Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Color as a social statement - Carrie Mae Weems

Courtesy Wikipedia.org
Continuing on with the discussion on "Color and emotion", I can't think of a better example of how color, subject and message integrate seamlessly than with the works of Carrie Mae Weems.

Carrie Mae Weems is an contemporary American artist who works in a variety of mediums but is best known for her photography work. Her work centers around the socio-political world of African-Americans and how society perceives them, though lately it has evolved to encompass more of the human condition than race.

One particular set of works that caught my attention were a series of portraits collectively called Colored People (1989-1990). In this series of portraits Mrs. Weems plays on the labels associated with a class of people in a straightforward, unabashed and reflective manner.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Color and emotion

Prism at work
Color is determined by the light reflecting off an object. It is a physical process with a constant set of values resulting in a predictable conclusion. It is basic physics.

Sir Isaac Newton established many of the basic principles of light through his experimentations with prisms. Simple as it seems today, this toy was instrumental in laying the foundation for particle based physics.

Scientifically that's all well and good but, as an artist, I could care less about particle physics. What I am most interested in is the psychology of color. Psychologically, color has more properties attached to them than mere luminance values, RGB values or even their common names. Sure, you might understand what the numbers 255,0,0 represent or that the term red is the common name for those numbers. Let's face it, we don't go around looking to photograph 255,0,0 or 87,53,64 or 15,8,164 or any other assortment of digital combinations between 0,0,0 and 255,255,255.

The interest in color on a psychological level, rather than an artistic level, is that I want to appeal to viewers on an emotional level. Sure, I can put orange and purple together in an image because they compliment each other. I would much rather place those colors together because they create a sense of tension and drama.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

5 simple tripod tips for better photos

A tripod is an essential tool for any photographer. It's purpose is to steady your camera in order to avoid movement that occurs when hand holding. That's it, that's all they do.

Tripods allow you to position a camera in a set place for longer exposures or multiple exposures. It allows you to position the camera in awkward positions that would otherwise be uncomfortable for a photographer. It also allows you to step away from the camera for remote shooting.

While in principle it all sounds relatively simple, there are a few tricks to keep in mind when working with a tripod. Here are five of the more important ones;

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Focal length and field of view

As a photographer creating an image for your viewers there are many ways to present that image. Lighting and color, composition, perspective, these are all choices you have to make. One of the inescapable tools used for manipulating your scene is your camera's lens.

With any lens there are considerations to keep in mind; focal length, angle of view and perspective are three that immediately come to mind and I'll cover some aspects that need to be understood in order to make an informed lens choice for a given scene. One suggested exercise is to take all your lenses, find a suitable subject and make a series of images with all the lenses in your collection. If you have a zoom lens, take several images at varying focal lengths so you have something for comparison.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Reflection vs Refraction

As your photographic skills improve and you start venturing more into light modifiers there are two terms you should understand; reflection and refraction.

Reflection refers to a change in direction of light when they bounce off a substrate. Refraction is the change in the direction of light as it passes through a substrate.

So why should you know these terms? If you work with light modifiers, having an understanding of how they work will help you understand what kind of results you can expect from them. All modifiers used in photography fall under one of these two categories.

In physical space, a light wave will travel in a straight path, from the source of illumination, until one of two things happen. An object in the light path either absorbs it or the object deflects it. Typically all object tend to do both. As light encounters an object, some of the light's color spectrum gets absorbed and the rest gets deflected. What gets deflected is what allows us to see color. How an object deflects light is dependant on the physical structure, or surface makeup, of the object.