May is the month of my youngest sister’s birthday. Within memory, it is also the month of promised freedom…freedom from winter’s bone-chilling cold and freedom to escape the confines of home and school as jump ropes, marbles, chalk, and baseballs emerged from dark musty closets. Its promise was the promise of summer which held the yearning for freedom from school; and thus, the freedom to swim in the Yampa River, to ride the train to Steamboat Springs, to lose myself in a stack of library books, and to explore a backyard that had no fence barriers.
The photo study project during last May was inspired by my initial reading of Bruce Percy’s ebook, “The Art of Tonal Adjustment.” and Ted Forbes’ educational video in which he reviewed low angle photography.
What childhood memories does May awaken for you? Over the past year have you been inspired by a blogger, a photographer, a writer?
I am grateful for all of those who, in a role of teacher–intentional and unintentional, were an inspiration and within the listening and processing of their worldview a new window to my world opened. One window was opened this morning with this very interesting educational video about frames of reference which I will need to replay a number of times in order ease my mental fog.
…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 Styleseries 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.
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…”
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.
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.”
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.
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
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: http://truecenterpublishing.com/photopsy/mindfulness.htm
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 likein 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.
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.
With five weeks left of this year-long project, it is the time to explore how we as photographers
…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. ~Dan K (Japan Camera Hunter)
I found that Dan K’s last two learning steps — Find Yourself and Reinvent Yourself — dovetail nicely with the Master Class Live series that Ted Forbes created a number of years ago, Developing your Creative Style.
The first of this Master Class series, Developing your Eye, begins with an introduction of his intention for this four week series:
To introduce exercises that will help us improve our creative work as photographers and to encourage us to allow our images to emerge through the camera from the source of our individual selves:
silence the negative voice that demeans our creative drive.
accept and embrace the uniqueness of our individual selves absent a tint of arrogance.
find our own creative voice.
To understand photography as an art form
a representation of an idea that is created using light sensitive material.
a visual recording of a scene that is reconstructed in the darkroom or in a software program into a a final image.
a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional space created through the use of contrast, lighting, and depth of field.
the combination of light through a lens or pin hole with a chemical process, silver gelatin or other materials, or digital process.
a continuum of creative endeavors that extend from commercialwork to fine art.
Visual art is:
the organization of visual elements in empty space to form a composition.
the use of visual elements such as, shape, line, contrast, color, object(s), light, empty space.
created with an audience in mind.
includes a degree of manipulation whether it is pre or post production.
composition that is created to evoke a reaction from the viewer — effecting ways of thinking, bringing awareness to social, environment, political, commercial issues, engaging through emotion, or creating something that is aesthetically pleasing.
on a continuum range of aesthetically to conceptual.
The materials used in the Master Class series are: a camera (exception for the“Wish I had my camera” exercise), framing template, small notebook, pencil/pen, photo browser software like Adobe Bridge that allows you to view images that do not have post adjustment tools.
Exercise I: I Wish I Had My Camera
tear down walls to get from the concrete to the imagined
This exercise is designed to encourage awareness of photographic memory through the use of a journal to record spontaneous creative ideas that generally fade after a few seconds and incorporate pre-visualization as a creative tool.It is common for creative people to experience creative moments during times of disengagement — in the shower, while falling into or awakening from sleep.
Leave your camera at home and sit for 30 minutes to an hour somewhere in a chosen location.Repeat 2-3 times in different locations.
At the beginning you may become bored, uncomfortable, and/or question the purpose of this exercise.Write down your initial thoughts/feelings in your journal.If it is boring, write down why.Jot down the feelings or thoughts that arise.
When you see something that catches your eye ask yourself why and get that in your mind.What is interesting about it?Is there a narrative or story here?How could you use this to create the perfect composition?
Imagine different composition elements: light, perspective, low-high angle, time of day, different weather conditions, etc that would bring about a perfect image.
Silent any negative reactions, or practicalities that block this creative play.
Journal your thoughts…short phrases, diagrams, and record them before they fade.
Be the camera and open yourself to what is absent of a chattering/planning mind.Did you notice something now that you did not initially notice?
If you remain in this location for at least 30 minutes, you will begin to notice things and say to yourself, “I should have noticed that.”
