Image of the Week

  Posted in Uncategorized on

  by Chris


A rainbow in the Glacier Gorge

I love rainbows (and other optical phenomena), and, upon seeing them, will do all possible to capture them. This view is from near the end of the Glacier Gorge Trail (coming back from Sky Pond). This was the best image I could get of the rainbow. The problems with this image are numerous, yet I still like this image. To wit: out of focus foreground elements, a raindrop on the lens (look above the rainbow),  sticks intruding the right side of the frame, and about 1/2 EV over exposed. Some of these can be fixed in post-processing, but the greatest problem with this image cannot be fixed: The lack of any terribly interesting elements. But, this was all I had to work with, so I fought this image out of what I could see. Two lessons to be learned: one, not every image has to be perfect to be likeable, and two, the most epic rainbow cannot conquer a boring composition. This image doesn’t show up in my Flickr account (for good reasons!). It will probably never be sold. It will never make me any money. But I still like it.

Moreover, I love the sign of this rainbow. After God delivered me from disaster on the Sky Pond hike, God gave me this rainbow to show His great faithfulness.

Colorado 2011 Images

  Posted in New Images on

  by Chris

Here is the link for images from my Colorado trip this September:



Coming Soon…

  Posted in Uncategorized on

  by Chris

Soon will I finish my three part series on the Rule of Thirds. Also coming, some lens reviews. Stay tuned!

A Reason to Smile

  Posted in Uncategorized on

  by Chris

But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Seeing that we have a great high priest that is passed into the Heavens, Jesus the SOn of God, let us hold fast the profession of our faith. For we have not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly into the throne of grace, that we may find mercy, and obtain grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

A great reason to smile and be thankful is that we have unlimed access to God through the blood of Christ. We sinners receive this access by accepting Jesus as saviour, and partake of this accessas described: “come boldly” to the “throne of grace”. The point of this passage is that God will help us to have victory over sin, in particular, the sin of unbelief, if we will come to Him boldly in prayter. Why smile? Because Jesus died for your sins, because ye have access to the Father, and because you today can live in spiritual victory!

The Nikon 1: A few thoughts

  Posted in Technology on

  by Chris

The Nikon 1, the newest entry in the world of mirrorless, generates a number of thoughts for a Canon shooter as myself. At first blush, it seems a fascinating system: small, compact, able to use legacy lenses… However, reality begins to sink in when viewing the V1’s $899 price tag. As much fun as this may look, the truth is that a Rebel can be gotten for less with a kit lens. For cheap IStelephoto for cheap, there’s the 55-250 IS. Slap in a 50 1.8, and you’ve got an extremely competent, portable system which will well serve most basic needs for as much or less than the equivalent three N1 lenses. With this is fast autofocus, and a much bigger sensor.

But what about portability? Isn’t that what the N1 is all about? Is that not the goal, the purpose, the aim for such a system? The Rebel kit mentioned above will easily fit into a small camera bag. Amazingly enough, the N1 system also requires a camera bag or neck strap~! So wherein lies the benefit? Perhaps some portability is gained, but for the price, this seems ridiculous. Perhaps Canon will come out with one, for cheaper… Perhaps it will snow for Christmas this year in Fort Lauderdale…

In conclusion, though this seems an interesting offering, the high price tag kills it for me. For not much more, I could get the Fuji X100, or maybe a 135 2.0 L, or fly somehere really epic!

New Images Posted from my Everglades Trip

  Posted in Everglades on

  by Chris

There are some new images posted from my everglades trip here:

Enjoy! Many Bothan spies (mosqitos) died to bring you these pictures… Actually, I can still hear the hideous beasts buzzing in my ears occasionally. 10 hours of relentless biting has made me look rather like a measles victim! But it was totally worth it all! Actually, God sent several rain showers of mercy which toned the beasts down for a little while. They were not as bad up at Anhinga trail. They were impressive down at Flamingo. The Deer Flies joined them there. Oh, that I had with me then as assistant! Then would I have gotten said assistant to get pictures of the beasts as they landed and feasted on me… The problem with medical training is that it brings with it an intense medical curiosity. I think a macro of a mosquito chewing on my arm would be most fascinating! I don’t know if I could hold still enough for a Deer Fly picture.

All dipteran discussion aside, God blessed me with an incredible day of shooting. I hope to post more pictures as I process them…

Image of the Week #1

  Posted in Image of the Week on

  by Chris

Image of the Week #1

Three Pink Flowers

A Trio in Pink

This image is one of my better flower pictures; the exposure is spot on, the raindrops provide an exquisite accent. However, there is a problem with this picture. Can you spot it? Those of you who have read my previous post concerning subject placement will hopefully pick it out immediately: it’s out of balance! The subject should be to the right about 5%… Cropping can fix this to some degree, but: fixing in camera, before shooting, is always the superior approach. Rule #9 is: Always slap yourself each time you think, “I’ll fix it in Photoshop later.”

