Making a photograph, we can expand our vision. Here is a fun way to accomplish this during your outdoor photography ventures this Fall:
1. START: Photograph Fall textures and patterns. Bring the images from any device into your image editor, in RGB or ProPhoto RGB color space.
2. ADD TEXTURES: Next, try using the various filters in your editing program to clarify and expose the textures and details. Make sure to try a few black and white versions to illuminate the patterns. Limit the number you apply to just two or three filters.
3. SAVE your work and back it up. Print out some of your art work.
I use this exercise each Fall with my photography students. We always learn something intriguing about nature.
Since most photographers have bustling work, home, family and travel lives, we cherish our rare moments to change the pace, getting outside into the natural world. Photographing Fall subjects is a renewing experience. It moves us away from news, our phones, and distractions. Our goal here with this exercise is to expand awareness beyond the beauty of Fall colors alone. With it, we tune in fine details of nature and can better appreciate the stunning structures of feathers, leaves, and living creatures.
The first part of the exercise is to develop awareness during your outdoor photography. The second part, post-processing in your work space, you enhance the natural forms you’ve captured using black and white and color filters. Try out filters that you may not have used in awhile. While there are thousands of filters for photo editing, here I chose stackable filters like Google’s free Color EFEX Pro 4, Photoshop filters and Lightroom plug-ins. You can use any photo editor or plug-in, including apps on your iPhone or other device.
- GOOGLE NIK Color Efex Pro 4 filters. The BW solarize is one that was effective. Find the updates versions here: http://www.google.com/nikcollection .
- Photoshop Filters including Lighting Effects, Oil Paint, older filters, and newer ones described in Adobe’s Help site https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/filter-effects-reference.html
- Photo Painter Free from Imagic Mobile. This is a free app for your device that offers expressionist and painterly effects for photos, at their site https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=aspiration.studio.photo.painter.free&hl=en
- Discover Plug-ins and Add-Ons for Adobe photo editors https://exchange.adobe.com/addons?pp=PHSP
GETTING CLOSER, & A CLEANER BACKGROUND: Three Images from Blah to Better
I was attracted to the color of a leaf on a tree. However, my first picture was taken from too far away and with too much in the background (Leaf IMAGES 1 and 2, above). So, I took more time, changed to a portrait frame, and made an in camera double exposure that gave an impression of leaves in the wind, instead of a focused image (Leaf IMAGE 3).
DESIGN for NATURE’S GOODNESS
When we photograph we can pay attention to our thinking. What are we conscious of as we get ready to make an image? By observing our own mind while using our mind’s eye, we strengthen the ‘foreground’, and weaken the ‘background’ of our awareness of detail. For instance, when I walk outdoors in the Fall for a half hour, my busy “work mind” calms down, and my thoughts gradually move to the foreground of what is here, now, before me. I strengthen my seeing when I walk outdoors and let “nature’s goodness flow into me like sunshine through trees” (John Muir).
Finding patterns and textures helps us pay attention as we see, look, stare and wonder. With the exercise, ordinary subjects we might have overlooked can turn into interesting designs if we use filters as tools to enhance them. Still, it’s not about the filter after the fact. The central idea is to enjoy any exercise that gets you photographing nature’s goodness.