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CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY

10 EASY PIECES
RICHARD BERNABE

No. What I do offer here are ten easy pieces that might allow you to make more creative decisions with your camera. if you’re not you should be. this book and this book alone will not make you a creative photographer overnight. if not a more creative one. Ten easy pieces to creative photography. These ten pieces are ideas or concepts that can spark a creative revelation that does just that. Richard Bernabe October 2013 . I do hope you find this short e-book an enjoyable read that helps you become. Ten easy pieces. Skeptical? Well.BOOK INTRODUCTION Ten easy pieces. The fact that it is so rare is powerful proof as to how difficult it really is. Creativity is not easy and it never should be. First of all. so let’s just get that out of the way right now. even in some small way. anything as elusive and fleeting as creativity should never be easy. Sometimes being a more creative photographer is nothing more that seeing something just a little different than everyone else. a better photographer.

ISO 100 . in this example blue and yellow.1 COMPLEMENTARY COLORS Complementary colors. are often used in art and fashion since the effect is visually stimulating and the individual colors appear brighter and more vibrant together than if viewed either solo or used within other color combinations. Canon 5D MarkIII. USA. 70mm. @ f11. Wyoming. Grand Teton National Park. 1/50 sec.

1/200 sec. Therefore. Although red and green don’t meet the precise criteria outlined earlier (in theory red and cyan are complementary). contains two-thirds of the remaining color spectrum by including equal amounts of red and green. but they are called complementary (root word complete) not complimentary (root word compliment) because when used in combination. on the other hand. Psychologists and neuroscientists claim that bright. the colors are certainly close enough and the combination of the two colors achieves the same effect. I am often drawn to scenes with complementary colors. they complete the color spectrum by making the color white. For example. they complete the color spectrum. So why are blue and yellow complementary? When referring to colors of light (also called additive color mode) red. Peru. The same can be said of the colors red and green. since I do consciously seek out these colors in combination. and blue are the primary colors and when used in combination. ISO 320 . complementary colors are visually pleasing and feel balanced when used together in combination. Notice the spelling here – complementary not complimentary.When seeking out combinations of color in nature. Image this page: Red Howler Monkeys. complementary colors situated adjacent to each other can cause a “vibrating or pulsing effect” in the brain. Canon 7D. 600mm. Yes. Tambopata National Reserve. the image from the previous page contains the complementary colors of blue in the stormy sky and clouds while the stand of aspen trees in the warm morning light are yellow. While I’ve never been consciously aware of that phenomenon ever happening to me personally. @ f4. Using our example. green. I know there must be some inkling of truth to this notion. Complementary colors are often used in the worlds of art and fashion since the combination is so visually stimulating and the individual colors appear brighter and more vibrant together than if they were viewed either solo or within other color combinations. blue contains one-third of the color spectrum by being one of the three primary colors. blue and yellow complete the color spectrum and are considered complementary. as the net effect is often overwhelmingly striking. as employed in the image on this page. Yellow.

25 secs. Paris.2 LONG EXPOSURES Long exposures create the illusion of motion by introducing the element of time to the image. Low light situations or the use of a neutral density filter can render any movement in the scene as elegant blurs or streaks. Just remember your tripod! Arc de Triomphe. France. @ f16. ISO 100 . 21mm. Canon 5D MarkII.

A small flashlight could also help in this regard.3 SHOOTING THE TWILIGHT You’re crazy if you have been putting your camera away after the sun goes down. so you will need to focus manually. 30 secs. know the area well enough so that you are not putting yourself in any kind of danger. USA. Twilight is cool and blue. The Toadstools. For the next hour or so after the sun disappears (or before it appears in the morning) you might see and experience some of the best light of the entire day. Here are two tips to consider when photographing twilight scenes. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Second. ISO 160 . The lower light levels that accompany the twilight hours usually require much longer exposures than normal which can only add to the surreal nature of the scene at this time of day. moody and eerie. Utah. First. 19mm. The scene or subject will probably be too dark for autofocus to work anyway. turn the auto focus off. as too many photographers too often do. Canon 5D MarkII. @ f16. soft and diffused.

Canon 5D MarkIII.4 FOUL WEATHER Lousy weather gives the creative photographer the opportunity to turn an ordinary scene into something moody. Peru. @ f11. 28mm. ominous. The infinite varieties of weather offer infinite creative options to those who are observant enough to take advantage. Machu Picchu. 1/125 sec. ISO 100 . ethereal. and special.

