I can't believe how fast this year has flown by. There's only 4 more creative challenges left, which is crazy to think! If you haven't had a chance to try out all of the previous challenges, [go here to see them](http://www.lavenderlime.net/creative-photography-challenge.html).
Our September challenge is:
Elements of Design
There are many basic elements in photography for catching a viewer's eye. Most of them have to do with composition, and others we have already completed in our challenges.
I wanted to focus on some of these elements to help make myself more aware of composing images with thoughtfulness. When we take the time to think through what elements of design we add to our images, it helps us go from taking an image to making an image. And I definitely want to be a picture maker!
I will admit, design elements in photography are things I think about more when I'm taking nature pictures than when I'm taking pictures of my kids, so please excuse the absence of people examples this month.
Some thoughts about this challenge:
Wikipedia said this of elements of design:
Painter and design theorist Maitland E. Graves (1902-1978), who attempted to gestate the fundamental principles of aesthetic order in visual design, in his book, The Art of Color and Design (1941), defined the elements of design as Line, Direction, Shape, Size, Texture, Value, and Color (in that order), concluding that "these elements are the materials from which all designs are built."
There is no way we could ever cover every element of design in just one month, so I've decided to just focus on a few of them. Please don't think you have to limit yourself as well...you can certainly pick from any of the elements above! I'm personally going to focus on: line, shape, texture, and I'm adding patterns (repetition) to this as well.
Lines can take our eyes throughout an image. Often called leading lines, we want our viewers to be naturally drawn to a focal point in our image. Lines that lead their eyes to that focal point help the viewers know what it is they're supposed to be seeing. Since we read from left to right in the English language (and many others), it's often best to place a line leading from left to right in your image. Of course, rules are made to be broken, so this is not must-do! Just be cautious that your lines lead into your picture instead of out of it, otherwise you risk losing the attention of your viewer much more quickly.
We all learned our shapes when we were young, right? Circle, square, rectangle, triangle, etc. When using shape in photography, it doesn't mean that we can only take pictures of an exact shape (though we still can!), but the subject holds a specific form. Flowers from above look like circles, a pine tree is a triangle, and so forth. When we use shapes properly, they can make a strong statement in our images! Don't forget shapes can be in the main subject, off to the sides, in foreground and background elements, or as silhouettes.
Most everything has texture, whether it's strong, hard, soft, waved, rippled, rough or smooth. Capturing these textures takes thought, proper angles and the right kind of lighting. Flat and front light will seldom produce exciting textures. Side and harsh light seem to work the best in making textures really pop, though proper backlighting can also work well. Also zooming into the textured item and really focusing on just that will make it stand out, giving your viewer the desire to reach out and touch your image!
This is not one of the elements of design according to Graves, but I think otherwise. I am often mesmerized by patterns I see around me, especially in flowers. But don't just leave it at that! Patterns can be found in walls, floors, buildings, clothing, landscapes and even people. Using patterns can draw your viewer in! Another great way to use patterns is to break it up with one solitary subject that completely contradicts the pattern in size, color or form.
I can't wait to see what you'll come up with in using elements of design creatively this month! It will take some thought, but as you take the time to think about it, you'll find it will come easier to you as you search and look for them!
If you want to do some easier practicing in finding design elements, put your camera away and take a few minutes to look around you. Look for some of these design elements in your yard, your home, as your drive down the street and in your neighborhood. Even watching for them in your favorite shows or movies can help you get a better understanding of them, then when you're ready to shoot, you'll be more in tune with them, and I promise, you will find them everywhere once you start looking!
To participate this month with us on Instagram, please use the tag: #2017creative_design. My team and I will be featuring our favorite images on the Creative Inspiration Community hub with the above tag!
If you're not on Instagram, we've started a Creative Inspiration Community page in FB so we can push our posts directly there. If you'd rather see posts there, www.facebook.com/CreativeInspirationCommunity/find and follow the page here! We use it solely to push our posts from IG to FB, so there's not much interaction over there. It's basically set up so anyone not involved with IG will see what we share.
If you haven't joined the Facebook group yet, and would like to, go here. I am personally terrible at getting on FB, so it's up to you all to keep it going if you want. ;)
Thank you to all of you who have joined in with me on this challenge! I've learned so much this year already, and I can't wait to keep creating with you!
