Bad weather makes for good photos.

Walking in the rain.

Walking in the rain.

This April we had 21 days of rain in Boston. This record breaking stretch of “bad” weather kept the forecasters busy with their colorful charts showing one storm after another moving toward Boston. As a photographer, I love rainy days, but I learned to keep that opinion to my self.

Rain creates many special photo opportunities if you are open to them. Next time it rains, look for the reflections on the road surfaces, or water drops on flowers, or try photographing through a rain covered, steamy window.

I use manual focus for this shot in the San Francisco Bay Area (yes it rains there too). This way I could control the amount of blur and create an abstract image. Doing so amplifies the effect of the moisture on the window but allows the subject to be enough in focus that the viewer can imagine what it is.

The viewer may have to work at it but that is good. It means they are engaged longer with your image. And the longer they look, the more they will see. My favorite part of the image is where the water trickled down making a clear path through which we can see the stripes in the umbrella. Sometimes a small detail like that is what makes the image more enjoyable.

Looking forward to the next rainy day and hope now you are too.

Suzanne

depth of field depth of feeling

Students often ask me how they can create more of a feeling of depth in their images. Photographing a meadow across from my home in PA I suddenly realized why I have photographed this same scene a thousand times. Because it has depth. It attracts and holds my attention in three ways.

1. interesting subjects in foreground, mid ground and back ground.

2. three levels of details, small blades of grass, medium size flowers, and large trees.

3. psychological depth, the dark area of the forest in the distance evokes a feeling of mystery. For me is a bit scary, and I wonder what might be lurking in those woods. Perhaps a bear?

The technical challenge in creating a sense of depth is to use a small aperture (large number) so the details are in sharp focus in the foreground, mid ground and background.  To accomplish this in the soft early morning light, you might need a tripod. The smaller aperture setting will let in less light, so you need longer exposure. 

You can see I also used the rule of thirds in my composition, one third meadow, two thirds forest. When you are successful in creating a feeling of depth, the viewer wants to visually walk right into the image and explore. Rather than feeling flat, there is dimension.

Spring is the perfect time to practice your landscape skills. I invite you to find a spot, sink in deeply and capture the deeper feeling of the place. Visual and emotional depth are a perfect mindful antidote to our fast pace daily life. Enjoy!

Photograph the essence not the incidental.

Photograph the essence not the incidental.

Leading a class on photographing blossoms in Boston the other day I encouraged students to reveal the spirit of the thing, not just the physical reality. As Robert Henri says, “Low art is just telling things; as, There is the night. High art gives the feeing of the night. …. be interested not in the incident but in the essence of your subject.

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Sometimes what is in the way, is the way.

I am out in the Bay Area this week and the weather is wonderful. I have be able to get out and do some nature photography of salt marshes, and the bay. I happened to be in a parking lot under a bridge just as the sun was setting yesterday. I tried and tried to find a spot to stand where I could get an unobstructed view of the setting sun.

It was impossible with the bridge in the way. I was running out of time as the sun was setting quickly. Suddenly it occurred to me the bridge was not in the way, it was the way. The way to capture the beauty of this specific sunset. The bridge supports were actually strong, simple shapes, so I stopped trying to work around them and used them to frame the scene. I then started photographing the bridge instead of the sunset and liked those photos the best. (see on instagram)

So here is an idea for you to try. Next time you can’t get rid of something from the scene, or life, see if you can turn it to your advantage. Shift your mindset and vantage point to see it as essential to what makes this moment unique. You can see more of my photos from this trip on my instagram account so follow along there.

Have a great weekend! Suzanne

instagram: curioussoulphotoschool

Private photography course enrollment for the Spring 2019 series is now open. Contact me for course information and tuition. 4 spaces available.