The art of design in photography

Color – Lesson 6 – monochromatic theme: Wintergreen

Cloudy days are best for many colors or one color. Monochromatic photos make a design statement all their own. See what color speaks to you and capture it in all its moods and textures.

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Colorthe many ways to use it

Lesson 5 – How to make color pop

The best time to photograph color and make it pop is when the sky is overcast and cloudy with a hint of light streaking through at end of day.

The Brights of Portland, Spring 2017

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Lesson 4 – painting with color

Handpainting was used extensively before color film was invented. It is still a timeless and artful way to add color–realistically or any way you imagine it to be. Just take a black and white print, get out your box of hand colored pencils or paints and experiment. You can use a cotton ball, a Qstick or your finger to blur, smudge, streak and dab on the color. Here is a website to help you explore this ancient art.

Spotted Horse


Also experiment with infrared if you have a film camera, as it produces a glowing and intriguing effect.







Light–the most important design element

Lesson 3 – filtered light

Light defines the ambience and mood of a photograph. You can filter light artificially with colored filters or by shooting through gauze or other material to soften or diffuse the light. Or you can take advantage of nature’s filter such as in this photo of mist over a pond in Veneta, Oregon. The gauzy light gives the photo an ethereal feeling.

Veneta mist, Veneta, OR

Veneta mist, Veneta, OR

Lesson 2  3-point lighting

Today we’re going to study classical 3-point lighting — using a key (main) light, fill light and hair light. You can use these principles indoors or out. With sunlight, the sun is the key light, you can use a reflector or a flash to create a fill light to fill in the side of the subject that falls into shawdow, and another flash could be directed at the subject’s head to create a hair light. The fill light should be placed so that it provides about 1/2 to 1/3 of the brightness of the key light. The photo here was shot in studio, and the model is dressed and positioned to replicate a famous George Hurrell portrait of 1930’s actor Jean Harlow. I used a hair light here but in classic 3-point lighting, you normally use a background light to bring attention to the area behind the subject. See more of George Hurrell’s work.

Native glamour

Native glamour

“Wherever there is light, one can photograph.” – Alfred Stieglitz

The first principal of design in photography is the use of light–and its opposite shadow.  The elements of good photographic design are the same as they are for painting; the photo is your canvas and how you position the objects, in this case light, on that canvas is what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary.

All material in nature, the forests and the streams and the air and we, are made of Light which has been spent, and this crumpled mass called material casts a shadow, and the shadow belongs to Light.”

Louis Kahn, architect

shadow dancer for blog                                                                                          Shadow Dancer

   Lesson 1 – rim lighting

      Today we look at studio lighting using one light source, in this case rim lighting. This is accomplished by placing a hair light (a small directional light) on the subject’s hair and cheeks. This gives the photo a dramatic and stark appearance, the light focusing the attention exactly where you want it.
Play with this by moving the light further away, aiming it at a different spot on the subject and you can also narrow the beam of light by using barn doors or any kind of hand made funnel on your light source—be careful as studio lights are hot, so use a safe, fireproof material. You can also just mount a simple flashlight on a light stand and aim it where you want it. Use your imagination and have fun.


rim lighting                                                           Nectar



City of Roses

Using a Nikon Cool Pix camera with macro feature. It’s amazing how close you can get with a little point and shoot camera.

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Portland views
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