Have an amazing day, and happy creative shooting!
When I post macro images on Instagram, I usually get one or more comments about how someone wishes they had a dedicated macro lens in their bag. Well, the good thing is, you don't have to have a macro-specific lens to shoot macro! To show you how easy it is to make macro images without one that's specifically labeled "macro", I pulled out my nifty-fifty, because it's a lens that most photographers own. If you don't own one of these, I highly recommend purchasing one! There are more expensive models around, but honestly, my $100 50mm f/1.8 is such a great lens I can't bear to part with it, even though it's not my main lens.
This first image shows my scene shot with my 50mm, as close as the camera would allow me to get. Then I share the same results with each method so you can see how each one performs. With each technique, I got as near as my camera allowed me to get and still have my subject be in focus, so some of them I was able to get just inches away, and others further away. I was shooting the ice cream cone at f/2.8, so I only have a narrow slice of focus. The coneflower was shot at f/5. I did not do any cropping to the images as I want to share them as they were taken. Only a bit of editing was done--I added contrast, highlights and darkened the blacks.
1. A reverse ring
This ring allows you to take macro with your 50mm backwards on your camera. To do this, you need to twist the reverse ring to the back of your lens, then connect it to your camera. Of course, you don't have to have the specific ring on your camera, you can always just hold the lens on there like you're free-lensing, but having the ring hold it in place allows you to have the use of both hands, keeps wind-blown debris out, and gives you a greater peace of mind!
When your lens is backward, it cannot communicate with your camera. You will still be able to adjust your shutter speed, but not your aperture or auto focus. If you're good at manual focus, this isn't a problem, but if you have never done it, I suggest using live view to make sure your images are sharp and in focus.
You can see that at f/2.8 the results are fairly blurry with only a small slice of focus.
2. Convex lens
A convex lens can be used for more than just macro, so it makes a great little tool to have in your bag, period! Though the magnification isn't as great with a convex lens as it is with some of the other methods, it's fun to play with anyhow. To use it for macro, just hold it in front of your lens. I find it easiest to place it directly on my lens. You can experiment with how far away the lens is from your camera lens, but this is hard to do in manual focus unless you have three hands! It gives a soft glow around the edges, and can give you a bit of reflection in there too if the conditions are right, making it look like a double exposure.
Filters are perhaps one of the best options to change any lens into a macro lens. I bought a set that has a +1, +2, +4 and a 10x. You can use them individually or stack them for greater magnification. My favorite is the +4 because it has the least distortion. These filters easily screw onto the end of your lens, just make sure you buy the correct diameter size for your lens! They allow complete communication with your camera, so you can use auto focus as well as changing all of the settings as needed. One little tip, is to make sure you have a lens cleaning cloth handy because they do collect dirt quite easily. Using these filters are perhaps my favorite way to achieve macro images with a non-macro lens! You can also use them with a macro lens to get in even closer. ;)
4. Extension tubes
An extension tube set is a great option, because once you buy the proper tubes for your camera you can use them with any of your lenses. And extension tube goes between your camera and the lens. There are two types of extension tubes, the cheaper ones do not communicate between your lens and your camera, but the more expensive ones do allow you to have that communication still. If you need to have auto focus and all of your settings available, I would look into the more expensive ones.
The extension tubes work by putting your lens closer to the subject, and allowing you to stay farther back. You've probably noticed that your camera won't focus properly when you were too close to a subject, but extension tubes allow you to be closer and almost "trick" your camera sensor into thinking it's further away than you really are. Extension tubes really are a great option if you want to be able to use macro with more than one lens. The drawbacks to extension tubes is that you lose light, so you'll have to slow your shutter speed or up your ISO. Also, I find that it's harder to get tack sharp images as easily--it does take some practice and time!
I made a quick video to show you the different tools you can use, so check it out if you want to see how each of these things work, and what they look like.
One of the final products, shot with my 50mm and +4 macro filter at f/5, 1/125 sec, ISO 640.
Cropped in a bit to center it, did some cleanup of spots and tweaking in Photoshop.
I hope this helps you realize that you don't have to purchase an expensive dedicated macro lens! Use some of these cheaper options, play around a bit, see if you really love shooting macro, then go for the big purchase if you decide you like it!