A clearing storm always seems to have a defining moment when the clouds break and something magical happens. To be honest. foul weather is a double-edged sword. @ f11. the photographer. Canon 5D MarkII. For example. fog simplifies the scene by masking out possible distracting elements in the background. moody. – you can be completely shut out. Great Smoky Mountains National Park. of course. For sheer drama. wind. I’d take the clouds and stormy weather every time. too much lousy weather is almost as bad as no weather at all – clear. if I had to choose one set of weather conditions over the other. cloudless skies. Using a lens hood helps with that. If you get too much of the bad stuff – you know. if and when it does. Still. What is lurking just behind the veil of fog and mist anyway? If nothing else. both light and storm clouds are what we want in our images and you can often find these situations immediately after a storm blows through. But then again. blue. ISO 200. ready to go. threatening skies that can add intense drama and mood to my images. Foggy weather invites mystery and mystique.For landscape and nature photographers. Bad weather often ushers in fog. rain. clouds. 47mm. Light rain is shoot-able if you can manage to keep the raindrops off the front element of your lens. If you’re lucky enough to have some sun breaking through the fog (as is the case with the image on this page) all the better! Rainy weather doesn’t have to be completely avoided if you follow a few common sense guidelines. heavy rain should be avoided since it can damage your camera gear and it doesn’t usually result in very good images anyway. especially those dark. but I certainly want to be in a good place with my camera. feel is relevant. it’s tough to say which scenario is a better excuse for hitting the snooze button and sleeping in. 1/640 sec. etc. . North Carolina and Tennessee. forcing the viewer to only focus on what you. which is one of my favorite conditions in which to do photography. It doesn’t always happen. Image this page: Clingmans Dome with approaching storm.

South Carolina. USA. @ f18. ISO 100 .4 sec. Canon 5D MarkIII. Cypress Gardens. 16mm. the photographer needs to learn how to let go of the literal and embrace the abstract elements buried deep within the scene. 0.5 SEEING ABSTRACTLY In order to truly master composition.

When photographing in a beautiful location. That means just letting go of the literal. reflection of trees. then I know I have something here to work with. The literal just fleshes the image out later when the image is captured. I have to force myself to step away from the camera from time to time to just sit back and soak it all in and just enjoy. I might ask them to squint their eyes a little so the literal is mostly blurred out and all they can faintly see is the skeletal structure of the scene. I’m looking much deeper into the scene for the abstract qualities that are going to take it beyond just a pretty picture and into the realm of true artistic interpretation. although that’s not necessarily a bad idea either for its own sake. When working with students in the field. I would move on to something else. clouds and a river. The way I see it. but instead try to see the scene abstractly. In fact. Look at the image on the preceding page and you will probably see all the literal elements contained within it. There are reeds. lines. and bright. “Is this an interesting ab- stract design that holds my attention?” If not. I could ask myself. you would look for interconnecting shapes. Now you mostly see a poorly drawn half oval shape and some radiating lines. That’s important for many different reasons. It’s a pretty scene that appeals to our human sense of aesthetics. So for example. That doesn’t mean you should start making abstract images. trees. or lily pads. vibrant green colors. The literal elements are gone and all that’s left is the abstract. balance and how they relate to each other and the surrounding image frame. there is always time to sit back and appreciate the beauty of nature. But when it’s time to get to work. Now look at the image on this page. Pretty scenes are a dime a dozen.One of the best pieces of advice I can give to a beginning photographer to help he or she see and create better compositions – an aspect of photography with which most beginning photographers say they struggle – is to let go of the literal elements of a scene and embrace the underlying abstract qualities buried beneath it all. It’s the same except you don’t readily notice the reeds. rocks. If yes. it’s all too easy to be seduced by the scene’s literal beauty and overlook what really makes a strong composition. instead of seeing a scene for its mountains. lily pads. This is very good practice if you’ve never tried it before. . reflections of trees.

which don’t contribute to the essence of the overall composition. is becoming ever more popular today in art and design. artists. The true nature of a subject’s character is only revealed after all non-essential elements and details. ISO 100 . 105mm. @ f18. busy. or minimalism. A Zen master might surely offer a nod to that sentiment. South Carolina. Counterpoised to the cluttered. and designers come to understand in due time.6 VISUAL ECONOMY Visual economy. clean and simple design is winning the day and the marketplace is keeping score. many weary souls are seeking refuge in simplicity wherever it can be found. Or he wouldn’t – just to have it achieve even greater effect. From art and fashion to the relief of our computers and automobiles. The most effective design is often the result of the least design. Hunting Island. and frazzled realities of modern life. USA. 30 secs. More is usually less just as less is quite often more. Canon 5D MarkII. This is the apparent paradox that most photographers. are eliminated.

ISO 320 THE HUMAN ELEMENT . Canon 5D MarkIII. @ f11.7 The addition of the human form in a landscape not only introduces a sense of scale. Namibia. 1/40 sec. that could be me! That should be me! It’s much easier now for the viewer to forge a strong emotional connection with the scene. but it also invites the viewer to live vicariously through the image. 22mm. Namib-Naukluft National Park. “Hey.

