Sunday, May 14, 2017

Photography Composition

For Mother's Day, I photographed this beautiful mother/daughter duo Terri and Ali
at a magnificent park near us.
It's called Dow Gardens and the tulip garden is eye-popping!
Perfect for portraits.
This is a great shoot to talk about composition.
Some people are born with an innate feel for composition, but
you can also learn a few tips for capturing the best in composition.
First, you have to THINK about composition when you're taking the photo!
What are you trying to capture?  A pretty setting, a feeling?
In this next photo, I wanted to show that they are walking in the tulips and
that there are a LOT of tulips.  That's why I widened out and shot low so
the tulips are part of the composition.
I am choosing for the viewer to see the tulips as well as my subject.
Remember:  The photographer gets to choose what the viewer will look at in the photo!
I was squatting down to take these photos.
That's so I can also include the gorgeous flowering trees in the background!
If I had been standing, Most of the pretty trees would not be in this photo.
When I look through my camera viewerfinder, I look at the entire frame.
Is somebody walking in the background?
Am I including the pretty pink tree?
Is there a lot of dead space? 
If so...change your angle
to fix it!
As the photographer, YOU are in charge of what is in the frame.
Go in and arrange things to your liking.
Vary the height you are shooting from. 
Try low, try high!
I shot low in this case.
I wanted the yellow and pink tulips in the foreground
to be part of the composition.
In this next shot, Ali is framed by the beautiful pink flowers.
I didn't just stand her in front of a pink flowering tree,
I composed her so some of the flowers were in front of her
and some were behind which blurred into gorgeous bokeh.
I backed up a bit and moved into a position where the flowers framed her lovely face.
I can remember including that flower in the lower left to complete the frame.
I took the time to capture this composition!
It doesn't just happen...
Look for opportunities to include something in
the foreground and background.
Try using leading lines for the eye to follow to your subject.
In this next photo, the path leads you to Ali.
To emphasize the leading line, I shot low to
start the viewer's eye at the stepping stones.
Notice I shot wide enough so you can see the
tulips along the path.
Closing in on details can be charming!
As I looked through the camera viewer, I chose to put
the subject on the right so the tulips would be pretty
in the photo. 
Really LOOK before you snap the photo!
WHAT is in that frame????
I also LOVE movement.
The dress blowing in the wind...
the subject walking away from me.
Go beyond a staged pose!
Shoot wide, then try medium, then close-ups!
Also, shoot both horizontal and vertical.
I know it's easier to hold your camera horizontal,
but some shots better fill the scene vertically.
Most of my customers like to frame the photos
that are shot vertical.
In the wider shot above, you get to see the setting with lots of tulips.
The closer shot is more intimate and really shows the action and captures her essence.
Notice I shot low again so I could include the beautiful pink tree in the background!
I like to create the composition when I'm in the
field taking the photo rather than
waiting to crop in editing.
YOU are the creator of the photo...
What do you want others to see in this shot?
Make it happen, by concentrating on composition!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Russian Piping Tips Review

Let me start this by saying I am a photographer.
Photography is the only thing that allows me to be artistic.
Somehow, the visions that float in my brain transform
in my camera and it comes out as art.
I can't draw or paint and I'm clumsy with crafts.
I also hate to bake and I am terrible at decorating cakes.
But.....then I watched that nifty video that is circulating on
Facebook and Instagram showing
a woman squeezing blobs of frosting from a pastry bag onto cupcakes
using some special tips that magically
form the blobs into beautiful flowers!
Have you seen the advertisement for Russian Tips?
It looked so easy and fun and creative and artistic
with very little effort!
Just squeeze the pastry bag and a flower blurps out!
I couldn't resist and ordered the tips, with visions of
opening a cupcakery in the near future.
When the decorating gems arrived, I found a buttercream frosting recipe online
that promised perfect piping.  It included vegetable shortening,
so I bought butter flavored Crisco.
I mixed up four colors using gel food coloring.
And glopped it into piping bags with the tips.
SO pretty...loved the pastels.
I photographed each step against two pieces of white barn wood...
one propped up as the background.
I was going to document the steps and write a blog post
to show my experience!
The first few WORKED!
I can start making cupcakes for showers, graduations,
anniversaries, birthdays and take on wedding clients.
Heck...I can franchise the cupcakery!
I was on a high!
The first cupcake with each color worked just like the video!
I did my photography thing using pretty plates and props.
Then I went to decorate more cupcakes.
Hmmmm...where are those perfect flower shapes?
Where is ANY shape?
I'm getting plain blobs here!
Maybe I need to wipe off the tips before each flower.
I kept going and kept blobbing!
Good Lord!  I could not get any more beautiful flowers!
The frosting was mushy
I was flustered and freaking!
"Maybe I shouldn't open the cupcakery," I told my daughter Lindsay who had
just entered the kitchen and was staring with full-moon eyes at my creations.
"Mom, I'm thinking you shouldn't."
I proudly showed her the first four pretty cupcakes.
At that moment, the propped barn wood crashed down
on top of my only four perfect cupcakes!
"I think this is a sign from above," Lindsay said.
But, I kept going and ended up with these:
Heck with the good photography...I snapped these duds with my phone!
I was left with this mess!
My wedding cake dreams were dashed,
but I am not easily defeated.  I researched and learned that
professional cake decorators use high ratio shortening which
better supports the piping.
Sweetex is preferred, but it's pricey and hard to find in smaller amounts.
I bought a 3 lb. tub of Kitchen Kraft brand from Amazon.
I also read that adding coloring liquid or gel can thin the
frosting making it impossible to pipe.
I learned about powdered food coloring and ordered
I was certain I could now build a cupcake DYNASTY!
Substituting with the new ingredients, I  followed this recipe for buttercream piping frosting.
I wasn't sure how much powdered food color to use,
so I sprinkled on this amount.
And, got this pretty pastel blue:
I mixed up all the colors,
and was a bit disappointed.
The colors looked a tad flat, especially the pink.
I tried mixing red and blue to get purple, but got ugly gray!
I added a bit of yellow to the green to get a more spring green.
In other words, I wasn't as happy with the powdered colors,
but it was worth it if the frosting would remain stiff for piping!
I found Wilton disposable piping bags at my grocery/department store,
And cut off the end to fit the large tips.
You could also use a Ziplock freezer bag.
Then, I plopped the tipped bags into a tall drinking glass
making it easy to add the frosting.
At that point, I felt the frosting was a bit too warm
and was afraid of BLOBS again, so I stuck
the filled bags in the fridge while I made and ate lunch.
I was nervously excited when the first few came out GREAT!
But the frosting warmed and I started getting blobs,
so I stuck each bag back in the fridge between uses and
rotated the colors.  This worked!
I was much more successful with the second frosting.
I found candy pearls at the grocery store and they added to the decorating fun.
Yes, I still had some duds...and, I was forced to face the truth!
I suck as a cake decorator and my leaves failed.
So, I'll stick to photographing beautiful cupcakes!
If you masterfully succeed with the Russian tips and open a me!
I'll take some photos!