Category Archives: Color

Coulours of the Edinburgh Festival: Circus Hub

In the last blog post, I gave a preview of Circus Hub, the very colourful Edinburgh Festival attraction.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

I had my composition, using the lines, shapes and colours of the walls, and I just needed to wait for someone to take a peak. People also give photographs a sense of scale.

Circus Hub is surrounded by a very colourful wall, and the same colour scheme is found inside. I can’t remember exactly how much time I spent, but I’d say it easily took me a couple of hours to explore the various photographic opportunities at Circus Hub.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

The same colours could be found inside Circus Hub

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

Some of the details, like this fence, also provided interesting compositions.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

I used the wall to provide a colourful background for the lights. It was a bit too early for the lit bulbs to clearly show. I wonder what the pic would look like taken a few hours later, during the blue hour, but I didn’t get the chance to go back.

When you are faced with a subject so rich in photographic opportunities, you may want to revisit some of the places you’ve been to. It’s very easy to miss a good shot, and the more you work your subject, the better you see.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

I’m always intrigued by the contrast of man-made objects and natural ones. In this case, the variety of bight coloured regular shapes versus the more muted colours and irregular patterns of the tree.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

This bench with the sweater makes me wonder who was there and what happened. If benches could talk, we surely would hear some interesting stories.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

Another composition with the fence from the photo above, this time from a higher point of view. I was drawn to this composition by the light on the wall.

Finally, don’t forget to get in closer and look at some of the details of the scene in from of you. You may be very surprised (and delighted) by what you get.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

Blue and yellow are two colours that came make your images ‘pop’

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

Moving to a slightly different spot, I managed to get only the blue and yellow colours in my composition.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

Purple and blue are also two contrasting colours that can make your pictures ‘pop’. But I needed another element in the frame to make the composition more interesting. Fortunately someone happened to stop by and engage in a conversation with someone else. His feet provided the missing element in the picture.

 

Edinburgh International Festival: Colour Abstracts

Circus Hub is one of the most colourful attractions at the annual Edinburgh International Festival, which is why it immediately got my attention.

Colour abstract obtained with camera movement

For this photo, I stood in front of a colourful wall and moved the camera up and down during the 1/4 sec exposure

When I see a colourful subject, I like to explore abstract pictures using camera movement during a long exposure or in camera multiple exposures. It is a taste I acquired by following one of my favourite photographers, Bryan F. Peterson.

Colour abstract obtained with camera movement

As the ambient light level fell for some time, I was able to use longer shutter speeds, like 1 sec for this photograph. Along with the up and down movement, there was also a little bit of sideways motion to add to the blur.

With this particular wall, I first tried camera movement. The brightness level of the ambient light varied quite a bit while I was taking photographs, which is pretty much par for the course in Scotland. I was able to use shutter speeds between 1/4 sec and 1 sec. I had the most success moving the camera up and down or up and down and a little bit sideways.

Colour abstract obtained by rotating the camera between each of the three exposures, and combined in camera

For this picture, I rotated the camera clockwise by about thirty degrees or so after the first and second exposures.

I next moved to multiple exposures. I had the most success when I rotated the camera between each of the three exposures. It took a bit of experimentation to get something I like but it’s always fun to do.

Colour abstract obtained by rotating the camera between each of the three exposures, and combined in camera

For this photograph, I rotated the camera a bit more. I believe I took one pic horizontal, one at forty-five degrees and one vertical.

Next time you find a colourful bed of flowers or painted wall, why don’t you try some camera movement and multiple exposures. I warn you, the process can be addictive.

Colour abstract obtained by rotating the camera between each of the three exposures, and combined in camera

I moved to a different part of the coloured wall, and tried again the horizontal, forty-five degrees and vertical shots.

More Autumn Forest Impressionism

Panning the camera is another technique I love to use in order to create an impression of the scene in front of me.

Panning the camera to create an impressionist photography of an autumn forest

This was quite early in the fall, and there were only hints of the autumn colours.

I miss the fall colours, but fortunately, spring is just around the corer, with its palette of fresh hues. The autumn definitely has a different mood to it, and every year I try to go out and photograph nature as much as I can.

Panning the camera to create an impressionist photography of an autumn forest

The autumn colours were in full bloom and the foliage was backlit, the ideal lighting situation for translucent objects

The amount of panning you need to create the kind of photographs in this post is going to depend on what kind of focal length you use. I used a 35mm lens on a cropped sensor, corresponding roughly to 50mm on a full frame camera.

