Monday, June 22, 2009

Looking for a new perspective from a bird's eye view

This week's Photo Challenge theme is "View from Above". Here are a few tips and thoughts for taking photos with a "View from Above"

Go grab your stepladder out of the garage and try a fresh perspective on your usual subjects. Try the kids in the sandbox or maybe the dog chewing a bone in the grass. There are lots of other ways to get a view from above like shooting from a balcony into the street below or out the hayloft door into the barnyard.

Be sure to compose your images carefully. This is your chance to get a perfectly clean, clutter free background like an uninterrupted expanse of green grass or the sparkling water in the swimming pool.

Try to make the overhead perspective meaningful and add interest to your photo. Think about what is unique about it.

You can shoot wide angle or telephoto for these type of shots. Anything goes! It depends how high you are and what your subject is. Here is a fisheye shot of Ohio's Amish country taken from a hot air balloon.

An aperture of f/8 will work well for most photos because everything will be on one focal plane and everything will be in focus.

A note for new students ... these weekly challenges are free and open to all our students at They are a great way to get motivated, share photos and have fun with some friendly competition. Please jump right in. A good way to start is rating the current challenge and taking a look at some past winners. Don't be shy.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Are you seeing a pattern here?

This week's Photo Challenge theme is "Pattern" so we have put together a few tips for shooting photos of patterns.

Visual patterns are things that repeat like stripes, zigzags, and polka-dots. Patterns can be found in nature and man-made objects. For example, zebras and Appaloosa horses have patterned coats. Effective photos of pattern are filled edge to edge with pattern.

You will start seeing patterns everywhere once you start looking for them. Some examples are water drops on your windshield, veins on a leaf, tree bark, ripples on water, a patchwork quilt, wood grain, lines in the sand.

To be effective, your pattern photo should completely fill the frame, edge to edge. If you are going to photograph the pattern on a zebra zoom in until the stripes completely fill the frame.

Pattern photos are usually best when the entire pattern is in focus. Using an aperture like f/8 or f/11 will give you good depth of field and sharpness for a pattern that is all on one plane. Try get a camera angle that puts you parallel to the pattern rather than shooting across it. Patterns frequently become abstracted and that is just great.

Our photo challenges are free and open to all students at

Click here to view recent winners and login to enter your photos in the challenges.