Posts tagged “art

Expect Nothing, Get an Owl

It has been a long and gradual journey for me from casual to serious photographer. I first picked up a SLR back in community college, when I was being instructed how to shoot slides of my artwork. At the time (and for most things today) tools involving numbers or precision did not appeal to me in the least. For some reason, this tool with its focus ring, light meters and shutter speeds, really spoke to me and it wasn’t long until I spent a hefty chunk of my student-job paycheck on the cheapest 35mm SLR I could find. At first, I went fully automatic on all the settings, but I eventually came to a point where I could work fully manual. Back then, success to me meant creating photographs that were in focus and exposed well. My compositions were just so-s0, and none of my images were of a quality I would consider very artistic. That was frustrating. I was a decent artist that could draw and paint well. I understood perspective, lighting, color, tonality and line, but all my images just looked like snapshots…and I wanted them to look like Ansel Adams. Turns out, composition is HUGE in photography, and it would take me many more years of study for that to really sink in. With painting, if something doesn’t work, you can change it. In photography, you work with what you get! What a challenge. I had to learn P A T I E N C E.

Dang it! Patience. Waiting. Slowing down. Acceptance vs. anxiety. Going with the flow. All that stuff you see in the inexhaustible stream of Memes on social media today. Patience; the word that all of my instructors at one time directed towards my stubborn ears until the one day I finally embraced another concept and patience finally penetrated my young thick skull. I became humble. I realized I could actually get help from people and it was okay. I became a better student and my art and photography began to improve.

Twenty years later and I am still learning the rewards of patience. Learning that some days are going to yield amazing photographs, while others might only provide a single cup of good coffee, is an ongoing lesson for me.

Last week, I was in one of my favorite parks I use to prime my creative juices. I wasn’t really expecting much, but I was hopeful. There are a lot of places to shoot water, but the sun was already high and I wasn’t going to be able to take very long exposures. I decided I would just shoot trees and plants. Since it is a heavily wooded area, I could catch splashes of light hitting random sections of limbs and trunks of the cedar and firs. I wasn’t getting anything spectacular, but I was in acceptance of my situation and allowed myself to enjoy the smells of the park and the coolness of the air coming of the stream. After gathering up my gear, I headed towards a walk bridge and spotted something sitting on a tree limb. Almost immediately after I spotted it, a patch of light hit the object and I saw that it was a Barred Owl!

After a minute or so of admiring this beautiful bird, I suddenly thought, “camera!” I desperately dug out my camera from my bag and fitted my longer zoom and began shooting. To get it’s attention, I began making “hoot” sounds and knocking on the hand- rail of the bridge. It would slowly rotate its head long enough for me to get a few shots before returning back to whatever it was gazing on before. To push my luck, I decided to slowly walk around the owl on a trail that would get me another angle. After snapping some photos from the new angle, I looked over in the direction it was gazing and noticed a mother duck and its ducklings. Bonus! I was too far away to get a tight shot of the duck, but the lighting and the greenery in the foreground made for a nice composition.

It was a great nature photography day for sure. In the past, I would of looked at the harsh lighting and not pursued picture taking on a day like that. Experience has taught me that you can make just about any lighting situation work, and with enough patience and the right mind set, even your worst photo outings will be rewarding.

Thanks for stopping by! If there is a photography topic you would like to read, whether it be technical or artistic, let me know. I am happy to share all I know-Shawn Pagels

The WatchWho Goes There SmallGuardianSmallMotherhood

 

 

 

 

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Reaching Out

I find that one of my new tricks is seeing what kind of intriguing shape I can put into the foreground using my wide-angle lens. The nature made holes in this slab of rock were too irresistible to pass over. The shape of the projecting rock formation is irregular so I chose to make it a dominating feature of this image. Not unlike my previous post about seeing abstractly, this piece came together because I was treating my landscape as if it were an abstract painting. Looking for shape, color, tonality, and texture, and arranging these elements with an emphasis on composition rather than reality.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to visit my new Art Blog here—->art blog

OutreachSm

Seeing Abstractly

Picture making, whether it be drawing, painting or photography, is ultimately about filling your picture plane with something interesting and intriguing. We orchestrate several elements, shape, texture, color and tonality, until we arrive at a pleasing arrangement. In photography, our subject matter, whether it be a single object or multiple ones, is often the goal. Being careful as to the placement of our subject(s), as well as lighting and focus, are key for creating balance in our image.

In my latest shot, I decided to ignore particular subject matter, and look purely at the formal qualities of my surroundings. I looked for tonal variety, interesting shapes, and movement. In essence, I approached my photo session like an abstract painter. This isn’t to say the elements I used in my photographs can not be identified. You can clearly see that I used rock and water. However, by thinking only in terms of abstraction, I was able to take the emphasis off subject, and work primarily on decorating the image plane. Thanks for stopping by. Oh yes, I now have my painting website up. Please visit my painting site for some abstract inspiration.; ) click–> my art

Little Falls

Blinded By Formality

This image was originally tucked away in a folder, because when I was editing it, I was attempting to recreate the same levels of contrast and darkness as other photographs I was working on. At the time, I was very much looking for a certain criteria, and as a result, I didn’t see the qualities in this image. When I came back to this one weeks later, the calming, understated nature of this beach scene really appealed to me. I wonder how many other good photographs I pushed aside because they didn’t look like I thought they should at the time. Anyone else find a gem after they first dismissed it? Let me know! Thanks for stopping by. –Shawn K. Pagels11887949_1152661301414806_3576335558865739618_n

Finding A Path

When other compositional ideas are not working, find a way to direct the eye by including a path in your photograph.

