Conflicting Color Palettes

Color palettes are groups of related colors, such as primaries, or pastels. There are palettes associated with certain holidays, or seasons. Conflicting palettes can create striking images that grab the eye, and demand further consideration. This can be valuable in locations where images compete for the eye. The image below includes two classic color palettes: the hot summer colors of the sailboat, and the more natural fall foliage colors of the trees. The challenging relationship between these two palettes creates a memorable, and eye-catching, image.Sailboat-1

C. David Tobie

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Amusing Signs

There are few ways to get more smiles, or more attention, than images of amusing signs. This can range from intentionally witty ones, to signs with poor grammar, to signs that seem normal in one location, but very odd to those from other places, to unintentional placement of signs. Stock up!

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C. David Tobie

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

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

Tool Marks, as a Bridge to the Past

Photography is often used to tell the story of the past, through the documentation of artifacts. Often, the objects involved are known to the viewer, so searching for other facets to make a more vital link through time is important. Tool marks, in this sense meaning the handcrafted textures left on wood, stone, and metal as it is crafted, can be such a link. Here, the fronts of these ancient grave markers are not shown, to instead tell the story of the making of these markers, including the very unique saw and chisel marks on the roughhewn back of one of the stones. The flags, the maple tree, the late summer flowers, and the deep summer sky all add to the story, but the texture of the stones is the unique detail that makes the image memorable.

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C. David Tobie

The Challenge of Flag Closeups

Shooting images containing flags is a thankless task; a dozen good compositions may all be rejected because the flag is not in a photogenic pose. Shooting flags by themselves presents other challenges: everyone knows what the subject matter is, and finding a unique way of framing it is important. Macros of just a portion of a flag will produce interesting images with all the needed content, without all the usual real estate. Adding further elements such as motion blur and selective focus can function to abstract the image, while still leaving the colors and forms clearly visible. One such example is shown below, offering a more poetic, less literal flag image, which would be a good seller for stock image use.

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C. David Tobie

Pleasing Decay in Architectural Detail Shots

It is easy to miss the photographic potential of pleasing decay. Until framed and displayed as art, it has the habit of just looking messy. Keeping an eye out for locations where a shot can depict aging, and perhaps the layers of paint, masonry, or stucco applied over time can be rewarding.

In the shot below, an arch top window long ago infilled with bricks and stones of differing sizes and colors, then plastered and painted over at various times provides an interesting story, once isolated and focused on. It would have been all to easy to pass by the alley where this deteriorating wall was located, in a town full of architectural beauty.FilledArchC. David Tobie