Panning the camera to create an impressionist photography of an autumn forest

I didn’t particularly like this photo when I got home and downloaded the pictures from my camera. But it has grown on me and is now one of my favourites. This is why I always wait some time before editing my photos, so I get a more ‘objective’ opinion, if that ever is possible.

I typically choose 1/6s as my shutter speed for panning trees in the forest. Too long a shutter speed and I find it hard to keep the up and down motion straight enough. On the other hand, a fast shutter speed is not giving me enough of a motion blur.

Panning the camera to create an impressionist photography of an autumn forest

I wanted to get a little bit of the ground in my composition. It took a number of tries to get the result I wanted, as it is quite a bit harder to frame your shots when panning.

The best compromise that works for you may be different, and it always takes a bit of experimentation to find the settings that suit your style best.

Panning the camera to create an impressionist photography of an autumn forest

I took a pic from roughly the same vantage point a couple of years ago. But this time around, the photograph came out quite differently. When photographing nature, no two days are the same.

I would really encourage you to give this technique a try. You can see how it works with an autumn forest. You should experiment with different kinds of subjects. I know I will.

Panning the camera to create an impressionist photography of an autumn forest

when I saw this scene, I know I had a photograph or two, but it took me some time to figure out the best vantage point. Always work your subject.

Panning the camera to create an impressionist photography of an autumn forest

I learned this from Bryan F Peterson: what is the best time to take a vertical photo? Right after you take the horizontal.

 

Autumn Forest Impressionism

Impressionist photography is one of the personal projects I’ve been working on for the past couple of years. And since autumn is my favourite season, photographically speaking,  I strive to take as many impressionist pictures as I can during the fall.

Multiple in camera exposures of a tree in a fall forest

I immediately noticed this tree. I was attracted by the pastel colours.

One of the techniques for rendering impressionist pictures involves in camera multiple exposures. I learned it from one of my photographic heroes, Bryan Peterson.

Multiple in camera exposures of a fall forest to create an impressionist photograph

The leaves were backlit, an ideal situation. And I figured the touch of red/orange would make the picture ‘pop’.

Working in the forest, I found that moving the camera down a little bit after each frame produces the most pleasing results. How much movement is a matter of taste and also depends on the focal length of your lens. The photographs in this post were taken with a 35mm lens on a DX camera, corresponding to a 50mm lens for a full frame sensor.

Multiple in camera exposures of a fall forest to create an impressionist photograph

It is harder to get the overcast sky out of a vertical composition, and I believe this is the reason I have fewer of these. But I’m very pleased with this one.

A bit of experimentation is in order, and with practice, you develop the muscle memory that allows you to generate impressionist photographs of your liking without much trial and error.

Multiple in camera exposures of a fall forest to create an impressionist photograph

I took a picture from pretty much the same vantage point the year before, but the colours are never quite the same from year to year (or week to week for that matter)

But even with the practice I’ve got under my belt, I always take several pictures of a given composition to make sure there is at least one I really like. If your cameras allows for multiple exposures, I would encourage you to give this technique a try.

Multiple in camera exposures of a fall forest to create an impressionist photograph

I try to find compositions with a pleasing arrangement of trees. It’s harder than you think.

Vision Training: Fork Art

I greatly valued my education when I was a scientist, and always looked to learn new skills. That hasn’t changed now that I am a photographer.

Fork and reflection edited using the Photoshop Gradient Map tool

I took a picture of a fork on a black piece of plexiglass (hence the reflection) and then started playing with the Photoshop Gradient Map tool.

A while back, I took an online class “Stretching your frame of mind”, taught by Joe Baraban, and this course left a lasting impression on me. The instructor, who is a top photographer with an impressive list of clients and awards,  told us about the principles of design. He also stressed the fact that he had the great advantage of having studied art instead of photography.

Fork and reflection edited using the Photoshop Gradient Map tool

Another version of the fork photo using different colours in the Photoshop Gradient Map tool.

So when the opportunity to take a graphic design class on Coursera presented itself, I immediately signed up. The first week of the class was an introduction to image making, and we were asked to create at least ten images of an ordinary household object.

Fork and reflection edited using the Photoshop Gradient Map tool and the addition of a texture  filter from the Photoshop filter gallery

In this version, I changed the colours of the Gradient Map again and also added a texture using the Photoshop filter gallery. When combining these two tools, the possibilities are nearly endless.

I chose a fork for the assignment, because I really like the lines and shapes of that object. Visually, I find forks more interesting than knives and spoons. And I didn’t want to chose too large an object, because that would have made finding a suitable background more difficult.

Fork and reflection edited using the Photoshop Gradient Map tool and the addition of a texture  filter from the Photoshop filter gallery

Another version using the Gradient Map and the texture filter. Sometimes it’s hard to know when to stop!

