Tag Archives: composition

Altering reality in wide angle

Wide-angle lenses are lenses that, as the name suggests, capture a wide angle of view. They’re great for fitting a wide scene into a single shot. A wide-angle lens can catch a long parade marching down the street, spreading to left and right; it can catch a massive sprawling mountain range.

Wide-angle lenses can be tricky, too. Humans don’t see in wide angle, so these images are distorted and unnatural to our eyes. Sometimes, that’s a feature.


Wide Angle to make something feel large

Large things loom. Whether that large object is your parents when you’re a child, a huge skyscraper, or a thunder cloud, big objects have a sense of hanging over you. Wide-angle lenses can capture that sense, even for modestly-sized objects.

Below is a shrine at the Albuquerque Botanical Garden Japanese Garden. It’s maybe 15 feet wide and 15 feet high. But with the help of wide angle, it can fill a whole frame. The top frame is as a 16mm wide-angle lens captures the shot. All the lines that should be straight are curved, because this lens is a type of wide-angle lens called a “fisheye”. This could be the desired effect, or you can correct the curvature, as in the second picture. This time, I was pursuing the second image. Sometimes, the other is the goal. That’s one cool thing about digital photography–both are available in any given image.

The shrine at the Japanese Garden

Shrine at the ABQ Biopark Japanese Garden, with fisheye distortion uncorrected.

The shrine at the Japanese Garden

With corrected perspective.


Wide Angle to capture a wide scene

This one’s obvious, but still awesome. Some images need a lot of space. Sometimes, you can get a wide-angle image by stitching several traditional images together. But as in the top image, only a single capture can catch the ducks taking flight.

In the bottom image, the angular distortion from the fisheye lens is fine uncorrected, because there are no straight lines on that rock to betray the distortion. And the wide angle here allowed me to get the sun in the frame. The distortion to the sun here is called a “sunstar.” You can get them by shooting with small apertures, which leads to light diffraction. Here’s a nice brief article if you want to learn more about sunstars.

ABQ Biopark Japanese Garden wide angle, ducks taking flight

The pond at the Japanese Garden

Bisti Badlands and Sun Star

A rock formation at Bisti Badlands


Wide Angle for composition

Wide-angle lenses give a photographer different options in guiding the viewer’s eye in a photograph. You may have heard that long lenses compress depth, thus why they are pleasing for portraits. Wide lenses exaggerate depth. The righthand side-view mirror on cars is slightly wide-angle. This is why “objects may be closer than they appear.” Your side-view mirror has exaggerated the sense of depth.

Additionally, wide-angle lenses can focus on nearby objects. My 85mm lens has a minimum focal distance of 1 meter. My 70-200 varies from 1 meter to 1.5 meters. My fisheye can focus nearly up to the point I bump into the subject.

Both of these factors give the photographer different creative freedoms when composing with a wide-angle lens.

In the first image, I found this hanging rock fascinating. I put my lens right next to this rock when I shot, but because of the exaggerated depth, it doesn’t feel as claustrophobic as the shot was. The rocks in the background are only a few feet away, but they feel more distance. Here, I also employ the wide angle to make the rock loom large. That hanging arm was no more than 3 feet long.

In the second image, the ability to get close to the statue in the foreground meant I could fill more of the frame with it. And I can fit the building comfortably in the background. So I can make a relatively small object the same size in the capture as a large object.

Rock formations in the Bisti Badlands

Rocks and sun at Bisti Badlands

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University of New Mexico campus, and statue of school mascot, the Lobo

 

Did I miss anything? I love a good photo discussion, so let me know!

Painting with dark: books of night-themed art to inspire the high ISO photographer

Photography means “painting with light.” But how much light? Today, cameras are more light sensitive than ever, with ISOs up to 400,000 or even 4,000,000. Some have described cameras that can take video by the light of a candle as “painting with dark.” After discussing these advancements at a photo event yesterday, I found myself thinking about how that affects an image. If light is the exception rather than the rule, what kind of images could I create?

So I visited my bookshelf! And I found two art books themed around darkness and nighttime. In a future post, I’ll have to see how these inspiring books guided me. After all, it’s a great time of year to find guidance in darkness.