Where I’ve been…

  Posted in Uncategorized on

  by Chris

Some of you may notice I’ve been gone for more than two weeks! I’ve been in Colorado. After that, I had the evil TDSS virus. Well, I’m back… And hopefully, I’ll be getting pictures of Colorado added to my flickr account (! Thanks for your interest, and keep checking in!

Landscape and Nature Composition – Rule of Thirds, Part 2: Subject

  Posted in Composition on

  by Chris

This is part 2 in the series, the previous concerning itself with the placement of horizons, the next with the placement of leadind lines (the most subtle and tricksy of the three).

So the question is, what about the Rule of Thirds in subject placement? The answer is, initially, of course, not to rely rigidly on the rule of thirds! But the in-depth answer first begs some questions concerning the subject: 1. How much of it are we showing, and 2. What feel/message/emotion are we trying to communicate with it?  and 3. Are there other subjects of importance in the frame? and 4. What direction is the subject facing?

The first question: how much of the subject are we showing? Be it rock, tree, animal, or person, is it face, root-to-crown, a far off view with environmental context? The answer for how much to show is answered with the question: What are we trying to communicate? If the picture is to be a standard portrait (flower, person’s face, rock, animal, et cetera), then we can expect to try to fill the frame with the subject. Ideally, nearly everything except our subject will be out of focus (think simplification). The direction the subject is facing will often dictate the position in the frame. If the subject is facing head-on, then place the subject either in the middle of the frame, or, if it does not fill the frame (or is a flower or other stemmed thing…), perhaps set it on the 1/3rd-3/8ths line. If facing to the side,place it on the 1/4th-1/3rd line, providing it room to look in the frame.

However, if we are trying to provide context (environmental portrait, cliff face with a river, a mountain with a field…), then we must decide if a balance of the compositional units within the frame. This will often be determined on a case-by-case basis. Do not place the subject in the center unless formal symmetry is present. Place subjects on the 1/3rd line if you wish to emphasize them (but balance them). Place subjects on the 1/4th line (or less) if you wish to frame with them.

The second question: what message, feeling, and emotion are we communicating? Much indeed could be written concerning emotive photography, but here we will confine ourselves to the emotional impact subject placement has on a photo. Though there are many possible feels an image may produce, they may be categorized by the following: dynamic or static, and positive or negative. Dynamic vs. static is influenced greatly by subject placement; positive vs. negative is is influenced greatly by subject nature: both are influenced by both, though to differing degrees. As such, we will focus on dynamic vs. static here.

A static feel will be achieved  primarily by placing the subject square in the center of the frame. Alternatively, it may be achieved by placing the subject as a frame (for example:  a tree and its branches on the edge of the image framing a mountain ridge in the center frame). Placing the framing unit on the right side of the frame will produce a much more solid feel than on the left side (most readers read from left to right). A sky on image left leading to a lake leading to a mountian side will feel solid. The same in reverse, with the sky on the right side, will feel freer and airier.

A dynamic feel will be achieved by placing the subject on the 1/4th-3/8th part of the frame.  Again, the feel will be more dynamic if the subject is placed on the left side of the frame. The eye may look at the subject, then feel freedom as it scans toward the right side of the frame.  If the subject is on the right side, the eye will stop when drawn to it, producing a more static feel.

The third question: are there other subjects of importance in the frame? The purpose of the prescence of more than one subject in the frame is to communicate context, perhaps tell a story, or maybe to serve as an aesthetic element of sorts (caution: the more elements, the more possible it can be to lose sight of the message…).  Hence, where to place our main subjects? Because of the innumerable possibilities, this must be determined on a case-by-case basis, though there are principles which if followed, will produce a better image, to wit, balance, triangles, contrast, among others.

In general though, if the image has two subjects, one should not be in the middle unless there is something to frame the image. Placing the two subjects on the left and right (or top and bottom) third lines will produce a static feel. Bumping  one of them to the 1/4th or 3/8ths line will produce a livelier feel.

The final question: what direction is the subject facing? For a good, traditional feel, place the subject slap on the 1/3rd line, facing away from the closest edge of the frame (if facing left, place it on the right).  Bonus points if you can align parts of the subject (boles, outcroppings, horns, lips, eyes, maybe?) with the top and bottom 1/3rd lines.