Ask yourself, “how can I make this more interesting?” Do I need to move to a different location?Write it down…write down everything that comes to your mind. Don’t be inhibited in what you write in your journal.Nothing is silly.Your words do not need to be beautiful, grammatically correct…you are just jotting down your thoughts, triggers, imaginations, questions.You are retaining the spontaneous, imagination, creative you.
Use your framing templates to experiment to see if there are objects that get in the way…to frame up the image…zoom as you move the template close to your eye or further away.
…just let your imagination flow.If you have an image in your head it may take a number of times to create the image or it may even takes years.
Exercise II: Finding Your Own Creative Voice
Introduce yourself to the history of photography
Begin an exploration of photographers to find those who inspire you and influence how you see and understand photography.
Study their work and try to replicate their use of shape, line, contrast, color, object(s), light, empty space, composition, attention to detail, manipulation, use of tones, etc.
Recreate their work. You may begin by coping their work, but eventually use this as a door way to your own creative space
If you find yourself favoring one end of the conceptual-aesthetic continuum try exploring the other end.
I would love to read about your experience with “wish I had my camera” and about the photographers who resonate with your creative soul.Let’s tag with #aphotostudy.
The Master Class YouTube videos and the history video are around an hour long. I have found that it is difficult to sit and view a video for this period of time, so I generally break it down to 20 minute segments.
Below are the The Photographer posts that reviewed Dan K’s steps to becoming a better photographer.
Life seems to invite periods of time in which I think, “I’ve been here before.”For example, my first readings about contemplative photography occurred about 6-7 years ago.Even though this genre resonated with me, I chose to put it aside as there was limited resources on the internet and what training programs I was able to find were a bit outside of my financial resources.
In June of this year, I began to explore contemplative photography as part of this A Photo Study project.Today, this 12th posting of contemplative photography has been motivated by A Karr and M Wood’s discussion of “simplicity” within their book, The Practice of Contemplative Photography. What I find interesting is that the January, 2018, blog of this project was, A Photo Study: Simplification and Negative Space, which was inspired by one of Ted Forbes’ composition videos.
Even though life seems to move in a linear progression from birth to death; at times like this I find myself wondering if there are periods of time in which there are episodes of circular movements within one’s life journey in which we are “presently” invited to pause and reflect upon our “past”before time nudges us into a new present, our future.
Well, I think I’ve digressed from this week’s photo study, simplicity.Karr and Wood note that their simplicity exercise is to open us to the relationship between form and space, to open ourselves to the experience of simplicity without seeking an external validation of our concept of simplicity.
Space intensifies the experience of form, and simple form intensifies the experience of space.… Simplicity and space are aspects of our perception. Visual space can be produced by a red wall, a length of gray fabric…a smooth beach…a backdrop of dark shadows, gray pavement…sky..An object seen seen against any unadorned expanse will be surrounded by visual space.
Their definition of space brings to mind the post, Negative Space, in which I wrote:
In photography negative space is perhaps the most important element as it embraces the subject within your image — the element of interest — helping it stand out and inviting the viewer’s attention. It is the aspect within a photograph that generally doesn’t attract much attention. It is sometimes referred to as white space and has the potential to change what appears to be an average subject into an outstanding image
For this exercise, Kerr and Wood encourage a point of departure in which our intention should be to recognize perception where form and space produce strong contrasts—where the experience of form is weighted because of the space around it. …to look at one thing at a time.Look at objects and also look at their environment.Don’t hurry. Proceed in a relaxed way that allow you to see the space around things, not just the things themselves.
The first series of the images in the slideshow below are of a couple of photo walks directed by my understanding, thus far, of contemplative photography especially in regards to flash of perspective, visual discernment, and forming the equivalent, comparable to what I perceived—nothing more, nothing less.
The second series of images in the slide show below are part of the images I created as part of the simplification and negative space blogs posted earlier this year.These images, I believe, were created by a natural inclination towards flash of perspectives, visual discernment, and a bit of digital darkroom creative exploration.
I enjoy the creative playgrounds offered by Photoshop, Capture One, and Nik. Am looking forward to a comparison of images you created in repose to the earlier blogs on simplification and negative space with those of simplicity as defined within contemplative photography.Please tag with #aphotostudy.
I have very elementary understanding of color theory so if you find that there is an error within this post or a particular point needs additional clarification, I would appreciate hearing from you in the comments section. I appreciate any positive critique that assists with this year-long learning project.
