Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Photo Tip of the Day-Rule of Thirds

A basic composition technique is "the rule of thirds". Basically, think of your image divided into nine squares.
Most people tend to place their subjects, people or objects, in the center of the frame. But when things are centered...they seem almost too balanced and fail to catch our eye. The image is static.

Instead, our eye is drawn to things off centered. When something is slightly off... we notice it.
To make your photos more "interesting"...think of this rule of thirds as you compose your image.
For example....a landscape. Avoid having the horizon dead center, splitting the photograph in a top and a bottom. Instead, experiment with more sky, or more ground...just not in the middle. Use the 9 squares as a guideline. If there is an old barn, or a person,  in the landscape...use the same rule. Place it/them off center, by about a third.

No one looks like those ads...not even the models!

We should all go a little easier on ourselves. "Perfection" is an illusion.
Here's a little sample what kind of work goes into a photo shoot for
a billboard ad.
Accept your flaws, accept my flaws,
embrace our differences, our uniqueness. It's what makes us beautiful!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Quote of the day

"There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment". -Robert Frank

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hipstamatic Baby!

As much as I love to photograph, I kind of loathe having to drag heavy equipment around everywhere.
Being a fan of "gear", it's easy to get caught up in hauling a ridicilously heavy pack, just in case you come across that perfect moment to photograph. Yet, most often, you find yourself in front of something that already has been captured a million times in exactly the same way. Booooring! Who needs another shot of the Eiffel Tower, Delicate Arch, The Statue Of Liberty?
My advice is "buy a postcard". The traditional shot has been done...it's over. Unless you're planning on doing something totally unique, leave your heavy cameras home and go "toy".

Earlier this spring, while playing on my Iphone on the way down to Moab, Ut, I found an Iphone app called Hipstamatic. It was instant love. For a $1.99, you can go completely retro, with square format photographs, changes of lenses, film and an artsy fartsy look of polaroid past.
Hiking around Moab, I found myself full of new creative juices to capture my surroundings in a way I hadn't before, with a look I couldn't do with my fancy gear without spending significant time in photoshop.
Yes, it's slow...and that's kind of the whole point.
As you pull up the app, a camera appears, and after selecting lens and film, you click the shutter and have to wait for a minute while it develops and "prints". There is an element of creative control but also the old "serendipity" of surprise, reminding me of standing in stinky darkrooms and waiting anxiously over tubs of chemicals to see the print slowly develop.

The "prints" are saved into your photos and you can then post on facebook, email, mms, to your heart's content. The file sizes are fairly small, but you can go into the settings and increase your print quality to "high" to get a larger file for prints. That will increase the time you have to wait in between photos, but it's worth it if you ever plan on printing them out on actual paper.
Now, all I need is the new IPhone 4:).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Man up?

While performing one of my favorite past times this morning (reading magazines for free at Barnes & Noble), I came across an article in Newsweek worth mentioning.  It reminded me of a few years back when Chris came home from dinner with the girls and said that he had been approached by several women complimenting him on his fathering skills. "What a great dad you are being out alone with your daughters", etc etc. I couldn't help but be shocked that all it takes for people to assume men are great fathers is to see them out with their kids, doing things that mothers do daily, without as much as an "atta' girl". I have yet to be approached by strangers telling me how great it is that I'm going all by myself to noodles with my twin daughters, or patted on the back for simply parenting....my own kids.
Why are the expectations of fathering so low that the mere sight of a man with his children make some people swoon?

The article: "Why we need to reimagine masculinity", states:
"Consider contemporary family life in Sweden. In the past, new parents split 390 days of paid leave however they liked—monthly, weekly, daily, and even hourly. Women used far more of it than men. But today, new fathers no longer rush back to work, leaving the mother to raise little Sven all by herself. The reason for the change? Smart public policy...

In 1995, Sweden passed a simple but revolutionary law: couples would lose one month of leave unless the father was the one who took it. A second use-it-or-lose-it month was added in 2002, and now more than 80 percent of Swedish fathers take four months off for the birth of a new child, up from 4 percent a decade ago. And a full 41 percent of companies now formally encourage fathers to go on parental leave, up from only 2 percent in 1993. Simply put, men are expected to work less and father more.

