts ‘focused” on The Photographer, the person who stands on one side of the photography triangle which supported the Developing your Photography Style exercises. These 4 posts were drawn from Ted Forbes’ Master Class Live series in which photographers were offered exercises designed to exhaust all possibilities in order to awaken our unique individuality.

And yes!  Throughout the year there were exercises that I undertook with an egg, or two, or three as the subject.

This was an autodidactic journey undertaken to share and expand through exchanges with others. Each posts defined the next topic throughout this project.  It has been both a challenge and fun.  You will find each of the post listed as standalone lessons on the home page under A Photo Study.


Was there a specific topic or post that you enjoyed the most, the most beneficial, the most challenging? I would enjoy seeing 1-7 of the images you created during the past year. Let’s tag with #aphotostudy.

2018 photography review, april

“…April showers bring May flowers.”

April stirs my slumbering hunger for color to counteract the depressive yellowish-brown, tired, and bare world winter leaves in its wake. Growing up in the western part of Colorado, I wasn’t aware of how brown, dry, and “un-alive” this state can be until I saw Southern California’s multiple shades of green from the window of a plane and felt the amazing touch of the ocean’s breeze as I left the airport.

As I reviewed the blogs posted during April, I found that some of the composition elements that my photo study explored were:

rule of thirds

photographing red

the photographer – “point of departure”

“From now on, before I go shoot, I’ll consult internally to focus on one thing I want to capture, and have that point of departure. It’ll give purpose to my work and me being out there. The advantages are that I’ll learn patience, presence and a deeper sense of observation. This is a powerful and deep message…have a point of departure.” ~Ralph Gibson

My favorite parts of blogging is the sharing of photographs and reading the thoughts you share in the comment section. This ongoing exchange is like an ongoing virtual trip through various countries and ideas that result in an expanding worldview. Thank you.

2018 photography review, march

March is that time of year when the promise of spring begins to be seen in the subtle transitions of yellowish-brown to green, tree buds, bicyclist, and clothing. With the sounds of rivulets created by melted ice and snow, my soul also begins to thaw.

The photo study project for this month included:

rhythm & tone

rule of space

abstract photography

While I understand that tone and rhythm are found with repeating patterns, I still struggle with the transition of these elements from music to photography. Oh well….maybe one day there will a moment of enlightenment in the early morning hours or during a morning shower.

When you look back to March, did you find a theme or a project that guided your photography?

2018 photography review, january

A life review, a year review, an anniversary review, a retirement review, or a graduation review invites us to reflect upon memories and begin a private process of shifting through remembered moments as if they were grains of time in which we place into value-laden categories that generally fall into piles of “good”, “bad”, or “indifferent.” This is the ground work for the emergence of future plans, goals, and yearly resolutions.

Photography, through its visual recording of time, offers a quasi-concrete way of revisiting our yesterdays. It is the coming together of aged and blurry photographs and shared family stories that have formulated and validated the pre-memories of my childhood self beyond my birth certificate and my parent’s marriage certificate. As an aside, I have wondered about the impact cherished family photos have on remembered and shared childhood memories especially in contrast to the time before photography when family stories, diaries, paintings, drawings, songs, biblical records, and cemeteries were memory keepsakes.

At this time, I thought it would be interesting to do twelve photo review blogs of the images created during 2018 as part of the aphotostudy project I began last January. I would love to have you join me and share the photographs that highlight your blogging journey through 2018.

Also, as this year fades into memory and opens a door to 2019, I wish to express my gratitude for all of you who shared your creative endeavors, knowledge, and thoughts throughout the year. May each step you take throughout the coming days be accompanied by love, joy, and peace.

a photo study: developing your personal style – sequence


Ted Forbes brings his Master Class Live series to a close by identifying a number of important reminders for amateur and professional photographers:  

photographs come from your mind, your talent, your skill level, your experience, your sense of creativity…. 

…what you are as a photographer is a sum of all your experiences and everything you have done up to this point comprises your skill level.

