USING “COLOR” TO LEARN ABOUT “SEEING A PHOTO”

sliced fruits on tray
Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com

A photographer, who does writing for major publications had just come out with this idea of “How to See a Photo” by taking a photo with a different color each day. This will help you to understand color, even the subtle colors to help with creating an artful photograph.

She Said:

Color may make up the majority of our world, but photographing it might not be as easy as you think. Sometimes the abundance of color can be overwhelming, and sometimes it’s hard to find the color you’re looking for at all! Before taking up the challenge, grab a pen and paper. Write down a heading for each color and list as many different things you can think of under each. Sometimes it’s even worth Googling specific color schemes, just to give you some ideas of what to look for.

Next, designate a day for each color you would like to photograph. And it doesn’t have to be the generic gamut of colors either. Why not try looking out for a more pastel pallet? Soft pinks, greys, and blues make wonderful, atmospheric photographs. More earthy colors like oranges, browns and dark greens are great colors to keep a look out for in Autumn.

close up photo of rainbow colors
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

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LOOK FOR BOLD COLORS

As you start this exercise of shooting a different color each day, first look for BOLD colors. These are sometimes harder to find than the subtle colors. So, for example, look for GREEN. What would you take that is a strong GREEN color?

green pine tree leaves
Photo by Alexander Tiupa on Pexels.com

Now, as you pick a different color each day, think ahead of time of what you would take a picture of that color, and then see if you can be creative with the color chosen.

And a softer color pallete…

Once you have moved through your own assignment of the bold colors, then go to the soft color pallete:

aged armchairs near small table in patio
Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

TRY BOTH STYLES OF COLOR: BOLD AND PASTEL….

And then your next challenge would be to find a photo that would combine both BOLD and pastel in the same photo.

Focus on Photographing a Different Color Each Day to Practice the Art of Seeing
The foreground of this image is made up of bold, contrasting colors while the background is predominantly made up of a soft pink pallet. The bold and soft colors emphasize each other and create a more dynamic image. The negative space around the top half of the image is important too, it maintains balance, making sure the full extent of the color palette isn’t too overwhelming.

CONCLUSION:

While color is all around us, it’s easy to take for granted. Simple exercises like focusing on photographing a particular color each day help keep your practice fresh and unique.

Keep your eyes peeled and don’t be afraid to explore, color often reveals itself in unexpected and fascinating ways!

IDEAS OF CREATING: FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”

Ansel Adams

That said, fine art photography is less about the subject and more about the photographer. Your goal in fine art landscape photography is not to simply to show your viewer what you saw; it’s to communicate how it felt to be there and how the scene made you feel.

It was subzero the morning I made this shot in Yellowstone National Park. I added a blueish tone to help the viewer experience the cold I felt when making the image.

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”

Don McCullin

Here are some tips to consider when capturing fine art landscape photography.

Taking a picture of my son out in the Great Salt Lake, was one of my favorites. Because it was twilight, the whole scene seemed like a dream and that is what you want to do when you take photos. To have the viewer feel what you, as the photographer feels.

1. Think about what would make your image unique

Have you ever been making a landscape photo at a location where other photographers are lined up next to you also working the scene?

Most of us have.

The question to be asked is:

How will your photo will be different, unique, special? What is it about your image that will stand out? How can you put your unique signature on the shot?

The choices you make to create an image that is uniquely yours matter. Any cook can follow a recipe, and if a dozen cooks all work from that same recipe, the dishes will be essentially indistinguishable. The gourmet chef making their signature dish, however, will strive to make the meal unique.

And as a fine art landscape photographer, your objective ought to be the same.

Almost everyone loves a sunset photo, probably because of how they make us feel. Injecting feeling in your landscape photos is a large part of what takes an image into the “fine art” realm.

2. Be intentional and deliberate

When the light is rapidly changing, a landscape photographer might need to move quickly. However, most landscape photography can be done at a slow and thoughtful pace.

Rather than simply seeing a scene, positioning your tripod, shooting first and asking questions later, do the opposite. Before even touching your camera, thoughtfully observe the scene. Slow down.

Ask yourself what first attracted you to the scene. How does it make you feel? How can you best compose the shot? What if you moved higher, lower, to a different vantage point, used a different lens? What can you do to best capture your feelings in the frame?

When walking a trail in the high Uintah mountains, I came across this view. I felt like if I kept going on the trail, I would just walk into the sky.

Never be a one-and-done shooter. Take advantage of the instant playback capability of your camera, evaluate your image, and decide what might be better.

Then make a few more shots.

While he’s not a photographer and not talking about fine art landscape photography, famed hockey player Wayne Gretsky still offers advice photographers would do well to remember:

You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.

Wayne Gretsky

3. Practice previsualization

You will know your skills are growing as a photographer when you can see your photograph before you even put your eye to the viewfinder.

Eventually, you should previsualize your finished image, have the vision, and then simply use the camera as an instrument to capture that vision.

It’s a beautiful loop:

The more you photograph, the better you become at seeing – and the better you become at seeing, the better your photographs will become.

I had been to this location many times, and so I had a good idea of what I wanted when I went there to make this blue hour image. I helped it a little more with a split-toned edit.

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

Dorothea Lange

But while previsualization is important, fine art landscape photography should always be open to serendipity: those unexpected moments when the light changes, the angels sing, and the miraculous appears for a brief moment for you to capture.

There have often been times when I’ve previsualized a shot, got set up, and waited for the light, only to have something amazing appear behind me out of the blue.

Practice working with your camera controls so that, when such a moment occurs, you can respond quickly and get the shot.

