Monday, November 23, 2009
In my lectures, photo tours, and on-line photo courses, I talk a lot about backgrounds. Backgrounds are virtually as important as subjects in making a picture work. If they are messy and there is a lot going on, they tug at our eyes and pull our attention away from your subject. In photography, like art, guidelines and/or rules can be broken, and in this picture of a namaqua chameleon from Namibia, I feel that the busy background and, for that matter, the busy foreground are OK. From an artistic standpoint, I wouldn't be saying this. But from the perspective of showing an animal in a natural habitat being camouflaged from its enemies, I like the picture. Notice how I got down very low to shoot this eye-to-eye. That makes a more intimate and more compelling portrait.
The Jackson's chameleon I photographed in one of my frog and reptile workshops (the next one, by the way, is Feb. 27, 28, 2010 in St. Louis) has the ultimate complementary background -- out of focus foliage. In the workshop, we use a 13x19 inch print of out of focus foliage to get this effect. Artistically, this picture is perfect. I still like the namaqua chameleon photo, though, because it's completely natural.
Monday, November 16, 2009
I took this picture several years ago. This was a captive black leopard who, I was told, didn't like men. From his expression, you can see that this was absolutely true!
What has bothered me about this picture for a long time is that the cat's eyes were originally jade green because of the reflection of the flash. Just like red-eye in humans, the eyes of large cats often go green when a flash is used. This evening I used the hue/saturation dialog box in Photoshop (Image > adjustments > hue/saturation) to remove the green color. In the pulldown submenu, I selected 'green' and then moved the saturation slider to the left, i.e. de-saturating just green. The result is still a bit eerie, but it's much better than the original green color.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I revisited a portrait session I did with a young lady a few months ago, and I played around with a technique that is intriguing. Using Photoshop, I selected half of the model's face with the rectangular marquee tool, and then I copied this to the clipboard with Edit > copy (the clipboard is an invisible temporary holding place for one photo at a time). I then pasted the half-face onto the portrait with Edit > paste and flipped it left to right with Edit > transform > horizontal. Finally, I moved it into place with the move tool and this completed the mirror effect.
With Nik Color Efex Pro I enhanced the color and the contrast and then I added a gradient of color.
This procedure produced a very unusual image that I find quite intriguing. It's always interesting to me that going back over photos taken in the past can be a catalyst to produce artistic variations of them that didn't occur to me when I took them originally.