Seven Hints for Compelling Summer Compositions

Paint It Black means to let the light emerge from the shadows. Cat Island Hermitage, Bahamas, Olympus TG-4 camera.

Jim Austin Jimages, MA, ACE offers 7 hints for summer photographing.

1) PAINT IT BLACK: Photograph from darkness into the light. Seek out compositions that you frame, or surround, with deep black shadows. This concept works especially well when sun is directly overhead, and we seek out darker, shaded locations in a city, alley or building.

HINT: Allow your brain time for your cones to adjust to very low light, and you may be surprised by how much light the sensor on your modern camera can absorb. As National Geographic photographer Joe McNally said: “If you want something to look interestingdon’t light all of it. ”

2) GET CHILD LIKE: See through a child’s eyes, from a kids point of view. Stand in awe of nature. Sit on the grass. Let yourself wonder at nature in silence. As kids, we have yet to learn the constraints of composition, so we can see and photograph what is in front of us without pre-conceptions. HINT: It helps to get low to the ground.

3) TILT IT: Deliberately change the angle of the horizon line, instead of making the horizon level. I did this above to put the hot mits at the convergence of leading lines in this Nova Scotia summer image. HINT : Use this idea sparingly, it may not work with landscapes.

4) POLARIZE IT:  Place circular polarizing filter on your lens when photographing near the ocean, at the beach, or in other high contrast conditions with a lot of reflected sunlight. HINT: Rotate the polarizing filter a couple times to try different strengths of polarization.

5) REVERSE IT. Reverse Your 50 mm Lens to Get Closer : If you have a 50 mm, interchangeable lens, set your lens focus to infinity, remove the lens and turn it around. Hold it flush to your camera body lens mount.

You’ll be surprised at how close you can move your hand held lens to all your macro subject now. HINT: Be cautious to avoid windy conditions and dusty areas, to keep dust from the sensor. If you want to do more macro with regular lenses, you can purchase an adapter to reverse the lenses.

6) TRIP IT/SHARE IT: Sell a piece of gear you no longer use, and put the funds toward a photo trip to somewhere special you have always wanted to photograph.

HINT: If you are stuck for ideas, ask the mortality question. The mortality question is: “Before I die, I want to photograph_____” . I started a Facebook post, asking people on a photography thread. A range of responses were posted to the mortality question, including:  Africa, a bald eagle, Faroe Islands, Carcassonne France, the Northern Lights, “my daughters getting married.”

After you have a few images from your travels. make postcards of them on Shutterfly, Touchnote, Vistaprint or an online printer you like, and post them to friends and family.

7) CREATE A GALLERY: Take time to look over what you have been photographing all summer, and identify your themes. Make a list and keep photographing these themes, and upload them to a gallery on Fine Art America. HINT: You may find core themes that you’ve been photographing. These themes are symbolic, and may act as symbols of our unconscious desires and wishes.

About: Jim Austin is a photo educator, workshop leader, and the author of Ruins and Rust: Illuminating the Hidden Bahamas. He is photographing for galleries on Fine Art America in Cape Breton and Nova Scotia this summer, 2017.


All written content (and most images) in these articles are copyrighted by the authors. Copyrighted material from Apogee Photo Mag should not be used elsewhere without seeking the authors permission.

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