2014 Challenge, Week 14: COMPOSITION: RULE OF THIRDS

This week, lets focus on a technique used when composing photographs: The Rule of Thirds. The Rule of Thirds is a composition technique that can be used when laying out a scene in any visual medium – including design, film, painting, and photography. It is one of the most basic techniques, but it is also very powerful. Imagine this grid superimposed on your viewfinder:

ruleofthirdsgrid

If your subject is on one of the red dots, or aligned with one of the black lines, the composition will likely appear more balanced and pleasing to the human eye. Notice how this center of this flower falls on one of the grid intersections, and is aligned with one of the grid lines:

“Rule of Thirds” by Marie Coleman

This composition feels right. The subject is immediately visible, and in addition one of the smaller flowers is on a grid intersection. Even the wires are lined up with the grid. This image keeps the viewer looking.

This guideline can also apply to urban settings just as effectively:

“Week 3: Rule of Thirds” by Melinda Seckington

Many cameras will allow you to overlay a grid on your viewfinder or on the screen to help when composing a scene. Look through the menus on your camera and see if you can find the option. This will help you visualize the division of thirds.

Using this guideline does not mean that everything in your frame must be along perfect horizontal and vertical lines. Notice how this image uses the rule of thirds effectively while also allowing the frame to be divided diagonally by the cable:

“Barn swallow resting from the hunt” by Vicki

This bold image keeps the lines straight, but the contrasting yellow line is placed on one of the grid lines. The resulting image feels more balanced than it would if the yellow line were centered in the frame.

“yellow line on blue wall” by Rui Malheiro

 

The rule of thirds can also be applied when composing a landscape. Notice how each component of this image – the mountain in the background, the trees, and the grass in the foreground –  occupies roughly one third of the frame.

“Rule Of Thirds” by Zach Dischner

Of course, this rule is really a guideline, and there are plenty of reasons to ignore it — we will get to those in a future challenge. But this week, as you look at a scene, try to apply the rule of thirds. Try the same scene with the subject centered, and then apply the rule of thirds and see what a difference it makes.

As always, please post/share a photo you take THIS WEEK. We love your old photos, but not for the challenge. The point of the PhotoChallenges is for you to set out to create a new photo, to share with us all this week. Share them with us all at our Google+ CommunityFacebook Group, and/or our Flickr Group.

2014 Challenge, Week 10: DEPTH OF FIELD

This week the challenge moves to a creative technique that can be used to make part of your image really stand out. Depth of field refers to the range of distance that appears to be in focus. The depth of field can be very narrow, with only a small part of the photograph appearing in focus. It can also be very deep, with objects in the foreground and background appearing in focus.

Notice the shallow depth of field in this image. The hand is in focus, while the neck of the bass is out of focus.

“New Toys” by Graham Binns – Aperture f/1.8

In this example, the depth of field is very deep. The heads of grain in the foreground and the trees in the background are all in focus.

“Depth of field./Profundidad del campo.” by Simon Harrod – Aperture f/11

Now, the question is: How do I change the depth of field? It’s simple! Just change the aperture. The aperture is the opening in the lens that allows light through to the film or sensor. The size of the opening is given as a number, referred to as an f-stop. Each lens will have its own range of f-stops. For example, the Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens has a range of f/2.8 – f/32, while the 50mm f/1.2 has a range of f/1.2 – f/16.

“Needle” by Dwayne Bent – Aperture: f/2.8

A larger lens opening will give you shallower depth of field. A smaller f-stop is actually a larger opening, so f/2.8 will be much shallower depth of field than f/11. Most cameras will have some way to control the aperture. Some cameras have an Aperture Priority mode that allows you to set the aperture directly. Some cameras have Scenes that will influence how the camera selects the aperture. If you are not sure about how to adjust the aperture on your camera, it might be time to dig out the manual or use Google. You can also ask a question on the PhotoChallenge Facebook or G+ pages.

“Pool” by John McStravick – Aperture f/5.6

Take some time to experiment with the aperture settings on your camera this week. Take the same shot with multiple aperture settings and see how it influences the photograph. Try to use depth of field to improve the composition and interest of your image this week.

“Spectacle” by Thomas Abbs

 

We all want to see your best shot! So, share your single submission with us all on at least one of our social media groups at Google+Facebook, or Flickr.

Now go have some fun!

If you want to read more about depth of field, here are some links to get you started:

“Depth-of-field Explained”

“Tutorials: Depth Of Field”

“Plumbing The Depths (Of Field)”

“A Tedious Explaination of Depth of Field”

2014 Challenge, Week 6: PANNING

Welcome to week 6 of the 2014 challenge! This week we will focus on a technique that can be used to convey a sense of motion in a still photo: panning.