The products shown below are what I use and love--I will never recommend something that I don't personally love! When you purchase a product by clicking on the images below, I receive a small portion of the sales, though the price is the same for you. (Just please double check that you're getting the right sizes on the filters and reverse ring as I think the diameter of the 50 is now different!) Doing this helps fund my blog and helps pay for the time I spend bringing you tips and tutorials, as I do no other advertising on my blog. Thank you for your support! :)
Our August challenge is:
On the Camera
This challenge is a little hard to explain in just a few words, so the longer version is this: we are going to find ways to use the features of our cameras and lenses to create some fun images. Now, this isn't just for fancy cameras--there are ways we can use our phone cameras creatively too!
Some ways we can do this challenge:
Many of you are probably familiar with in-camera double-exposures and free-lensing. But let's not stop there! We can also do some reverse-lens macro, use a tilt-shift or specialty lens, bracket our exposures, crop creatively as we shoot, over or under exposing on purpose to create a certain look, shoot a scene blurry on purpose...and probably 20 more things that I can't think of!
This month may be a great time, to pull out the old owner's manual, give a quick look through and see if there's something new you can do, or open the menu in your camera a play around with a setting you haven't used before. It may also be a great time to check out renting a specialty lens, or finding a friend close by who has something you can play with!
I'll give you a quick overview of what some of those things I mentioned up above are.
In-camera double exposure is where you make 2 pictures into 1, by taking two successive pictures in a row. All models are different, and some cameras don't have this feature. It take some thinking and time, and using it with blurry lights is my favorite way to do it!
Free-lensing is when you detach your lens from your camera, and then bend it slightly to get a small point that is in focus, and the rest out of focus. It's tricky and takes practice, but oh so fun when you nail it! If you want to use a lens like a macro lens, just flip it backwards and try out what's called reverse free-lensing!
Cropping different from the normal, or blurring an image on purpose are both some easy ways to add some creativity to the norm.
Bracketing is used a lot by landscape photographers to combine 3 images using different exposures together. When combined in post-processing, it can become an HDR image (High Dynamic Range), which means it basically takes the best exposures from each of the 3 pictures. (So, it will use the lighter exposed image for the shadowed areas, the darker exposed for the sky.) A tripod is necessary for this, as well as a non-moving subject, but it's a fun one to try!
And while we're talking about exposure...don't forget you can under or over expose on purpose to create an image that has a high-key (bright & white) feel, or a low-key (dark & moody) one.
Here are just a few examples from specialty lenses I've used. Just call me an enabler. ;)
The Lensbaby Composer Pro is one of my favorite ways to be creative with a lens. The Composer Pro is the base, and then you can use different optics for different results. I have the Twist 60 and Edge 50. There is also a Sweet 35 and Sweet 50 and Edge 80 that I know of. They're fun, but expect to spend a little bit of money for them. Also, there is a mobile phone version that looks fun to play with, though I've never purchased it.
Another fun option is the Helios 44-2. It's a vintage Russian lens, so everything on it is manual. They have been retro-fitted for most modern mounts, so if you do a bit of searching, you can easily find one! Best news? It's dirt cheap! I got mine for less than $50! It has the most amazing flare when paired with the sun, gives your images a creamy look, and does some great reverse macro. Be aware that they do ship from Russia, and it can take weeks to get one, so if you want to order one for the challenge, do it soon!
The two pictures below were taken within minutes of each other. The first one was taken normally with the Helios lens. Then, I took it off, flipped it around and did a bit of macro free-lensing with it. You can see the dreamy quality as well as the light leak give it a whole new feeling!
Of course, there are a ton of other specialty lenses out there that I've never tried before.
Mobile Photography Options
I know there are a few mobile-only photographers who are doing this challenge with us, and since most of us have a phone with a camera, I thought it'd be good to mention that there are options for mobile phones too.
You can purchase extra lenses for your camera--they range from dirt cheap ($15) to expensive ($200). I love the kind that has a macro, wide-angle and fisheye lens as a set, because there are so many fun options! Don't forget cool apps as well! There are apps for sooooo many things, like multiple exposures, tilt shift, etc.! I couldn't even possibly begin to name them all. If you want to see what's available, just go to your app store and search "camera". I guarantee you'll find something fun!
To participate this month with us on Instagram, please use the tag: #2017creative_camera.
