KeO BLoG

Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..

Breaking out of “Snap Shot” Mode in your Photography

I just returned from a great weekend of hiking and photographing El Pital Mountain in El Salvador. After a short photo excursion up to the top of the mountain, I got to thinking about the conceptual and technical  “process” of good photography. Photography that goes above and beyond the simple “snap shot” approach.

Mountain Valley El Pital

Mountain Valley El Pital

There  are unique and interesting photographs to be captured with your camera where ever you might find yourself.  You don’t need to travel off to distant and exotic places to make great photographs, although it’s always exciting to go on travel adventures.

Wall textures, flowers and Shingles

Wall textures, flowers and Shingles

With just a little bit of technical “know how” and some basic knowledge of composition and camera operation anyone can take pictures that go above and beyond “snap-shot” mode. Pictures that truly impact and hold the interest of those who view them.

Hanging Laundry

Hanging Laundry

I love traveling because when I’m in a new environment my eye is fresh and alert for potential subjects for photographs.  I am more sensitive to my environment when I am in a new place. I see potential photographs everywhere I look.

Waterfall Pool

Waterfall Pool

A simple waterfall, landscape, flower or hiking path can be brought to life by taking a few brief moments to THINK about HOW you want to translate that subject of scene. Ask yourself…”what is my subject”  and then go about composing it in the most creative way possible based on your personal vision “style” as an image maker.

Close-Up Mountain Weed

Close-Up Mountain Weed

Shooting in manual mode gives you the photographer more control over the image making process instead of handing creative control over to the automatic mode of the camera. Shooting in manual mode takes a few extra seconds for those photographers used to shooting in auto or program, however it is really the only way to take your photography to the next creative level.

Swirling Stem

Swirling Stem

Shallow depth of field in a flower photograph will direct the viewers eye to the main subject of your composition creating a powerful focal point enhancing the visual impact of your image. Getting close to your subjects is also an important ingredient for enhancing the visual impact of your pictures.

Waterfall

Waterfall

A long shutter speed and small f/stop can transform a snapshot of a waterfall into an artistic rendition of flowing water. Framing elements in the foreground of your landscapes also adds to the illusion of depth in the picture and adds to the visual interest of the scene.

Trees

Trees

These are very simple things that will transform a bland, static, boring photographs into pictures that will elicit a positive response from your viewers. Think about photographing from different vantage points other than eye level. Get low and shoot up and/or find something to stand on and shoot from a high angel of view – push yourself to explore different ways and angles to photographically translate your subjects.

Fern from low angle shooting up towards sky.

Fern from low angle shooting up towards sky.

It’s  also important to “be in the moment” when making photographs. Train yourself to be hyper-sensitive to your surroundings, especially the quality of the light, the various textures, lines and shapes in your subjects no matter where you are.

Dead Fauna

Dead Fauna

You can make great photographs whether you are at an exotic location or in your backyard. I think Ansel Adams said it best and most succinctly.

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
Ansel Adams

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6 comments on “Breaking out of “Snap Shot” Mode in your Photography

  1. Joseph Whichard
    April 15, 2013

    If you start to understand the elements involved in photography, you start to look at the whole world through a sharper eye. Thank you for helping me see the light

  2. Patrick Keough
    April 15, 2013

    Yes Joe…its all about understanding the role the visual elements of design play in your photography and how the interrelationship of the elements in a photograph can reinforce what you are trying to communicate in a picture. It is all about seeing and capturing the magic of light and how it activates subject matter.

  3. Victor M Lagos
    April 15, 2013

    Excellent article Patrick. Very inspiring. And great photographs of a really photogenic subject: El Pital in beautiful El Salvador.

  4. Patrick Keough
    April 15, 2013

    Thanks Victor! We had a great weekend on the mountain hiking and seeking out potential subjects to photograph. El Salvador is a wonderful country to travel through and photograph. The people are so very friendly and are open to let you photograph them.

  5. Rocco Taldin
    April 16, 2013

    I like what you said in this article. One thing is that you definitely have to put yourself somewhere deeper than snapshot mode in order to get the great image. Ansel Adams rocks.

  6. Patrick Keough
    April 16, 2013

    Yes Rocco! Agreed! Its a matter of putting yourself into a focused / hyper aware mode as you scan your environments for potential subjects for your pictures and then take a moment to compose that subject in a way that enhances the visual impact of what initially caught your attention in the fist place.

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