Other Ways to Make a Photograph (Two Photographs)

FlowerTo view more of my photography please click on

Black and white photography was once a result of the film you bought, today it can also be a function of the processing you use. Black and White still retains its mantle as the purest form of photography. It’s about contrast, tonality, getting to the essence of a subject. This photograph was taken with artificial light, a flash that focuses light on the subject. Photography is all about light and artificial light is about putting light where it’s needed (a judgment call). The photograph is also centered, a composition that leaves no doubt about the subject of the photograph. All of these choices in-camera and behind the computer go into the making of a photograph, an image that has texture and meaning. In my own attempts at black and white photography, I have found getting the right amount of contrast has been a challenge and in some cases I have erred on the side of too little.



Another Classic Technique (Two Photographs)

GrasshopperTo view more of my photography please click on

It’s important to focus the eyes of your audience on your subject and there are many ways to do this. One of them has become much simpler with the advent of digital photography and software. A slight vignette (darkening of the edges of the photo) will push your audience’s eyes into the photograph (first photo); similarly increasing the brightness of your subject is also used. Both can help with somewhat messy backgrounds. Some people insist on putting a vignette on every image and perhaps I should do it more often. Vignettes should be minimal almost invisible, your eye sees them but you hardly notice.


One of the Oldest Techniques

Soft FocusTo view more of my photography please click on

We are spoiled today with all the tools we have. In the past with landscapes and portraits it was common to place gauze over the lens or Vaseline on a filter to get a soft focus result. Today we can do all of that and more with blur and focusing software and specially designed lenses. Glow filters and soft focus create mood, add color depth, and sometimes flatter our subjects (by the removal of blemishes). To some degree this can be done, as it has been here, by selective focus. Some days are just out of focus and they deserve their time and place.



More on Making a Photograph (Two Photographs)

Flowers-2To view more of my photography please click on

In writing about photographs telling their own story and about retaining context in photographs, it is not my intention to suggest that nothing should be left to the imagination of the audience. For example, there is no doubt that the subject is a flower and that I have chosen which parts of the flower to include in my image. To some degree imagination gives the larger context, as does the background, shapes and forms of the flower. Sometimes a part of the whole is more than enough. This may sound like a contradiction of Aristotle who said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” He was talking about the mechanics of things and not art.



How Close is too Close (Two Photographs)

BeeTo view more of my photography please click on

Robert Capa, the combat photographer said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” In nature photography, when we can get close to our subject, the question should be asked how close is too close. Consider whether it is important to know and understand what is seen. Often with macro gear we can get so close that all context is lost and all we have is the subject. Intent is important in photography. I like my photographs to be interesting and I will always tend towards the artistic and not the scientific, be it birds or bees. How close is a matter of taste but it might be worthwhile thinking about context, and your choices about distance and perspective adding to the impact of your subject and creating an image. Ansel Adams is quoted as saying “Great photos aren’t taken, they’re made.” I agree and how close is one of the choices to take in making a photograph. These are two different photographs of the same bee.



Poetry and Photography (Two Photographs)

PhoebeTo view more of my photography please click on

There is a reason why poetry and photography go together. Illustrated poems have a long history but there is something different about an illustration that depicts the poem and a photograph that gives rise to it. While photographs should speak for themselves and tell their own story (e.g. have impact) we can still read many things into them and it’s those ideas the poet can articulate quite separately from the photo. If we want our images  to have specific impact, poetry is certainly one of the ways of voicing this. As to the photographs here, I believe them to be an Eastern Phoebe.


Cropping and a Black-Crowned Heron

Black Crowned HeronTo view more of my photography please click on

I have heard that cropping is the poor man’s zoom, and yet it is almost the first thing photographers do in post-processing. Not everyone can afford expensive telephoto lenses and even then you cannot always get close enough. Long telephoto lenses do not mean that you will not crop the result. Of course with higher megapixel cameras cropping is easier. Robert Capa, best known for his combat photography, is often quoted as saying: “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” There is no argument that getting closer while retaining context can help composition. No one I know can walk on water, the bird in this picture was not just up a tree but also across a swamp. As long lenses are not always practical cropping is a good alternative. From what I have read most nature photographers and certainly “macro” photographers crop when necessary (though it might disqualify you from some contests).

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