Color is light, and light is composed of many colors—the reds, oranges, greens, blues, and violets create the visual spectrum the human eye is able to see.The objects in our world absorb certain wavelengths while reflecting other colors; for example, we see the leaves on trees as green because that is the wavelength that is being reflected by the tree’s leaves.
The color wheel is a chart representing the relationships between colors. The colors include:
Primary Colors: Red, yellow, and blue are the basic colors and cannot be made from mixing other colors.
Secondary Colors: Orange, green, and violent – each of these colors are created by mixing two primary colors.
Tertiary Colors:There are six tertiary colors, each made by mixing one primary color with an adjacent secondary color.
On the Pocket Color Wheel, for Amateur and Professional Use one will read thatcolor is described by three characteristics: hue, value, and intensity.
Hue is the name of a particular color.
Value is the relative lightness or darkness of a color (refer to gray scale). To increase contrast in your color scheme, you can adjust the value of a specific color; for example, making a yellow darker or lighter.
Intensity (Chroma, Saturation) is the purity of a color which determines its relative brightness or dullness.
Chroma: how pure a hue is in relation to gray.
Saturation: the degree of purity of a hue. A contrast of saturation is created by the juxtaposition of light and dark values and their relative saturation.
Intensity: the brightness of a hue. One may change the intensity by adding white or black.
Luminance/Value: a measure of the amount of light reflected from a hue. Those hues with a high content of white have a higher luminance or value.
Shade and tint are terms that refer to a variation of a hue.
Tint: Color plus white.
Tone: Color plus gray.
Shade: Color plus black.
Neutral Gray is a balanced combination of white and black.
Warm (Advancing) Colors:Reds, oranges, and yellows.
Cool (Receding) Colors:Greens, blues, and violets.
Monochromatic is the use of any tint, tone or shade of just one color. These color schemes can be subtle and sophisticated and the contrast within these image is formed by the juxtaposition of light and dark values.
Using a color wheel divided into various shades and tints is one method of identifying possible options for color schemes. By varying the saturation and experimenting with shades and tints within the hue relationship, you can achieve quite a variety of palette options. Color combinations may pass unnoticed when pleasing, yet offend dramatically when compositions seem to clash.
Analogous: Using colors that are adjacent to each other on the Color Wheel. Use at least two colors but no more than five consecutive colors on the wheel.
Complementary: Using any two colors directly opposite each other on the wheel.Complementary colors bring out the best in each other and fully saturated colors offer the highest level of contrast.When one choses from tints o shades within the hue family the over contrast is reduced.
Split Complementary:Using any color with the two colors of each side its complement.
Triad: Using three colors equally spaced from each other on the wheel.
Tetrad: using a combination of four colors on the wheel that are two sets of complements.
Key Color: Predominant color in the color scheme of a painting or other creative project. Color is very psychological and different color harmonies produce different effects. For example, because analogous colors are similar in hue they will create a smooth transition from one color to the next.
When we are working on a computer, the RBG colors we see on the screen are created by combining the light from three colors (red, blue, and green). The complementary primary-secondary combinations are red-cyan, green-magenta, and blue-yellow. Black is [0,0,0], and White is [255, 255, 255]; Gray is any [x,x,x] where all the numbers are the same. The max value of each of the colors is 255.
How do you use color in your images? Do you find that your creative work tends toward back and white, monochrome, or color? Do you have a favorite photographer who works with color?
I am looking forward to any images you would like to share and your thoughts about the use of color in photography. Let’s tag with #aphotostudy.
Creativity is the ability to make or do something new…the ‘something’ can be an object, a skill, or an action. To be creative, the object, skill, or action cannot simply be bizarre or strange; it cannot be new without also being useful or valued, and not simply be the result of [an] accident. …an important form of creativity is creative thinking, the generation of ideas that are new as well as useful, productive, and appropriate. The second is that creative thinking can be stimulated by teachers’ efforts…
This photo study of iPad images builds upon A Cemal Ekin’s, invitation to “look for texture, lines, shapes, and forms rather than ‘things'” with Ted Forbes’ photo assignment: variations video which discusses creative thinking as well as includes an exercise to create 10 images of one subject.
Thank you for visiting. I am looking forward to reading your thoughts about creativity and seeing your collection of images….let’s tag with #aphotostudy.
This week’s photo challenge has been inspired by Ted Forbes’ Using Low Angle video. Low-angle composition invites the photographer to create images with different and unique perspectives.