Here is a shot I took on a neighborhood trail. A clear path takes the viewer up through the image and through the natural tunnel. O f course, you will not always have such a clear path to incorporate in your photograph.

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Sometimes, you have to really hun for these paths. In the case of this next picture I took on the Oregon coast, I found the water path first and then moved around to direct it somewhere interesting in my image.

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Here is a similar example I took on a snowy day. In on otherwise colorless and white-washed photo-shoot, I found a few of these breaks in the snow that created compositional tools in my pictures.

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When you are struggling to come up with a pleasant composition, try making a path in your picture. Lead the eye to just about anything and your pictures will come alive. I believe a great photograph can make the mundane, magnificent.

Happy Shooting,

Shawn Pagels

(artSEEguy)

 

 

Go Ahead, Get Your Feet Wet

Water is one of my favorite things to photograph, but like all things, to do it well you have to be willing to get a little uncomfortable. That means getting in! Being mindful of tides and the swiftness and depth of a river are real things you have to consider before jumping in. Keeping your camera secured around your neck is important too. Since my tripod is aluminum, I am not concerned with it rusting. The following are different examples of how I got wet to get my shot.

River:

Unless there are several places for your eye to bounce along, photographing a river from the the side on a bank or beach places a static band across your page and can create a boring image. There are exceptions, but in general this kind of side to side composition doesn’t intrigue the viewer. When facing this very problem down at one of my favorite parks, I decided to step in. I found a great big mossy rock in the middle of this stream and set up my camera on a tripod with my 11-16 Tokina wide angle lens.

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Upstream:

Never mistake good subject matter for a good photograph. With this next image, I struggled trying to get all the logs, foliage and flowing water to look as interesting as the idea of all these elements. I was shooting from a comfortable place along a bank and I was trying every angle I could, high, low, close and wide, but failed to capture an image that was worth keeping. Like my river shot, I decided to get in the water and try shooting from an angle that captured this scene downstream. The results were worth the extra five minutes removing my socks I think.

going_away_by_starbirdsky-d6k0nfq

Waterfalls:

This one you want to be extra cautious with. Waterfall areas will often have barriers and restricted areas that you want to stick to for your safety. The next image is from a very popular and heavily photographed waterfall in my city. There is a bridge spanning the outflow of this falls and good places to take a photograph. I wanted to try placing more water in the foreground of my image. I found a path that went under the bridge that brought my angle closer to what I wanted. I tried a few shots along the pebble beach but I wasn’t quite getting what I wanted. The water was shallow enough that day and I was able to step in and get just the right angle that included water and a few rocks in my final photograph.

august_at_whatcom_falls_by_starbirdsky-d6jvp6t

As always, make sure if you’re shooting wide not to let a leg of your tripod or remote cable get in the shot. Wear waterproof boots or go barefoot if you are certain it is safe to do so. Consider your angle and composition and try several exposures. Getting your feet wet can lead to some outstanding shots you wouldn’t achieve standing safely on dry land. With a little planning and caution, these small comfort risks will help your portfolio grow and shine.

Happy Shooting,

Shawn Pagels

Go Ahead, Be a Square

We are all taught in art school or photography classes about portrait and landscape formats and the appropriate uses of them. Today, I want to demonstrate the power of the square! If done right, presenting an image in a square format can make a bold statement. There is something kind of hip about ignoring rules and putting something out there that looks a little different from the rest. With that in mind, there are a few things you want to look out for to avoid making your image look less like a statement and more like a mistake!

Composition: 

As in other formats, you want to remember some basic rules of good composition. Think thirds and avoid dividing the picture in half will keep the image dynamic(if this is your intent). Try not to pull the eye out of the picture by cropping lines or high contrast objects out of the frame.

Sluggish

In this example, there are lines leading away from the subject matter, but they are minimized by the use of value. The brightest and highest contrast is on the Slug shaped fallen tree.

Abstract:

Another great way to use this format is by creating an abstract image. Use pattern, shape and rhythm to make images that resemble abstract paintings.

Rothko Day

I titled this one “Rothko Day” after the famous painter. There are three major bands going across this picture with enough detail to retain a natural element, but remain abstract.

Keep It Moving:

To counter the stagnant nature of the square, choose a photograph that conveys motion.

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The lively nature of this small waterfall keeps the square format lively and visually compelling!

Thanks for reading. Please follow my blog for further articles with examples. Contact me with any questions or comments.

Happy Shooting!

Shawn Pagels

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