BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Posts Tagged ‘photos

Photographers You Should Know: Edward S. Curtis

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Information for this article was received from the Smithsonian Institution.

Edward S. Curtis is one of the most widely recognized, and sometimes criticized, photographers of American Native people. For more than three decades, he traveled the American West and Alaska photographing Native Americans.
Born February 16, 1868, in Wisconsin, Curtis took an interest in photography – then an emerging medium – at an early age. He built his first camera when he was a teenager and by the age of 19, he owned part interest in a photography studio in Seattle, where his family had moved.

‘Sioux Chiefs.’ (Photo Credit: Edward S. Curtis via the Smithsonian Institution)

‘Sioux Chiefs.’ (Photo Credit: Edward S. Curtis via the Smithsonian Institution)

In his twenties, Curtis began photographing Native American in the Puget Sound area as they dug for clams and mussels. One of his earliest photographs of Native Americans was of Princess Angeline, the daughter of Sealth, the Suquamish chief after whom Seattle was named.

In 1899, at the age of 31, Curtis became the official photographer of the Harriman Expedition into Alaska. After this, he began his 30-year quest of documenting Native Americans in the United States.

Curtis funded his expeditions personally – acquiring a tremendous amount of debt – and by soliciting funds for his work. Some of his donors included President Theodore Roosevelt and railroad tycoon John Pierpont Morgan.

Curtis documented nearly 80 Native American tribes and made nearly 40,000 photographs and 10,000 recording of Native American speech and music. Like most scholars of his time, Curtis believed the Native American culture would be lost as Native Americans were brought into the mainstream culture. He wanted to create both an artistic and academic volume of work before the cultures “vanished.”

Curtis died in 1952 and the bulk of his work was forgotten. During the 1960s and 1970s, however, his work was “rediscovered” and is now recognized as one of the “most significant records of Native culture ever produced.”

Give Images Depth: Use the Foreground, Mid-ground and Background

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Although a photograph is two-dimensional, you can create a sense of depth in your photo by creatively using the foreground, mid-ground and background.

You have to think of your image as a canvass and work to make all of the layers in your canvass work to your advantage. You don’t want the layers to compete and you don’t want the viewer to lose the message you’re attempting to convey in the image. You want all of the layers to work in harmony to keep your viewer on message.

Again, like most techniques, this tip won’t work for all images. It’s up to you to play around and see what works best for each situation.

How it Works
The idea for this technique is to show depth, meaning that there is something between the background and foreground or the background and the subject. The way to do this, is it insert another item into the mid-ground.

Look at the motocross photo (Example 1) for a better idea. Motorcycle number 138 is still the subject of the photo but the motocross rider in blue helps separate the subject from the red-rock background. Thus, it provides a sense of depth.

Example 1. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Example 1. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Depth can also provide tension in the image. It can show spatial differences in subjects, thus providing a sense of tension. For example, look at the motorcycle race photo, Example 2. By capturing an image that shows the three motorcycles staggered, it creates a sense of tension. We know, just by looking at the image, there’s a race and these three competitors are very close to one another.

Example 2. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Example 2. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Trying adding some depth to your images by creatively weaving all of the layers together. It will help you make better, more visually-compelling photos.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

February 22, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Pentax Announces Book to Benefit Childhood Cancer Research

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I will often publish media releases related to photography on this blog in order to help keep you informed. These media releases are created by the respective companies. I edit the releases for space as needed.

GOLDEN, CO – PENTAX Imaging Company recently announced the PDML Photo Annual comprised of artwork from 59 photographers from around the world.  This book will benefit Childhood Cancer Research.

The project, led by Mark Roberts, an instructor in multimedia at Youngstown State University, with photographers Doug Brewer of Richmond, KY, Bill Robb of Regina, Canada, and Scott Loveless of Harrisburg, PA, brought together 59 artists in 15 countries to create this work. Their Internet-based approach facilitated coordination between the editors and dozens of contributors scattered around the world.