If you're not on Instagram, we've started a Creative Inspiration Community page in FB so we can push our posts directly there. If you'd rather see posts there, find and follow the page here! We use it solely to push our posts from IG to FB, so there's not much interaction over there. It's basically set up so anyone not involved with IG can still see what we share.
If you haven't joined the Facebook group yet, and would like to, go here. It will send you to the FB group page, and you'll need to request to join. You will have to be approved before you can get in, as it's a private group. Ya know, to keep the weirdos out. ;)
Thank you to all of you who have joined in with me on this challenge! I've learned so much this year already, and I can't wait to keep creating with you!
Happy creative shooting!
All artists fall in it...the dreaded rut where they just aren't feeling it and the desire to pursue their art just isn't there. I wrote a blog post awhile ago about being in a photography slump, check it out here if you'd like. I share some important things over there! ;) And for anyone not in a complete rut, but just ready to try something new...this is for you! Six simple ways to add some creativity to your photography.
#1--Change your perspective
This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to be more creative in your picture-taking! It doesn't take a lot of effort to change perspectives on a shot. Sure, take the shot as you see it, then don't put your camera away. Walk a few steps to the left or right, get up on a ladder or chair, or crouch down to the ground. You may find that changing your perspective just a tad can make your images more engaging!
#2--Find a frame
Now I don't mean go find a picture frame and have your subject hold it, that is so 5 years ago! But look around you to see if you can find a larger object to frame your subject. Doorways, windows and trees are perhaps the easiest ways to do this, but don't forget to look for smaller things as well like chairs, playground equipment, rails, or even between posts. Once you start making yourself look for frames, you'll start seeing them everywhere!
#3--Look for a reflection
Reflections are one of the best ways to add some extra dimension and creativity to your images. They give the viewer another look at the subject, sometimes at a different angle. Water and mirrors, of course, are great places to find reflections. But don't forget things like windows, countertops, wet sidewalks, beaches, mobile devices, sunglasses, cars, dishes or even your toaster! Adding a bit of reflections to your images can certainly make them more creative!
#4--Make color work for you
If you're familiar with the phrase of "color theory", you may already know what I'm going to say. There are some great ways to use color in your images to make them stand out. Using contrasting colors (colors on the opposite sides of the color wheel), such as an orange shirt against a blue sky, or a red flower against the green foliage can make your images pop! Using analogous colors (they're next to each other on the color wheel) can lend a more peaceful presence to your image. And using a single pop of color against a neutral background can make your subject stand out completely! Next time you want to add this to your images, think about first what you want to convey, then arrange your colors to do it!
Adding movement to your images, is like breathing life into them! It will give the viewer a sense of being in the moment, and make your subject stand out. You can freeze a moment in time with a rather fast shutter speed, usually 1/100 second or faster is sufficient to accomplish this, though it depends on the lighting conditions. But what most people forget, is that we can lower shutter speeds to capture a blurred movement. One thing can be still (such as a building) while other things are moving (such as people walking around). You can also create movement by panning--that's where you use a slow shutter speed, then follow your camera along the path of a moving subject. No matter how you do it though, using movement in your images can add a lot of creativity to them!
#6--Shoot through an object
You may be saying to yourself...how is this different than framing? Well, this is what I think the biggest difference is: framing your subject means the frame is closer to your subject. The frame will be either in focus or very close to it. When you shoot through an object, it's closer to your camera and will be blurry, so as to make a softer frame around your subject. When you shoot through an object you usually can't tell what the object is, just that there's something there.
Trees, flowers, plastic wrap around your lens, a copper pipe and a prism are just some easy and fun ideas!
If these things sound like fun, then give them a try today! Also, be sure to check out the Creative Photography Challenge, where you can join in with us on a new creative challenge every month. As of right now, we are half way through and have 6 more creative things we'll be working on, to amp up our creativity in photography.
If you would like to see a lot of examples from amazing artists all over the world, check out the Instagram hub @Creative.Inspiration.Community. We follow the monthly challenges on there, and do them in easily digestible one week sub-challenges that will help you with the big challenge. We feature tagged images as well as share tips on how to accomplish some of the challenges.
Now, go out and there and get creative!
I'm a mom of 4 boys, in love with photography, especially landscapes, macro, and silhouettes.
"To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place...I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them." -Elliott Erwitt