The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Wow Factor

Every photographer is looking for that "Wow!" They look for that one photo that makes others stop and stare – just lose themselves in the photo.

How many times have we all seen the same – or it looks the same – lighthouse photo? I mean really – how many photos of lighthouses do we need?

OK – now someone is going to say similar things about flower photos. I can agree to a point. Once I thought I had taken the best photo of a brown-eyed Susan – until another photographer came along and said it would make a nice greeting card. It was not said as a compliment – it was a nice way to say – "ho hum." I like to credit Georgia O'Keeffe for my interest in macro photography. And, having a backyard filled with flowering plants helps too! So yes, I take many macro photos of flowers. Flowers are such a popular subject for macro photography – the symbol on the camera for macro is a tulip! I try hard to make my flower shots unique, different and just not the same old, same old.

If the goal is to take technically sound photos – sharp, great exposure, perfect contrast – then don't get overly concerned with wowing anyone besides you. But – if you are like me – and you desire that extra, the wow, the type of photo to cause someone to look at it for a period of time and wish they were in it – you need to think beyond f-stops and ISO. You need to think – what makes my photo unique. What about my photo would take someone more than 15 seconds to see all there is to see? Does you eye "travel" through the photo? Is it more than a 'greeting card?'

When I am teaching a workshop – I say I like working with flowers because they don't talk back to me. I would like to end this entry with my absolutely favorite Georgia O'Keeffe quote: "I hate flowers, I paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Photo Show Prep

How do you choose what to print, frame, and hang for a show? The annual photography show at the Fayette Art Center is in August. For the past few weeks I have been looking over photos, trying to decide which I would like to take to the center for the show. I know which I like best – but I have an emotional attachment to all of my photos. I can remember the time, the place, little things. I wonder what would interest someone to purchase a photo to hang in their home.

Do people mainly look for something that triggers a memory of a time or place for them? Do they look for colors to match their décor? Both? All? Anything??? Help!

You could end up spinning in circles trying to second guess what someone else would like to have. Instead – think – what is my best work? Is this photo technically sound and well shot? Is it composed so well that your eye travels throughout the photo? Is the main focal point sharp? If it is a black & white – is the contrast at its best? If it is a color shot – are the colors accurate and vibrant? Is my photo common and trite? Does it have the "wow factor?"

When I frame a photo – 90% of the time I chose a white mat and a black frame. If I am framing a black & white photo – a very pale blue mat and black frame is a good combination. If I am just matting a photo for sale – I choose a white or a black mat and then the person who takes it home can choose what ever frame they like best.

Now, I am off to see how many empty black frames I have….

Monday, July 23, 2007

Photographing Line Creek

Line Creek Nature Center is a wonderful place to spend the morning – or most of the day. After living in this area for almost 10 years I finally found this spot and have visited it three times this year to shoot photos. The Fayette Photo Club first visited it in February. Imagine my surprise when I arrived – after telling other members that you turn into the Days Inn parking lot to get there – then I see – there is NO Days Inn there any longer! Oh well, we found our way in.

In June the group returned for a shoot with leaves on the trees and noticed the substantially lower water level. We could easily walk across the creek in areas that had once been higher water. I had planned to practice my moving water shots with slow shutter speeds only to have to change my plans to working the beautiful reflections in the still pools that were left. The reflections were beautiful!

Last week I returned to the creek – thinking that the recent storms may have helped raise the water level to put some of that babble in the creek. Nope, again, I did have beautiful reflections in near still pools to photograph in the morning light. I will return in the coming weeks – to perfect those reflection shots and hope that the rains continue and provide a little more movement and a higher water level each time. I am hoping to spend many productive hours there – especially in the fall when those green reflections turn to yellow or red. The leaning trees and branches that hang over the pools are gorgeous subjects.

What to bring on a field shoot like this? Everyone knows the regular things – lenses, extra batteries, filters, and memory cards. A tripod or at the least a monopod is needed for sharp shots. A monopod can also double as a walking stick. If you plan to experiment with slow shutter speeds – do bring a tripod. I carry micro fiber cloths with me every place I go. These little cloths are perfect to clean a lens, or your glasses! Sam's Club sells a large (and I mean large) package of them. Depending on the weather – it might be a good idea to pack a large plastic bag to quickly cover your camera and gear in case of rain. If you don't want to sit on the ground – a beach towel might be handy. I think rather than a towel, the next time I return I will bring along my gardening knee pad. Spending your morning kneeling on rocks will convince you that a pad would be great.

The best thing I can think of to have with you is a friend. It has been fun to go with other photo club members. We can spend a long time completely silent, wrapped up in what we are composing. But – there are those breaks in concentration when a little conversation is a good thing. Also, you may not notice something – until someone else points it out to you. I remember my "aha moment" when another member suggested I slowly turn my circular polarizer to see the changes on the water surface.

Last thing about Line Creek – was I barefoot? No – I was wearing my Crocs! Hey – doesn't Crocs make knee pads?

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