FOREGROUNDS AND FILTERS – Photography Tip #14

It’s back-to-back photography tips!!  I hope you don’t mind!!

Last March, I began a journey.  It was a spontaneous journey ignited by the purchase of a Nikon L110 camera, which immediately exposed me to photography in a way I had never experienced.  Oh sure, I had always taken pictures. But, I actually knew nothing about the composition of a really good photograph.  So, I began to learn.  I soon found myself craving information – and new equipment!  In June, I purchased a Canon 50D! I began to read everything I could find about composition, exposure, F stops, shutter speed, aperture settings, and on and on.  I read magazines.  I read books.  I read blogs.  I attended classes.  I talked to experts.  I joined a photography club.  I did everything I could do to educate myself and create better photographs.

Believe me, I still have so much to discover. I mean, you could fill a library with information that I have yet to learn!  But what I have learned, I love sharing.

So, I invite you to examine the photograph immediately below.

For this photography tip (which is actually three tips in one), I ask you to follow me through the process that led me to the shot you see here.

My first shot of that scene is posted below.  Look at the difference!  This is what happens to me when I don’t think about a shot!  Sometimes, the landscape looks so beautiful to me – I just grab the camera, make a few exposure adjustments, and shoot!  When I do that, I usually find my camera filled  with shots like the one I captured below.  Wow!  I have so many shots like the one below.

So, how did I get from my first shot to the finished product?  Well, the very first thing I did was to carefully examine my shot after I had taken it.  That’s right!  The first mistake I initially made with my photography was to simply assume I was capturing exactly what I was seeing through the viewfinder.  I know that sounds obvious.  But, it wasn’t always the case for me.  Step #1, carefully examine your shot using the LCD screen on your camera and make your evaluation before moving on.

Next after carefully examining the shot, I realized I needed some help with the bright sun.  It was creating some dreadful washout.  The scene was so vivid, surely I could do a better job capturing it.  So, I removed my UV filter and replaced it with my polarizing filter.  After careful adjustment, the colors literally came to life!  Now, here’s a little tidbit of information I didn’t realize at first.  (Please remember, I had no knowledge of filters and such when I began this journey)  When I first used my polarizing filter I thought, this thing isn’t working!  In fact, I was about to return it when I finally realized – you must adjust the filter to the perfect density!  I know you’re all laughing right now.  But, I didn’t realize there was an adjustment I could make by rotating the filter to the exact setting that produced the greatest polarization, which in turn created the most color saturation.  Ha Ha Ha!  Let’s all laugh out loud together!  🙂

The polarizing filter created nice blue skies, lush green foliage, and vibrant red flowers.  It also brought out the cloud highlights in the sky!  That’s a huge difference for such a small, inexpensive accessory.  Step #2, experiment with a polarizing filter in all conditions – but especially in bright sunlight.

Having successfully enhanced the color with the polarizing filter, I began to look at the shot more closely – carefully examining the composition.  I thought it looked somewhat plain, even boring.  So, I began to look around and saw this very interesting tree immediately to my right.  How could I have missed this!  With its twists and turns, this tree has so much character it could make a wonderful stand alone subject!

Changing my perspective by only a few feet, strategically placed this tree perfectly into the frame.  Notice how I placed the structure exactly in the crook of the tree trunk.

Foreground interest is paramount to your frame composition!  Don’t overlook something that may be available that will give your shot some real character!  Step #3, look for interesting foreground objects to enhance your composition.

And this is the final result.  It’s important to realize that identical post processing has been applied to both photographs, which consisted of adjusting the shadows and highlights, saturating the color slightly, and cropping the unsightly parking lot that was to the immediate left.  By adding some foreground interest and attaching a polarizing filter, the shot is completely changed for the better.

I wanted to post one more example of a photo taken utilizing a polarization filter.  This one was terribly washed out without the filter.  But with it – vivid!

I hope this helps you as much as it has me!  When you’re shooting in bright daylight, attach your polarizing filter, position the sun at 90 degrees to your shot, and compose, compose, compose!!!!!

So glad you stopped by!

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~ by photographyfree4all on November 22, 2010.

