What's the best type of day to take photos of flowers? Surprisingly, not when you're taking that stroll through a wonderful garden on a sunny day. Bright overhead sun creates harsh shadows and can wash out colour.
Take photos on bright overcast days or step out just after the rain has stopped and it's still cloudy. The overcast sky acts as a large soft box removing harsh shadows and enhancing colour. After a fresh rain colours are also intensified.
If you can't avoid the sun try take an in-camera double exposure. By combining one exposure that's sharp with another that's out of focus you can reduce the amount of harsh contrast and create a glow around the flower. It's important to either use a tripod, or if hand holding the shot, keep your camera as steady as possible.
Another option on sunny days is to take the photo while the flower in covered in shade, or create your own shade with a hat.
Isolate the flower and remove clutter by changing your perspective and simplify the background. This allows the flower to stand out.
Alternatively, if you can't simplify the background this way, use a widest aperture available on the lens (F2.8 for example), and use the longest focal setting (for example 200mm) to blur the background. This isolates the flower by blurring the background.
Create a visual pattern. This works well if there are many flowers in a field or if there's a bunch of flowers in the garden. Look for interesting or repeating patterns and textures to lead the eye through the image.
Take a close up! If you have a lens with macro capability zooming into a portion of the flower can provide opportunities to make wonderful images. Be careful with your focus however, as the depth of field will be very shallow.
Thought for the Day
“To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces.” – Ansel Adams
Sometimes a change in perspective is all that's needed to get your creative juices flowing. Reflective surfaces such as windows, glass buildings and metal surfaces are great canvases that can be used to change your perspective and create some thought provoking images.
Thought for the Day
“You don't take a photograph, you make it." Ansel Adams
Eight essential tips for taking pictures in the snow.
Thought For The Day
“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” – Ansel Adams
On your next hike through the forest look down - way down and discover a new world at your feet. Along with the amazing array of textures and colours you'll find plants, flowers, moss and mushrooms invigorating the forest floor.
In this project I wanted to explore the fungi living on and transforming the forest. Without fungi the forest would collapse. In addition to helping decompose matter (and returning nutrients to the soil) many mushrooms have a symbiotic relationship with trees. Unlike plants mushrooms can't synthesize their own food from light. The mushroom helps the tree extract minerals and water from the soil; in exchange, the tree supplies the mushroom with sugar compounds.
So take a moment to enjoy these forest dwellers the next time you're on a hike and admiring the beauty of the trees around you.
Thought for the Day
“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.” Leonardo da Vinci
Over the years my work has grown to include digital works including paintings, mixed media, multi-media and photography. A recent digital painting of Opie (a small French Bulldog) is based on a photo of the dog and a photo of my friend Victoria's back yard. I placed Opie in the yard, added a pipe and placed a straw hat on his head to evoke Vincent van Gogh.
My favorite tools are Photoshop, Painter, ArtRage and Procreate. Procreate is only available for iPad while ArtRage is available for iPad, Android and Windows. Corel Painter is available for Windows and Mac. Adobe Photoshop is also available for both Windows, Mac with a lighter versions available for iPad and Android.
There's some great online resources available to help you improve your skills using digital tools. A YouTube site that I often visit is to learn new techniques is PHLEARN. This site is better for photographers than painters but still provides very valuable tips and insights.
Corel Painter is one of the leading digital "natural media" painting tools with a vast array of brushes, effects, backgrounds etc. A good YouTube channel is Painter Tutorials. This site provides a range of tutorials offered by both Corel and digital artists.
An alternative to Corel Painter is ArtRage Studio. It also provides natural media painting tools and is much less expensive than painter, although not as capable. It's a great way to get starting painting digitally.
Finally ProCreate is an innovate program that doesn't have digital equivalents to natural media but provides alternative tools to get similar effects, primary by selecting textures and brush effects. For me I find Procreate a better program for graphic arts. Again there's lots of YouTube resources available to learn more.
So take your tablet, laptop or smart phone and get out there and paint!
Thought for the Day
“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun.” Pablo Picasso
The Azores archipelago is an autonomous region of Portugal that were discovered in the 1400's by Gonçalo Velho Cabral, a monk and explorer. A group of 9 islands, the Azores is located in the mid-Atlantic. The islands enjoy a temperate climate making it an ideal place to visit, regardless of the time of year.
In October 2016, we visited São Miguel, the largest island in the Azores islands. Although October can be a bit wetter than in summer, we experience relatively little rainfall and our daily temperatures ranged between 17°C and 24°C.
So what's there to do in São Miguel? As it turns out a lot, especially if you love outdoor activities, fine dining, exploring centuries old historic buildings, viewing street art, taking photos or relaxing in rejuvenating thermal pools.
Ponta Delgada, the capital of the Azores, is located on São Miguel the largest island and locally called the "Green Island". São Miguel is very lush and a gardeners paradise with flowering hydrangeas everywhere. Ponta Delgada offers many sights including the historic City Gates, pictured above. It's also a great place to discover local restaurants serving fresh Azorean fare. One of our favourite places, Boca de Cena, is run by a single individual that is owner, chef, maître d' and waiter. It's a small restaurant with only 10 tables so it fills up quickly. We would recommend making reservations.
There's a lot to explore in Ponta Delgada, just remember that places often close early (by North American standards) and on Sunday only a few stores and restaurants are open. Be sure to visit the fresh markets, Antonio Borges Park with the large Australian Banyan tree and grottoes, and the various churches such as St. Sebastien's Mother Church. Ponta Delgada is also known for its graffiti, colourful doorways and intricate cobblestone patterns in the street.
