25 Mar 2012

Fill space with people and a city photo starts to live

This post is a result of my experiments with photographing objects that can typically be found in a city: buildings, squares, tourist attractions, etc. After some initial trials, even if a photo contains the objects I originally wanted to I realized that often something is 'missing'. Let's take a few examples:
I like the above picture because of straight lines, the reflection visible on the right side of the frame. But what is it actually? 2nd try:
Suddenly, the passage starts to live. Now next to the shapes there is a dynamics, and the reflection is even more interesting.
Another example:
An ice cream car. That's it. But wait until the customers come:
Although the two boys and the ice cream man don't fill the frame, they add a lot to the scene. Now the photo starts to live, there is some story ongoing in the frame.
Last example:

This is one of the widely discussed buildings that emerged in Eindhoven city centre several years ago. You can like or dislike it, but  one thing is for sure - it is interesting. The mood of this picture (despite relative warm light) is somewhat cold. Empty space and a big 'egg' raising out of it. The same building with some dynamics around it:

I know that it is subjective, but to me the mood is different now, mainly due to a bicyclist on the first plane.  

So they are people that bring life to the city. Having them on a city photo can change it substantially. Something to remember when taking city shots next time.

15 Mar 2012

It's a pity if someone judges you based on a piece of plastic

This blog should be about photography. Well, what happened to me started with the photography but has ended with a mix of not so positive feelings.
I am going to buy a new lens for my camera. Not so cheap (Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8G ED) so I want to try it out first. There is a company renting the photo equipment nearby my place. They offered (I thought) a good   renting price and the general conditions. After initial e-mail exchange, sending the copies of required documents they announced to me that due to my nationality (!) they need to increase the deposit by 150% (from 400 to 1000 EUR). To be clear: I have presented the personal identity card issued by Dutch government.
I live in The Netherlands since 2001 and it is for the very first time that someone changes the rules because of my nationality. Pity. To make a story complete I have to admit that an employee explained the reasons of such policy to me: basically a big risk of theft and difficulties of undertaking the juristic steps if a thief appears to be non-Dutch citizen. On one side sounds reasonable but on the other it gives a strange feeling. And raises a rhetoric question: would Dutch citizenship made me a more honest person?  Another question is: am I going to play such game? For sure not. Money is not an issue, but there are the principles.

Which brings me to the final issue:
I need to find another company renting the Nikkor lenses because I still want to try it out!

11 Mar 2012

Looking back on own photos - do I improve?

Recently I have scanned through the old photos I have made over past years to sort the tags out a little bit.
Then I came to the idea: if I take the photos belonging to a certain category and put it on a timeline, will I see any trend? Will I see improvement of my photographic skills, for example? Is there anything that I could name as a 'constant element', a style?
So I took the photos tagged as the 'landscape' and taken in years 2007-2012. And it was an interesting excercise. Some observations:

  • Composition of my landscape photos improves over the years. 
  • I need to work on making the landscapes more interesting. I have a tendency to leave too much empty space in the photo, making the picture not as interesting as it could be. How to improve? Studying work of the best in business, scout for the better landscapes is the plan for the coming period.
  • The lighting on most of my pictures is, well, not so good. Here the remedy is simple, I think - get up early, be on a location at the sunrise. Also something easy to try.
To summarize: it is worth repeating this excercise more frequently, it definitely helps.