The Elusive Landscapes

Landscapes have always eluded me. I could appreciate the awesome landscapes of other photographers but could never create them myself. So I focused in on the smaller scenes and details, and left the landscapes alone. Occasionally trying, and failing, to capture what I felt in the scene.

So it came as a surprise a few months ago when I found myself capturing more landscapes. What was going on?

With the “Blown Away” image I shared last week, I finally figured it out. The difference now is that I’m not trying to capture the “landscape.” There is no goal to fit in the entire scene or capture the grandeur.

IMG_4640

What I’m doing now is photographing trees, in context. I’m thinking: How do I best capture this tree and it’s surroundings? How do I best convey it’s loneliness or it’s beauty or it’s light? It all stems from that effort. That I end up with a photograph that can be categorized as a landscape is incidental.

Could it really be so simple? I think maybe it is. Landscapes may not be so elusive after all.

Thanks to Brenda’s Photo-Heart Connection post for reminding me of this “aha” moment. I love how the PHC community inspires and grows together! You can still join us this month, the Photo-Heart Connection link up is open until April 7th.

On the Way Home

I think one of the things I love about the Lights of Night is the storytelling it affords. There is something about looking at a building with the lights on inside that sparks my interest. Are the doors and windows open, inviting me in? Or are they closed, keeping me out? Who are the people around? And, as a photographer, I’m a bit more invisible. People don’t notice me taking photos at night, from the shadows.

This streetcorner shot from San Francisco is a great example of a story waiting to be told. There is the store, inviting you to stop in on the way home, and yet the the business man hurries right by. What story do you tell, from this image?

Handheld, ISO400, 45mm, f/4.0, 1/40

Shot during the blue hour, there was enough light from the store and the sky that I didn’t even have to change to my 35mm “night lens” to shoot this handheld. The slower shutter speed needed to get the exposure actually helps with the impression of the man hurrying home.

The blue hour is a great time to try your hand at night photography if you don’t want to haul around the tripod. Have you tried it yet?

Exploring with a Camera: The Lights of Night

Welcome to December’s Exploring with a Camera! This month we’re going to be exploring the Lights of Night. It’s the perfect time of year to get out and play around with some night photography, since there are such short hours of daylight here in the northern hemisphere and all of these extra holiday lights hanging around.

I’m going to do something a little different this month. Instead of having a whole new Exploring with a Camera topic, let’s refresh on a few oldies but goodies on the photography of night and lights. Be sure to read all the way to the end because I’ve got an extra-special bonus that I want to be sure you don’t miss!

December’s Fog, Benton County Courthouse in Corvallis, Oregon


Night Photography

Tony’s Studio, San Francisco, California

You can revisit Exploring with a Camera: Night Photography to take a look at the basics of night photography. In this article, you will find tips on everything from the blue hour, reflections, and color cast, to handholding your camera for good night shots without a tripod. It’s based on all of my “lessons learned” from wandering at night on our travels around Europe, where I discovered the fun and beauty of a city after dark. These tips are timeless… The techniques I share on getting good night/low light images while hand-holding the camera in this post are ones I still use today.


Holiday Lights

Tree Lights, Albany, Oregon

In Exploring with a Camera: Holiday Lights, I focused in on the specifics of capturing those holiday lights. Revisit this post to get some ideas and tips on capturing city lights, bokeh lights, and twinkle lights. I also take a look at capturing lights in a different way with reflections and shadows, and address the awful “ghost lights” you might sometimes find in your images upon review.


Creative Lights

Exploring with a Camera: Creative Lights will give you a few ideas beyond the basics! Visit this article to learn about layering in and out of focus lights for an interesting view, using zoom to create cool effects, and capturing the funky hologram effect I’ve shown above. These ideas lead you to more abstract creations with the lights of night.


An Added Bonus

I’ve got an added bonus for you too! In my next email newsletter, which should arrive in your inbox on Sunday, I’ll have a PDF with even more tips on night photography. One of the photographers in our local PhotoArts Guild, John Ritchie, is an accomplished night photographer. Take a look at this gallery to see his night photography work.

Last year, John combined his lessons learned on night photography with a tripod and my tips on handheld night photography to create a tip sheet for our guild. He’s graciously allowed me to share it with you all. It’s a fabulous resource! It will arrive with the next Kat Eye News so be sure that you are signed up.


Are you ready to get started? I am! I’m planning to go out in the early hours of the morning this weekend and capture the lights of night. I’ve just purchased a cable release this week and I’m ready to carry my tripod around to play with some new techniques I’ve learned from John.

You can share your explorations with us here through the end of December. Go through your archive, or go out and try something new. Share your city lights, home lights, indoors or out. It doesn’t have to be holiday-related, anything goes as long as it’s the Lights of Night!


The Replicator

We close out Exploring with a Camera: Repetition today. It’s been a fun one! It’s been interesting to see how repetition can be both obvious and subtle. After this exploration, I will be more aware of the subtle repetitions that can really a tie a composition together. How about you?

To finish up our study of repetition, I picked this image from San Francisco. There are two repeating elements in this, both the poster repeated and the repetition of the horizontal lines across the frame. Even with the repetition, there is great contrast in this image too: Triadic color contrast of the purple and green, the vertical lines of the pipes breaking the horizontal lines, and the weeds adding a bit of nature in the urban environment. The combination of repetition and contrast makes an interesting image to me. It wasn’t until after I had chosen the photo that I realized the title on the poster, The Replicator, fits perfectly with the theme of repetition. I love it when that happens!

Today is the last day you can link in and share your study of repetition. You are invited to join us! Take a few moments of your time and visit those who have linked in as well, there are some wonderful examples here. It is always good to see multiple points of view!


Have a great weekend! I'll be off looking for repetition myself, in the form of hot air balloons at the Northwest Art & Air Festival.

PS - Don't forget to enter the giveaway I have going on right now. You have until the end of the day on Monday, 27 August to enter.

Would you help me win a Vespa?

Last year, as I was learning to ride my scooter, I told my husband, “Someday I will have a red Vespa. And I won’t have to buy it either!” He looked at me askance, as if I was crazy, and asked, “How are you going to do that?”

“I have no idea,” I answered, “but it’s going to happen. Wait and see.”

My moment has arrived! Vespa USA is running a contest to win, what else, a Vespa. I’m sure it can be red. And not just any contest, but a photo contest, called “Where would you Vespa?” And not just any kind of photo contest, but the kind you have to get out the vote for.

So, I’m thinking, I have a shot here. What do you say? Will you come vote for me? You can vote for my image here. Unfortunately, you do have to create a login, but after that you can vote once per day. If you don’t see the image right away on the screen, go look for this one of Civita di Bagnoregio in Italy:

Island of Stone, Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy

Island of Stone

Scooter Sighters around the world unite! Help Kat get the red Vespa of her dreams!!