Inside the Photo
If you engage in daily or at least regular bouts of photography, it can be easier to find interesting topics when traveling as you are constantly being bombarded with new visuals. But back at home, you may have to get inventive to find interesting subjects.
I’m starting in my sixth year of doing a daily photography regime. I have a small home (less than 1000 square feet) on a small propert (1/3 of an acre). Even when I think I have run out of things to photograph, I find new details, angles, shadows, perspectives.
I bet I used things around my home for more than 1000 of these photos (uh oh now someone will ask me to verify that). One tried and true method is isolating an interesting object. In this case, I was looking at the mounds of new new on my deck, and wondered if I could have some fun with my old toy Matchbox cars making it look like they were driving across snowy terrain.
Those actually were ok, but not interesting.
So let the mind relax.
And in this case it was internal reflection on all the news of the looming US financial deadline of the Fiscal Cliff – it’s a metaphor, so why not play with it?
So I found myself balancing my miniature cars and trucks off the edge of my patio table. In this case, the dangling vehicle is a beat up red pickup truck, appropriate since I drive an older (not quite this beat up) Ford F-150. This little car is one I had as a kid. I banged them around so much, at one point my sister helped me repaint them, so it looks even more ragged.
And like Congress, this truck is perched in an un-drivable position, both wheels off the ground. We could extend the metaphor even more by speculating about the lack of a driver.
This photo works again by using a wide open aperture doing the shallow depth of field effect to blur out the background. I actually tried a few different views on different sides of the table, it’s one thing to know that you will get the DOF blur, but I have been paying more attention to seeing what happens with different things in the background. One shot had too much empty bright light. In this case the background of my beige deck railing and the greenery seen through makes for an effective abstract background.
And although I am not always deliberately thinking about it, as its become part of the way I compose my shots, this is classic rule of thirds placement, with the trucks path being on the lower third and its horizontal position on the right third.
I just installed the RuleOfThirds bookmark tool in my browser, and am planning to have my photo students use it to examine images. It’s worth seeing where it works and where it doesn’t I am not ironclad about it, it’s not a law, but there is a sound aspect of balance of subject interest you create my putting your subject on the grid and letting the larger empty space fill the rest:
I’m not surprised that I hit the thirds often without making that the goal.
This photo expresses the joy of my nifty 50, the f/1.4 50mm Canon lens -not only its amazing depth of field effects when wide open, but its clarity. It’s the lens I use 95% of the time. I adore that lens. You cannot get photos like this with an automatic camera or a mobile phone. You need the lens. And an awareness of what aperture does.
So when i am stuck, I look at the objects around my house, and experiment with placing them in sometimes unexpected contexts, like today- I took this little horn ornament that hangs on my bird feeder, and inserted it into the snow:
and wrote a tiny miniature caption to make it a story, “One of Our Tuba Players in Missing”
Maybe its just me, but I find it worth while to also try and be as creative with my photo titles and captions as the photos themselves. It’s a way to turn your photo into more than a picture, or to add a sense of intrigue, mystery, or just whimsey.
For my red Matchbox car parked on the cliff, I was almost tempted to reach for a reference to Thelma and Louise.
Your house is full of objects, look at your kitchen utensils, the knick knacks on your shelves, thing sin your desk drawer, tools in the shed, books on the shelf– there are entire sub worlds in your home to explore through the lens.