BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Posts Tagged ‘black-and-white

Photo Critique 2: ‘Mauricio,’ by Daniel M.

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I love critiquing photos. It’s the best way to learn and get new ideas for photo shoots. Today, we’re going to critique an image made by Daniel, a former student of mine in Miami.

Mauricio, a portrait by Daniel of Miami, Florida

'Mauricio,' a portrait by Daniel of Miami, Florida

General Overview:
Daniel, you take great portraits and this is another example of your good work. You have a great eye for composition and lighting.

This is a nice portrait because, like Carla’s, of its relative simplicity. The viewer is drawn to the subject and you captured the subject’s mood very well. You did a great job showing emotion without using complex themes.
You can be very proud of this image.

There are just a few things I would improve in this image. First, there are some hot spots on the nose, the right lower portion of the eye and the left upper corner of the eye. Those hotspots can easily be edited out of the image. Next, perhaps a little lighting under the subject would help give more definition between the chin and the neck. Also, I would use the healing brush (in Adobe Photoshop) and clean any areas of the skin that need a little touch up. Finally, I think I would have lit the hair just a little more to add some highlight and contrast.
If you would have used a low-powered light under the subject and a disc reflector above to bounce some light on the hair, the image would have looked better.

I like hard directional lighting and, as usual, you did an outstanding job.

Thanks for the submission, good luck and keep shooting!

If you would like to submit a photo for critique, e-mail us at

Written by jeremyparce

February 19, 2009 at 12:57 am

Photo Ideas: Photo Opportunities Around the House

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I’ve heard it many, many times from students and it’s generally said with a slight whine, “There’s NOTHING to photograph!”

There’s always SOMETHING to photograph. Even if you photographed every single item in your home, there’s always a different way to do it.

That’s what makes photography fun and interesting. There’s almost always something new to shoot and almost always a new way to shoot the same subject differently.

Hey, you’ve already made a fairly decent financial investment in your camera so don’t let the money go to waste. Plus, with digital photography, it doesn’t cost a dime to take photos, review them or edit them. You never know, you might nail a shot that would make a nice print.

Here are a few ideas for those times you just can’t think of anything to photograph:

Take a walk around the kitchen and look for different subjects. Here, packages of coffee made an interesting composition. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Take a walk around the kitchen and look for different subjects. Here, packages of coffee made an interesting composition. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

  • The Kitchen: If your house is anything like mine, the kitchen is the epicenter of activity. It’s not just where food is prepared and eaten, it’s the place to sit and talk, think, argue, and reconcile. It’s also the site for epic games of Rook but that’s for another time. The kitchen is also overflowing with color. Fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, pots, pans, cans, bowls … the list could go on forever. Spend some time looking around the kitchen and see if you can’t come up with a few photo subjects.
  • The Garage: The garage is another place full of photographic subjects waiting to be photographed. Hand tools, garden tools, even old bottles make for interesting subjects.
  • Curio Cabinets: If you have a macro lens, the curio cabinet can be a treasure trove of ideas. Make portraits out of figurines, dolls or any other collectable you might have.
  • Follow the Pets: Become a photojournalist and document your pets’ day. Spend some time following them around and document what they do.
I spent about 10 minutes looking around outside for something to photograph and found this faucet valve. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

I spent about 10 minutes looking around outside for something to photograph and found this faucet valve. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Here’s another tip: If you don’t want to focus on color, try black and white. B&W photos will also help you focus more on texture and less on color. And remember, compose  your images in order to communicate your message.

There are always things to photograph come rain or shine, outdoors or in. It’s up to you to get creative.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

February 18, 2009 at 10:28 pm

Photo Lesson 1: Understanding Composition Part 1: Pre-Visualization

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Of all the topics to begin with, I think a lesson in composition will be our best starting point because it encompasses most – if not all – the other photographic topics we’ll discuss.

So, let’s start with a definition for composition. For our purposes, composition has a threefold meaning: 1. The arrangement of subject and background; 2. The interaction of the subject with the background; and 3. The method of photographically capturing the subject, background and the interactions between them.

As you can tell from the definition, composition is a fairly big deal when it comes to making images.

For the most part, the average person who uses a camera doesn’t really consider composition. These are snapshot takers who use a camera for events: birthdays, holidays, family reunions, etc.

But if you’re here, you probably want to go beyond the snapshots and start making images that have a purpose.

This site is intended for amateurs who want to start making better images, advanced hobbyists who need a refresher and for students who want to further study photography as an academic discipline. With that audience in mind, let’s begin.

Start With Pre-Visualization
As with most things, the first step is often the most important and I can think of no other way to begin than with pre-visualization.

Photography is an art, a science and a form of communication. As a form of communication it is important to determine the message you want to convey through a photograph.

Do you want a portrait that conveys an emotion? If so, what emotion? Do you want a landscape that shows depth or one that shows vastness? Do you want a sports photo that shows action or one that shows the emotion of the game?

Once you figure out WHAT message you want to convey, then it’s all a matter of composing it.

Experiment 1: Guess the Emotion

Pre-visualizing the image helps you determine how you're going to compose it. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Pre-visualizing the image helps you determine how you're going to compose it. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

What emotion was I attempting to convey in this photograph? Some people will say sadness, loneliness, or that she is anticipating an event. Well, all would be right. This photograph didn’t start out as a posed photo. I saw my friend Vero sitting on the ground and I thought that it would make a nice image.
Then I saw her expression. She was, as usual, in a relaxed, contemplative mood so I wanted to express her emotion photographically.

This is where composition begins. You conceive the idea and then you decide how to capture it.

What’s Next?
In the next lesson, we’ll discuss the next step in composition: Tool selection. Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

February 18, 2009 at 1:52 am

Using Your Camera’s Features: Black-and-White Photography

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Jeremy W. Schneider)

Black-and-white images add a classier feel to your images. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

A friend of mine who owns a camera shop once told me that most digital camera owners use less than three functions on their camera. If that’s true, then it’s a terrible waste of money and technology.

Today’s digital cameras – even those on the low-end of the cost spectrum – offer various creative functions that allow so much creative freedom over the photography process. You have the ability to make images that really have a “wow” value if you’re willing to take the camera off the automatic setting and learn some of the features that are available

One of the easiest camera settings to use is the black and white feature. So easy, in fact, for most cameras it’s simply scrolling down the features menu and selecting “black-and-white.” But I would bet a dollar-to-a-donut that all the images you’re taking are in color.

Why Black-and-White?
Black-and-white images are great because they help reduce distractions that are so common in color images. Black-and-white photographs also give a photograph more feeling and helps create a sense of drama. Finally, black-and-white can also be used to create a sense of tension, urgency and even focus.

Jeremy W. Schneider)

Black-and-white images also add a sense of drama and mystery to what would be an ordinary photo. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

OK, How do I do It?
It’s easy to explore black-and-white photography with your digital camera. Simply go to the menu setting, select black-and-white and voila!
Now comes the fun part – go out and try different photos in black-and-white. Portraits are a great way to start. Recruit a subject and start your photo session. Shoot the images in the black-and-white setting and see how much better your images look. Also, get your subject to try different poses and different facial expressions. Try to create urgency, intensity and other emotions. Then, take the images in color. I think you’ll find that your black-and-white work will outshine most of your color photographs and give your images a more sophisticated, classier and dramatic feel.

Written by jeremyparce

February 15, 2009 at 2:18 am