repeating pattern

Photography Tip - use repeating patterns & shallow DoF composition

These are hanging lights in a dark restaurant. I just popped in and asked someone if I could make a quick photograph of them.I do not often give composition tips, nor get around to teaching them so often in my 1-on-1 DSLR photography lessons because I usually focus on the practical aspects of making a well exposed and sharp image in any given shooting conditions.  Once someone knows how to do that, then the creative aspect of photography can come into play, and that is something that can only be taught to a certain extent anyway.  Either you have talent composing a photograph, or you do not.

Of course there are some composition tips that can definitely help out, or if you find yourself using the same composition style over and over, reading a few new ideas can provide some new inspiration.  

These are hoops on a rack in an accessories shop. Same situation, I asked someone inside if I could take a few photos, and they said yes!The two example photos in this blog post show a combination of two composition techniques, the first is obviously shallow depth of focus (DoF) and the other is repeating patterns.  The latter is something I am always looking for when out in the field.  I am a big fan of including repeating patterns, the more creative and abstract the better, in photographs.  Shallow DoF can be used on any subject matter, but when combined with a repeating pattern I feel has an even greater visual impact. 

One factor for making a photograph a black & white final image

I chose black & white processing for these tires as the subject matter lacked colorIf someone asked me how do I decide to process a photograph as black & white, rather than leaving it as the original color image, I would say the main factor is the amount of color in the original.  If the original image itself lacked a wide color pallette, or virbrancy, then I would start to consider converting it to black & white.

The original color image on the left was not very colorful, so I decided just to remove all the colorIn the side-by-side comparision shot above, the origianl color images of the tires was nearly devoid of color, save for a little green coming through the fence.  Also, the main subject, the tires, were already themselves black, thus the photograph presented itself as a good candidate for black & white processing.  

So if you have a photograph without much color pop in it, think about converting it to black & white as a way of best presenting the image to the viewer.

Sailboat Dreams in St. Petersburg HDR Fine Art Florida

Sailboat masts in downtown St. Petersburg Florida marina - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 9-exposure HDR tripod mounted with cable releaseMy goal when making this photograph was to just show the part of the sailboat that inspires dreams.  A sailboat docked in a marina is not going anywhere, so the collection of hulls is not the part I find inspiring.  My eyes focused on the masts and in particular the long row of masts, allowing one to pick out their own particular sailboat to build a dream on.

This composition also utilized repeating patterns and leading lines.  I chose HDR for the exposure so that detail could be seen in the masts as well as the background sky maximizing the color gradient as twilight approached.

Look for repeating patterns in architecture shots

Using balconies as a repeating pattern composition - Signature St. Petersburg tower - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/500th - black & white processing using Silver Efex ProFinding and using repeating patterns in your photographs is my photography tip for this week.  In the above photograph of Signature St. Petersburg I composed the shot to exaggerate row after row of balconies so that they came to form a repeating pattern.  I also held my camera off-angle to create a leading line with the far edge of the skyscraper and also the interior contour that leads the viewer's eye from lower right to upper left.  Thus, in this architecture shot I combined repeating patterns with leading lines in an attempt to produce an interesting photograph.

Once again using leading lines and repeating patterns to create interest - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/200th - black & white processing in Silver Efex ProI used the exact same techniques in composing this architecture shot as well, just put into portrait orientation.  In composing and later in cropping, I paid special attention to make sure each leading line ended exactly at the edge of the frame.  Note how the lower left the line ends right into the corner, and for the small line in the upper right, just before the roof went upwards to the right, I cropped it there to keep the line straight.

Lastly, I chose black & white processing for both these images because there was cloud cover and the building itself lacks color, so no reason to leave what little color was left in the image.

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  • Photography Tip - sometimes blown out highlights are ok

    Blowing out some highlights is not always bad - Nikon D300 Nikkor 50mm @ f/2 ISO 200 1/100th handheldOne of the first things I teach to my DSLR photography students, is how to check for blown out highlights and how to correct the exposure to get rid of them.  However, blown out highlights can be ok and actually compliment how a final image looks.  In the above shot I asked the owner of a restaurant if I could photograph the pendant lights hanging over a row of tables.  I am often looking for repeating patterns as a subject for photographs.  By using my 50mm lens at a large aperture (f/2) I could making the repeating pattern shot I wanted to with bokeh while handholding my DSLR even though in a very dark interior space.

    The part of the image where the bulbs are inside the pendant lights are totally blown out.  However, I liked how this looks because it produces an overall exposure that fits the mood of the shot I wanted to make.  

    Go out and make your own photograph with some blown out highlights on purpose and post a link to your photo in the comments below. 

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