“Terry Perkins – 1957 Nota Consul” by Richard Taylor

Panning allows you to capture a crisp image of something that is moving, while at the same time showing a blurred background, which gives the viewer an impression of movement. Of course, you can freeze a moving object by using a fast shutter speed, but a fast shutter will also freeze the background, and that is not always the desired effect.

“Bicycle downhill series” by Nikos Koutoulas

To get this effect, the camera needs to be moving along with the subject when the shutter is released, and the camera should continue to follow the subject as long as the shutter is open. This can be tricky at first, but with practice you will find that it becomes easier and you will be able to use slower shutter speeds, giving the sense of faster movement in the image.

“Untitled” by Tony Eccles

To practice this technique, find a place where traffic, such as cars or bicycles, will pass in front of you. Pick a vehicle and follow it through the viewfinder as it passes. Practice keeping the vehicle in the same place in the viewfinder, moving the camera smoothly to follow the vehicle as it passes. While the camera is moving, release the shutter and keep moving smoothly. If done correctly, you will have a sharply focused vehicle and a blurred background. Once you get the hang of it, you can try slower shutter speeds to get more movement in the image.

“FULL OF ENERGY” by Vinoth Chandar

You can try this with any moving subject, and in any direction. The key is to continue following the subject as the shutter opens and closes. Try lots of different subjects, and see which you enjoy shooting the most!

As always, please share your one final photograph with us on at least one of our social media groups, found at Google+Facebook, or Flickr.

2014 Challenge, Week 2: LIGHTING

Welcome to week 2 of the 2014 challenge! As Trevor noted last week, each of the posts he writes will have something to do with landscape photography. This extra focus on a specific genre will help us focus on a single theme, and improve in that area. Along those lines, you can expect each of my posts for the challenge this year to focus on a technical aspect of photography. For this post, lets focus on LIGHTING.

There are a few ways you could approach this theme. One way would be to look for a scene with interesting natural light. Perhaps ambient light is focused on part of the scene, or sunlight is highlighting something in the frame.

“Argentina Light” by Doug Wheller

Another approach would be to use backlighting. You can accomplish this by using artificial or natural lighting. If you are shooting on a sunny day, you can use the sun as a backlight.

“Blossom In The Sun” by Jeremy Brooks

“Beneath the leaf” by Coby Bidwell

If you have access to a flash for your camera, or access to some lighting equipment, things can really start to get interesting. Using artificial light sources allows you to control exactly where the light falls in the scene. This can really help emphasize the subject and convey the feeling you are going for.

“April 14th 2008 – Daddy Rocks” by Stephen Poff

“Photo Booth – Part III” by Matthias Weinberger

This is also a great chance to work on portraits. Grab a flash and a couple of friends, and spend some time experimenting with different lighting scenarios.

“Ringflash Bride” by Stuart Crawford

“A Portrait In Darkness” by Sean McGrath

If you would like to learn more about how to light a scene, The Strobist website is a great resource. It is probably worth spending some time on that site before diving into this weeks challenge.

We all want to see your best shot! So, share your single submission with us all on at least one of our social media groups at Google+Facebook, or Flickr.

 

2013 Challenge, Week 50: Light Painting

“Light Painting” by Josh Hawley

I’ve been saving this challenge for the time of year with the longest nights, because once you try it, you will want to do more of it!

“Blood Is In My Heart Again” by Thomas Hawk

Light painting is a technique that involves long exposures and the introduction of additional light sources throughout the exposure. The results you will get depend on the lighting used. In the first example, the photographer lit steel wool on fire and spun it around, producing a shower of sparks. In the second example, the photographer used colored gels over a flashlight to paint the walls with color during the exposure.

“Knapp’s Castle, Electrified” by Toby Keller

To experiment with this technique, you will need a camera that is capable of doing long exposures. If your camera has a Shutter Speed Priority mode, you may be able to set the time to several minutes. If your camera has a Bulb mode, you can use it to keep the shutter open longer. Other cameras may have a night mode which will keep the shutter open.

“The Garden Sheds” by Simon & His Camera

Once you have the shutter open, start adding light. If you keep moving, you will not be visible in the photo, but the light will show up. With some practice, you can write words and draw images with the light.

by Illum

With some patience, you can make 3D objects with light that appear to float delicately on the landscape.

