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Have you ever arrived at your vacation destination (after planning and looking forward to it for a year), and you were possibly overwhelmed because you didn’t know where, what, and when to shoot. It can be difficult, ever for some professionals. Here’s what to do to simplify your “once in a lifetime vacation” and make it a memorable experience.

In the old days, the days before the internet, we would call or write (depending on the time we had) the Tourism Department of every country, state, and city I was going to be in and would ask for information as to what to see; we would also contact the Film Commission for similar information.

Now, with the inception of the internet, it has become so easy to obtain the same results. These sites are meant to attract photographers to come photograph their city, state, or country. To them it’s free publicity, and photographs are a quick way to spread the word around.

I know what you’re thinking, why go to the places that all the tourists go to and photograph the same things? For me, the reason is simple. Tourists will go to these places after breakfast when the quality light is gone. Or, they’ll go right before or right after lunch, when the light is the hottest. They will usually be through well before dinner so they don’t have to worry about it while sipping their glass of wine.

I go out well before breakfast (sunrise) when the light is the best. Then I have breakfast. Since I’ve been up a the proverbial “crack of dawn”, I’ll go back to my room and rest up (if I can). During the lunch hour, I’m sitting at an outdoor cafe, eating the local fare while sipping a glass of wine figuring out what I want to shoot at sunset during the golden then blue hour. Then I go to dinner and enjoy my dinner while thinking back to what I’ve shot that day.

These are the photographs that I’m looking to have prints made with. These are the important photos because I’ve spent the most time in the pre-planning stage and are taken in the best light.

The above photo represents a lot of time surfing the web looking for places to shoot in Provence in the Fall.

These are areas I cover with my online class with the BPSOP, and locations I’ve scouted out for my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet.

Check out my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and my 2019 workshop schedule you’ll find t the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.

JoeB

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When I talk to my students in my online class with the BPSOP and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, I’m reminded as to how short a time they’ve been photographers; certainly not all, but quite a few.

Most of these people have jobs and can’t devote as much time as they would like. However, there are those that do have the time but find themselves procrastinating when it comes to going out and taking pictures…making art; I have been guilty at times myself.

That said, I’ve been extremely fortunate as to have had photography my career as well as my passion going on fifty years; traveling on assignments two hundred and fifty days out of the year before retiring.

Even after all these years, I still get all warm and fuzzy when I have taken a photo that I knew even before clicking the shutter that I had one of those illusive ‘Keepers’.

The analogy I can draw is through the game of golf. I’m not very good and I never know who’s going to address the ball on the tee. The Tiger Woods that can hit the ball three hundred yards straight down the middle, or the duffer that hits the ball to the ladies tee; I’ve done both.

My point here is that if I can hit the ball once in a blue moon like Tiger, it’s what keeps me going even after hitting fifty in a row into the woods, people’s back yard…or lake!!

Taking a great shot, an illusive keeper, every once in a while is what I live to shoot for. For me, it’s the elixir that keeps me going; it keeps me living for the next one. It keeps me setting the alarm clock to be somewhere at least an hour before the sun comes up…whether I get something or not really doesn’t matter; perhaps it’s just the thrill of the hunt.

So, my fellow photographers, I’m here to help motivate you to go out whenever you can and enjoy the gift you have given yourself. Remember that a camera on a tripod is just like a blank canvas on an easle.

You and I are artists who have chosen a different medium other that a paintbrush. Go out and paint and if you’re lucky you can come home with a work of art, if not, then maybe next time.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come paint with me sometime.

JoeB

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Losing sight of the shore.

Andre Gide was a French writer, and humanist who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1947. I was recently reading an article on him and one of his quotes really hit home with me and the way I approach teaching both online with the BPSOP, and in my personal workshops I conduct around the planet.

Specifically, a conversation or conversations I recently had with two of my students (over a period of four weeks) who both live and die by whatever the ‘powers that be’ say at their camera club meetings and competitions; after all, who knows better than the newly elected officers? Am I right?

Btw, if I had to pick one subject that I talk about the most is the question whether camera clubs, online information, or just friends tell you what to do and what not to do. I certainly don’t think what I profess is the Gospel according to Joe, but I will tell you that most of the material you read on the information highway is just not in your best interest; sometimes you just have to follow the roads less traveled.

This is where the quote comes in. Gide once said, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

To me, taking chances and making mistakes in the process is the best way to take your photography what I commonly refer to as “up a notch”. I’m not implying that you should quit going to your local camera club meetings. After all, it’s a great place to eat free cookies,  nibble on celery and carrot sticks, drink Perrier sparkling water, or perhaps diet coke is your thing.

I’m not profiling here because I have seen it up close and personal. I have been asked to judge several local camera club annual competitions and I always had a hard time being asked to judge the title of the photograph and even how it was matted in my final decisions whether to  accept a piece into the show or worse…to give it a blue ribbon; I finally started turning down the honor.

The last camera club’s annual show I judged, I had set out a stack of self addressed post cards for people to take that talked about my online class and my workshops. Out of the entire club of a hundred plus people, only one woman picked one up.

I found out that she was the one that had placed first in three categories and second in the third. After seeing my presenation she decided that she wanted to learn more about seeing differently and growing more as a photographer.

If you feel that you’re not going anywhere as far as your photography is concerned, then maybe it’s time to discover new oceans; I like to call it “coloring outsides the lines”. If it means going out shooting by yourself, then just do it! One thing will be certain, you’ll be looking ahead and not behind you…where everyone else will be.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.

JoeB

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I took the shot

Here’s something to think about next time when you pick up a camera and go out shooting. Is your approach to taking pictures more of a objective nature or are you more subjective in the way you see things?

Let me explain by giving you an example: If you’re out shooting and you see two dressed up women standing side by side, and all of a sudden one of them picks her nose, do you take the shot?

