Objective: to try and capture a sense of place in a series of photographs.
In a way, this is more of a challenge than a lesson. As you may know by now, I am in the south of France on vacation. In an earlier post, I promised that I would post pictures of the house that we are staying in. While I am sure i could have photographed each bedroom or taken a sweeping shot of the outside of the house, I tried something else. I chose my favorite things- all within the main yard of the house and focused on those. I wanted to convey to you a sense of place. What I mean by that is really MY sense of THIS place. I trained my lens on what it is about this amazing place that makes me feel connected to it. This is my challenge to you. Take a place (a small place like your own home) and find the little moments, the vignettes, the details and the mood. Show it to us!
Yes, I know, I am in the south of France...this yard is way cooler than my TX back yard too. This experiment isn't about how nice the back yard is though. The idea is to tell the story of a space- no matter what the space is. I would really love to see what you come up with so post links in the comments section!
I love old fixtures like this. This one is in the living room.
The little chicken is sitting in the window of our bedroom (no glass or screen by the way). The house is something like 500 years old so these slits were used back in the days when you would crouch behind them with the nose of the gun pointing out guarding yourself against an attack. They are wide on the inside and small on the outside.
The rock walls around the yard are covered in little lichens and plants.
This bush is a magnet for butterflies. The boys stand at the base of it and just watch them flutter around.
My favorite shot...When I think of Southern France, I think of 3 things first- lavender, stone and wooden shutters.
Now it's your turn!
Finn's afternoon dance. He woke up from his nap and entertained us all with this little performance.
stopping briefly to paint himself (adds to the impact you know)
and the grand finale, he dropped his pants!
We are here! As we were driving in, I said to the kids, "We're in the middle of nowhere!" Sayer seemed a little alarmed by this so I had to explain that it is only an expression and that being "in the middle of nowhere" is one of the best places that we could be at this moment in time. The house is amazing and I'll post some pictures later or tomorrow sometime. The kids have been running, playing and having a great time. The weather is perfect. Life is good.
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The week has flown by...The first couple of days were sort of a blur of travel and jet lag but now we seem to be getting it together.
The flight was difficult but not terrible. The kids slept for about 1/2 of it (maybe more). Sayer had been horribly sick the morning that we left. He was a limp, lethargic and feverish lump on the couch at my studio. Like a true friend, Brene came to my work that morning bearing gifts- chewable kids advil that lasts 8 hours and gatorade. Between those 2 silver bullets and some rest, we managed to make it out of town and onto the plane. Mmmm...ice cream sundaes (minus the chocolate per Mommy's orders, couldn't have them amped up on chocolate on an 8 hour night flight right?).
On day one, we set out for the Eiffel Tower, which has been the thing Sayer keeps saying that he wants to see. This was his first glimpse as we walked up the Seine. He was so excited!
The Eiffel Tower is really a sight to behold if you get a chance in your lifetime. It is HUGE! The way the metal weaves its way up is just amazing.
We saw this near the Eiffel Tower, I swear for a second we all thought it was real.
After a lot of walking, which my Texan kids are not used to, Sayer asked if "we could please take a little rest". We found a shady spot and had their favorite drink, which happens to be a product of France! They have been very excited that Orangina is widely available here in almost every cafe and shop.
Today, we spent the afternoon at the Luxembourg Gardens. French people know how to set up a garden, that's for sure. There are acres and acres of public gardens here. One in particular, Le Jardin de Tuileries, is something like 3x bigger than NY's Central Park. The French people know how to enjoy a park too. Every one that we went to was full with people sitting, reading, sunning and enjoying the beautiful day. Here are some images from our day at Luxembourg...
The kids were being complete stinkers when I tried to get this shot so this was the best that I ended up with.
In front of this amazing, uh, house? Not sure exactly what to call it. I don't think it is a castle either. All around the water and the gardens are these beautiful statues of past queens. Kind of out of place among the queens was this very large head. Pretty cool though huh?
