The sky as canvas

As you are creating a picture you must choose your canvas, and that canvas (background) is the whole setting for the picture you will take. The canvas can be anything from the background of the scene, a studio backdrop, or just a bokeh’ed background depending on the type of shot you are trying to capture.

As much of my works puts me outside with natural light I have always been a fan of the sky as a canvas. It really is a beautiful thing to capture.

The other morning my wife and I were walking and watching as the sky began to illuminate with the morning sun. I had taken my camera with me (since you never know what you will come across) and was able to capture some of the beauty that was unfolding in front of us.

This scene caught me with all the lines. They aren’t so much “leading lines” such as railroad tracks or fence posts, as you would normally look for, but rather they are somewhat sporadic and chaotic. But that was the beauty of the scene, all these seemingly random lines (clouds, power lines, grass shoots) joining in the image to allow your eye to roam around and take it all in.

Lines can be a wonderful thing to add depth to an image, they also can be used to lead the viewer’s eye to where you want it to go. Scott Bourne gives this tip, “If you’re in a photographic rut, start looking for lines. There are lines everywhere and they make great compositional elements.” (Photofocus)

Lines are everywhere, and therefore can easily be incorporated into your photography. This picture was taken in Arlington National Cemetery.

The key is in making the lines fit into your frame and subject matter. Taking pictures of lines for the sake of having lines will not necessarily work well, the scene quickly becomes too random and the viewer easily looses focus on the subject of the picture. To keep this from happening make sure that all your lines are relevant to leading the viewer’s eye to the subject or they in no way distract from the subject but rather enhance the subject.

No matter what type of photography you are into, you will come across lines, it is your choice whether to incorporate them or not.

Morning thoughts

I woke up this morning really tired, so after convincing my wife she should stay in bed and rest, I’m sitting at my computer, relaxing, this morning instead of the hour long intense workout that is our normal 5 day a week routine.

That being said, I wanted to write out some thoughts I have been processing this morning.

What makes a person a photographer? Is it simply having a camera and taking pictures? Or have we made it to be something more? I spend a lot of time trying to glean from the works of duChemin, Jarvis, Grobl and others, sometimes achieving the challenge sometimes not but always trying.

So currently I have a list of challenges on my computer that I am attempting to accomplish. It is encouraging to me to know that even if I don’t have a photography gig for the week or however long, I still have something to push and challenge my creativity and depth in photography.

Sometimes it’s just hard to keep your eyes focused on the path and moving forward, especially after a really difficult shoot. This past Sunday night I was shooting an event and the lighting was terrible. The idea was to create an environment that just has enough light to see each other, but not too much. This is great for creating a modern space that appeals to group of young adults and teenagers, but trying to photograph the event in that lighting (without pulling out your flash) is quite difficult.

I found myself shooting with high ISOs and apertures between 1.4 and 2.8 depending on the lens I was using, and still I couldn’t get my shutter speeds high enough to really capture the images I wanted. When I got home and looked through the pictures and pulled out the ones I thought were decent I just sat there trying to see the good in all of this. It’s a funny thing because as frustrating as the shoot can be, I look back and love the fact that I got to pick up my camera and take pictures for someone. I got to creatively create something for someone to use to promote their ministry. Isn’t that what it’s all about, using our talent to help others?

So in closing, as I’m sitting here enjoying the quiet morning, I’m learning to use the difficult moments in this craft to push me ever forward, taking these moments and dissecting them, in a healthy way, to learn from them. Asking myself, what did I do right in this situation, what was good about the images I’m going to use, and of course, what could I do differently next time?

This craft is something we will always be working on; there will always be something to develop, someone who is better, and something to stretch us to our limits. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I love about being a photographer.