Archive for the ‘Workshops’ Category

The Importance of Foreground Composition

May 25, 2009

Photo © Copyright Jason Keefe

Composition is the most important element for great photos. I’ve written before about the importance of good composition in the Photobird Daily article “Composition Is Key” which you can find as part of Photobird’s Simple Guide to Great Photos.

In his Fine Art Photography Review of Jason Keefe’s photo which is shown above, fine art photographer and workshop instructor Alain Briot of Beautiful-Landscape.com explains how important it is to ensure the foregrounds of your photos are well composed. In Jason Keefe’s photo above of a snowy terrain overlooking the Grand Canyon, the snow and the rocks in the foreground are the main focus in the photo and therefore, as Alain Briot explains, they need a more prominent pattern to make looking at the photo a more pleasurable activity. Alain Briot also points out that in general, if the foreground in your photo is not interesting, then it’s just “there”, and the foreground won’t be as interesting as it could be. In Jason Keefe’s photo, Alain Briot shows us that in some cases, cropping might help the composition of the photo, but cropping is not ideal in this case because then the Grand Canyon looks small which is not good.

Alain Briot further explains that in order for the audience to enjoy your work and to make sense of what’s in the photo, they need to be able to clearly see everything that’s going on in the photo. If something is ambiguous in the photo and they’re not sure exactly what’s going on, your audience is going to move on to the next photo that they can understand and they’re going to forget about yours. For example, in Jason Keefe’s photo, it’s not good to leave the audience wondering what else lies beyond the photo. In this photo, parts of rocks that lie on the edge of the photo and rocks that are cut by the frame of the photo can make us wonder what else lies beyond the photo, which is not good. Instead, the borders of the photo should be nice and clean.

The lesson to be learned in this Fine Art Photography Review is that photographers need to be more aware when on location of how much of the foreground to include and exactly what objects in the foreground to include.

In his Fine Art Photography Reviews, Alain Briot analyzes your photos via free, 10-minute QuickTime movies. Alain Briot uses the audio of the QuickTime movies to explain his analysis of the photos while the video is used to show the changes he makes to the photographs as if you’re looking over his shoulder watching his computer monitor.

I enjoy watching and learning from these reviews and I think you will too. I’ve written about more of Alain Briot’s Fine Art Photography Reviews in the Photobird Daily in the articles “Color or Black and White? Which is Better?“, “The Quality of Light“, and “Reflections and Composition“.

If you like watching these reviews, you may also like Alain Briot’s workshops and DVDs. Alain Briot studied at the Academie des Beaux Arts in Paris and he conducts workshops throughout the year, which we’ve highlighted in the Photobird Daily before. Here’s a list of his 2009 workshops, which are mostly sold out. The materials he teaches in his workshops are also available on DVD which I’ve written about in this article in the Photobird Daily.

Find out more at Alain Briot’s website, Beautiful-Landscape.com.

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Composition Is Key

April 22, 2009

“San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge at 5:30am”
© Copyright Ed Krimen

Composition is the key element for great photos. If everything else with your photo is not correct — such as bad color, poor lighting, image noise, and imperfect subjects — but your photo is well composed, you can usually fix the other things and still come out with a good photo.

If the composition isn’t perfect right out of the camera, you can often crop the photo to get the desired composition, but you must start off with a reasonably well-composed photo. You can find details about cropping photos to improve their composition in the Photobird Daily article “How to Crop Photos to Improve Them“. The photo shown above, “San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge at 5:30am” by Ed Krimen, could probably use a little cropping or editing at the bottom of the photo to remove the pole in the lower left; otherwise, I’m very happy with it.

This article, “Composition Is Key“, appears in “Photobird’s Simple Guide to Great Photos“, which you can also find linked from the Photobird Daily home page.

You’ll continue to see new references in the Photobird Daily about the importance of composition, but for now, please see the articles below about composition; you’ll find them helpful and they have already appeared in the Photobird Daily.

Beginners:

Advanced:

Please let us know in the comments if you have any questions or comments about these articles.

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Reflections and Composition

April 6, 2009

Photo © Copyright Chris Sandberg

I’m a big proponent of the importance of composition and its significance for ensuring your photos turn out great. In fact, I’ve written before about the importance of good composition in the Photobird Daily article “Composition Is Key” which you can find as part of Photobird’s Simple Guide to Great Photos.

