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"Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph." – Matt Hardy


"I think a photography class should be a requirement in all educational programs because it makes you see the world rather than just look at it."  -  Author Unknown


"A man’s heart away from nature becomes hard; lack of respect for growing, living things soon leads to a lack of respect for humans too."  – Luther Standing Bear


"Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow."Imogen Cunningham


"Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter."  - Ansel Adams


"When you follow your bliss….doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else."  - Joseph Campbell


"You can outdistance that which is running after you, but not what is running inside you." – Rwandan Proverb


"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." – Ralph Waldo Emerson


"Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."  -  Pablo Picasso


"We have been taught to believe that negative equals realistic and positive equals unrealistic."  -  Susan Jeffers


"Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied, even joyous.  That has more of an effect on economic well-being than any other single factor."  -  Paul Hawken


"Satisfaction of one's curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life."  -  Linus Pauling


Advanced Usage of the Rule of Thirds

How do I employ the Rule of Thirds with 'busier' images?  

Simple images make it pretty simple to use the rule of thirds.  Often where to place horizons and other elements in a photo just jump out at you once you understand the concept.  But what about when there is a lot more going on in an image? Although our images should never be so 'busy' that they overwhelm the viewer with trying to figure out the true subject, some images have more involved in them than just a horizon or one subject that obviously should be placed on a power point.  Overall, my response would be 2 fold; pick a strong line in the photo that can be interpreted to extend along the thirds, and learn to look for 'implied' lines. 

In this example to the left, there is no line that extends completely across the image on the thirds.  However there are curves that begin roughly on both the top and bottom third.  These points of origin for the curves could be inferred to extend across the image along each vertical third thus supplying the 'implied' line. 

In the image to the right, there are actually lines everywhere.  It is up to the photographer to reign all of this in and compose the image where the lines seem to fall along the thirds in a pleasing way.  The vertical tubes of candy all stop at a point that creates an implied line across the top horizontal third.  The crates of candy and the bands along the crates imply a line on the bottom horizontal third.  


In the below image, although it seems to be an almost simplistic image, there is actually a lot going on compositionally. There is a lot of color in the sky, but just as much in the water's reflection, so I actually centered the horizon to maximize the amount of color in the entire image.  The tree also seems somewhat centered in the image because it doesn't run off the edges, but the rule of thirds is definietly used in both horizontal and vertical directions. The trunk falls on the left vertical third and the end of the branches fall on the right creating an implied line on the vertical third.  Another implied part of this is that each branch that spreads up and down gives the illusion from its mass and density that they fall along the top and bottom horizontal thirds....a seemingly simple image, VERY carefully composed. 



When Can I 'Break' the Rule of Thirds?

The idea of the Rule of Thirds is to keep the photographer from 'bullseyeing' the subject in the center of the frame.....keeping the subject along the thirds and power points in the image generally makes for a much stronger composition and is more pleasing to the viewer's eye.  HOWEVER, there are certain times that it is OKAY to break this rule.  

The general answer is:  When the image is strong enough to deserve it.  For example, if you have a very strong and interesting reflection or powerful leading lines or very strong symmetry within the image. Take the below image.....

In this image there was a strong reflection so I centered the image along the horizontal axis because the symmetry in the reflction was a powerful element.  But also notice that the sun which is duplicated in the reflection is along the right vertical third.  A somewhat centered image that still uses the idea of the Rule of Thirds. 

Here the thing that pulled my attention in this lavishly ornate cathedral was the brass plate on the floor.  I wanted to highlight the beauty of this plate while also including the beauty of its surroundings.  So I decided to center it in the frame and not put it on a power point.  HOWEVER, notice that I am still using the idea of 'thirds' because the top of the plate follows the bottom third and the light at the end of the aisle is along the top third.  So even when I 'break' the rule, I still tend to somehow pay attention to where other elements lie within the frame. 

In this next image, I was drawn in by the texture but also by the symmetry of the rear of the car. So in this case I centered the spine of the car in the image for the most impact.  But again, notice that the back windshield is running along the line of the top third and the bright yellow leaf is aligned on the bottom third.  I RARELY every center anything completely, but do branch out from the the Rule of Thirds when the subject allows for it.


#1 Tip for Improving Your Photography - Better Composition / Rule-of-Thirds

The #1 basic composition tip to better photography is to use the 'Rule of Thirds'.  This is a visualization tool for the photographer where we 'see' the image before us in 'sections' a GRID, if you will.  We call this a 'rule', because as a general rule this exercise and learning to see this way will immediately improve your helps you to determine where the most interest is in the scene and where to place that interest in the photograph. Let's take the basic image below:

In this image, there is no one element that is the subject - it is the whole scene that is drawing me in.  So first I have to determine where the most interest is in the scene....and although the grass is nice, the sky is where everything is happening. So, I should use more of the sky in my composition and then I employ the rule of thirds to craft the image.  

So here it is best that I put the horizon on the lower third to 'anchor' my image but let the sky be the star.  Also, notice that I put the lightest cloud on the top third to add balance to the photo.  In fact the lighter, brighter more colorful cloud has a curve that sits at the intersection of where the thirds meet - called a 'Power Point'.  This placement emphasizes the importance of this element and helps keep the viewers' eyes within the photo. 

NOW, let us take an image with a definite subject.  You will need to pay more attention to the idea of 'Power Points', because you will likely want to place your subject on one of 4 power point positions in the photograph.  

Here, the interest in the subject is obviously the star fish clinging to the rock. However, although they are my 'subject', I also want to show them in their environment. So, where is the most interest?  In the bottom part of the frame. So I include the color and evening sky in the top third but let the sea life shine as the subject.  

In this image, I placed the star fish in the bottom right power point and included enough of their environment so the viewer knows what it is like in their world.  Not 'bullseyeing' the subject dead center in the frame allows us the show more of the environment but be close up on the subject as well.   


The new Olympus micro 4/3 300 F4 is ready to ship!

Take a look HERE for information on the newest amazing pro lens offering from Olympus.  The Olympus micro 4/3 300 f/4 is a full-frame equivalent to a 600 f4!  Weather resistant, fast focus with focus motor in the lens to work with the built in camera stabilization.  This lens promises to be AMAZING!!


Click HERE to read about it, us at Showcase Photo & Video (404-325-7676) to order!


EM1 Firmware Update - Focus Stacking

Here's a link to a great article on the Focus Stacking feature that is included in the recent release of the new firmware v4.0 for the E-M1: 

This new feature works with the following Olympus lenses: 60mm Macro, 12-40mm f2.8 PRO and 40-150mm f2.8 PRO. 

Here is a link to the updated Olympus E-M1 Instruction Manual that explains how to set the camera to the Focus Stacking mode on page 174: 

The E-M1 is the only interchangeable lens camera in the world that has the Focus Stacking feature.