Photographers uploaded their images through a web site, where the editors could view them and exchange ideas and opinions through email. The book was assembled electronically and uploaded to an online publishing site where copies are printed whenever orders are placed through the web.

Mark Roberts’ partner, Dr. Lisa Teot of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, is a pediatric pathologist and member of the Children’s Oncology Group, so they decided to use the book to raise money for the National Childhood Cancer Foundation’s CureSearch project (www.curesearch.org).

The PDML had previously undertaken a project selling photography-oriented items online to raise money for the CureSearch project, a charity dedicated to raising private funds for childhood cancer research by the Children’s Oncology Group, the world’s largest cooperative cancer research organization. (In addition, one of the photographers contributing to the project, Dr. Rick Womer of Philadelphia Children’s Hospital, is a COG member.)  100 percent of the profits from sales of this book will be donated to the National Childhood Cancer Foundation.

The PDML Photo Annual 2008-2009 is available now at http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/573542. For more information on the PDML Photo Annual, see http://www.robertstech.com/pdmlbook or contact Mark Roberts at msroberts01@ysu.edu.

Photo Critique 4: ‘Barb,’ by Jona 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 Jona, a former student of mine in Miami, Florida.

'Barb," by Jona M. of Miami, Florida

'Barb,' by Jona M. of Miami, Florida

General Overview:
Jona, as usual, when you put your mind to doing something, you do it well. This is a nice image and it’s good to see you flex your creativity. The staging on this shot is very nice and I’m glad you decided to do something a little more stylish – the hair over the eyes – than just a simple, head-on shot.
Again, this is a nice image due to its simplicity. You use a simple theme and let your creativity shine through without forcing the image.
Great job.

Improvements
There are a few improvements I would like to suggest. First, I’m not sure I like the graduated background. I would like to see the image with a solid background, especially the blue. If you are going to use a graduated background, work on the vignetting in the right corners so the brown stays relatively consistent. Also, there’s some vignetting going on in the left corners with the blue. If the vignetting is intentional, perhaps a little more would make it look so, versus now, which makes it look accidental.

Second, you need to work with the model on facial expression. I’m not particularly happy with the way the lips formed in this image. Don’t be afraid to tell the model what message you would like to convey in the image so she knows what to do. Give her a theme and see what she comes up with.

Third, spend some time in Adobe Photoshop and clean up some of the fly-away hair. Then, retouch the skin so it’s a little more smooth and consistent. Finally, there’s a hotspot on the right shoulder that you should try to tone down just a little bit.

As usual, you did a great job overall. Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing some more images from you.
Thanks for the submission, good luck and keep shooting!

If you would like to submit a photo for critique, e-mail us at submissions@brickhousephotoschool.com.

Written by jeremyparce

February 21, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Tilted Horizons: Maybe, Maybe Not

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Of all the techniques a photographer can use to create a sense of motion in an image, tilted horizons are one of the gray areas. Some people like them; some don’t. Some photos look good with a tilted horizon; some don’t.

Tilted horizons are created by holding the camera off-level. It’s a technique used to give a sense of motion or to throw the viewer off angle. It’s a technique that can easily backfire as some images just really don’t look good tilted no matter what you do.

Sometimes a tilted horizon really expresses a sense of motion. It's a good technique but not applicable to every shot you're going to make. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Sometimes a tilted horizon really expresses a sense of motion. It's a good technique but not applicable to every shot you're going to make. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

But don’t be afraid to try it. You never know when you’re gonna make an image that looks good.

Here’s some tips to follow when shooting a tilted horizon:

  • Don’t make the tilt look accidental. If you’re going to tilt the horizon, it has to demonstrate that you did it on purpose or else it looks like an “oops” moment.
  • Try different degrees of tilt. Move your camera different degrees between true horizontal and true vertical.
  • Make sure the angle you use compliments the directional movement you want to emphasize.
  • Don’t make the tilted image the only photo you take of the subject. The tilted horizon shot should be one of those “let’s see if this works” photos, and not “all of the eggs in one basket” photo.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

February 21, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Photo Tips: The Two-Minute Portrait

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The words, “smile and say cheese!” usually does not mark the beginning of a great portrait. As a beginning/novice photographer, you probably want to make portraits that “look professional” but lack the information on how to do so.
It’s simple if you follow some very basic steps. Here are some tips that will have you making great portraits in less time than you would think.

