Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to observe it close up. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics of photography to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

Prairie Sunrise

Prairie Sunrise
Prairie Sunrise

Monday, February 21, 2011

Line, Form, & Texture - and Throw in Some Color

Sometimes the light just isn't there...too harsh...too dark...too bright. Sometimes I'm just not seeing it...nothing is really working for me.  When that happens, so I can jump start the creative juices, I often look for Line, Form & Texture.  By doing so...the bad light often becomes instead of a problem...a solution.  Nature is full of all three.  Many times when I find the time to get out and about, my eye begins to wander and the first thing I often see is Line, Form, or Texture.  With a closer look, a composition materializes.

Line and Form can by themselves generate a great composition, but you have to work with them in a way as to create that unique, eye catching image.  Sometimes it's just a matter of position...sometimes angle...and other times contrast...  How you place those lines and forms on the page makes all the difference.

The form itself will often have its own set of lines...usually along the outer rim.  They can be abrupt, or soft..straight or curved...subtle or bold.  More often than not, it's how you create the image that determines what it will be.  That's where being able to see beyond the obvious comes into play.  Many times the form or lines are not readily seen, but with a bit of visualization, they suddenly appear.

Texture on the other hand can be difficult to capture effectively.  It almost always must be photographed in conjunction with Line and Form...but it can be in almost limitless abundance...if you train your eye to look for it.  Also remember that color, or more importantly contrasts of color...light and dark...vibrating color schemes...bold vs subtle...will provide the context inside of which the lines and forms generate their energy.  Color always adds energy to every line and form photo...but it can also be simple black and white...or one color against a dark background combined with the line, form and texture of your subject that makes the image move across the line of sight of the viewer.

Photos that are primarily made up of Line or Form or Texture often take on that abstract look.  Nature is full of abstract situations.  The hard part is knowing how to see it.  We often get caught up looking for the big picture and miss the real picture.  This real picture may actually be a small and often subtle subset of the larger scene.  Over time, your eye will begin to lock onto those things...look beyond the obvious...but getting there takes practice and time.

One of the most effective ways to learn how to find line and form is to not take your camera at all, but simply walk around and look for those things where ever you go.  Go to the park, around your house, or ... it really doesn't matter creative and start looking for things that have a unique form or shape everywhere you go, then think of ways you can capture it...what kind of exposure would you use to create a silhouette against the available background...what angle would you shoot it from...where would you place the image in the composition...what background would work best to group the object(s)...How best to Isolate what is there...concentrate on what is exciting you about what you looking at...It's these kinds of thought processes you go through in order to see the forms and lines that are out there and be able to capture them using a photographic solution that is unique to how you are viewing the world around you.  Try it...I think you might like what you find.


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