38 Responses to “FOREGROUNDS AND FILTERS – Photography Tip #14”

  1. I am not laughing….since, I have not myself utilized filters, it reminds me, especially now, because I am searching for a new camera, what I should consider. I looked at a canon yesterday, and I don’t know if this is true for all their high end models, but they told me, that I could not use the LCD screen, to take the picture. But to look through the lens. Which was kind of discouraging, because I so rely on it, with my Olympus. Anyway, thanks for the tips. I actually wrote them down, to help me, in the future.

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  2. p.s. I do love the tree in the photo shot….It brings a sense of beauty, and nostalgia….

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  3. Thanks for not laughing, Elena! 🙂 My Canon has a setting I can choose if I want to use the LCD screen instead of the viewfinder. I was exactly like you when I first bought this camera – I wanted to look at a screen instead of the viewfinder because that’s what I was used to doing. But I have to tell you – I soon realized how much better it was to look through the viewfinder. Now, I hardly ever use the screen except to view the shot after I’ve taken it. I know it sounds strange, but I feel so much more into the shot while using the viewfinder. Your comments are always great, Elena! So glad you contributed to this discussion.

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  4. Isn’t it amazing that I was actually standing right next to the tree when I took the first shot! That’s hilarious, Elena.

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  5. Hi Steve<,

    I think I had mentioned before how much I liked that composiion. The polarizer makes it look spectacular. Personally though, and this is not a criticizm, just a personal choice. I think I would have moved a few inches to the right to conpletely hide the house. But, again, that is just my take on it, and I am sure that other photographers would like to leave it in.

    That is an excellent article you have written here. You are right about considering the foreground when taking scenics and landscapes. For one, it adds depth to the photograaph. And I definitely agree with you about using the viewfinder. It is so much easier to maintain stability with the camera against your nose and face. I just cringe when I see anybody trying to hold the camera out in front, trying to compose the picture. Fortunately, my Canon 7D has the option that yours has.

    One more thing, you have reminded this old dude that I should consider my polarizer a little more often. And I thank you.

    P.S. the calendar that you purchased has been shipped today. 🙂

    Bob

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  6. Thanks for your tips and honesty in your great picture taking adventures. You remind me that I have to buy these for my new lens. I used to use a circular polarizing filter, is that what you used.? You posted my favorite road view picture. Diagonal lines make for the best compositions!! Nice work as usual.

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  7. The last photo with polarizer look sharp and colorful. I alway forget to put on the circular polarizer, because just feel troublesome to attach/remove it from scene to scene, especially portrait.

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  8. The difference really is incredible. I do find myself noticing that the picture on the LCD screen often looks nothing like the one I thought I was taking. Still haven’t looked at filters, yet, but you sure do make them appealing. Thanks for sharing these very helpful tips.

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  9. It seems the more I learn the more I find out about learning more. There is sooo much more to photography than I ever imagined. Great picture!

    I am taking a class at the college in Jan. I can’t wait to take the time to increase my knowledge. I read all the time, so I’m excited to be in class instruction too.

    Thanks for the tips!

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  10. Really Bob, that’s what I want this blog to be about – people offering their evaluations and suggestions from different perspectives. I’m really glad that you often make suggestions and offer different ideas! I have to say, I realized the structure was in the frame and I do remember placing it specifically in that position. But, I do wish I would have thought about your perspective suggestion when I was putting the shot together. Because I would have certainly tried it. I thought the structure gave it some additional interest. But, I can see your point. It would have made the scene completely free from anything man-made. So Bob, again – just a great comment! Maybe someone else will offer their idea about the structure. I welcome additional ideas. Thanks for adding your ideas here, Bob!

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  11. And Bob, I can’t wait to see the calendar! Thanks!

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  12. Yes it is a circular polarizing filter, Martina. I never used it much in the beginning (of course, I didn’t think it was making much difference), but now I find myself using a lot when I’m outside. Thanks for your kind words about the composition! I loved the opposing curve lines created by the tree and the road – lots of interest, I thought. Another great comment, Martina! Thanks!