Step 1: Get the right background

If you want to highlight the subject, don’t allow the background to compete with the subject for the viewer’s attention. Busy, noisy and loud backgrounds distract from the subject unless you’re very experienced and have a great lighting setup and even then it’s a crapshoot.
Keep the background simple. Backgrounds with solid, neutral colors work best. A white wall is ideal but any solid color works.

A simple background and good natural lighting will help you make great portraits. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

A simple background and good natural lighting will help you make great portraits. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Step 2: Get Good Lighting
Unless you’re using a shoe-mounted flash or other pro-quality lighting, find a strong source of natural light. A portrait near a window where there is a good quantity of light is ideal or go outside where natural light is plentiful.
Remember, the sun should be to the side of your subject. If the subject is looking directly into the sun his/her eyes will squint and if the sun is behind the subject, you’ll get an underexposure.
The popup flash on your camera will probably ruin a good portrait with cast shadows so try to avoid using the popup flash.
If you are using a shoe-mounted flash, then try bouncing the flash instead of shooting with the flash pointed directly at the subject.

Step 3: Get Vertical
Horizontally aligned portraits don’t really allow you to utilize your frame the best. Shoot vertical instead so you get more up-and-down room. Even better, shoot the portrait both horizontally and vertically and see for yourself which photo looks better.

Step 4: Get the Right Emotion
Portrait subjects don’t always have to smile. Believe it or not, that’s a tough habit to break for some photographers. Don’t get me wrong, smiling is OK but try to make it less forced. A nice, natural smile will outshine a “Say Cheese!” photo anytime.

Step 5: Get Close
Try to fill the frame with your subject. Try getting close and then work you way back.

Don't be afraid to get close to your subject. Try different distances for different looks. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Don't be afraid to get close to your subject. Try different distances for different looks. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Bonus Tip:
Don’t forget to try the images in both color AND black and white. B&W will help really well if you want to focus more on the subject than the color of clothing or background colors. Plus, B&W gives an image a nice, “classy” feel.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

February 20, 2009 at 3:15 am

Photo Critique 3: “Untitled,” by Adriana O.

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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 Adriana, a friend of mine in Venezuela.

"Untitled," By Adriana O.

"Untitled," By Adriana O.

General Overview:
Adriana, you really have a gift for composition. If you staged this shot, then you did an outstanding job making it look “real.” If you just saw it and decided to make a photo, then you have a great eye for finding interesting subjects in an otherwise normal setting.
This is a nice image because it’s not forced. You’re using a simple theme and simple techniques to make a visually-compelling image. I especially like your use of depth-of-field. The image falls out of focus at just the right place.
Great job.

Improvements
There are only two improvements I can see that you need to make. First, a little front lighting on the stack of puzzle pieces would have made the image look better because it’s just a little underexposed. Second, the light coming through in the upper right corner is distracting from the scene. I would definitely edit that out and perhaps make the whole background – from the end of the table on – black. By doing that, I think you would have made a perfect shot.
Finally, there are some hotspots on the puzzle pieces that need to be toned down. A little selective dodging would help there.

Great job overall. Your portfolio has some great images on it too.

Thanks for the submission, good luck and keep shooting!

If you would like to submit a photo for critique, e-mail us at submissions@brickhousephotoschool.com.

Written by jeremyparce

February 20, 2009 at 1:00 am

Expressing Personality Isn’t Just for ‘People Photos’

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If you have a pet, you know how expressive they can be and you know that each one has a unique personality.
Why not express your pet’s personality in a photograph?
You don’t have to have an elaborate set up nor do you need any specialized equipment. All you need is a little time to follow your pet around and a little patience to wait for the right moment.

