Monthly Archives: November 2011

Composition Notes – Black holes


While shooting the fallen leaves this past weekend, I decided to use them to illustrate some of the compositional elements I take into account while shooting. This is the first in a set of blog entries touching on composition. First i will look at black holes.


Take a look at the second image. Notice where your eye gets drawn – the black area in the middle upper left. That probably isn’t where you want the viewer to look. Compare this to the opening blog image where I simply placed a leaf in the hole – problem solved.

Ways of dealing with “black holes”

  1. Fill the hole as I did above.
  2. Shift the framing to eliminate the black hole.
  3. In post processing try to bring out detail in the hole by dodging it (increase local exposure).
  4. Clone something into the hole during post processing.
  5. Use the black holes or “negative” space as part of the composition – balance. I will touch on balance in a future blog.

Black holes are often a problem when shooting foliage and flowers, etc. This is especially true on sunny days where there are deep dark shadows. That is why cloudy days are often better for shooting these subjects (use a diffuser or look for shade on a sunny one). So instead of “dealing” with the black holes, you can avoid them altogether.

Posted in Composition

Leaf Recycling


Even though the leaves may all be on the ground, you can still have fun creating great images of fall color. Just look at the ground. I went out and did just that Sunday morning. One of the final images is shown above. I started the morning practicing some creative camera techniques. Below is a sequence of images that set the stage for that above. The sequence started with a simple shot of the leaves on the ground (more on that in the next blog).


First I captured a “simple” off center 9 exposure rotational image. To do this you keep a point in the viewfinder (pick one of the focus markers in your camera’s viewfinder) set on a single point on the subject (the leaf) and rotate the camera slightly as you click off the exposures. With a Nikon camera you can setup it up for multiple exposures to be blended automatically in the camera; with other camera’s you may have to blend them in Photoshop.


Next I captured a 9 exposure zoom image. Keeping the focal point on the leaf at the same point as I slowly zoomed and clicked off the exposures. Notice there was a slight camera rotation as well. I reduced the focal length to get more leaves into the image.


Putting these two techniques together you can end up with an off center rotational zoom image like that below. Hold onto the zoom ring as you rotate the camera to do this most readily.


I then applied this same technique to the base of the tree from which all these leaves had fallen (the opening blog image). It appears the tree is drawing in all of the leaves and sucking them down into the tree’s base. This is what ultimately happens in the forest as the leaves decay and feed the tree, but not quite so dramatically. The tree is recycling…

Posted in How To

Fall Color and Textures


It is hard to believe that fall has come and almost gone. This past year has gone so quickly. I not only love the bright colors of fall, but all the various shades of brown the grasses and plant take on. As always, I try different techniques on any good subject I find. This row of maple trees in an abandoned business park is one example. The opening blog image was created from a swipe (1/4 sec) that then had two texture overlay layers added. Both textures are Flypaper textures. Shown below is the swipe without the added texture layers.


The third image is the scene shot straight at f22 for maximum depth of field.


The final image is a landscape format capture of the scene that brings in more of the green in the distance trees. Shooting both landscape and portrait orientations of a subject is always a good idea; that gives you more options for possible publication or stock image use. I find I like each of these images for different reasons. Which do you like best?


Posted in Texture Overlay, Uncategorized