As interesting as Ponta Delgada may be, the real Azores can be found by getting out of town and visiting the rugged and picturesque countryside created through volcanic activity. São Miguel still exhibits a lot of secondary volcanic activity such as hot springs although the last time a major eruption occurred was in 1652 on Pico do Fogo. We adventured both east and west. East to see Cete Cidades and Fogo and west to see Furnas.
On our East Island adventure we decided to take a jeep tour through Futurismo. The jeep tour was more intimate than the bus tour and provided better opportunities to explore such as our visit to the Salto do Cabrito waterfall. Our guide was very professional and helped make the tour fun.
We booked a Pure Azores west island tour to see Furnas, the north shore and the Ribeira dos Caldeiroes Nature Park. Our guide was wonderful and helped to make the experience special.
Furnas is arguably the most volcanically active part of São Miguel and is known for its iron-rich hot springs and magnificent parks and gardens. It's also known for its volcanic steam cooked meals, a unique Azorean experience! On the way to Furnas we stopped in the little town of Vila Franca do Campo to try the famous custard pastries made by the local bakery there - Do Morgado.
In many ways São Miguel is a photographers or painters paradise with visual opportunities around every corner. The image of the north shore is just one example.
We took advantage of a vacation package that included flight and hotel. We flew to the Azores through SATA and stayed at the Antillia Hotel Apartamento. The hotel includes short and long term rentals and was conveniently located close to the city center so that we could walk and explore the city.
Text and photos are copyright Eric David
What is a high key image? High key paintings and photos are images that have been created with the intent to reduce mid-tone values and emphasize the brighter (white) parts of the image. Think of an object bathed in bright sunshine so that when you squint all you see are the strongest shadows and bright surfaces. You can see the dramatic difference between a high key and "normal" histogram for the same image in the diagrams below. They "high key" histogram has most of it's values pushed to the right (or bright) side of the chart, while in the normal histogram the values are more evenly distributed and include many more mid-tones.
This "high key" style is often used to convey positive, upbeat or happy moods. It's excellent for subjects that are lighthearted or beautiful. You'll often see this technique used for portraits, flowers, or children. That's not to say that you can't have a high key landscape. Think of the sun burning through fog, everything is bright with little contrast. So the next time you're planning to create an image, think about high key and what it may add to the message.
Thought for the Day
“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” Ansel Adams
Creating an animated GIF from a series of photos is another way to turn a still image into something more interesting. If you have access to an image editing program like Photoshop, you can create an animated GIF in 10 easy steps.
Thought for the Day
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” Pablo Picasso
A leading line is a compositional technique that draws the viewer's eye into the subject matter of the image. The line(s) guide the eye through the image to the focal point. Sometimes a leading line can be very direct - a road, railway track or shoreline. At other times they can be softer and more subtle.
Leading lines can originate from anywhere in the image, but most often they start at the bottom of the frame and work up towards the subject. Leading lines play an important role to:
In the next set of images the leading lines are very obvious, created by the lines in the sand on the left or the pathway on the right. The image on the left, after drawing the viewer into the images also to the destination of the traveler.
As well as leading the eye into the images, leading lines can guide the eye through the image. In both of the following photos the eye once led into the image is taken on a visual journey.
Leading lines are also an excellent way of adding depth and perspective while focusing the eye on the subject of importance in the frame. In the following images the eye is led to the lighthouse on the left, and the setting sun on the right.
Using leading lines as a key compositional technique in your image can help you improve your photography or painting, and help you tell your unique story.
Thought for the Day
"The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work." Emile Zola
Have you ever wondered how to create those photos with textures integrated into the image? The challenge is really one of melding a good base photo with an appropriate texture so that when combined it looks natural and adds value to the interpretation. In the above "Before & After" image I combined a photo of the forest floor with the texture from an aging sidewalk. I think the texture subtly enhances the image, making it more interesting and providing deeper meaning.
If you have an image editing program (Photoshop, Elements, Painter) with the ability to combine layers you can create these photos too. Place the texture image on top of the base image and use soft light as the blending mode. You can also use screen (which lightens) or multiply (which darkens) as blending modes. It's worth while experimenting to see what works best.
Once you've blended the images now it's time to experiment. For example, modifying the texture layer's opacity can improve the integration of both layers. Or try burning and dodging parts of the image. This can help bring into focus those areas that are most important.
In the three images below the left most image is the original, the center image is the final result and the right most image is the texture that was used. Texture can be used in all sorts of ways. Here's an example of how Victoria Wallace, a good friend of mine, uses texture to enhance the acrylic painting The End of Innocence. Victoria uses the crackle in the piece to suggest an earlier time, which in combination with the vintage ceramic figurine subject matter suggests an unchangeable innocent past.
Similarly one could expand the interpretation of the original photograph by combining the physical with the metaphysical. The wood, which is present in the dock, also becomes part of the substrate of the reality around it. The crackle suggests something old and worn supporting new mushroom growth that couldn't exist without the rotting organic matter that they grow on, or the contrast between the hardness of concrete that through time transforms and breaks down just as the leaves transform to become soil for the forest floor.
Thought for the Day
"The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection." Michelangelo
Eric David is a visual artist / fine art photographer that lives and works in Toronto.