We generally experience our daily lives at eye level and often feel more comfortable photographing at eye level. Low angle photography invites us to look up…to create images from any point below eye level which gives the effect of looking up at an object or person. Also you can go to the extreme and show a worm’s eye view of the world.
A worm’s-eye view is a view of an object from below, as though the observer were a worm; the opposite of a bird’s-eye view. It can be used to look up to something to make an object look tall, strong, and mighty while the viewer feels child-like or powerless. A worm’s eye view commonly uses three-point perspective, with one vanishing point on top, one on the left, and one on the right.
To photograph low angle composition, you will need to crouch, bend, or get down onto the floor.A personal note ― have found that when crouching I need to find a way to brace myself as without there often is a slight tremble which, sigh, results in a blurred image.
A low angle perspective increases the height of the subject.
It creates an image where the subject appears more powerful and dramatic.
It lends empathy to a viewer as through a shared experience of a toddler’s world within a playground setting or standing before three-feet ocean waves.
This angle is also great when you wish to capture the mood.
I began this photo study project about 18 weeks ago with an intention to develop, expand, and share my understanding of photography throughout 2018. Regrettably, I am finding that this project is being negatively impacted by some vision difficulties which may require eye surgery within the next couple of months. Consequently, I have decided to reblog some photo educational posts from other bloggers…sorta like using blogs as substitute teachers. I hope you will find them as inspiring and informative as I have.
To close this week’s photo study, please enjoy these two Ted Forbes’ videos on low angle photography.
Photography, in a nut shell, is lines, shapes, colors, and feelings
In photography negative space is perhaps the most important element as it embraces the subject within your image — the element of interest — helping it stand out and inviting the viewer’s attention. It is the aspect within a photograph that generally doesn’t attract much attention. It is sometimes referred to as white space and has the potential to change what appears to be an average subject into an outstanding image.
The simplest example of positive and negative are the words in this blog. These words draw your attention while the background doesn’t. The words are positive space, and the white background is negative space
Some images have high amounts of positive space creating what some identify as busy, cluttered, crowded creative works. These types of images generally reflect the busy nature of the scene being photographed.
The elements of positive and negative space are two elements of photography that are important because of the emotions they evoke. Images created with high amounts of positive space have the potential to evoke feelings of power, strength, action, chaos, busyness, or…as in the image above…anticipation.
Negative space, in contrast, awakens feelings of peace, calm, quiet, loneliness, isolation. It is less about the subject within a photograph and more about awakening a feeling in the viewer.
Negative space can create a sense of lightness, airiness…it can strengthen the positive emotions in a photography, emphasize the feelings of your subject, conveying whatever story you as a photographer wishes to evoke in your viewer.
Negative space provides “breathing room” giving the viewer’s eyes a place to rest and preventing an image from appearing too cluttered…creating a more engaging composition.
Negative space generally mutes detail or color; yet, in some cases well-defined buildings and people can act as negative space as it conveys a story or evokes feelings.
It is easy to focus our attention on the subject, on what we see as most important element of the photograph. Adding to or taking away negative space affects the subject within an image as they effectively become smaller or larger within the frame of your image.
At first, it seems that to set out to find empty space may be a difficult undertaking; yet, searching for elements that don’t stand out becomes more natural over time…try including the sky in your composition…it is expansive, everywhere, and often filled with negative space.
Our mind formulates ideas about how objects in our world look and that is the reason an art instructor may invite her class to draw an object upside down. This engages the eye to see as opposed to allowing the mind to impose a preconceived idea into a drawing.
Unfortunately these preconceptions distort the way we see a scene, and this can lead to photographs that we see as good, but not so in reality. My readings noted that a way to step out of the boundary of our minds is to ignore the objects in the scene altogether and instead concentrate on the gaps between and around them. This also aids in giving more attention to composition and seeing sizes and shapes in a more accurate manner.
Negative space, in the world of photography, may be more important especially if the photographer tends towards creating images that are simple; yet effective. Michael Kenna, Bruce Percy, and Masao Yamamoto are three artists known for their minimalistic images.
Examples of images that “focuses” on specific compositional tools are an invaluable learning tool. I hope you enjoy seeing these amazing images offered through Ted Forbes.
In closing, I’m deeply grateful for the exchange of ideas and images that I have experienced thus far in this photo study project and am looking forward to reading your thoughts and seeing your images.