Initially, I thought I’d need about three compositions of my fork on a background in order to generate the ten different versions required for this assignment. But when I started playing around in Photoshop, I quickly generated ten variants using only the composition above. I’m only showing you my favourites.

Black and white picture of the fork on a black pice of plexiglass

It is easy to overcomplicate things, when playing around in Photoshop, by stacking many effects. It is useful at some point to step back and try a new simple version. Like a black and white one for example.

It is also fun to play with the various Duotones, Tritones and Quadtones that come with Photoshop. There are many good tutorials on this subject online. The photograph below uses one of the default Photoshop Duotones.

Fork on black reflective background edited with a Photoshop Duotone

I used a different composition to play with the various Duotones available in Photoshop. Here again, there are many, many possibilities available to you if you are willing to experiment.

To conclude, I strongly suggest you try this exercise with a household object of your choosing. It opened my eyes to many new possibilities for image making.

Fork on black reflective background edited with a Photoshop Duotone and a texture filter from the Photoshop filter gallery

One can of course combine effects and add a texture filter to the Duotone photograph. Here is an example using the craquelure filter from the Photoshop filter gallery,

 

 

 

iPhone Photography: Fall Colours

Never mind the fun apps that allow you to create vintage film looks, superpose photos or add textures to your iPhone images. The ingredients that make for good photographs are independent of what camera you use. Just like the ingredients that go into making a superb dish do not depend on the oven you have.

Fall provides many photographic opportunities you can capture with your iPhone. And last fall, we were blessed with many days of nice weather. This late in the year in Scotland, the sun is low on the horizon essentially all day, providing ideal lighting conditions for many hours.

St Peter's church, Edinburgh, fall colours, tree, and blue sky. Shot on iPhone.

St Peter’s church, Edinburgh. Shot on my iPhone in the late afternoon last autumn.

Sometimes it pays off to stop and look up. Pointing your camera up or down gives a different perspective and can make for interesting photographs. When I saw the colour on the tree in the above photo, I knew the blue sky would provide great colour contrast. And then I realised I could also include St Peter’s church in the frame. I had my shot.

Lutton Place, Edinburgh with tree and fall colours. Backlit and shot on iPhone.

Lutton Place, Edinburgh. I love to place the sun between 10 and 2 o’clock. I learned this from world class photographer Joe Baraban.

I was on my way out to run an errand when I noticed the wonderful light on Lutton Place. I love backlighting or more precisely having the sun between 10 and 2 o’clock. You can see the reflection of the sun in the window.

Blackford Hill,  Edinburgh. Forest with fall colours shot with iPhone.

The forest area in Blackford Hill is one of my favourite places to photograph, especially when the fall colours are on.

Shooting into the sun can cause some problems, and that is why many people avoid it. The internal light reflections inside your lens become strong enough to degrade the image quality. And if you carry your iPhone in your pocket a lot, there is likely some dust on your camera lens, which can further degrade the image quality when the sun is shining right into your camera. A simple solution is to frame the image in such a way that there is something in between the sun and your camera, as in the picture of the fall forest above where the tree is masking the sun. This way you can get the wonderful backlit look without the technical problems commonly associated with it.

Edinburgh castle from Princes Street gardens with iPhone last autumn.

Edinburgh castle shot from Princes Street gardens.

I love shooting the same subject at different times of year and in different lighting conditions. Edinburgh castle is one of the main tourist attractions the city has to offer. And since I started selling iPhone photos on Stokimo, I plan to take many more Edinburgh castle photographs.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival – More Portraits

During the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, you can have a truly multicultural experience. From UK based comedians to theatre and dance companies from Korea and Japan.

In August on the Royal Mile, you can see amazing costumes from all over the world. The lovely young lady in the photograph below was quite eager to pose for the camera.

Portrait of young Asian lady wearing a red dress and black hat

When I saw the trees behind her, I knew their colour would nicely contrast with the red coloured clothes she was wearing. I positioned myself and waited for her to notice me and smile at the camera.

Portrait of young Asian lady wearing a red dress and black hat

She was very playful and gave me some wonderful portraits. Who ever you are, thank you for this brief but fruitful collaboration.

Some of the head gear worn by these artists and performers was simply stunning. The photographic challenge, as always during the busy Fringe Festival, was to find relatively clean backgrounds in order to avoid distracting the viewer from the beautiful head gear.

Portrait of young Asian lady beautiful white head ornaments

This young lady immediately caught my attention. I must say I took a lot of pictures of her, because I really wanted to make sure I had at least a good one.

