Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Perspective on perspective

Over the years, I've had people ask me if I could give some tips on how to take better photos and for me, that's always been a very hard request to fill.  There really are as many tips you could give, as there are types of photography.  Each tip you might give someone can also change from photo to photo, situation to situation because as with any art form, there is no single answer or right way to do something.  Sure there are some "rules" that many photographers try to stick to but some of those are hard to explain without having examples on hand to show someone.  I never have those handy when the question comes up because.... well, I don't carry a computer around with every photo I've ever taken, and even if I did, I surely wouldn't want to pull all those photos up and show someone how many horrible pictures I take for every decent shot I get, while I go looking for something to use as an example.

While I was looking for some old scanned images on my computer, I ran across a few photos that actually can be used for one of those tips and figured maybe I would write about that on here, in case anyone asks me again and I can just tell them to come and look here.  Fair warning, these aren't examples of "good" photos by any stretch of the imagination, but they do show one of the principals you can keep in mind while out taking photos, and that is one of perspective and leading lines.

Maybe you've already heard about the tip about trying to use leading lines to lead the viewer's eye into the photo and you've put that tip to good use in many of your photos, but you still feel like you're missing something in those shots.   Part of the problem with just being told to use leading lines is that many people forget to mention to also try changing your perspective and see how that affects those leading lines.  Most people tend to stand upright and shoot their images from eye level and that's all well and good, but you might be missing out on a great opportunity to really put those leading lines to much better use in your photo.  Go ahead and take that shot as you first saw it because it never hurts to have a few options to choose from when you get back home, but after you shoot that image, try getting a little lower.  Maybe just bend down a bit, or drop to a knee, or even get the camera all the way down to ground level......  see how that perspective shift changes your image and see whether it makes those leading lines work even better for you and that image.

Here is a quick example of shooting from three different heights, using a very popular subject as leading lines in a photo.  Look at each one and just see how the photos at different heights really change how powerful those leading lines are, and how your eye travels into the image differently in each shot.  Which do you like better?  Which shot pulls in you in the most?  What is it about that shot you picked that grabs your attention more than the other two?  Everyone will have different reactions to your photos but if you keep this tip in mind, you might find you get a shot that was pretty good from eye level, to one that is compelling if you just shoot from a lower angle.  Play around with this next time you're out shooting and see if you feel it helps your photos or not.

Standing Up

Kneeling Down
Camera just above the Ground






Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Dreaming In Pieces - Revisited

It has been just over two years now since I tracked down a puzzle that was released using an image of mine. When that image first sold, all I knew was that it was going to be used on a puzzle, but was given no other information about it.  It took close to 6 months for me to find that puzzle out there in the world, but by the time I'd finally found it, it was totally sold out in the only country I could find it being sold.  I remember being very disappointed at first because (for many reasons I wrote about in that previous blog), I really wanted a copy of that puzzle for myself.

I was telling a fellow photographer and friend all about it,  and about how disappointed I was that I couldn't seem to find it in stock anywhere, when they suddenly sent me a link to another company that still had the puzzle for sale.  Well.... in the excitement that followed I wrote that long and somewhat rambling post all about the puzzle, and my photo, and the memories and emotions it drudged up in me and many of you surprised me by rushing out and buying a copy for as well.  I think that blog post was probably one of the most personal things I've really ever shared with friends much less anything I have ever posted on the Internet for strangers to stumble across and read.  I was worried at first that maybe it was too much and I should take it down, but so many of you sent me really sweet and kind messages about that story, and about how much you enjoyed it.  So even though I felt a little silly, I do have to say think you for all the kind words. I'm not really sure if I ever did that as it was all kind of this weird blur to me at the time.

It's been almost exactly 5 years now since my dad passed, and I find myself thinking about him more than ever this time of year. Those memories always bring me back around to thinking about those times we worked on puzzles together and then I think about that post about the silly puzzle two years ago, and now for some reason, I've received at least a dozen different emails in the last month from people asking me if I have any more puzzles for sale.  I've had to tell everyone no,  as the last three submissions I made to that puzzle company weren't chosen as finalists.  Not a surprise to me since they would receive hundreds of submissions and would only purchase 5 photos each time.

I had spent a lot of time one and off, contacting puzzle manufacturers to see if I could maybe just self- publish puzzles through them and most of them told me they would love work with me and do that, but the downside each time was that they required minimum purchases before they would sing on to do the production work. For most of them, I would need to purchase at least 1000 copies of any puzzle I wanted to sell just to get the price point low enough that I think anyone would want to buy one.  But there was no way I'd ever sell 1000 puzzles on my own and I certainly don't want to fill my garage with hundreds of unsold puzzles....  I mean even with that first puzzle which turned out to be hugely popular, I think I only know about 15 people that bought one.