The Night Life of Trees by Bhajju Shyam, Durga Bai, and Ram Singh Urveti

This book is from Tara Books, a company that does beautiful and imaginative books. I also recommend Waterlife by Rambharos Jha, which I wrote about in a previous post. Both Night Life and Waterlife are silk-screen print books, which gives the colors and ink a life that other printing methods don’t match. Both books also smell amazing. (This sounds weird, but they just do. I don’t know whether it’s the ink, the paper, or both.)

The Night Life of Trees is full of illustrations depicting just that—trees at night and what goes on in them. The images are screen prints on black paper, allowing the book to “paint with darkness” in a way that other books just can’t. Check out the beautiful images below.

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The House in the Night
by Susan Marie Swanson

A children’s book with awesome art. Sometimes kids books have the best art because they keep it simple. This book is literally about light at night. I don’t think that needs too much explanation. Just check out the art, which incidentally mimics the woodcut style that I discussed last week.

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10 photos for 2015

How strange that this is the last Monday of 2015. I’ve done a lot in 2015. I moved 2000 miles and started a new life. There’s nothing like new digs to inspire photography and boy have I been inspired. Even after the standard culling, I have over 17,000 pictures from this year.

I’ve tried hard to improve my photography, revisiting basic lessons like composition and exposure and flash. I’ve taken photos that I wouldn’t have taken before–and I love them. I’ve committed to learning more about Photoshop, editing, and making the most of my images. I guess the best sign of all is that I’m eager for more in 2016 after all the hours I’ve spent behind the lens and in front of the computer this year.

So, without further ado, ten photos for 2015. They don’t cover everything from the year, but all ten represent different things. It’s great to look back over 17000 photos, you tend to forget some of them!

1

The famous columns and herringbone brickwork of University of Virginia’s Academical Village. And for me, revisiting the basics of composition, contrast, and lines.

2

A band of clouds (maybe some variant on Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds?) over a farm in rural Virginia. And a study in black and white.

3

The Cherry Blossom festival in Washington, DC. Perfect blooms, perfect weather. And a composite of two focal depths so I would have my cake and eat it too, photographically.

4

A pinhole of a pinhead. My lovely Chat Noir posing on National Pinhole Photography Day. Pinhole photography is more fun than ever with modern ISO capabilities.

7

Iconic imagery in a new land. Pueblo deco architecture and classic cars on Route 66 in Albuquerque.

5

Western landscapes. A slot canyon at Tent Rocks National Monument.

6

Industrial decay at the Albuquerque Railyards, once the largest employer in the city, now a weekly farmer’s market. And a lot of neat, disused buildings.

9

Classic car and red rocks on our October national parks trip. So many of my previous posts are stuffed with images from those journeys that I decided not to include more than just this one. Ten is quite the limit!

8

The day before the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, balloonists visit local elementary schools and teach kids about aviation.

10

Bird love in Florida. Color, contrast, and life to end the year on a strong note.

Photography prompt: Photographing light

A couple of months ago, I did some photography prompts. Recently, I reviewed these photos and was pleasantly surprised how much I still liked them. I took photos I wouldn’t normally take, and saw new things.

Now that I’m in a new place, paradoxically I am short on photo inspiration. Everything is so interesting that it can be hard to zero in, especially when work, grocery stores, bars, and walking paths are new forms of shiny distractions. So today I’m posting one of my prior photography prompts, and I hope to continue with more in the future.

Today’s prompt is “photographing light”. This is not the same as photographing shadows cast by light, it is photographing the light itself. I got this prompt from the Lynda.com photographic composition course by Ben Long. I took these pictures on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville in the early evening, not quite at golden hour, but late enough in the day that the windows were casting reflections in interesting places.

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In this picture, I liked the way the reflections from different buildings interacted, and how they contrasted with the brick pattern.

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In this photo, the windows from across the street are reflecting light onto shadowed windows. The reflections allow you to see shapes in the windows that you couldn’t see by looking at them directly, plus the contrast simply pleases me.

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A distant window cast light onto this crosswalk aid. I almost ignored it, as one does with crosswalks one does not need, but with this small and brilliant beam of light, the guide suddenly was radiant. I loved the simple colors in this one, turning it b+w would have stripped it of so much.