Young Asian man wearing red head gear

I don’t know what theatre company he belongs to, but you got to admire the elaborate costume.

And the Royal Mile just wouldn’t be the Royal Mile without a King:

Young Asian man in a King costume

The sunlight was coming from my right side and so I had to wait for my subject to turn his head towards the light to avoid distracting shadows on his face.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Portraits

Most of the characters promoting shows on the Royal Mile during the Edinburgh Fringe festival are quite colourful. Literally and figuratively. For example, how often have you come across a smiling zombie?

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015 zombie

I can’t remember which show this young lady was promoting, but she was very cooperating and gave me a nice portrait.

But not everyone liked to pose in a friendly manner. I got a number of rather scary looks.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival scary bald orange and white character

While sitting on a kerb, this gentleman gave me some of his best scary impressions, You got to love the makeup.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015  Feline Tiger makeup

He was part of a group of theatre students from London if I remember correctly. Very friendly bunch, even though you couldn’t tell from this photograph!

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015 man in top hat with blood on his face

I guess I’d be grumpy too if I had blood all over my face.

While the scary/zombie theme is quite popular, at the Fringe Festival, you are just as likely to meet some real gentlemen.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015 Distinguished Gentlemen by Out Cast Theatre

The show “Distinguished Gentlemen” was described as an outrageous tale of lust and lunacy.

Well, may be not! In any event, the sight of a man in a wedding dress promoting the show “This Much (or an act of violence against marriage)” from the Moving Dust Company definitely cheered me up. Only at the Fringe!

Man in wedding dress promoting the show "This Much" by the Moving Dust company

I was not going to pass on this wonderful photo opportunity. The real challenge was getting a nice expression from the subject with no people n the background.

Statues are also an integral part of the Fringe Festival, and they come from all over the UK.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015 Lutrek Statues and Clowns

Lutrek Statues and Clowns are based in Bristol and London. They travel all over the UK and the World, according to their website.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015 statue

Patience really paid off. I had seen this statue a couple of times as he was leaving the scene, and couldn’t manage to get a good pic. But the third time proved to be a charm.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015 statue

The colour match between the statue and the background is what caught my attention here.

And no festival would really be complete without some clowns. I was really drawn to the colourful outfit.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015 clown

I really like his outfit. Especially the hat. Don’t you?

Street Photography – Let The Pictures Come To You

A long time ago, when photography was just a hobby for me, I’d spend hours walking around my hometown of Lausanne, Switzerland, looking for pictures. But I was making a basic “rookie” mistake. I was chasing the action, running all over the place, and as a result very often came up empty handed.

The two best things to happen with regard to my photography education were the internet and learning english. There is a wealth of information online, and the key thing I learned about street photography is to pick my spot and let the action come to me.

Older gentleman walking in front of a very colourful wall  in Edinburgh, Scotland

Colour is an important element of design I look for when I’m walking around with a camera. This wall immediately attracted my attention.

So when I saw this colourful wall surrounding a construction site close to where I live, I thought it would make for a great photo background. But at first, the street was pretty much deserted. A while back, I would have moved on looking for another picture opportunity. But having learned some of the secrets of street photography, I decided to stand across the street and wait. And sure enough, after a while, a number of people walked by and I was able to capture a number of frames that I like.

Gentleman with an iPod or other mp3 player walking in front of a colourful wall in Edinburgh, Scotland

On a different day when the sun was out, I was able to capture more people walking in front of that colourful wall.

Now, if I find a great spot for a photo but it is missing people in it to make better, I just stick around for a while. Chances are, I’m going to get a good photo opportunity sooner or later.

Food Photography Adventures – Light Painting Cupcakes

My three previous blog posts were about the first three assignments for the food photography class offered by the Bryan Peterson School of Photography and taught by George Crudo.

Light painting of colourful cupcakes on blue plexiglas

The cupcakes were light painted using a StreamLight stylus LED light during a thirty second exposure

For the last assignment, we had to combine two of my favourite things, food and light painting. If you read this blog, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of the light painting technique.

Any kind of still life can make for a really good light painting subject, so why not food?

There is a caveat though. Since it can take a while to do a light painting, the food must look fresh for quite some time. One also has to paint in the dark, and in Scotland during the summer, this means quite late at night. For these reasons, I chose to light paint some cupcakes I had bought at a confectionery nearby.

When I saw the colourful cupcakes in the store window, I instantly knew I would photograph them on my blue plexiglas sheet. I was quite pleased with the final result. The light painted cupcakes look nice. And they tasted great, by the way.