They have an amazing children's playground there too and the kids wore themselves out. Next to the playground was a great old Carousel as well. A few of the parks have marionette shows for children. Sayer was so sad to learn that it was closed today. So, on our return trip, that is high up on the agenda.
Finally it was time to head home. They love the Metro here so taking the train has been pretty easy. I'd kill for a stroller though because they get really tired of all of the walking. Note to readers: coming to Paris? Bring a stroller!
I am sitting on the balcony now looking out at the Eiffel Tower, the Seine and the rooftops of buildings. This city is incredible. It's so full of buildings, cars, people and lights! It's hard to imagine so many people all living in one place. When you go up on the Eiffel Tower and look out it is just mind blowing. The city goes out as far as you can see and is dense with buildings the whole way. We've been pleased at how nice everyone has been. You know Paris has a bad rap about being a rude city. I have never experienced rudeness. I have, in the most touristy areas, had people be quick (almost curt) with me but that is the same as you get in NY or any other big city. My experience here is that if you are humble, smile, say Bonjour (hello), Merci (thank you) and S'il vous plait (please), people will be polite in return. And, you simply have to have a real French baguette in your lifetime. It's a whole other thing than what we eat at home. I know this well...I have just eaten 3/4 of one while I wrote this!
Tomorrow we board the TGV (fast train) down south to the place where we'll stay for the next 4 weeks. Stay tuned!
Objective: to simplify your photographs, make them easier on the viewer, make them more dramatic and emphasize the subject.
A compositional tool that I think is one of the most important is the idea of simplicity and emphasis. When your images are crowded with extra non important objects, lines, patterns or other elements it makes it hard to see what the image is about. You want your viewer to immediately be able see the subject. This doesn't mean that you can't have interesting or subtle details in your images, it just means that we need to be able to appreciate what the image is about. This is especially true of portraits. Far too often you see images where the background is so busy that it completely detracts from the person who is the real subject. There are always exceptions and some images are awesome loaded up with tiny details but that is usually when the image is telling you a story all about the details or the chaos. Street photography and journalism is an example of that. However, with the images that most of us are taking, simplicity is often better.
In an effort to honor this amazing place where I am this week (Cabo San Lucas) I shot all landscapes for you guys. When I shot these I tried to keep the frame simple and clean with clear focal points. See what you think. As with all the Monday Lesson images that I post here, these are pretty much straight out of the camera. They do not have any complicated digital effects on them. Well, I did have to remove lots of little annoying amoeba like spots because my sensor is dirty yet again! AAAAHHHH!
I love this one. The sun had not yet risen and you could see the moon still clear and bright in the sky. I took about 5 or 6 shots trying to get the moon where I wanted it, which was above the low point of the two rocks.
In this shot, I grabbed it fast while the other boats were off to the side. The picture would be far more complicated looking with a bunch of boats.
The view from my balcony- I specifically framed it to not see the balcony railing (stood up on a chair to do that) or the random few people on the beach.
With this one, I waited until all the boats were gone from my frame. I also moved myself so that the metal boat rail was not running directly up the sun's path on the water and the sun was directly over the rock.
I think this one is a good example of simplicity and the rule of thirds. I also like how the circles in the water help hold your eye on the turtle and kind of mimic his shape.
This one shows you how you can use the lines in an image to help guide your eye around the frame. The poles lead you into the lines of the water which then lead you over to the mountain on the side.
The water was amazing today. Here's a little collage of water shots that I just love.
I did manage to find one portrait today. When I shot this, I framed out the hardware on the boat that was in the bottom part of the frame and kept the background free of any distracting elements. I also used shallow depth of field. This picture cracks me up because he looks like he's posing.
So, for your homework this week, go find create some simple using some of the other things that we have learned about like the rule of thirds and depth of field and post links to them in the comments section here. I would love to see what you come up with!
Now it's off to enjoy happy hour and watch the sunset over the ocean. I know...that is the kind of thing I should just keep to myself.