Category Archives: Technique

Throughout my life I’ve never been afraid of breaking a few rules now and again and this has also applied to my photography work.  At some point or another, anyone who is really serious about taking photographs is going to learn about the fundamental rules around composition and ‘how to get a good image’.  I have to admit that many of my images fall in line with these rules but on occasion I throw the rule book out the window.

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds applies to any visual art form whether it’s painting, design or photography and suggests that the image should be split into nine equal parts.  During composition you should imagine two equally spaced lines both vertically and horizontally across the image and any important elements that you want the viewer to focus on should be positioned along the lines or at the points of intersection.

Here’s a shot which adheres pretty much to this rule:

The key elements here are the bride and groom and so their faces are around the top right intersection.  The flowers are another important aspect and they appear at the bottom right intersection.  The wall on the left is also significant as it’s used to help frame the couple and it also runs very close to the left vertical line.  Photography teachers would probably give me ‘a good effort’ mark with this shot.

But here’s a shot that doesn’t adhere to the rule.

Positioning the subject matter right in the middle of the frame  is what many people do when they take a photograph with their point and shoot camera but isn’t something more experienced photographers do very often unless they have a good reason.  With the image above I wanted the boy exactly in the centre.  His body cuts the image in half , suggesting a feeling of strength which is  important to me especially when taking shots of children in poverty stricken countries.  There are far too many images out there looking down in pity on these children and losing sight of the incredible strength they have when dealing with their circumstances.  This Bolivian boy had to walk several kilometres each day over hazardous terrain to get to school so it was essential that I try to communicate this through the image.

Keep your photos sharp (avoid blurred images)

There are three key elements which are going to affect whether a photo is sharp or not.  1) Focus – your camera’s ability to focus on the subject matter, 2) Stability – how stable you are when taking the photo and 3) Shutter Speed – the amount of time your shutter is open to let light into the camera, the faster the shutter speed the better chance of capturing fast movement.  Having control over these elements will help you achieve a sharp image but what if you don’t want your photo to be sharp?

Here’s a shot that breaks the ‘keep your photo sharp’ rule.

This little boy in Nicaragua was helping his dad build a new house for the family, he was vigorously sifting the sand ready to be used for making the cement and loving every minute of it.  I could easily have bumped up my shutter speed to 1/1000 second as there was plenty of light and the image would be tack sharp but I particularly wanted to capture the sense of movement.  To achieve it I purposefully slowed the shutter speed to below 1/60 second and feel the image gives the viewer a much greater sense of movement that wouldn’t have been so evident had I followed the rule of keeping it sharp.

Shooting into the Light

I can remember my dad instructing me, “never shoot into the sun, you’ll get sun flare”.  In general this was good advice but I’m increasingly finding myself shooting into the sun……and I want that sun flare!  Many of the fashion photographers are currently using this technique to give that retro feel and this is exactly what I wanted with the following photo.  From a technical point of view it’s not as easy as it looks to get this type of shot  as the camera goes crazy trying to focus and expose correctly. I love the low contrast of this shot and the sun flares, it reminds me of photos back in the 70’s.

These are just a few examples of how I occasionally break the rules of photography, yet in my view the images still work. What I will say though is that before you can break the rules it’s worth having a good understand of what those rules are and why they are there, most of your images will look better if you use them, but once in a while you can throw the rule book in the bin, start experimenting and be a  photographic rebel!

Hi, I know this is my dad’s blog, and you are probably expecting this post to be done by him, but as part of my work experience I was told to write on this blog explaining what these past two weeks have been like for me. Hmm…. where to start? Well I guess I should start from the beginning, technically my work experience should have started last Tuesday, but since we travelled up to Scarborough the weekend before, my dad made me take some photos that I could work with on my first day.

DAY 1

That day was pretty nerve-racking for me, I didn’t know what to expect and I figured I would end up breaking a valuable piece of equipment – I survived thankfully. My first task that day was to do some post-processing on my photos that I took in Scarborough. I thought that it was going to be really complicated, and that I wouldn’t understand it, but with help from my dad, I realised that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. At school I study a GCSE Photography course, but I’ve probably learnt more from my dad than a whole year’s worth of studying at school. I never used to be bothered about the photos I took – I never really ‘loved’ them, but from all of the techniques and skills I have learnt, I managed to take a lot of great photos (in my opinion). The photo above is my favourite photo of that first day, I learnt all about filters and how they can change how a photo looks completely. I loved all the different effects I could use, it gave me lots of variety in my photos. So I survived my first day, I was then prepared for whatever else had to come, I thought…

DAY 2

I learnt about all the administrative work my dad had to do, it wasn’t exactly exciting, but my dad explained that it had to be done, photography is still a business. Eventually I got to taking more photos, as you probably know, one of my tasks was to take a photo a day and post it on the internet. So I went out and took some photos by myself, the photo above may seem very depressing and colourless – but that is how I see my town. I explained what I feel through a photo, which I had never done before.

DAY 3

Still finishing off the post-processing. That day I was struggling for ideas on what photo I should take. My parents had gone shopping, so I went with them. It was pretty hard to do because… well what are you supposed to take a picture of in a parking lot. Eventually I took some photos around and about, and actually came out with some decent photos.

DAY 4

Still working on post-processing and admin work, I still hadn’t taken my photo of the day, that evening I went out with the family to a restaurant and came back to my grandma’s house, and took some photos. This is my favourite photo of the day.

DAY 5

Probably my most active day, we went out and took some photos of poppies, but I was so scared of the bees that I didn’t take many photos. I took some photos of alphabet spaghetti in a bowl saying ‘EAT ME’ which was very fun. But I thought that it didn’t quite work well enough. So I was struggling to get a photo of the day, but finally decided to put the camera in the fridge on a timer and take a picture of myself.

DAY 6

I survived my first week of work experience, and I was looking forward to another. We did a photo-shoot on the Sunday before, so we were doing some post-processing on those photos, it was interesting to see how my dad worked as photographer at a real photo-shoot – he’s kind of like a director of a film, but for photography. For my photo of the day I went around my house and took some shots, but my favourite image was the one of my dog, it was really close-up and I thought it was quite comical.

DAY 7

I was learning about my dad’s humanitarian work – the work he does through Visioning Images.  It was really hard to find a photo, I was running out of ideas. My dad had a photo-shoot session that afternoon with a ‘Peacemobile’, so I went with him. I only took about 3 photos, I had a photo of the day thankfully. But I am unable to post it, as I do not have permission from the person who I took the photo of.

DAY 8

We were working on the photos of the ‘Peacemobile’, we also went out to my other grandma’s house, so I got to take some photos there. Although they didn’t all turn out great, I managed to find one that was decent.

DAY 9

We took some photos of flowers called gerberas. It was kind of like my own photo-shoot, I could change where the lightning should be directed and what arrangement I wanted. I managed to take a variety of different photos, but this is my favourite of that day.

LAST DAY

My last day of work experience, well I wrote this blog basically.

MY DAD

As you know my last task was to take a picture of my dad, now this wasn’t easy in the slightest, most were either blurry, or I didn’t think they were good enough. I managed to find a photo of him that was pretty decent. Whether he likes it or not, I don’t know but it’s the best one that I could find.

Overall my work experience has been great, I wish I didn’t have to go back to school. Probably one of the best 2 weeks of my life, had so much fun, and learnt so much. I’m definitely going to miss taking photos for my photo of the day. But I think I will take photos more often now, because I get more pleasure in taking pictures than I did before. So I’m very thankful for my dad, for letting me do work experience with him. It’s been great!