Perhaps though, we wish to try for something fresh, something new feeling. How might we achieve this? Perhaps try the above, but have the subject facing the near edge. Know though, that this is not something to try often… though it can generate a sense of mystery or finality. If your subject is faceing other subjects, placing between the 1/4th-3/8ths area will provide a reasonably dynamic feel. Placing the subject on the top or bottom of the frame will certainly deviate from orthodoxy. But wherever your subject is facing, the viewer’s eyes will be drawn. And if your viewer’s eyes are drawn there, what will meet them? The difference between subject placement on the 1/3rd and 1/4th line will communicate largely if the subject is the main subject, or a participant or maybe frame for other subjects (frames can be main subjects!). 

The real question is not what is the best place to position a subject, but what do we desire to communicate? The Rule-of-Thirds is neither good nor bad; it is merely a tool. If overused, it will become mundane. If used in accordance with the communication of our overall message for the image (you do have a purpose/message/idea in each image, right?), then we can make great use of this potentially powerful tool. The key, however, is knowing what it does and when to use it. The 1/3rd line is not the only line to use, but can be impressive when used with the right subject with the right message.

Landscape and Nature Composition Basics: Rule of Thirds? Part One: Horizons

  Posted in Composition, Tutorials on

  by Chris

A very commonly touted concept in photography is the rule of thirds, the notion that to make a great image, it is important to place the subject/horizon/leading lines along a 1/3rd gridline on the picture.

Looking at non-photographer’s pictures, I often find the subject thrown unimagentively in the center, usually not filling much of the frame. To combat this, someone somewhere came up with the inviolable Rule of Thirds (and the concept of Filling the Frame!). Although the ROT helps, its grinding frequency leads to buccolic and often somewhat purposeless images. The next step for such, and what is really the first step, is to understand the purpose for compositional placement of elements in the frame. As this is a wee mite more to both teach and comprehend, many leave it out of their instruction, and many never learn it, growing later their own buccolic disciples!

Fear not! Here we will try to explain this concept: subject/horizon/leading line placement. It is not wrong to use the Rule of Thirds, or to place one’s subject slap in the center of the frame; one simply must know WHY he is composing for such, or risk having buccolic or worse yet flat images!

We will begin here by discussing horizons. What we will see here applies for whether your camera is in either landscape or portrait orientation (yes, portrait orientation for a landscape! Quite lovely if done right!). Concerning lines, know and understand that the eye does not like to cross lines, especially straight lines. Therefore, rarely will you ever want to place a horizon in the center of an image. Doing so will flatten the image impact, trapping the eye of the viewer to on part or the other of the image and dissociating it from the entire message you are trying to communicate (your images should have the goal of communicating something, some emotion, some thought, some message…)

So, where to place the horizon line? If you place it on the bottom 1/5th-1/8th of an image, it will perform as a frame, while still providing context to the image, so that it is not just a random shot of the sky.

Depending on what your foreground elements are, you may wish to place the horizon line around 1/4th-1/3rd of the way into the image. This will still provide a good view of the sky, yet allow you create with your foreground elements an image which will feel rather balanced without feeling static.

Between 1/3rd and 3/8ths lies an area of caution; still usable, but it depends largely on your foreground elements to keep it interesting, and an attractive enough sky to keep the eyes fastened. This placement leaves the viewer with more of a rooted and stable feeling, much more so than the ephemeral 1/8th framing.

The above applies similarly for framing the horizon in the upper 1/8th, 1/4th, 1/3rd, and 3/8th areas. However, the earthen parts will instead of the sky be prominent. Ensure you have a strong foreground, middle, and background especially in such images (another topic for another day!). Although putting the sky at the top eigth will less commonly be used….

The middle of the image? When may I place the horizon there?

1. If there is a reflection in the bottom of the image mirroring the top. Much more can be said on this matter… later…

2. For symmetrical composition. A completely symmetrical image can be extremely powerful; the difference between powerful and flat is the subject and degree of symmetricity. Formal symmetry, the placing of the suject in the center with as much symmetry as possible throughout the entire image will, if executed properly, render an immense sense of power, royalty, solidness,  either holiness and goodness, else a menacing evil, depending on the subject. Formal composition can itimidate, inspire, strengthen, and propel. If done poorly, or, as the mere result of a thoughtless photo, it will be lifeless, flat, and rather uninteresting.

That being said, formal symmetry should be used intelligently and with understanding of what is being done.

In conclusion, is the Rule of Thirds evil? No, but it is an over-simplification. Instead of randomly selecting the third spots to line things up in your viewfinder, choose intelligently where to place your horizon, to communicate the desired message and convey the desired feel.

“Jesus spake again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12