In his Fine Art Photography Review of Chris Sandberg’s photo which is shown above, fine art photographer and workshop instructor Alain Briot of Beautiful-Landscape.com explains how important it is to take multiple photographs of the same scene from various positions and angles. These multiple photographs will represent the different photographic possibilities that are available. Of course, you can only take these photos in the field, on location. Then, when you’re reviewing your photos on your computer, you can determine at that point which perspective, which of those different photographic possibilities, is the best.

Improving the composition of a photo later on your computer can be difficult if not impossible, so it’s important to determine at the scene what you should include in the composition of your photo. This is especially important when you’re photographing reflections in Monument Valley as Chris Sandberg did. It doesn’t rain very much in Monument Valley, so when there’s water pooling as in Chris Sandberg’s photo above, it’s a great opportunity to photograph reflections. When you’re photographing reflections, you’re photographing the mirror image in the water, so how you compose is very important.

In his Fine Art Photography Reviews, Alain Briot analyzes your photos via free, 10-minute QuickTime movies. Alain Briot uses the audio of the QuickTime movies to explain his analysis of the photos while the video is used to show the changes he makes to the photographs as if you’re looking over his shoulder watching his computer monitor.

I enjoy watching and learning from these reviews and I think you will too. I’ve written about more of Alain Briot’s Fine Art Photography Reviews in the Photobird Daily in the articles “Color or Black and White? Which is Better?“ and “The Quality of Light“.

If you like watching these reviews, you may also like Alain Briot’s workshops and DVDs. Alain Briot studied at the Academie des Beaux Arts in Paris and he conducts workshops throughout the year, which we’ve highlighted in the Photobird Daily before. Here’s a list of his 2009 workshops, which are mostly sold out. The materials he teaches in his workshops are also available on DVD which I’ve written about in this article in the Photobird Daily.

Find out more at Alain Briot’s website, Beautiful-Landscape.com.

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The Quality of Light

March 4, 2009

Photo © Copyright Allen Lenth

The quality of light in a photograph can make the difference between a good photo and a bad photo. The composition of a photo can also make the difference between a good photo and a bad photo. I’ve written before about the importance of good composition in the Photobird Daily article “Composition Is Key” which you can find as part of Photobird’s Simple Guide to Great Photos.

Fine art photographer and workshop instructor Alain Briot of Beautiful-Landscape.com discusses the quality of light and composition in his latest Fine Art Photography Review featuring photos by Allen Lenth. Allen Lenth submitted two photographs, which Alain Briot analyzes in his free 13-minute QuickTime movie. Alain Briot uses the audio track of the QuickTime movie to explain his analysis of the photos while the video track is used to show the changes he makes to the photographs as if you’re looking over his shoulder watching his computer monitor.

In his free review of Allen Lenth’s photographs, Alain Briot explains that the poor composition and harsh, direct sunlight shown in the photo above results in a bad photo and causes a “visual headache”, even though it probably was nice being at the scene at the time.

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How to Photograph the Slot Canyons

February 25, 2009

“Flames (Lower Antelope Canyon)”
© Copyright Ben Hattenbach

The slot canyons of the Southwestern United States are one of the most unique and picturesque locations to shoot. But unlike the usual landscape photography guidelines, slot canyons require a totally different approach to capture their beauty.

Ben Hattenbach’s gorgeous photos demonstrate that he knows what’s needed to shoot the curvy and radiant slot canyons. His photo “Flames (Lower Antelope Canyon)” is shown above.

Ben Hattenbach has written an article at The Luminous Landscape website that explains what you need to know to improve your chances of creating your own gorgeous slot canyon photos. He explains the following tips in his article:

  • When To Go – Between 10am and 2pm, when the sun is overhead.
  • Search for Reflected Light – Avoid direct sunlight and the visible sky in your photos.
  • Avoid Lens Flares – Use lens hoods, hands, hats, even the canyon ledges to avoid the flares.
  • Proper Exposure – Avoid blown highlights, keep your eye on your histogram, and experiment.
  • Dynamic Imagery – There’s more than just colorful rock walls in the slot canyons.
  • Essential Equipment – A tripod, cable release, polarizing filter, and some plastic Saran Wrap to protect your camera from dust.
  • Locations – Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons, Water Holes Canyon, Paria Canyon, and private Navajo canyons.