Canon 7D.6. Back lighting. Lake Clark National Park. Alaska. 400mm.8 BACK LIGHTING If you have been taught that the sun should always be at your back when doing photography. you are the victim of a grave injustice. shooting into the direction of the sun. @ f5. offers some of the most dramatic lighting conditions you will encounter. USA. ISO 640 . 1/1600 sec.

a lighting option we call front lighting. hair. And let’s be honest. we need to move beyond the boring and predictable. The image on this page illustrates how fog or mist can capture and hold the light when back lit. right? Instead. feathers. Again. it pales in comparison to the back lit version you see here. which is a lot more interesting and dramatic than the conventional front-lit angle that we see in guidebooks and photo magazines all the time.Most photographers opt for shooting with the sun directly behind them. USA. but there’s no denying that back lighting produces a result that is far more powerful and eye catching. In the example from the previous page. it’s easy. A lens hood rarely helps in these instances so you might have to use your hand or hat to help shield the lens from the sun. As interesting as this forest scene was front-lit after turning around in the other direction. the back lit sun will give these subjects a vivid glowing effect. or leaves. In other words. While shooting directly into the sun can result in dramatic results. it’s also boring and predictable. The radiating beams of light in the fog. Image this page: Del Norte Redwoods. there is a downside to all the even illumination I referred to earlier. the subject and scene will appear flat and two dimensional. due to the strong back lighting. If we want to be creative photographers. ISO 500. This is the rim light I was referring to earlier. If your subject has any translucent materials such as fur. . you can get even more dramatic results. Canon 5D MarkIII. you need to be aware of that nasty flare and ghosting if direct light grazes off the front element of the lens. With front lighting. the direction of the sun produced brilliant rim light around the bear. California. “Point your shadow at the subject” is their mantra since they can be sure that in this way. you can express your subject or scene much more creatively by shooting into the sun for instant drama. 24mm. Now I’m not saying that shooting with the sun at your back is always a bad idea (especially since I do it all the time) but limiting yourself to only this lighting option certainly is a bad habit. are what transforms this good scene into a truly captivating one. @ f13. 1/30 sec. as is the case with the bear’s fur. the subject will be evenly illuminated. there’s nothing wrong with those interpretations. With the sun at your back. With fog.

Canon 5D MarkII. Lines and “S” curves also help give an image structure and establish flow and direction. Patagonian Argentina. preventing it from becoming visually static. up or down. or diagonal. As long as they are purposeful and meet the intentions of the photographer. stopping only when it reaches the photographer’s pre-designed. literal or merely implied. from corner to corner. 18mm..9 LEADING LINES The use of leading lines is powerful and effective compositional tool that helps the photographer “lead” the viewer’s eye through the image. straight or curved. ISO 100 . 1. the viewer’s eye is moving. @ f18. they can be useful in giving the image dynamic flow. vertical. The lines can be horizontal.3 secs. intended resting place. Leading and curved lines control and manipulate the visual experience by bringing the viewer along a dynamic journey through the scene in a very specific way that the photographer intends. All the while. Bahia Tunnel at Lago Viedma. near to far.

in a fraction of a second.6.” Saint Augustine. 275mm. USA. Florida. of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression. photography is the simultaneous recognition.10 THE DECISIVE MOMENTS To quote the great Henri Cartier-Bresson. Canon 7D. “To me. 1/1600 sec. @ f5. ISO 800 .

Popular Photography. American Express. National Parks. . visit his website at www. To learn more about Richard’s work.richardbernabe. Audubon. The Sierra Club. and many others. it’s interactive). Richard is a highly sought-after teacher and public speaker who accepts many invitations from around the world each year in order to help educate others on matters of photography. adventure travel. Orvis. His editorial clients include The National Geographic Society. and our natural world. Outdoor Photographer. Apple. and more. Patagonia. His passion for adventure has been the driving force behind his life’s quest to capture the moods and character of the world’s most amazing places.com (click the link. Microsoft. REI. from Africa to the Amazon to the Arctic and countless places in between. and travel photographer and author from the United States.ABOUT RICHARD BERNABE Richard Bernabe is a an internationally renowned landscape. wildlife. Corporate clients include Canon.

ORDER HERE Essential Light: Photography’s Lifeblood by Richard Bernabe $7. color and how it influences the quality and aesthetics of your images. and more. color. This eBook covers the basics on light. common mistakes. ORDER HERE . shapes. you can visit the Earth and Light Digital Media website for additional resources and information. you can click on the following link to take you to Earth and Light’s website: www. perspective. intensity. patterns.ADDITIONAL RESOURCES For more information and books about photography. direction. If you currently have Internet access. Essential Light will teach you all you ever wanted to know about natural light: its moods and characteristics. it’s interactive).earthandlight. lines.95 Light really is the lifebloods of photography. balance. Essential Composition: A Guide For The Perplexed by Richard Bernabe $7.95 The essential composition guide for both beginning and advanced photographers.biz (click the link.