Just Add Life…

As an architectural photographer, it is easy to focus on images of empty buildings and silent streets. Such shots may well serve many purposes best. But it is also important to shoot images containing people. This adds scale, interest and, well… life. The image at the bottom below was recently used to discuss lighting for narrow streetscapes. The image above it is all of that, plus an overflowing helping of life. A wine tasting taking place in the same street a month later offered this opportunity to contrast the empty and the full. Each serves a different purpose, and each would speak to a different image purchaser. Just add life, plus appropriate keywords, et voila!

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C. David Tobie

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Backlight as a Modeling Technique

Backlighting is the method that deprives the objects being shot the light they need to be clearly seen. And yet, in some instances, it can create a compelling result. Here the backlight rakes the rear and surface, providing a textured backdrop. And enough light is bounced from the arch above and to the right to provide a modest amount of sidelight, defining the teapots that form the subject.

The familiarity of these pots mean that less lighting is actually more, modeling them dramatically, and making them an interesting study, instead of the obvious objects they would be with more typical lighting. This is the very type of lighting that artists sometimes use to light subjects for still  life studies in charcoal or ink. The result is a photograph echoing a hand-drawn black and white still life. A touch of warmth in the image color, mostly to the upper right, and a cooler “light leak” mostly on the lower left add a color range to the otherwise monochrome image.

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C. David Tobie

Capturing Color Relationships

Colors make an image sing. Color relationships make an image harmonize. The image below has a powerful border of teal, from the paint on the wall behind the mirror, which makes a strong warm/cool color relationship with the gold of the mirror frame. But the further relationships of the gold of the mirror frame to the similar gold in the painting frame in the reflection, and the wood tones of the frame relating to the wood in the reflection, tie the layers of the image together.Mirror-1

C. David Tobie

Image Control in Photojournalism

Photojournalism, or Reportage as it is called in Europe, is the art of choosing what to shoot, and how to shoot it. Since such images cannot be manipulated after the fact, photographers tend to control them in advance instead. The image below shows such a technique. With the goal of making the beach scene look crowded and unpalatable, several techniques have been used. The first was to compress the crowds by waiting for high tide, when the beach is at it’s narrowest. The next was to shoot with a very long telephoto lens, to compress the scene in a second dimension. And the choice of processing in black and white further aids the efforts by depriving the scene of the bright colors of a summer beach. It would have been possible to tell a very different story by shooting an idyllic scene of children playing in the waves, and digging in the sand, simply by using a wider lens, and shooting out to sea, leaving the clutter behind the camera.

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C. David Tobie

The View, Denied

Its easy to offer your viewer a broad panorama. But with the loss of the third dimension in photographs, such a view often, so to speak, falls flat. Layering foreground elements into the composition is the simplest technique for adding depth to an image. But a variation on that technique is to deny the viewer the bigger view, to force them to peer, in a sense, through the keyhole to see it. While this may seem a contrary technique, the result can be quite compelling. Below, one of the Porcupine Islands off the Coast of Maine is viewed through the gap between the gunwales and the boom of the sail. Yet the result has more flavor for the compression of the scene, and the addition of the other elements.

C. David Tobie

Black and White for Delayed Recognition

Some images are just too easy. If the subject matter is instantly apparent to the viewer, then techniques to make the image more interesting should be considered. Black and white is one such choice. It strips away color recognition, and forces the viewer to recognize the subject matter by form and texture. In the image below, the puzzle of the cracked, curving walkways is extended by not having green grass be instantly recognizable. Those few extra seconds are valuable in an advertisement or other “eye catcher” use. Including both a color, and a black and white version of such an image in your stock image library will give designers the option to have the more lyrical effect of the curves against the green grass, or the more eye capturing effect of the black and white version.

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C. David Tobie

Unique Gravestones for Stock Images

Old cemeteries contain some interesting stone carvings. Its worth a walk through a promising graveyard to see what surprises it may contain. A carving of a lamb. A human arm, aiming skyward, holding a torch like the Statue of Liberty. Or, in this case, a carven book. While the intended symbolism is likely to be Biblical, the stock photo value of such an image is high, since web designers and digital publishers are always searching for new images to illustrate such ideas as the demise of printed books, or e-books, which don’t have much physical presence, or many other such subjects. Keywords such as #StoneBook, #MarbleBook, #DeathOfTheBook, or even #PetrifiedBook would be good starting points for marketing such an image.

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C. David Tobie