The Developing the Eye

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. WarmthThe Quality of Light.

canna_lily“Blowsy Belle”
In the garden, a bright orange Canna Lily with her face in the sun.
Techniques: Front-lit, sunlight and warm colours.

Day 2. MysteryManipulating Light.

shadows_on_marble“X marks the spot”
An intriguing sign on the floor; window grill shadow on a marble floor created by raking evening light.
Techniques: Indirect lighting, highlights and shadows.

Day 3. ScaleExperimenting with Size.

lanterns_diff_sizes“Illumination”
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 WorldLeading Lines.

papyrus“Starburst”
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. MomentCapturing Motion.

the_runner“Running”
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. LandscapeCrop Your Image.

cyprus_points“Exclamation Points”
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. GlassInteract with a Surface.

crystal_ball“Crystal Ball”
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. EdgeStraighten Your Image.

concrete_building“Contours”
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. DoubleRotate Your Image.

this_way2“This Way”
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. TriumphTurn Up the Contrast.

evil_eye2“Bling”
‘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.

* * *

developing_eyeSelf-portrait. Cropped, skin tone adjusted and a watercolour filter applied in Photoshop.

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25 comments

    • Thanks Cheri. At the moment I live in Athens (Greece). We live in an area just outside the centre of the city with a large garden. It is a wonderful place to be for the nonce, but at some point we will return to the UK. And, you’ve reminded me that I haven’t updated my about page – Oops!

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    • Thanks Lisa! There is a basic version of Photoshop called Photoshop Elements (PSE) designed for home use. It has many of the same features as the professional version, but is easier to learn and costs less! It is fun trying out all the different ‘filters’ such as making an image like a stained glass window, a mosaic or a watercolour. Also, it corrects colour, contrast, lighting, etc. Good techniques to have on board.

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  1. Hello Debi, I was just reading your post on the Capsali salad and it made me wonder if you have read the book ‘Blue Ribbons Bitter Bread’. It’s written by Susanna de Vries. Joice lived a most extraordinary life and lived out her latter years in a Byzantine tower in the town of Ouranopolis. She and her husband, Sydney Loch, were humanitarian workers with the Quakers beginning in 1922 and on into the Second World War. She established Pirgos Rugs in Ouranopolis in 1920 as a means of bringing an income to the desperately poor villagers. It’s the most fascinating story of two quite extraordinary people living through dreadful times. Living where you are it would seem the perfect place to read it.

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  2. Nicely done, Debi. The WPU people could use your photos in their ads promoting the class. I’ve toyed with the idea of taking a class — I certainly could use it — and I was unaware that WP offered them. Thanks for the heads-up. I’ll be sure to check them out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really enjoyed doing this class and can recommend it (if you have the time). Compliments on my photos are greatly appreciated, but I know I can do better – particularly with landscape shots. Some of the photos used to demonstrate the class are truly stunning. However, taking photos of food is an art in itself and I wish they would offer a course for us food bloggers.

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  3. Love all of these photos, but especially the self photo at the bottom. I’ve never used Photoshop, but you’re showing me what I’m missing. Thanks again for following Oh, the Places We See. So glad we’ve found you!

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