I was busy making the first shot, which was nice and even had a rainbow. Then I turned around and there was a second great opportunity. Always be ready for that serendipitous moment.

4. Fine art landscapes aren’t just monochrome

Google “fine art photography,” and you will mostly see black and white or monochrome, Due, perhaps, to its long existence, as well as a good number of early photographers for whom black and white was the only option, monochrome photographs may outnumber color images in the world of fine art.

But that’s not to say that color images can’t also be considered fine art photographs.

Circle back to our definition: Fine art photography is more about the artist/photographer and their vision than the content of the photograph. Whether color or monochrome, the best way to portray a vision will depend on the maker’s intent.

I had already decided this photo of an old snag should be monochrome when I made it. You can see the color version is just okay. The split-toned monochrome shot better exemplifies a fine art image.

“What I love about black and white photographs is that they’re more like reading the book than seeing the movie.”

Jennifer Price

Now, bear in mind the strengths of black and white photography. Without the addition of color, monochrome images rely more on the basics, the “bones” of a good photo: line, shape, form, tone, and texture.

Black and white images are typically simpler, with greater attention paid to the subject. Sometimes, a monochrome image can convey a look or mood better than its color counterpart.

a bridge in the snow
I like both the color and black and white versions of this shot and think either could be classified as fine art landscape photography.

5. Don’t be afraid to alter reality

So is purposely blurring scenes with intentional camera movement (ICM) and using special digital tools to give an image a “Painting” look.

Art is totally subjective, and so is fine art landscape photography.

How you choose to portray a scene is your prerogative, where the “right way” is whatever best communicates your feelings and message.

Photo by Nora Hutton on Unsplash

And trying to do different things with portraits tells a lot about your skills. The people you photograph are going to be surprised as you show them the print of them, in a different light. Usually all of my clients are saying that they didn’t think they could ever look so artistic.


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WE will have more tips on how to create “Fine Art” Photos in the future. This will be a future blog.

Most of this article was written by Rick Ohnsman, and also Lanny Cottrell from 123photogo contributed some photos as well as Rick Ohnsman. Thank you Rick for helping us to understand fine art.

TRUST YOUR GUT:

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

In this series of ”THE ART OF SEEING”, I am bringing up the meme from Ken Lee, with Luke Skywalker: USE THE FORCE! The idea here is that if you feel positive about your photo, then trust your gut. If you feel you have a great photo, then just go for that. If you go into Post production, and things get even better, you know you are on the right track.

I have gone into Post Production before, and found it was getting worse. I stopped, and just decided to start over. Or, I let it stand with the way it was. It is all about art of seeing. Have you created a photo that is a winner? Hopefully you will practice to the point of knowing if you have a great photo, by feeling that everything went well.

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:

A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is thereby a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.

Ansel Adams

Want to learn a particular subject in photography? I have done over 1600 blogs, and you can access any subject through this great search engine. Give it a try:

LEARN TO BE STILL:

adventure asia backlit bicycle
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

LEARN TO BE STILL! In our continuing series using thoughts from Ken Lee, I came across this idea. When you get ready to take a photo, take the time to be still and learn to listen. Sometimes the perfect photo comes only after you have had a chance to meditate and think about the photo you are about to create.

Read today’s thought carefully and learn what he is trying to teach us:

Photo and thought by Ken Lee

There are many great photographers who take photos but not until they take the time to think, to meditate about the subject, and to then put it in to practice of what the art piece is they want to create.

landscape photo of city skyline at winter
Photo by Vishal Shah on Pexels.com

If you are not practiced at meditation, becoming an artist should create that in you if you want to become a great photographer.

If you want to learn more about a particular photo subject, then use this search bar below and see all the different blogs I have done on that subject. There is almost 1600 blogs I have done about photography, and all of them are different.

RULES OF PHOTOGRAPHY:

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

When we talk about the rules to good photos, there is the usual rules of composition:

  • The rule of thirds
  • leading lines in your photo
  • Don’t center the subject
  • Use framing
  • And there is a few others that may or not be important.

But, then I found this photo and explanation by the Photographer: Ken Lee.

He has found that there will be obvious situations where you need to break the rules. Read through this carefully and see what you think:

THE ART OF SEEING:

I have a major theme through all my blogs, and I write about them often: THE ART OF SEEING:

I did a whole blog on this particular subject. For reference, go to: https://123photogo.com/2019/06/18/learning-to-see-like-an-artist/

KNOW YOUR RULES OF PHOTOGAPHY:

There is a list of a few rules of composition at the top of this page. Also, to go over some of the rules of composition, go to: https://123photogo.com/2020/06/02/part-2-good-composition-makes-good-art/

The reason you want to know the rules of composition are this: Once you know the rules, and you go to take your photo, can you do the photo within the bounds of the rules of composition? If not, then it’s ok to take a photo, if you feel that the photo will be better by not going by the rules. That is the whole reason for this blog today, and using the quote from Mr. Lee above, is BREAK THE RULES IS OK. But, if you don’t know the rules of composition, then you may make a bunch of mistakes because you took the photo and broke the rules, and it looks awful.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU BREAK THE RULES OF COMPOSITION?

I once judged a state fair and was to pick the photos who should take 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the competition. Once I had completed the job, one of the photographers in the “Professional” division was not happy that his photo was not chosen. He went to the Fair Officials and said the judges were incapable of picking good photos. The Fair board officials told him that I had been judging photos for years, and they were standing by me.

His photo could have been better. And I didn’t pick the photo because it could have followed the rule of thirds and be a better picture. Some people, including those who think they are professionals, don’t know the rules. So, The rules of composition are important. But, if you must break any of the rules of composition, and it turns out better, then it will be noticed as a great photo.