Something that ran across my screen recently was a blog announcement for WordPress U[niversity] free on-line courses designed to improve your blogging skills and to encourage more post activity. One of the courses caught my eye (if you will excuse the pun) – a ten day (beginners) tutorial called Developing Your Eye II. There is a Developing Your Eye I that can be taken independently – slightly different skills on offer which I am reserving for future.
Both courses offer daily challenges and tips on how to improve your photography. With my new iPhone and its handy camera, I thought I would give DYE II it a go – plus more practice with my new
toy device. WordPress encouraged you to post a photo every day during the ten day course, but I’ve saved the images and rolled it all into one post. All of the images (except one!) were taken in and around my Athens home and garden to show that one does not have to go far to develop your eye.
Day 1. Warmth – The Quality of Light.
Day 2. Mystery – Manipulating Light.
Day 3. Scale – Experimenting with Size.
Three candle-lit lanterns at dusk, ranging up the stone steps. The largest on the bottom is the focal point, set off-centre in the exact right-hand third of the image, emphasizing its size and minimising the size of the other two lanterns as they receed up the steps.
Techniques: Different sizes for comparison and the Rule of Thirds.
Day 4. Natural World – Leading Lines.
Papyrus in the garden. Spiky leaves (that grow on the top of tall stalks from which papyrus ‘paper’ is made) lead your eye from centre to the edge of the image…or vice versa.
Techniques: Leading lines, darkened shadows to highlight the front-lit lines of the leaves.
Day 5. Moment – Capturing Motion.
Dromeas, also known as the running man, is a stacked plate glass on a steel core sculpture created by Costas Varotsos in 1994. It stands stationary not far from my house, symbolising movement; actual movement of the car is captured in front.
Techniques: Slow Shutter Cam app for my iPhone – 8 second exposure on low blur strength (and standing very, very still – although the use of a tripod would be best in these slow shutter speed shots).
Day 6. Landscape – Crop Your Image.
View from my balcony over the tree tops dominated by the cypress exclamation points, slightly off-centre in the right third of the image. Trumpet flower vine in the foreground along a wall and roof with the large pines behind, just over the tiled rooftop. The pines were planted nearly a century ago and are probably Aleppo pines – the kind whose resin flavours retsina.
Techniques: Cropped and Rule of Thirds applied.
Day 7. Glass – Interact with a Surface.
Crazed glass globe of a solar garden light. A sun-lit view of the garden around and through the glittering globe.
Techniques: Photograph through textured glass at mid-day; sunlight reflecting off the various glass surfaces.
Day 8. Edge – Straighten Your Image.
One Kleomenous, a modern apartment building (designed by the architect Dimitrios Tsigos) just up the hill from my house. Many lines of travertine, both horizontal and vertical that emulate the natural elements of the hill on which it is built.
Techniques: Using a grid in Photoshop and rotating the image a few degrees to keep the central vertical lines straight; morning sunlight casting shadows between the stone ‘contours’.
Day 9. Double – Rotate Your Image.
Two iron ‘arrow’ finials from a fence of a neighbouring building.
Techniques: Rotated 45 degrees; background selected to remove colour in Photoshop, enhancing the colour of the painted iron arrows in the foreground.
Day 10. Triumph – Turn Up the Contrast.
‘Evil eye’ charms in Greece, called μάτια (matia, translated as ‘eyes’) or mati in the singular, are blue glass eyes strung together with contrasting bright coloured beads and shiny metal decorative bits. They provide symbolic protection from curses caused by malevolent stares, a common superstition in many Mediterranean countries. This photo was taken is in the Thessaloniki airport where I was on the day of the photo assignment. Although it was not taken near my home, it could have been: matia can be found for sale almost anywhere in Greece.
Techniques: Bright contrasting colours; enhanced contrast in Photoshop.
The techniques the course explained were basic – i.e. playing with light, scale, colour and texture. It also included experimentation with editing tools (cropping, rotating, contrast), something I had been playing with for some time in Photoshop. However, the structure and the discipline of the ten day tutorial was worth the effort. It made me really think about my compositions and allowed me (I hope) to produce better pictures. There is always more to learn and I know that if I were to do these exercises again, I could improve on the quality of the photos. I had a lot of fun in the process of this ten day tutorial, so much so that I may start participating in The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.
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