Newton, our 7 month old Schnoodle, is extremely curious so I thought an image of his nose would help express his curiosity. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Newton, our 7 month old Schnoodle, is extremely curious so I thought an image of his nose would help express his curiosity. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

How To Do It
First, figure out what your pet’s personality is. Is he lazy? Playful? Curious? Well, find a way to illustrate the emotion in a photograph.
The key to a good pet photo is patience. Give him time to settle in and get used to the camera. As soon as your pet is tired of you, he’ll go back to being himself and that’s when you’ll get your best shots.

Remember, compose the shot. Look for interesting ways to illustrate the message about your pet’s personality. Also, try to keep your background simple and use the largest aperture value you have available in order to keep the background from competing with the subject. Also, the largest aperture value will allow you to use the fastest shutter speed available for the aperture setting. This will help reduce blurred images as animals are prone to quick movements.

With a little time and patience, you should get some images that really showcases your four-legged friend’s true colors.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

February 20, 2009 at 12:20 am

Picture Perfect Image Quality with New Sony Digital Photo Frames

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I will often publish media releases related to photography on this blog in order to help keep you informed. These media releases are created by the respective companies. I edit the releases for space as needed.

LAS VEGAS – Sony recently put the spotlight on its new 10-inch digital photo frame, the company’s first to offer a super clear LCD and TruBlack technology, which minimizes the reflection on the display and adds more contrast.

The contrast is 15 times sharper and is 13 percent brighter than the company’s previous photo frames. Additionally, Sony announced three more digital photo frames that are designed to display crystal clear images.

“Our digital photo frames make the best centerpiece for your bedside table or home office,” says Koba Kobayashi, director of digital imaging accessories at Sony Electronics. “Their modern, super slim design and intelligent features make them the perfect addition for almost any décor.”

Feature-Packed Frames

In addition to the top-end DPF-X1000 model, Sony introduced another 10-inch frame (model DPF-V1000). Both frames offer new alarm clock, auto dimmer and a variety of slide-show features.  The auto dimmer feature automatically adjusts the display’s brightness based on the (ambient) lighting.

Using the multiple auto power setting, you can set times that the digital photo frames will automatically turn on and off, which conserves power.

The new frames offer a convenient auto orientation sensor, which automatically detects whether the frames have been positioned horizontally or vertically, and then adjusts the display of the pictures accordingly. When the frames are horizontal, the Sony logo will light up. When the frames are vertical, the logo turns off and blends into the piano black finish. You can also turn the Sony logo on or off from the menu.

The calendar or clock can be viewed in different slide show modes. Choose from four scrapboking templates in slideshow mode and 18 templates in creative edit mode to view pictures against a personalized background.

Additionally, the digital photo frames automatically correct the white balance in digital photos to provide best picture quality.

It is easy to store thousands of digital images on the frames’ internal memories. Search by date, folder, marked photos or photo orientation (vertical and horizontal) to easily find and organize photos.
The DPF-X1000 frame has 2GB of storage and comes in black with wood trim. The DPF-V1000 model can store thousands of photos on its 1GB internal memory and comes in black with silver trim.

Both frames also connect to Sony BRAVIA® HDTVs and other compatible HDTV sets to display your photos in high definition via an HDMI™ cable (sold separately).

Digital images can be loaded onto the internal memory of the digital photo frames from several types of flash memory cards, including Memory Stick PRO™, Memory Stick PRO Duo™, SD Memory Card, MMC, SDHC, Microdrive®, xD-Picture Card and Compact Flash Card.

Photos can be transferred from the frame to a printer or transferred to the frames via a USB cable (not included) from a PC or digital still camera. These new S-Frame models support JPEG, BMP, TIFF and RAW (SRF, SR2, ARW) image file formats.

Pricing and Availability

The DPF-X1000 and DPF-V1000 digital photo frames will be available in March for about $300 and $250, respectively, direct at sonystyle.com, at Sony Style® retail stores around the country, and at authorized dealers nationwide.

Written by jeremyparce

February 19, 2009 at 10:07 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