Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Capture Philosophy | PHOTO TIP 02: Creative use of Foreground

Dynamic photos draw us in and give our eye the space and reason to move around inside the frame.  Layering a composition with simple foreground, middle and background elements can add a great deal of interest to an otherwise flat photo.  As such, many photos can be dramatically improved through the implementation of some simple but creative compositional choices.

While this may sound like a simple concept, finding the right foreground element can have a profound impact on a finished photo - from grounding the image with a sense of scale to framing and/or highlighting a subject.  In fact, often in the search for a great foreground element, you can discover a whole new subject for a photograph you hadn’t previously envisioned.  It’s a great exercise to explore your surroundings and find new inspiration.

Here are a few examples using a variety of different subjects:

01 | Draw your viewer into the photo with a compelling foreground element which directly leads into the photo:
Great Sand Dunes National Monument + Denver Art Museum © Jennifer Koskinen

02 | Find foreground elements with which to frame your subject:
Bridal Veil Falls, Telluride, CO + Denver Art Museum © Jennifer Koskinen 

03 | Ground the photo by highlighting a strong foreground element in a composition that might originally have been about the background (these "discovered" opportunities often make for more personal photos of iconic locations):
Bridge Railing to Town Park, Telluride CO + Maroon Bells Wilderness, Aspen CO © Jennifer Koskinen 

04 | Relate the foreground to subject matter, highlighting, echoing or strengthening the subject itself:
Sculpture outside Denver Art Museum + Chalk Street Drawing at Telluride July 4th Celebration © Jennifer Koskinen

05 | Create symmetry, layering and balance:
Driftwood at Maroon Bells, Aspen CO + Private Residence, Telluride CO © Jennifer Koskinen

06 | "Work hard and you’ll get lucky"
Often great foreground material will present itself when you are open to seeing it; the audience member who pops up right in front of you with a perfect hat and hand gesture; a butterfly on a flower when you're already on your belly in the grass; a handful of autumn photographers so perfectly set they could have been staged; and lastly of course, drifting fog makes for a lovely and precious foreground that can only be discovered when in the right place at the right time:
Mountainfilm Symposium + Butterfly on Valley Floor
Photographers in the Sneffles Wilderness + Wilson Peak Above the clouds
Telluride CO © Jennifer Koskinen

The next time you are out shooting, take some extra time and move around to find interesting foreground elements with which to frame or draw the attention towards your subject.  Play with your aperture as well (last month’s tip), and see what kind of results are yielded when you focus selectively and/or blur your foreground or background elements... experiment with color and composition, and most of all, have fun!

Happy Shooting :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Playing with Tilt Shift App

Denver Art Museum

I discovered another fun little app for the iPod this weekend and I've been having a blast experimenting with different effects on a variety of photos.  It it absolutely incredible to me what these simple little gadgets can do!

This one allows you to mimic the highly specific depth of field effect of a tilt shift lens, resulting in images that often look like tiny scale models, even though these are - I swear - full scale scenes.

If you have an iPod or iPhone, this particular app is called TiltShiftGen and so far, I love it!

Denver Capitol building from Art Museum window

16th Street Mall, Denver

Confluence Park, Denver

Mesa Verde National Park

Telluride Wedding

View from Tattered Cover Parking Garage, Denver, CO

Glenwood Canyon, CO

Telluride from the Gondola

Telluride, CO during Mountainfilm

Denver City and County Building, July 4th 2010
16th Street, Denver CO

16th Street, Denver, CO

Telluride from Town Park
Telluride, CO - July 4th