By altering the roles of the Swedish father and the Swedish worker, Sweden’s paternity-leave legislation has, in turn, rewritten the rules for Swedish men (and, by extension, women). “Swedish dads of my generation and younger have been raised to feel competent at child-rearing,” writes Slate’s Nathan Hegedus, an American who experienced the system firsthand. “They simply expect to do it, just as their wives and partners expect it of them.” If a man refuses time at home with the kids, he faces questions from friends, family, and, yes, other guys. Policy changes produced personal changes—and then, slowly but surely, society changed as well.

Around the world, similar shifts are already underway. In Germany, the percentage of new fathers who take a break has jumped sevenfold since the country passed its own Swedish-style law in 2007. In Japan, which recently offered dads more paid baby time, the government honors dedicated fathers by spotlighting “stars of ikumen,” or male child rearing. And with the passage of paid-leave laws in Britain (where Prime Minister David Cameron took several weeks off to care for his infant daughter) and Australia (which is hardly a dandified nation), the U.S. is now the only wealthy country that doesn’t bankroll a bonding period for either parent...

Of course, policy changes will be pointless unless attitudes change as well. In California, the first U.S. state to fund leave (six weeks of it) for both parents, only 26 percent of men seize the opportunity, compared with 73 percent of women. All told, most new fathers take off two weeks or less for a new child, no matter what. Baby time is simply not seen as masculine. The only way that perception will fade is if men who are already living double lives as dedicated professionals and parents “come out” and start writing their senators and petitioning their HR departments. 

...If men embraced parental leave, women would be spared the stigma of the “mommy track”—and the professional penalties (like lower pay) that come along with it. If men were involved fathers, more kids might stay in school, steer clear of crime, and avoid poverty as adults. And if the country achieved gender parity in the workplace—an optimal balance of fully employed men and women—the gross domestic product would grow by as much as 9 percent, according to a recent study by the World Economic Forum."

Food for thought...
Here's a link to the full article :

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Photo Tip of the Day-Try a different angle

Often we get stuck in a pattern of photographing things they way we usually see them. Looking down at kids (well they ARE short:), up at trees and buildings, down at flowers, etc.
One way to add interest to your photographs is to try to capture things/people/landscapes from a perspective you don't see everyday. For example, a hot-air balloon from above, a sailboat from on the top of its mast, someone from above...walking across a mosaic floor.
See if you can get out of the habit of just putting the camera to your eye and shooting everything at your own eye level. Get up on a chair, crawl on the floor, shoot up at something we normally look down to see. It's amazing how eye catching it is to see everyday things from a new perspective. Try it!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Photo Tip of the Day-Keep it simple

Back in the day, one of my favorite photography teachers used to affectionately yell out to her students "Keep it SIMPLE, stupid"!
What it has meant to me is to narrow my focus. Don't try to do too much. Decide what you want to photograph and try to capure it in the simplest way possible. Only include what adds to the photo, avoid everything that doesn't. When there is too much going on, the viewer won't know where to look or what you're trying to communicate. Busy photos are really tough to pull off well. Until you know how, stick to keeping it simple, stupid.

First Day of Fall

What does the Autumnal Equinox mean?
From a little googling action I've learned that "it marks the first day of fall, and it's one of two days a year when the sun rises due east and sets due west. It's the only time (other than Spring Equinox) when the sun will pass a person standing on the Equator directly overhead.
First day of fall is TODAY. Bring on the coolers temps, 
the colors, the sweaters and boots!


Check out more beautiful architectural photographs at http://www.ericstaudenmaier.com


A client called me the other day and said something along the lines of "you have a really nice camera that takes big photos, right? Can you come snap a few for me?".
Note to all non-photo geeks in the world. Yes, it is a nice camera, but it really can't take any photos by itself at all. I do that, and it has nothing to do with "snapping" anything.
As much as I love gear (and yes, most photo geeks LOOOOOVE their gear), good photos are about light, composition, and capturing a moment. The nicest camera in the world can't help you with those. Sure, once you have all those down, great gear certainly helps. Key word...helps.
I want to remain open minded about people's lack of understanding but at the same time, I can't imagine calling my accountant saying "hey, you've got that really nice calculator....".