Rules to Explore

I’m going to share with you one of the most difficult photo assignments I think I have ever participated in.  In the second part of the Find Your Eye Course with Kat Sloma we are encouraged to explore the rules of photography that influence our work…then think of how some of those rules might be limiting our creativity.  

You have to know that first I had to Google the rules of photography.  
Yup. Didn’t really know what they were, so I had to look them up.  Then I had to think about them and look at how I have or have not applied these so called rules.

Using natural objects around the edge of a composition can help isolate the main subject.  This grape arbor leads your eye to the back door of an old house. Your eye is lead to the door, but you also notice the grape vines.

So, I did follow the concept of framing, but I used my own poetic license and made the frame more prominent.  

Then there is that ‘rule’ that says don’t point your lens toward the sun.

Rule broken…
I love to look right into that light and see what it does. This photo is aimed toward the sun outside after a rain, and the light is reflected in all the drops on the window screen.  Without that light this photo would be incredibly boring to me.

Normally I shoot without flash because I really like natural light. But I’ve learned that sometimes I just have to break my own personal rule (about not using the flash) and let it fill the space with light.

One thing I love about my DSLR is that I can adjust how intense that light is that comes from the flash. I have adjusted it ‘down’ a little so that it is not so bright. And here I see the details of my grandson untying my mom’s shoes (he has a thing for strings) and the flash filled in the light very nicely.

This photo of the three cottages may be breaking rules of composition, but I don’t care.  I love the colors, the architectural details, the sky and clouds, all of it.  Sometimes I just have to shoot a photo because I like what I see even if I don’t know why.

Then there is the rule of thirds, making a grid of lines in the image, 2 horizontal and 2 vertical, and placing your subject along one of those lines. These sailboats along the beach fit in that lower third of the image, so I suppose I have observed a rule here… but of all the rules I did not know, this one was at the top of my list. When shooting this I just knew I wanted the sailboats along the bottom of the image.  

In the digital photography world there are those who do not want to edit (or “photo shop”) their images, and those who do.  I’m in between. This shadow image of a bicycle has been rotated so that it is actually upside down.  Why? Because I like it that way.
The shadow of this bike just really looked cool to me, and as my friend Gayle and I were walking along (with our cameras, by the way) I just had to stop and capture this.  Editing photos, to me, is no different than working on images in the dark room with Grandpa. We cropped and shadowed images to get what we wanted. Now we just use software.

Using ‘negative space’ is a relatively new thing to me.  This photo of the sailboat may well show the rule of thirds, but it also shows that use of negative space…at least I think it does.
The space on the left is where the sailboat is headed, and I wanted to leave it open. Another view or rule is that it is good to balance a subject by having another subject in the image (in this case another boat on the left would work).  For this photo, I just wanted to show that the sailboat was heading ‘out to sea’.  (There go another couple of rules.)

Though I have already shared this image in an earlier post, it fits with this lesson.  I have only cropped a small amount off the lower edge of this. There were several mommy’s with their little ones around the kids pool and I didn’t want to add them to this. I was just drawn to the shape, color, and line of these umbrellas. 

Taking photos is something I do without thinking most of the time. Maybe I move around to get the right angle that I want, or play with auto focus versus manual focus, full auto mode versus fully manual, but I mess around until the image looks like what I saw with my heart.

And that is the key for me; seeing with my heart, through that lens, and sharing it here with you.

Learning my photograhpic style

After spending some time with the photos in my inspiration file
I have come a bit closer to understanding my own photographic style.
Each image in the collage here demonstrates in some way
what I have learned. 
First: I found that I tend to capture cool tones (greens, blues, purples) in most of my shots.
But I also take a lot of monochromatic toned images.  (The bottom right photo has been 
converted to black and white since it was mostly greens and dark shadows. And the building
in the upper right is very monochromatic in color.)
Second: I seem drawn to images with texture. The images on the left of the tulips and 
the strawberries demonstrate this very well. Nice to have some warm colors, too!
Third: I like to include line or some sense of direction in my images. The lower middle
image is my best example of that, but it’s also in the other images.
(The original strawberry photo allows you to see the line of 
buckets of berries in the background.) 
(buckets of berries in the background)
(buckets of berries in the background)…..oops! I digress….
Fourth: Many of my favorite images include form, and it’s usually natural 
rather than man made.
 And while this image is not part of the collage it still is part of my
discovery.  I love creating images that tell a story. Now, this one is not focused
very well…but it is one of my absolute favorites.  If you could see Grandpa Mark’s face
you’d see the same love and joy in his eyes that is coming from Garrett’s.
I’m certain there is more to learn about style, but this has been very interesting!
Thanks for stopping by.

