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Photography Tips: Shoot Through Something

Skill Level: Beginner

My forte is landscape photography. It's what I live for. But I do enjoy myself some close-up/macro photography on occasion.

One thing I like to do in some of my macro shots, especially with flowers, is to position myself so something is between my lens and my subject (like some flowers, leaves, grass, etc). Then I shoot "through" this foreground element to my main subject. With the inherently small depth of field you get with macro work and a wide aperture, that foreground element will blur out nicely. If the aperture is wide enough and if the foreground element is close enough to you, this foreground element will blur beyond recognition - it will just become a blurry mass of color and shape.

The result is an image that's a little more artistic than your straight-forward macro shot. With that foreground element completely blurry, the image softens up while still maintaining sharpness in your main subject. Everything around your subject will become silky smooth abstract shapes and colors, but your main subject will be sharp. It's great for pulling more attention to your subject.

I shot through the blurry flowers in the foreground but focused my lens on the three flowers in the background. This made a more creative and artistic picture than your typical close-up.

If you leave your camera's AF focusing points on auto-selection, the camera will try to focus on the foreground element that's closest to you. In order for this technique to work so that the subject you really want in focus is in focus, you'll either need to select the focusing point yourself or use manual focus (I'd recommend manual focus).

Give it a try. Just put something between you and your subject, then focus on your subject. The small DOF will do the rest.

Tip of the Cap to Kim Murphy

I wanted to give a little tip of the cap to my long-time and current student Kim Murphy! She recently entered a piece to the Orange County Fair photography contest and received a ribbon for second place! This is really a huge achievement as this is no small contest! The competition is steep and many. So Congratulations, Kim, for an excellent piece and for having the guts to get it out there - and win!

Kim has come such a long way since I first started with her. Her work has progressed immensely and her knowledge of photography is now far above average. When I first started with Kim, she was, let's say, a little bit intimidated by her camera and the concepts of shutter speed, aperture and ISO (I hope I'm not speaking out of line here, Kim!). But now she handles equipment like a pro, her work is leaps and bounds above the vast majority of landscape shooters out there and she's loving every minute of it!

Kim, I am so proud of you and I can't begin to communicate how impressed I am with your progress! Keep up the excellent work!

Surprise Sunset at Crystal Cove

I went out to Crystal Cove on July 1st with a very talented student of mine for a lesson. The weather was overcast thanks to the typical marine layer we get here in June-July. I wasn't going to hold my breath for a great sunset, but then I saw a little break in the clouds above us. That break grew larger until the marine layer burned off to a perfect balance of clouds and sky, resulting in some seriously awesome colors as the sun dropped.

For this first picture (which was taken later in my set), I wanted to highlight the reflections of these beautiful clouds in the wet sand. My intention was simplicity - make the picture all about the clouds and water without any rocks to distract.

I'm a little bit obsessed with wet sand reflections. I try to capture them just about every time I go to the beach for a shoot.

These next pictures are from earlier in the evening. Both are the same composition, but I felt the different wave patterns created such vastly different emotional responses in each that it was worth sharing both.

I felt this first one communicated the power and movement of the waves. Looking at it, you can almost hear the roar of the water as it comes crashing towards you. Gives a feeling of chaos and excitement.

This next one, however, is much calmer. Although the waves are choppy, the lack of whitewater and more prominent reflections creates a more serene feeling for the viewer . Also, the lack of ground in this picture makes it seem like you are further out in the water - as if you are looking at this scene while floating calmly on a boat. Personally, this one is my favorite. I like the emotional response it elicits in me.

Thanks for stopping by!