Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Creative Exercising

Greetings, volks. Welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place! Today, starting out gray and rainy, leaves Hohenfels in the clutches of a very pleasant evening!

Running into one of our friends in the grocery yesterday, I was asked about some exercises for creativity, and photographing some beautiful scenery. I thought a great subject for a post was seeded in that great question, so today, we’ll outline a couple simple ways to get the shot that has others wondering how you did it.

We’ve been posting about exercises to improve your composition, exposure, and creativity, so this is more of a review. It also reinforces how simple photographic techniques can create some winning shots.

The first thing to mention is never take the first shot. Most folks will see something, maybe a statue or other landmark, and take the easy shot. If you have to, take it just to get it out of your system, but then look for some other way to create your unique image. Walk around, check it out from every available and possible angle, view it through your lens, and try moving through a range of focal lengths. Once you’ve settled on the shot, make your image a reality. Remember, part of the creative shooting process is visualization! Edit- Take the first shot, if you pass it up, you may never get the same feeling you had at first. Thanks to Bodensee Bob for that cool tip!

Another simple exercise is to either shoot a prime lens, or use only 1 focal length on a zoom. Remember, doing this forces you to look for other ways to get the shot. You may have to move in closer to tighten up the scene, or move away to add some context. It’s a great way to change how you view the world around you!

The last 2 things are color and scale. First, on color, see how you can use it to create mood. Use your color to balance the mood and feeling, remember complimentary colors? Perhaps shooting a scene with a large red subject, shoot the subject at about 1/3 the frame and use green to fill out the other 2/3. You’ve given importance to the subject through size, and emphasized it by making the color stand out. This is also nice if you use 3 colors in a split complimentary scheme.

Using size and scale to emphasize a subject or restrain non-subject elements is a proven method of increasing interest in an image. It not only adds context, but also can be used creatively. Everyone shoots the trick photos of someone holding up the Leaning Tower, or holding someone in their hand. Moving beyond that, the ability to trick the eyes through scale can make for magic images. Using our first tip combined with this to make an image of a local landmark will stand out. Make the scale of the subject the subject. Instead of taking the Eiffel Tower, take a piece of it, and use the size as part of a composition to reference the actual tower. The same can be done with buildings, statues, and just about anything. Your photo will stand out as more than just another shot of the local scenery. Edit- Another tip from Bodensee Bob is to take the shot of the bigger piece and crop to your liking during editing. Great tip, thanks for sharing!

Hohenfels Volks:Amber Waves of Grain
ISO 125, f/8, 1/125, 56mm, 125 C/ft2 metered at the wheat.
A field of grain in Hohenfels. Using f/8 and 56mm gave me a reasonably shallow DOF, allowing the hills to blur out, and only the foreground section to remain in focus. This combined with the color of the wheat against the color of the sky brings out the wheat as the subject. By shooting from below, I was able to fill the majority of the image with the front wheat, and allude to the size of the field with the shallow DOF. Taking a higher angle allowed more of the field to be seen, yet seemed to lack scale and impact in the final image.

Of course, your best tool for creative and magic images is your mind. A really great photo can convey your reaction and feelings to the scene. It doesn’t have to be a literal rendering; the values you decide to place in each area of exposure are part of your creative process. Making the clouds a little darker than reality or the trees a little brighter is part of spreading your reaction.

I hope this post has helped get your creative regions revving. I can’t wait to see you’re your shots. Tomorrow’s post will hopefully be ready tomorrow. I’m hoping to show a method for converting color images to monochrome in a way that recalls the images of the past. Be sure to check it out.

Do you have an image to share? We’d love to see it! Is there anything you’d like to see here? Do you have a question? Share your thoughts here or at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too! Don't forget, we're on Google+, too!

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