Read Ben Hattenbach’s article to ensure that you’re ready to capture the slot canyons the next time you’re in the neighborhood of the Southwestern United States.

If you’d like some personal assistance photographing the slot canyons, consider one of Alain Briot’s Antelope Canyon Workshops. A couple of them are already sold out for this year, but there’s still a few slots available in the fall workshop. Read more about it in the Photobird Daily article “Alain Briot’s 2009 Workshops“.

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Photographic Tales from Antarctica

February 18, 2009

“Crystal Sea. The Gullet, Antarctica – January, 2009”
© Copyright Michael Reichmann

Professional photographer Michael Reichmann and 76 other photographers traveled for two weeks in Antarctica last month and he wrote about his experience with the photographic gear that was used on the trip. We wrote about this trip in the Photobird Daily over a year ago in the article “Wanderlust Antarctica“. Michael Reichmann’s website, The Luminous Landscape, had a contest and the prize was a seat on this expedition, valued at more than $15,000.

I encourage you to read the article at Luminous-landscape.com if you’re interested in professional photography gear and traveling to exotic locations.

Here’s a synopsis of what Michael Reichmann covers in his article:

  • Goodies – On an expedition costing thousands of dollars per participant, there’s bound to be some expensive photographic toys to play with (and to be marketed) on the trip. WhiBal, a white balance card system, was provided to every member of the expedition. WhiBal isn’t very expensive though. The expensive toys were the Phase One P45+ and P65+ digital backs capable of 39 megapixels and 60 megapixels, respectively. They cost tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Cameras and lenses – Michael Reichmann brought his two Sony Alpha A900 camera bodies along with seven lenses. That was his main camera system for the trip. Like many other photographers on the trip, he also brought along a Canon Powershot G10 as his pocket camera. He was loaned a Phase One 645 camera and P65+ digital back to take on the trip as well as a Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Nikon DSLRs were also used on the trip, as were medium-format cameras.
  • Failures – Canon cameras didn’t seem to survive well on this trip. Nikon cameras fared much better.
  • Bags – Michael Reichmann took three equipment bags with him on this trip, including a 30-pound backpack that fit in the airplane’s overhead compartment and carried two camera bodies, six lenses, a flash, filters, accessories, flashlights, cleaning tools, rain covers, and more. He also had a shoulder back for his 15″ Apple MacBook Pro, two 500GB hard drives, and personal items, such as wallet and passport. He had a duffle bag which contained a tripod.
  • Lessons learned – Michael Reichmann has traveled with photography gear countless times before, so he has a lot of experience doing this, but his first lesson learned was that, as always, he brought too much stuff with him. He estimates that he brought 50% more gear than he needed.

Read his article for an interesting look at some of the photographic equipment challenges experienced on this Antarctic expedition.

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“Mesa Sunset”, by Alain Briot

February 16, 2009

“Mesa Sunset”
© Copyright Alain Briot

Alain Briot’s Print of the Month Photograph Number Seventy-One is shown above and is entitled “Mesa Sunset“. I like this photo a lot. I like the colors, shapes, and patterns in the cloudy sky during the sunset and the colorful landscape below. Seeing the red bands in the rock makes me want to find out more about how the landscape was created.

“Mesa Sunset” was created with Alain’s Phase One P45 digital back mounted on a Hasselblad V camera with a Zeiss 80mm lens. The Phase One P45 digital back captures 39-megapixel photos and each photo can be as large as 44 megabytes. Click the photo above to see a larger, clearer version.

Alain Briot is offering “Mesa Sunset” for sale matted and framed for $325 with free worldwide shipping or just matted for $225 with free worldwide shipping. All the materials are archival quality and all purchases are covered by Alain Briot’s unique one-year, 100% money-back guarantee. The copyright logo shown above is not present on the actual fine art print that you receive. With your purchase, you also receive the Master File on CD, which is a Photoshop file that contains all of the adjustment layers he created to optimize the photo.