If the answer is yes, then you’re being objective…why? Because you’re not being influenced by any personal feelings; you’re merely representing the facts.

You also probably have an ulterior motive, that being you caught someone in an act and you’re after some recognition for being ‘quick on your feet’; and the forthcoming laughter from the viewer(s).

Conversely,  if you’re somewhere and you see two women all dressed up standing side by side, and all of a sudden one picks her nose…but it’s your favorite aunt, do you take the shot?

If the answer is no, then you’re being subjective…why? Because you’re being influenced by personal feelings; you don’t want to represent the fact that your aunt picks her nose.

I will often get images from people that take my online class with the BPSOP, and my StretchingYour Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, that may or may not show something like that happening.

During the critique they will tell me that they have other variations where the subject isn’t doing something embarrassing. The problem is that they’re not as interesting.

Part of my answer is in the form of ways to create Visual Tension. Visual Tension gives your photograph strength and intensity. Tension equals energy, and it’s a psychological force to be reckoned with and used correctly can take your photography what I refer to as “up a notch”.

When you hear the word tension you more than likely associate it with mental or emotional stress since that’s the most popular definition. After all, how many commercials have you seen or heard where they talk about “the tension headache”, and that their pill works better than all the rest to get rid of it?

I’m talking about the kind of Visual Tension that’s comes as a result of forces acting against one another; which creates energy and visual interest.

When Visual Tension is present, it’s the feeling that something is going to (or has occured) occur that will change the dynamics of the message we’re trying to get across to the viewer. There are several ways to do this and two of them fits this post: body language and gesture.

In the above photo, I was walking around New Orleans during Mardi Gras, and stopped to take a picture of this couple. At that moment the man turned around but the woman, through her body language, told me that she was very old and very tired from being on her feet all day for countless years.

Do I become subjective and not take the shot, or do I transcend any personal empathy and take the shot; I took the shot and now it’s in the permanent photography collection at the Museum of Fine Art in Houston.

So my fellow photographers, it will be a tough choice…do you go for the gold and become objective? Do you sell your aunt down the proverbial river, or do you protect her by waiting until she’s through picking?

For me, it all depends on whether I’m in her will.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.

JoeB

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Using my Bag of Solutions

When I’m online with my class with the BPSOP, or traveling with my Stretching Your Frame of Mind workshop, I often refer to my “Pearls of Wisdom”. One of them is,  “My bag of solutions”.

What I mean is how do I solve a problem that’s come up unexpectedly? If I could only get a couple of feet higher, or have to stand out in the water, or pick up any trash, or how about fixing something that might be broken or needing a piece of tape to hold something while I shoot. Here’s what I often carry in my car when I’m going out. You just never know when you’ll need something!!!I don’t necessarily carry everything all at once, but I have before on personal long road trips and assignments. Although I consider this list equipment, I call this my “bag of solutions”:

  • Tripod
  • Bean bag
  • Small table tripod
  • Six foot ladder
  • Spray bottle with water/glycerin mixture
  • Photo stand with a sand bag to keep it steady
  • A-clamps (to secure the reflector and umbrella to the stand).
  • White reflector or white piece of foamboard.
  • Duct tape (very important)
  • Fifty feet of garden hose (for ‘wet downs’)
  • Mikita (or another brand) 14 or 18 volt rechargeable screw gun
  • Rubber boots
  • Chest waders
  • Knee pads
  • Blanket
  • Walki-Talki’s
  • Plastic tarp
  • Broom
  • Rake
  • Garbage bag
  • Golf Umbrella
  • Change of clothes
  • Small Red line tactical flashlight for light painting
  • https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=redline+flashlight&tbm=shop&spd=4139016517009177550
  • Model/minor/property releases (important if you plan to sell the photos)
  • Ice chest with water, soft drinks, beer, and Martini fixers’ (after the wonderful sunset)

Did I leave out anything?

In the photo above that I shot for the Coca Cola Bottling Annual Report, I used the broom and rake to clean up the area, the fifty feet of hose (every bit of it) to wet down the pavement,  the small mag light to light up the lettering on the truck’s door, the duct tape to secure the flashlight to the six foot ladder, and the garbage bag to clean up whatever trash I created.

Check out my website at: www.joebaraban.com and come shoot with me sometime.

JoeB

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Moving the viewer around the frame

Creating memorable photos, as you probably know, is not an easy task. Keeping the viewer around as long as possible is a very important ingredient in doing just that. Unless you’re shooting strictly for yourself, the idea is to take control of how the viewer perceives and processes our images. Making him an active participant is the best way I know of to achieve this lofty goal.

In my part II online class with the BPSOP, we spend an entire lesson just working with Line; the most important of all the basic elements of visual design. I will also talk about this element in my workshops I conduct all over the planet.

One of the best ways to keep the viewer involved is to use Line to move the viewer around your composition. Leading him in and out of the frame using lines to do so will keep him interested. Another way to use Line effectively is to arrange the lines to leave an impression or make a statement that communicates a visual idea.

In the above photo, I came around the corner, looked down, and saw this happening right in front of my eyes. The first thing I thought about was the artist M.C. Escher. The second was what a great way to not only move the viewer around, but to keep him around by offering six to eight seconds of visual entertainment.

Communicating a visual idea

When you look at these images, you can’t help but to follow the lines, and steps from one side of the frame to another; letting the viewer enter and leave the frame at different points in the composition.

By using the right side of my brain, the creative side, I was able to see this subject not as a walkway and steps that I would see by only using the left side, but a series of patterns, lines, and shapes; all basic elements of visual design.

So, my fellow photographers, look for ways to move the viewer around your frame, and you’ll be taking your imagery what I refer to as”up a notch”.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.

JoeB

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