Practice: The botanischer Garten, Berlin

Practice Most beginners bitten by the bug of street-photography dream of quickly becoming the next Henri Cartier-Bresson, or Eric Kim, and they imagine wandering the streets confronted suddenly with an almost endless stream of strange looking people and odd situations, all just begging to be immortalised, and so feverishly machine-gunning away, they are convinced that every shot they take will be a guaranteed classic. Sadly though it doesn’t quite work that way, for although the streets maybe a stage, upon which the whole of life can be observed and captured as it plays itself out before you, it takes mastery of some very basic skills before anything worthwhile is ever… Read More

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Technique: Visual Storytelling – The Triptych

A wholesome threesome. Quite often when we go out photographing we are looking for interesting motifs to photograph, and if we are lucky we find something, a good subject here, an interesting background there, and if we’re very lucky we can capture them both in the same photo at the same time, but we’re never really concentrating on the narrative, so we often come home with a collection of interesting, but wholly unrelated images, whereas good photography is often about far more than just taking a series of diverse snaps. And this is the reason why reaching back in time and using one of the oldest of visual tools, the triptych,… Read More

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Technique: Light trails

The static camera and the moving light. Photographing light trails can be one of the easiest and most fun methods for the beginner to get the camera out of automatic mode and to start experimenting with the more manual settings. At it’s most basic the camera just has to be set up on a tripod at the nearest traffic junction after dusk, the camera set to S-mode – shutter priority – a time set from between 5-30 seconds and then for the shutter to be pressed, and although the result may not be quite what you were expecting and will need some refining, it’s well to remember that photographing light… Read More

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Technique: Bokeh

Bokeh, the quality of blur. Bokeh is often mistakenly taken to mean the blur or the amount of blur in an image produced when objects are captured when outside the depth of field, the area producing an acceptable sharpness, whereas technically it actually means the quality of the blur itself, not the amount. Bokeh comes from the Japanese word boke (ボケ) meaning “blur” or “haze” and translates as the quality of the blur, and according to Wikipedia is . . . the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. And for this reason there is both “good” and “bad” bokeh. Depth… Read More

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Technique: Xmas

All kinds of light. Xmas and the festive season with its mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and peace on earth and goodwill to all men ! From a photographer’s point of view though, it’s generally all about dark early evenings, a myriad of different lights, and colour in all its glory, and because of this, no other time of year offers such good opportunities to go out and practice taking photos of light in such a varied and spectacular manner. Xmas lighting displays adorn every town and city center, there are Xmas markets and fairs to be found everywhere, and so with a little knowledge and preparation it’s possible to make… Read More

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Technique: Abstract

Isolation “Abstraction” means to draw or pull away from, of removal, of isolation. Abstract photography can therefore be where the subject is so captured that it no longer has an immediate association with the object world, it’s so removed from it’s inherent context, that meaning has to be sought and interpreted. The subject can be so abstracted that it’s just a fragment of the original scene, but it can also be a distorted version of the original. Colour, light, shadow, shape, texture, angle of view etc. are all used to create an image with an unreal appearance, to convey a feeling, sensation, or an impression. Some examples illustrating the technique… Read More

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Camera: Manual lenses

Using analog full-frame lenses on modern digital cameras What do you do if you’ve just inherited a big pile of manual analog lenses from an elderly relative, but they don’t fit the modern camera you own? Or maybe you are tired of the camera always setting everything up for you, but you fancy being David Hemmings in Blow-up for the day. Despair not, it’s possible to buy an adapter, such as: They are available for every conceivable combination of lens and camera, just do a search on Amazon. But if you wish to push the boundaries of what’s possible, you should also consider investing in a focal reducer, also known… Read More

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Technique: The Dutch angle

Let’s go crazy Also known as the Dutch Tilt, this is mainly a cinematic technique involving the tilting of the camera from anywhere between 5 to 90 degrees. Its use can have a powerful effect both visually and emotionally on the viewer and is often used for dramatic effect to initiate feelings of disorientation, unease or madness etc. Widely used in German Expressionist Art it quickly made its way into German film of the early twentieth century, hence the name “Dutch”, which is a corruption of the word for German: “Deutsch”. YouTube: The Cabinet of-Dr Caligari Traditionally this type of shot has always come with a rather large label reading: “WARNING,… Read More

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Composition: Leading Lines and Visual Pathways

Line One of the most effective ways to draw the viewer’s eye into an image is by use of line. Lines are a very powerful compositional element, not only do they tell the viewer where to look, but they also influence how the viewer feels. Horizontal lines such as a horizon can make the viewer feel relaxed, whereas vertical lines, trees, buildings, imbue a sense of power. Diagonal and converging lines such as railway tracks and fences provide a sense of depth and space, and utilising curved lines can lead to a  soothing or unhurried mood. Lines are everywhere  though, straight, curved, meandering, both natural and manmade, they can all… Read More

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Technique: Reflections

Careful. Reflections are tricky beasts, because depending on the situation, they can both make or break a photo. A good reflection of a lake can turn a mountain landscape into something ethereal, just magic, whereas the refection of a portrait photographer himself in a subjects spectacles can just as easily ruin it. But reflections are everywhere, quite often reflecting an almost psychedelically distorted version of our surroundings, reality seen through a glass darkly. We’ll meet just off the Ku’damm, where there is an almost limitless supply of glass facade and the city is at its most colourful. Some examples illustrating the technique Tips for when on location Reflections are not… Read More

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