Sunday, August 10, 2014

What I Saw/What I Made

When it's overcast here on the Oregon coast, I find myself drawn to photographing piles of fishing nets and buoys. Why not shoot them in bright sunlight? Because then there are way too many dark nooks and crannies, way too much light reflecting off the plastic buoys, and the colors appear washed out.

On overcast days, there are still darkish nooks and crannies, but there's enough light that we still see some details and (quite importantly) some colors back in there. And there are no ugly hot spots on the buoys, enabling the colors to look rich and saturated.

For this "VisuaLeigh" blog, I try to take a photograph and then step back about 15 or 20 paces so you can see what I saw, how I saw it, what caught my eye, and how I framed it.

Here you see stacks of fishing nets (are they not cool, or what?). My job is to figure out what catches my eye and then how to frame it so that what attracted me is all you see.

I had a lot of photo possibilities with these nets, but I particularly liked how the buoys stood out, big round orange circles against a colorful and cluttered background. I moved in closely, selected three I thought looked particularly good, and shot.

(A side note: We use contrast in our photos to create interest, to create a focal point, to create depth. Contrast isn't just about light and shadow. Contrast can be about sharp focus against soft focus, one color isolated in a swath of another color, something circular against a background of linear elements. In this case, it's clean orange color against chaotic colors. Smoothness against texture. Roundness against long skinny lines.)

I used a 24-85mm Canon lens on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera body, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/7.1. I was probably also using a polarizing filter because, even though the light was overcast, there still might be some reflections off the buoys, and a polarizer will help eliminate them, allowing even more color to come through.

So there you have it. An overcast morning on the Oregon coast -- perfect for photographing nautical paraphernalia such as this.

©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What I Saw/What I Made

I was walking on the fishing boat docks in Newport, Oregon and the only lens I had with me was a 24mm-85mm on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II. I took an overview of a boat hull so you can see what I saw. I set my lens at 24mm for this one.

I wasn't interested in the whole hull (love that word combo!), just one abstract section of it. So I zoomed out to 85mm (second photo). Although I sort of like this composition, I wished I could move in closer, but I was limited to the lens at hand.

Later, in Photoshop, I cropped the second image to a square format, which contains the "meat" of what I liked most about the boat hull (third photo).

I like the colors, the diagonal lines, and the vivid reflection in the water (reflections are usually darker and more saturated than what is being reflected).

©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Issue #2 of "VisuaLeigh" e-Zine now available!

I've finished my second issue of "VisuaLeigh" e-Zine and it's up and ready to wing its way to your e-mail box.

Issue #2 runs 30 pages and features these articles:

Composition "Bones": Shoelaces
On Seeing: View from the Couch
Light & Shadow: Car Show Shadows
Composition: Focal Points
Composition: Having an Anchor or Base
Composition: Weird But It Works
Composition: Centering/Not Centering
Bad Photo and Why It's Bad: Pumpkin Display
Lighting: Same Weed, Different Day
Photomontage: Why I Like This One ("Desert Windows")
On Seeing: What I Saw/What I Made ("Ms. Law")
Cropping Down to the Good Stuff: Orange Fender
Composition Thought Process: "Planetary Shift"
Composition: Shell Fossil
Bad Photo and Why It's Bad: Genoa Leaves
What It's Made Of: "Learning"
Composition "Bones": Balcony Chairs

Issue #2
30 pages/PDF format

Here's the link to my online store:

Hope you enjoy this issue! Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!

Carol Leigh

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

When life gives you sunshine, go for the shadows

A car show at Lake Tahoe where, as you may know, when it's sunny, it's REALLY sunny! Instead of bemoaning my fate (I much prefer soft, overcast light when shooting car shows), I looked at what the light was giving me: bold shadows. So I incorporated those shadows into my compositions as you see here. ©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Issue #1 of "VisuaLeigh" e-Zine now available!

I've finished my first issue of "VisuaLeigh" e-Zine and it's up and ready to wing its way to your e-mail box.

Issue #1 runs 29 pages and features these articles:

Composition "Bones": Gisela's Birdhouse
Seeing: What I Saw/What I Made
Photomontage: What's It Made Of?
Composition Anchor or Base: Bubbles
Composition Thought Process: Battery Point Lighthouse
Inspiration for Photomontage: Industrial Park
Composition "Bones": Architectural Salvage Building
Composition "Bones": Half Moon Bay Pail of Pumpkins
Creativity: The "What If" Factor
Bad Photo and Why It's Bad: Leaf Edge
Composition Symmetry: Painted Lady
Seeing: Expectations and Preconceptions in an Aspen Grove
Bad Photo and Why It's Bad: Blue VW Bug

Issue #1
29 pages/PDF format

Here's the link to my online store:

Hope you enjoy this first issue! Issue #2 will follow shortly. Please let me know if you have any questions. This is my first time around and I will appreciate your feedback. Thanks!

Carol Leigh

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Indecent exposure . . .

While in Astoria, Oregon, I photographed reflections in water because I loved how rich the blue and gold colors were (top photo).

Glancing to my left, I saw a rusty piling that had some light blue paint splattered on it (bottom photo). The piling was lighter and brighter than the background water. If I metered off the darker water, the piling would be way overexposed. So I metered off the piling, figuring it was better to have the piling properly exposed, not caring if the water went darker. Did it work? Well, yeah, except that I've really lost all the drama in the water, haven't I?

Luckily when I take miserable shots such as this, I can keep them, blithely writing them off as "teaching tools!" Ha! Love this job...

©Carol Leigh

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bad Photos and Why They're Bad: Genoa Leaves

Have you ever taken a quick shot and later wished you'd spent just a bit more time and taken it "right?" That's my situation here. I saw these leaves clustered together in the street, right next to a curb, pointed my camera down, clicked, and then walked on. I figured it was a nothing photo, was in a hurry to get somewhere else, and simply didn't pay attention.

Looking at it now, oh, how I wish I had taken more time. Look at the variety of leaves I have here. Isn't it great? Some good, some dead, some torn, some colorful, some not. And the light's good — light shade. But where, oh, where is the design in the picture? There isn't one.

I should have picked one or two exceptional leaves and placed them lower or upper right, lower or upper left, pursuant to the Rule of Thirds. Why? So you'd have a focal point, a place to begin and end your visual ride around the picture. As it is, there's nothing here that catches your eye to begin with, nothing that moves you from one point to another, no rhythm, no movement, nada.  You don't know what I considered important in the scene and, apparently, neither did I!

What's the solution? For me to fly back to Genoa, Nevada, hoping the leaves are still there? Of course not. The answer is to pay more attention when I photograph, to slow down, not to be in such a hurry.

So although there's a part of me that still sort of likes this picture, it's really a bad one, and now you know why.

©Carol Leigh