…the camera doesn’t make images you do

Developing your style as a photographer is:

…an ongoing process…this is something that you get better and better and better and better at, and I think, hopefully, one day you get really good at but it never stops….


Exercise 1:  tell a story without words

  • identify a story or how-to-series you would like to create
  • use your camera to create a series of photographs 
  • use as many perspectives as possible
  • keep it simple
  • think about composition, that is how could various elements assist in telling your story
  • create a lot of images…15-30+
  • edit the series of images 
      • identify those that specifically show what you are trying to communicate
      • removing those that are not essential in the story’s key points
      • edit again to pare the number down to as few as possible.  Can you remove all but one and still tell the story?

sequence2The absolute goal of this exercise is to tell a story with one image that interacts with a viewer and evokes an emotional response, a reaction, or a change in perspective, thought, or understanding.


A number of various genres that may inspire you are: 


Duane Michals @

Eadweard Muybridg @

Movies and short videos: 

Ted Forbes’s Photo Assignment #6

A photo study 

a photo study:  story photography

Looking forward to your images and thoughts.  Let’s tag with #aphotostory.

a photo study: developing your personal style – feelings

…what we’re doing here is getting you to think…over the course of a long period of time you may see some of it very quickly, some of it in a matter of weeks, depending on how hard you work, it may be a couple of years before you start really feeling like you defining yourself as a photographer…the catalyst, which I think is really important…what we are looking for right now…is to get you to start thinking differently…

The first part of this Developing Your Personal Style series invited us as photographers to learn how to see and think–visualization. The second encouraged us to utilize the meditative process of concentration and returning to the object as a means to extend our creative endeavors by encouraging us as photographers to “exhaust all possibilities”  and “to train the brain to think.”  

This week Ted Forbes has offered three separate photo assignments that blend two things together…emulating an identified feeling state of experience and engaging with a subject in such a way as you create a portraiture that represents an identified feeling. 

Exercise 1:

  • Start with a basic feeling…identify an event or something that happened in your life that is associated with a feeling — happy, angry, sad, worried, etc. 
  • Visualize and mediate upon this feeling state. 
  • Get your mind to think differently….how do I bring that certain feeling into an image?  How do I just shoot something that represents that state of experience?  What do I need to do to get that feeling to be represented in a photograph?
  • Replicate this feeling through a still life, landscape, or abstract image.
  • Don’t expect to be good…it takes time to emulating feelings.

The initial photographs we create during this time “…may not be great, but the whole point is [we’ve] got [our heads] thinking and [we’re] getting [our] mind around composition and possibilities and that’s what’s really important…”

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Exercise 2:

  • Go to the library or book store and find a photo book of a photographer whose work touches upon the multiple emotions within the human experience; e.g., Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans.
  • Ask yourself what is it about this photographer that inspires you to start seeing the varied possibilities of photographing and evoking feelings.  
  • Remember you don’t have to try and be like him…just see the possibilities.

Exercise 3: 

  • Create a portraiture of someone that demonstrates an identified feeling state.
    • Engage with your subject, share what feeling state you wish to convey, develop a sense of trust, be like a movie director encouraging an actor to communicate a specific feeling. 
    • Keep in mind
      •     there is discomfort for the viewer when she can not see someone’s eyes.
      •     people communicate emotions all of the time through their facial expressions and body postures. 
      •     interacting with people will help increase your comfort level
      •     experiment with how to evoke feelings of people so that in time your work demonstrates your individual touch and people will “want you and no one else.”

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I hope you will enjoy these challenging exercises that encourages us to stretch our imaginations while creating images that represents your personal style.  As always, I’m looking forward to seeing some of your work and reading your thoughts.  Let’s tag with #aphotostudy.

a photo study: developing your personal style – meditation

This week’s a photo study continues with Ted Forbes’ Master Class series, Developing your own Creative Style.  Last week’s blog reviewed and invited us to open ourselves to visualization by remaining in a selected location, without a camera.  Within the second episode, he defines meditation and then offers two exercises designed to increase our awareness of mediation within the creative process.