For more details on this offer, visit Alain Briot’s website at Beautiful-landscape.com.

If you’d like to learn more about how to create beautiful photos like the one above, be sure to check out Alain Briot’s 2009 Workshops in the Southwestern United States. We’ve written about them before in the Photobird Daily. Not only is Alain Briot a famous landscape photographer, but he’s also a trained instructor with over 6 years of experience teaching photography and communication at graduate and undergraduate levels. Alain Briot has been photographing since 1980 in Europe and studied art at the Academie des Beaux Arts in Paris.

If you’d like to learn more but are limiting your travel this year, take a look at Alain Briot’s workshops on DVD. Alain Briot has made available 3 DVDs that provide you with the exact same knowledge taught in his workshops. You can study the materials anywhere you want and as many times as you want, without having to try to remember everything that was taught in a two-day seminar. The price of these DVDs is comparable to that of a seminar, but you don’t need to travel anywhere. Plus, Alain Briot provides free updates of new techniques.

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Alain Briot’s 2009 Workshops

January 19, 2009

“Venus Kondos photographing”
© Copyright Alain Briot

If two of your New Year’s resolutions include learning more about photography and experiencing more of America’s beautiful outdoors, then you can cross out both items on your list by attending a photography workshop this year with Alain and Natalie Briot in the Southwestern United States.

Alain Briot is a famous landscape photographer and a trained instructor with over 6 years of experience teaching photography and communication at graduate and undergraduate levels. Alain has been photographing since 1980 in Europe and studied art at the Academie des Beaux Arts in Paris. Alain’s wife, Natalie, is a painter and certified art teacher, and has been teaching since 1992.

Together, they take you to the places they know intimately, the places they have explored inside and out for many years, their huge “backyard” also known as the Southwestern United States, and provide one-on-one attention to help you improve your photography skills and return home with your own gorgeous photographs.

About half of this year’s workshops are already sold out. We’ve covered them here before in the Photobird Daily. The sold out workshops include:

Some workshops are still available, mostly in the second half of the year, which gives you plenty of time to plan.

If your bags are already packed, and you and your camera are ready to go, the Trilogy Seminars, which cover Composition, Printing, and Marketing your photos, are being held February 14-22, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. Details of the Trilogy Seminars are here.

If you prefer a workshop later in the year, consider these workshops which are still open to attendees:

For more details on these workshops, Alain and Natalie Briot, and to see photos of workshop participants honing their craft, visit Beautiful-landscape.com.

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Fashion Photography, by Bruce Smith

December 30, 2008

So you got a new digital camera for Christmas. And somehow you were able to take a few photos without getting your finger on the lens. And now you say you’re ready to photograph the world’s elite supermodels.

Not so fast!

First, you need to get the book Fashion Photography by Bruce Smith. Bruce Smith has been a world-class fashion and beauty photographer for thirty years, and he also teaches master classes in France, Italy, and the United States, as well as runs workshops in the United Kingdom. In his new book Fashion Photography: A Complete Guide to the Tools and Techniques of the Trade, Bruce Smith explores every aspect of fashion photography, from high-end couture and beauty for both editorial and commercial clients, to runway, swimwear, lingerie, and more. His book provides the information, inspiration, and tips and tricks the aspiring fashion photographer needs to create stunning, commercial pictures and to open industry doors.

At nearly 200 pages, Fashion Photography by Bruce Smith provides you with the knowledge necessary to get a good head-start in the industry. The book starts with a very brief look at the equipment you’ll need, including the different types of cameras available, computers and software, studio lighting, location lighting, and other equipment. Needless to say, at two pages dedicated for each of those topics, you’re not going to learn everything you need to know about cameras in two pages, but I think that’s expected; you should learn more about cameras from other sources and your own experience. The brevity in this part of the book seems to serve merely as an introduction and starting point for the book.

Next, Bruce Smith explains building and working with your team of assistants, stylists, makeup artists, and models. He provides insight into showing respect to models and other members of the team to ensure everyone works together well to produce the best pictures possible. He writes: “If you want to get the best out of your models, don’t do anything that will upset them or cause them to lose respect for you as the photographer. It’s all part of generating a good vibe. The same can be said about any member of your team. Show everyone respect and you will gain respect yourself. You will also have a happy team that thrives on positive energy — pictures don’t work without it!”