“Train Track Light Sphere” by Conrad Kuiper

Anything that produces light can be used to paint the scene. Here are some suggestions:

  • A flashlight
  • A flashlight covered by colored plastic (gels)
  • Your phone
  • Laser pointers
  • Fire (but be careful)
  • Fireworks, such as sparklers (but don’t break any laws)
  • LED’s
  • EL wire

“Phone Call From Hell” by Jeremy Brooks

This is one of the more challenging themes, and it can take some time to get satisfactory results. But it is a lot of fun to do! This is a challenge that you can involve other people in as well. Get your friends to bring lights, and paint the scene together. The image you see above was lit by several people. It’s a fun way to collaborate with both photographers and non-photographers.

As always pick your best shot and share with the Photo Challenge Community. Participating in the 2013 Photo Challenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+Facebook,or Flickr.

Now set aside a couple of nights this week, and get out and shoot!

2013 Challenge, Week 46: DISTORTION

“A Hollow Man” by Jeremy Brooks

“Water” by Alice

Where can you find distortion this week? One great place to look is in reflections, especially reflections in water or windows.

“Salk Institute Fisheye” by Justin Brown

 

Another good source of distortion can be the lens. Fisheye or extreme wide angle lenses will lend interesting distortion to images, causing the lines to curve in unnatural ways.

“Tunnel” by Doctor Popular

And of course, you can always add distortion in post processing. If you would like some tips on doing this, search “Appsperiment” on Flickr.

As always post your best shot and share with the Photo Challenge Community. Participating in the 2013 Photo Challenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+Facebook,or Flickr.

Now get out and shoot!

2013 Challenge, Week 42: CHEMISTRY

Chemistry. The study of composition and properties of substances and elementary forms of matter. Or maybe it is the class you hated the most in school.

“The Chemist” by Martin Biskoping

What can you find this week that fits the theme “Chemistry”?

“Chrome Alum Crystals” by Paul’s Lab

If you feel stuck, do some research on chemistry in everyday life. You may be surprised at how many things we take for granted are the result of a better understanding of chemistry.

“Chemical Fluorescence in Color” by Woflram Burner

“You Found Drierite” by Chris Smart

As always post your best shot and share with the Photo Challenge Community. Participating in the 2013 Photo Challenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+, Facebook,or Flickr.

Now get out and shoot!

2013 Challenge, Week 38: ART

What is Art? This week is your chance to answer that age-old question. For this theme, I’m just going to provide some quick examples of things that came up in a Flickr search for “art”. After that, you’re on your own to interpret the subject.

“Hand in Hand” by Brandon Doran

“TEST PATTERNS” by ALL CHROME

“Alice in Wonderland: White Rabbit – Long Live the Queen” by Brandon Warren

“Cuba Art” by Doug Wheller

So what do you think? Do these images represent art? Take a moment to think about what “art” is to you, and then go out and capture it to show the rest of us.

As always post your best shot and share with the Photo Challenge Community. Participating in the 2013 Photo Challenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+, Facebook,or Flickr.

Now get out and shoot!

2013 Challenge, Week 34: Color

This week we are going to go out and look for color. This theme could be shot many different ways, and there will be subjects everywhere you look.

“16 colors umbrella” by Gavin Bobo

You could go out and find a variety of different colors, or arrange some objects of different colors together.

“Color Your life” by Capture Queen

Another way to approach the theme would be to select a single color, and make an image that contains primarily that color. This might sound familiar to you, since it was what we did for the 2012 Color Challenge

“Plans For A Future War” by Jeremy Brooks

As you look for this weeks photo, try to think about what appeals to you about color. Is it a certain color? A group of colors together? A bright blue sky above a green forest? Let’s see your favorite color or colors on display!

“Colour – love” by Doug Wheller

As always post your best shot and share with the Photo Challenge Community. Participating in the 2013 Photo Challenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+, Facebook,or Flickr.

Now get out and shoot!

2013 Challenge, Week 31: EARTH

Earth seems to be a natural theme to follow FIRE and WATER, and it’s a theme with plenty of room for interpretation.

Will you be traveling by air? One interpretation of the theme could be a photo of the literal Earth from as high as most of us will ever get in our lifetime.

“Untitled” by Michael Banabila

“Hey Earth! I am above you.” by Hamed Masoumi

“Earth” can also mean the ground, soil, or dirt. All of us can find dirt or soil somewhere nearby, perhaps in our own yard or garden.

“a handful” by Pat Dumas

“À la vieille ferme… sillons de labour… divine odeur de la terre…!!!” by Denis Collette

Another interpretation might be a photo of a globe, or perhaps a map of the earth we live on.

“Peace” by Bart

Of course, if you happen to be on the International Space Station, a photo of our home from space would win you an award for the farthest travel to get the shot!

“Aurora Australis and Afterglow” by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

As always post your best shot and share with the Photo Challenge Community. Participating in the 2013 Photo Challenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+, Facebook,or Flickr.

Now get out and shoot!