The Shade of a Tree

With camera in hand I approached a tree today with the intention of taking more images than I normally would. It is so easy for me to just point the camera, focus, or let Auto-Mode take over, and snap the shutter.  But not today.  This time I let myself get lost in the process of really seeing the tree for the first time.  I was surprised at the results, and will share them here.
Going into this exercise I felt kind of silly, thinking why in the world am I doing this, and some really negative thoughts started to wreak havoc. Once we arrived at Kendrick Woods and my camera was in my hand, those thoughts went away.  Just start. That’s what we often need to do…
I found an old pine tree near the pond, and decided to start taking photos of it. I began with the traditional tree “pose”, just a simple view of the entire tree…taking from several different places. The more I did this, the more I began to notice certain features of it through the lens. This particular tree really leans toward the pond. So I took shots of the trunk, closer in, and even the gnarled roots at the base. As I was taking these I thought to myself, “oh, these root photos will be my favorite..” 
At some point my husband disappeared and left me alone, but I was unaware that he left. Turns out he was sitting at a picnic table near by, but I was so lost in the moment, caught up in what I was doing and really seeing the tree in a new way.  This was when time just seemed to stand still. I have no idea how many minutes went by, but I kept shooting.
I tried to step under the tree limbs and got as close to the trunk as I could, kind of like a kid would do if they wanted to climb up. Inside the limbs of this tree everything looked different. I saw the park from the point of view of the tree. I saw a remnant of nylon fishing line caught deep within the branches. (Remember the tree is near a pond.)  I noticed how the branches of a pine tree all come out of the same point on the limbs.  And I saw all the debris that the tree drops to the ground, the pine needles, pine cones, branches, all littering the ground below and covering some of the roots.
The best image for me is that which shows the bark. There is a place where it looks like wrinkled skin. And there are so many colors and textures to that skin/bark…shaped and changed by years of growth.  Not unlike my own skin. 
Standing within the tree I looked out toward the pond and saw the shade created by this pine tree, and knew that this was an image I needed to get. It was a warm afternoon in the sun, so being in that shade really felt good. How many people have fished in that pond while enjoying the shade of this tree?, I thought. 
Finally I stepped out from the branches and took one last shot, a traditional view of that tree, leaning, shading, branches reaching upward. Over 60 images later, I felt I had experienced my subject in ways that surprised me. What was good about this was that I took my time, let myself get lost in the creative experience.  What I didn’t enjoy about it was all the negative thoughts that filled my head prior to getting started…so I need to learn to jump through all that and get right to it. 
Choosing the best two out of over 60 images took much longer than I thought. What I started out with as my favorites did not end up being the final choices. The more I browsed through them all, the more I became aware of what moved me.  
I’ll do this exercise again, but next time I’ll try to prepare myself technically a bit more. I’m still learning a lot about how to use my camera, and I think more practice with it’s many features will be beneficial.  But I will not hesitate to do this again, no matter who is around or what the “committee” tries to say inside my head.  I learned a lot from this, and am, again, inspired by nature and all it’s beauty.

Why Do I Take Photos?

Because once upon a time my Grandfather showed me how it’s done, how to hold that camera, look at the subject, squeeze the shutter, and then keep doing it until the photos get better.  I am so grateful for this.

Because I really like to. 

But there is more. I take photos….

To capture those moments of joy and wonder on the faces of those I love, the precious smiles of babies, the laughter and giggles of the child in all of us. My Dad was able to hold his great-grandchild for the first time last weekend, and this precious baby fell asleep on his lap. I was able to capture that moment, and the look of utter joy on my Dad’s face.  

I really like to capture Life as it happens…spontaneous, unrehearsed, and real.

I take photos…
To be a witness to the power of nature. To record the ever evolving world of beauty all around me, starting in my own home, my own back yard.  And then to share what I have learned in that moment, whatever lessons have come.

Why do I take photos? Because that petal of that flower, the vein in that leaf reminds me that there is something bigger than us out there caring for us all.

What motivates me as a photographer? 
My own internal motivation is inspired by the Light, how it pours over everything, or creates shadows, or how it reflects.  Nature brings me new insights through my lens every time I find myself outdoors with my camera.  That makes me want to just keep on taking more photos.

External motivations for me have recently come from the online community, through the courses with Big Picture Classes, through my limited participation in a Flickr Group, through the blogging world, and from supportive comments from friends and fellow bloggers. I see examples of other women photographers that leave me in awe, and then I start to think how I can do that, too.

This post is created as part of my lesson in Kat Sloma’s “Find Your Eye Course”