In his book Fashion Photography, Bruce Smith covers a very wide range of topics, including but not limited to pre-production steps such as building a set, various types of lighting, and production considerations on the day of the shoot such as metering, composition, and directing models. In the last part of the book, Bruce Smith writes about many more topics such as post-production work and editing, marketing yourself, and developing your individual style.

The book seems to be very thorough in covering what’s needed to get started in fashion photography. Most importantly, the advice seems sound. Fashion Photography is well designed with very large, inspirational photographs. The text could be larger and heavier, but I guess that would also mean the book would need to be larger and more expensive. Nonetheless, the content is very valuable if you’re looking to expand into fashion photography. It’s a bargain at less than $20 on Amazon.com.

Fashion Photography is published by my favorite book publisher, Amphoto Books, which also publishes Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson. Understanding Exposure is listed as a prize each month for the Photobird Photo Contest, but the winners actually get to choose a book. Winners may choose one of the books listed on the page at http://amphotobooks.com ; click the book covers and if “Amphoto” is listed under the ISBN number at the top, then the book is available as a prize. The following books are also available as prizes:

Enter the Photobird Photo Contest for your chance to win Fashion Photography!

Before you buy Fashion Photography or anything else on Amazon.com, please click one of our Amazon.com links anywhere on Photobird.com. For each product you buy after your click, we receive a small referral fee, at no additional cost to you. Your clicks and purchases allow us to continue to publish the Photobird Daily and the Photobird Learning Center. Thank you for your support!

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Alain Briot’s Workshops on DVD

December 17, 2008

“Round Rock Clouds”
© Copyright Alain Briot

Alain Briot’s photographs and workshops are famous for their picturesque locations in Southern Utah, Death Valley, and locations in Arizona such as Round Rock, shown above. But what do you do if you can’t make it clear across the United States or into the United States to participate in one of Alain Briot’s workshops?

Perhaps you’ve found a few picturesque locations in your own backyard, such as Vicki Tinnon has found with her beautiful Photobird photo albums of Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas.

Even though you can’t make it to one of Alain Briot’s workshops, you’d still like to benefit from his expert tutelage, especially since he studied at the Academie des Beaux Arts in Paris and his workshop participants have raved about his workshops, with comments like “second-to-none”, “flawless”, “a valuable investment”, and “definitely worth the money and more”.

Fortunately, Alain Briot has made available 3 DVDs that provide you with the exact same knowledge taught in his Trilogy Mastery Seminars. These seminars consist of 3 separate 2-day classes (6 days total) that are conducted in Phoenix each spring in February.

The Mastery Workshops on DVD provide you with the same knowledge shared during the seminars, but without having to travel anywhere. You can study the materials anywhere you want and as many times as you want, without having to try to remember everything that was taught in a two-day seminar. You don’t need to take any notes or record the lectures since all of this is done for you and provided on the DVDs. The price of these DVDs is comparable to that of a seminar, but you don’t need to travel anywhere. Plus, Alain Briot provides free updates of new techniques. The tutorials on these DVDs are huge time-savers.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Composition Mastery Workshop on DVD: “One year in the making. Over 37 hours of audio tutorials. Over 4 hours of movie tutorials. 160 tutorials in PDF format. 12 Photoshop Layered Composition Master Files. 30 essays on composition by Alain Briot in PDF format. An 8×10-inch print of “Luminous Canyon”, one of the photos discussed on the DVD. The Master File of the “Luminous Canyon” print with the 17 different adjustment layers used to optimize the photo. No traveling nor scheduling necessary to learn from the master himself, Alain Briot of Beautiful-landscape.com.”

Two more DVDs are available as part of this series: The Printing Mastery Workshop on DVD provides instruction on converting, printing, and matting your photographs, and The Marketing Mastery Workshop on DVD teaches you how to market and sell your work. All 3 DVDs include free updated content as it becomes available.

Alain Briot currently has a special offer available for his Mastery Workshops on DVD. Visit his website Beautiful-Landscape.com to learn more about this special offer and the Mastery Workshops on DVD!

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