The best portrait photographs are always the ones where the subject looks relaxed and natural, and Miki Jourdan’s photo here does a great job of that. Looking directly into the camera, the woman looks comfortable as she rests her head against the mirror’s frame gracing the viewer with a soft smile, and I, in turn, found myself smiling back at her. For many subjects who are not professional models, it can be tough for them to get into a confident mental state. As the photographer, it is your job to help them with that. One suggestion is to get your subject into position then forget about controlling the pose and just start shooting! Talk to your subject, make them laugh and capture those in-between moments. The results will often be far better than taking photos of a subject in poses that are rigid and static.
The ability to manipulate shadows with varying shades of light can result in significant variations of the same composition. Having the ability to work with these elements is a mark of a skillful photographer. In this image, John J Young uses the shadow of the tree trunk to direct the viewer’s attention to the tree and its branches that stretch across the frame. From this, we become aware of the extensive detail of the branches of the tree, as its silhouette is highlighted against the light emanating from the sky. As a side note, when the sun is closer to the horizon, the shadows will be longer, which can add a sense of drama to a photograph as demonstrated here. Kudos to Young for his excellent photo!
In this photo, Harrison Jones presents a unique perspective of the Super Blue Blood Moon that graced our skies not too long ago. This multiple exposure was taken as a time-lapse over the course of an hour. As Jones described it, “The unmodified combined images were taken roughly every four minutes for the duration of the moonset, and then finished with a brighter exposure of Washington once the moon was obscured by clouds.” Thanks for sharing your skills with us, Harrison!
In photography, diagonal lines can have a very powerful effect on the composition of an image. They create a point of interest for the viewer as they intersect with other lines, as seen in Gerry Suchy’s picture below. In this work, the stark black lines of the escalator cut through the horizontal lines of the tiled wall, drawing the viewer to the figures on the escalator. For many, the movement of the diagonal line in the frame from the bottom left to the top right is a natural direction for our eyes to follow, an association typical of people who speak languages that are written from left to right.
Winter is a beautiful time for amateur and pro photographers to practice their techniques and capture some great seasonal images. Here is a nice shot that was taken by Jim Havard earlier this month in DC’s Congressional Cemetery. This photo is also featured in a blog post for the Greater Greater Washington.
Note that taking photos outside in the winter can present some risks for your gear. Sudden changes in temperature can lead to condensation on internal electrical components, which could damage your camera or lens. Before coming inside after a cold-weather shoot, put your camera and lens in an airtight plastic bag and don’t remove until everything is at room temperature. Any condensation should form outside the bag instead of on your gear. B&H has some additional tips for cold-weather photography.