Then in the last week, I discovered a company that would allow me to create puzzles from my images, with no minimum orders needed, and then to sell those puzzles through their online market place, where they would then create and ship puzzles as they are ordered.  The biggest downside to it though... is that they aren't nearly as cheap as the ones that were mass-produced and sold around the world, BUT I can actually now offer up any photo of mine as a puzzle in any size someone might want, if they want one.

I started off with my two favorite photos from my trip to Vermont this fall.  Offering each as 500 or 1000 piece puzzles, and then I also picked two photos I've wanted to do myself as puzzles for a very long time and created 1000 piece puzzles out of them.  I really don't expect anyone will buy them at this companies price.... unless I get lucky and a big distributor takes a chance and buys one of them in bulk, but if you happen to be interested enough to take a look, or even purchase one, you can see them at my Online Puzzle Store.  If you would like to buy a puzzle from there, I wanted to point out that if you buy 2 or more, you do get a 20% discount which takes some of the sting out of the price.  They don't have to be 2 of the same puzzle, so you could buy two different puzzles and still get the discount.

One big advantage of a company like this though, is that if you don't like what you see there or if you happen to like another image of mine that you'd love to have as a puzzle, you can just email me and let me know what image it is, and what size you'd like the puzzle to be, and I can custom create them by requested.  If you think the 1000 piece puzzles cost too much or are bigger than you like, I can make a 500 piece version or even smaller for you if you like.  The process takes about a day for me to size the image, upload it, configure all the information they need and then have them approve everything and make it available for purchase,  and I'd be happy to do that for you.  Just shoot me an email and let me know.

If you think the prices are crazy and you wouldn't spend that much on a puzzle, or if you just don't like building puzzles, that's totally cool too. I think I only make about $2 per sale so I will never get rich off this and I'm not doing it for the money.  I just wanted to offer it up as I do get asked about puzzles from time to time now.   If you've actually read this far... thanks for sticking it out.  I know I started to ramble again. LOL

I am going to buy a couple of these for myself now just because ...  to be honest....  they are a few photos I've always wanted to see as a puzzle and wanted to put together myself.  Maybe I'm just weird.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

2019 - New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year!  I know when the new year rolls in, many people make a long list of resolutions for the new year, and if you're like most of us, that list is usually abandoned by the end of January.  I guess that's why I quit making New Year's Resolutions years ago.  This year though, I decided in it's place, I was going to set one or two goals based around my photography and would be easier to stick to, and hopefully will also help keep me motivated this year.  Those two things are to get out and shoot a lot more often this year than I did last year, and to finally start posting a lot more often to this blog.  Earlier today I was just making a few changes to my website, and got side-tracked going back and reading through some of my old posts on here,  and realized if it wasn't for a few of those short little stories, I'd have forgotten things about trips I've taken in the past and a little light bulb went on in my head.  I really need to write more, and if for no other reason, but to leave myself a diary of sorts to help me remember things about places I've been, shots I've taken, shots I want to take, ideas for future trips or anything else that comes to mind.

Do I think everyone will want to read my ramblings?  No.... or course not.  But I do know there are a few of you that have told me you really enjoy reading about and following some of my adventures, so my goal this year, is to write at least a little something about any trip I take this year, big or small.  To keep me going I will probably sprinkle some of that other stuff in here too.

I guess if finally dawned on me that I actually do enjoy writing and that it's a little bit of an outlet for me when I can't get out there shooting photos.  If I can't be shooting them, maybe I can be going back and finding some of my favorite shots from the past and writing a little about what those shots remind me of, or mean to me.    I also think I'll post at least one photo from every outing, no matter if they are good or bad, and write about what I like and don't like about them, and maybe talk about what I would change if I get a chance to go back and shoot them again.

A lot of that will just be little notes to myself, but if you're curious to hear a little about how that little hamster on the wheel in my head works....  maybe you'll learn way more than you wanted to.  LOL

If you're following along or want to comment on anything I post here, please do! I'd love to hear your thoughts, ideas, or anything else you'd like to share along the way.  I changed the setting on here so that comments are moderated. So if you want to comment, but don't want to share it with anyone else, you can just let me know that in your message too and I'll be sure to leave it marked as private.

So that's it for my goals for the new year.  I have a few big trips coming up this year that I'm very excited about so hopefully I can make this entertaining, and leave myself a little diary to look back on later myself.  If you follow along, welcome.....  and here is to a very Happy New Year for all of us!