In the world of photography, mindfulness has been described as “meditative” or “contemplative” photography.

While out on a photo walk, my eyes scan the environment, searching for that something (shape, patterns, color, light/shadow, story) that draws my attention or for the perfect background scene.  As I move through my environment, my mind begins thinking about a photo article I read earlier or an image created by one of my favorite photographers.  I then consider the various camera settings and variations that may help me recreate an image or avoid repeating a past mistake.  For a moment or two, I ponder about what kind of image would be a great accompaniment with a particular haiku.  I begin composing and designing my next post which then invites me to slip into a fantasy about recognition and praise and then silence an inner smile as unease creeps in with, “Most likely your pictures will not be good enough” 

All of this invites me to question, “Am I really on a photo walk or am I engaged in a private screening of movies of my own making?”   This mindlessness chatter of thoughts, expectations, and desires are like dense clouds that prevent me from really being present with and seeing the world around me.  To see requires a meditative mind.

For some people meditation is shrouded in esoteric mystery.  Others understand it through images of a person sitting in the lotus position with eyes half-closed.  Others associate it with holiness and spirituality.  In its most general sense it is deciding exactly how to focus the mind for a period of time and then doing just that.

In theory, focusing the mind upon an object sounds very easy, but practice acquaints us with a mind that seems to have a will of its own as it drifts from one thought, image, conversation, or memory to other remembrances, conversations, concepts, and thoughts.  This internal stream goes on and on like a personal conversation with oneself or a perpetual story upon a movie screen…

…at the point when one realizes that the mind has traveled here and there, one is simply to note this to oneself and with acceptance gently return again to the meditative object…cited: A Meditative Journey, b c koeford

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Even though they may not specifically use the word “mindfulness,” many of the great masters talk about photography as awareness of the present moment in which we forget ourselves. We let go of the goals, desires, expectations, techniques, and anxieties that make up who we in order to more fully immerse ourselves into the experience of seeing. We open up our receptive awareness to what the world offers us…. We’re not looking for anything in particular. We’re not going anywhere in particular. We’re not expecting or trying to control anything in particular. Instead, we’re wandering, perhaps rather aimlessly, without a goal or purpose. We’re fully and naively open to the possibility of the unexpected, the unique, the moment when things come together… to the flow of life. Under these conditions, when we let go of the self, “it” appears to us. We don’t find and take the picture. The photograph finds us. It takes itself. We unite with the scene not so we can see a shot we want, but rather what the scene offers. The experience comes to us and the photograph is simply the icing on the cake. cited:

In photography, mindfulness is like observing something for the first time, even though you may have looked at it a thousand times before.

With an understanding of the importance of returning, again an again, our concentration to the moment, Ted Forbes invites us to

1.   Spend 30 minutes to an hour creating a still life.  

      • Use an ordinary everyday item
      • focus on that one object
      • exhaust all the possibilities
      • when you become aware that you mind has begun to wander then—with acceptance—just return to this still life project
      • ask yourself what am I not doing, what if I introduce motion? what would be different if I would do….? what would this look like  in different location—outdoors, on the floor, different table?
      • if it seems as though all possible angles, ideas, etc., have been exhausted, remain focused on the exercise for the rest of the time by jotting down thoughts and engaging in visualization. 

2.  Spend 30 minutes to an hour with a building or an outdoor space. — If you have chose a building that is in a public space and not a building that may arouse anxiety, a government building.

      • sit and explore ways to photograph.
      • just remember to keep returning to the exercise when you mind begins to wander.
      • exhaust all possibilities
      • use your journal to write down your ideas, frustrations, future projects.

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If you are interested in meditation within the street photography genre, I invite you to visit Keep the Focus website.  The Keep the Focus is a project initiated by German Street Photographer Thomas Ludwig who wants to bring the benefits of meditation techniques into street photography.  On the site he offers a free ebook. A Meditation Guide for Street Photographers

I enjoy reading your comments and viewing your creative work.  Thank you for sharing. Let’s tag with #aphotostudy.