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Today's Photo Minute

The second most important question of composition is Where

The Concept:

In Today’s Photo Minute, Brian discusses that almost as important to great compositions as making sure to have a main subject in your photos, is where you choose to position the subject in the frame. Check out the video for more about the rule of thirds and why it can be the single factor that makes your images more dynamic and interesting. The following examples are a simple illustration of moving the subject out of the center of the frame for impact.

Center of the Magnolia flower placed in the center of the composition
Center of the flower now placed in the bottom right, one-third area of the composition
Center of the flower now placed in the bottom left, one-third area of the composition

The Assignment:

Working on composition is so easy to practice but it requires us to slow down and not concentrate on getting the shot as much as how we design the image that we want to create. Find any subject and make sure that you are clear that there is one main focal point in the photo you plan to capture. Take one image with the subject in the center. Then move the camera around so that the same subject is located at one of the four intersection points if you were to imagine the rule of thirds in your frame. Take this photo and then keep moving the subject to the other three intersection points in the frame capturing a photo of each. Display all five images on the computer screen and see which one you think is the most interesting composition. Doing this intentionally a few more times with different subject matters will really start to instill this important compositional principle in your general photography.

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Today's Photo Minute

Changing the color of your sunset/sunrise photos with white balance

The Concept:

Have you ever taken a photo of a beautiful sunrise or sunset with all those warm hues that we love (like oranges, yellows, reds, etc.) only to find that your resulting image was lackluster at best. Or maybe, you might want to make your average sunset photo look more warm and pleasing? Either way, one of most rewarding concepts, in my opinion, for sunrise/sunset photography is the difference that changing your white balance can make in the camera.

In essence, the mistake most photographers make is to leave their cameras in Auto WB all the time including at the beginning and the end of the day. The problem is that Auto WB allows the camera to adjust the color reproduction and when the scene you are shooting has lots of warm tones in it, the camera thinks that it should make the warmness turn cooler and adds blue back in, often ruining the effect you were going for. Therefore, if you did nothing else, you could use your Daylight/Direct Sun WB setting instead of Auto WB and likely will get a result truer to what you see. However, if this does not reproduce the scene accurately, or if you are like me and you would like to accentuate the effect of the warmth, you have some other options. In terms of using the preset (the WB “modes”) on the camera, going to Cloudy/Overcast adds some warmth and going to Shade adds even more. Or if you would rather use the Kelvin WB control on your camera, the higher you go on your Kelvin temperature, the warmer the image will be. The warmest you can do on most cameras is 10,000 degrees Kelvin. Below you can see examples of all the different WB options I tried on a photo of the sun about 20 mins before sunset last night as well as an image of the color the way it actually was.

Shot at 5500K WB, this is how the sunset actually looked to my eyes
Shot at Auto WB notice how much of the warmth has been removed by the camera.
Shot Direct Sunlight/Daylight WB (5200K) this is not a bad result at least compared to using Auto WB
Shot at Cloudy/Overcast WB, this is a slightly warmer image than the actual color and I tend to prefer this
Shot at Shade WB, this is definitely a warmer effect but still a great option
Shot at 10,000 Kelvin WB this is as warm as I can make it given the WB options on my camera

The Assignment:

Get up early or go out late and try a variety of different white balance settings on your camera of the sunrise or sunset. It is a ton of fun to not only know which setting records it accurately, but to make it into whatever “look” you favor all in the camera.

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Today's Photo Minute

Shoot and Share – Food and Starburst

The Concept:

In this Weekend Edition of Today’s Photo Minute, “Shoot and Share” we have two challenges to go out and shoot as well as share our favorite images with others. The purpose of this is to not only get the camera in our hands but help us to look creatively for things around us that can be made into awesome photographs.

The Assignment:

Challenge 1: Food – What a delicious challenge we have this weekend. It is not often you can create some neat images and then enjoy eating it too but this week you can. This challenge can include prepared dishes, fruits, vegetables, etc. and can be shot outside or inside (try by window light if you do not have a flash you can use or enough ambient artificial light). Have fun with this challenge

Challenge 2: Starburst – In one of our last Today’s Photo Minutes, I did a session on Creating a Starburst in Your Photos which you can go back and check out. This can be done with the sun but other point light sources can work as well. A flash pointed at the camera lens, a streetlight, even a bright enough refection off of a shining object (such as a water droplet), can have the same effect when you use the higher range of apertures on your lens. In fact, now would be a great time to try out various high apertures (F16, F22, F32, etc.) on your lens and see if there is a difference in the starburst effect and at what point you might lose some sharpness (due to diffraction).

When you get your images ready by late on Sunday, please share those with the rest of us who are participating as well. If you are on Facebook, please post them as a comment to this particular post. If you are not on Facebook, feel free to email your entries to brian@thephotoclassroom.com and I will be glad to post them.

Here is one more example of a starburst I did (years ago) and you can see how there is a small starburst on the reflection on many of the jellyfish eggs as well as the big one on the water and the one of the sun.
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Today's Photo Minute

Shoot and Share – Architecture and Small Stuff

The Concept:

In this Weekend Edition of Today’s Photo Minute, “Shoot and Share” Brian Osborne gives two challenges to go out and shoot as well as share our favorite images with others. The purpose of this is to not only get the camera in our hands but help us to look creatively for things around us that can be made into awesome photographs.

The Assignment:

Challenge 1: Architecture – Find a structure, building, house, etc. and practice your architecture photography. This challenge does not have to include a whole building but might be just a piece of it like an interesting window, door frame or similar.

Challenge 2: Small Stuff – This could be an insect, flower, still life or any number of other subject matters that you think would fit “small stuff” Practice your close-up photography skills and make sure to get the amount of depth of field that you want in the final image (remember the closer you get to a subject the less depth of field you will have so you may want a higher aperture).

When you get your images ready by late on Sunday, please share those with the rest of us who are participating as well. If you are on Facebook, please post them as a comment to this particular post. If you are not on Facebook, feel free to email your entries to brian@thephotoclassroom.com and I will be glad to post them

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Today's Photo Minute

Creating a starburst in your photos

The Concept:

In Today’s Photo Minute, we introduce the easy technique to get a starburst effect in your photos that have a point light source such as the sun, a streetlight, etc.

The Assignment:

Go to the highest aperture (F16, F22 or F32) on your lens and find a point light source. Be careful about looking through the viewfinder at the sun unless it is a sunrise or sunset situation or very small in the frame. You can do the same with a streetlight at night, a spotlight, a bright reflection off of a lake or a water drop, etc. and see how it looks in the final image. Sometimes you can see even more effect by shooting through trees, etc. with the sun just coming around the edge of the foreground subject. Be aware that you might see some results of lens flare (direct light hitting the lens can cause loss of detail in the shadow areas, streaks of color in the photo, etc.). Have fun seeing what you can do with this technique in different situations.