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  13. I’m so glad you stopped by and added your comment, Chorwin! I have to agree, it can be a bit of a hassle to dig it out of my bag, take the UV filter off, and attach the polarizing filter. But, it’s well worth it! I think this might be your first time to leave a comment, Chorwin! Thanks for that! That’s what this blog is all about – people sharing their photographic experiences. And, we all benefit from what is shared! You’ve stepped in and added your comment! Great job!

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  14. At first, I couldn’t be convinced, heather! But after I learned how to adjust the filter 🙂 it became my favorite accessory! I’m really glad you stopped by today! I always enjoy your comments! Thanks for this great one.

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  15. That’s the mark of a true professional. Angelia!! You continue to learn, but it’s never enough!! That philosophy will take you far. Thank you for sharing this great comment! Everyone is contributing such great comments, which will benefit everyone who reads them. Thanks for adding yours.

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  16. Thanks for sharing that about the screen. It kind of turned me off, about the camera. But since, you said you prefer using the viewfinder, opposed to the screen. That Is very encouraging…..I just need to find one that has a great optical lens. Anyway, thanks…..I am doing my research, and hunting….

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  17. Very good tutorial post you’ve got here, Steve! It’s amazing what a difference an interesting foreground can make to the shot! The sense of composition and general eye for the shot is imo even more important than the technical abilities. These shots have a good dose of both!
    Great job with the filters! I’ve always wanted a polarizing filter to get that vividness in the photo even at midday, but unfortunately they won’t fit onto my bridge camera. What I often do to compensate is to on the one hand boost the contrast and saturaton in-camera, and also use spot metering to enhance the contrast and shadows. But as that’s not always as effective I’m just longing for the day when I can buy a D-SLR! 🙂
    Great post and great shots!

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  18. When I starting using my Canon 50D, I would say it took me about 1-2 hours of shooting to acquaint myself with the viewfinder. A few weeks ago, I accidentally allowed my battery pack to completely run down on my Canon. I didn’t have an extra pack with me, so I pulled out my Nikon L110 (which has only an LCD screen). It was so clumsy to me it was comical. Even though it had only been 6 months since I used the camera, it was completely awkward to me. You’ll see if you’re able to but a DSLR. You’ll love it…after a little time. Good luck, Elena!

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  19. Thank you for sharing this great comment, Kai! I have to admit, composition is so crucial. It’s funny when I see people spend so much time editing a photo that could have really used some help in the composition. I have to admit, my editing skills need a lot of help. But with composition, it can be easily ignored in favor of editing – big mistake.

    One of the reasons I upgraded from my Nikon L110 was this very fact, Kai. I was unable to utilize any filters and couldn’t exchange lenses. Those two benefits in addition to the numerous technical benefits caused me to eventually invest the $$ to upgrade to a DSLR. It was a big step – but, well worth it!

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  20. And, your in-camera adjustments are really working, Kai! You’ve posted some great shots on your blog. I would say you’re doing a great job with the equipment you have. A new camera is a great goal to have. But, I’m glad you’re not slowing down with your current camera until that day comes! Thanks for sharing your comments, Kai! I always look forward to them.

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  21. Another lesson learned, Steve. Buy a spare battery. 🙂

    Bob

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  22. You’re absolutely right, Bob! But, why is it that a spare battery seems to plummet to the bottom of your “wish” list when you’re ready to purchase new accessories? I can even go into my favorite camera store fully intending to buy a spare battery pack – and leave with a new filter or something/anything other than a spare battery pack. I remember going in to buy it one day, and leaving with a new 50mm prime lens. 🙂 But, I know I gotta do it!

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  23. I know what you mean. So many things to buy, so little time. 🙂

    Seriously, when I bought my new cameras from B&H, I ordered and extra memory card and an extra battery at the same time, so I wouldn’t forget later. I can run a bettery down pretty fast with these fast bursts to catch birds on the move, and conversely I can fill up a card pretty fast, too.

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  24. Thanks, Steve! I’m really chuffed that you’re so enthusiastic about my photography! I have to say ever since I first came across your blog I’ve always been really impressed by your excellent blog and photography! I’m glad you appreciate my comments, I really enjoy sharing my opinion and your blog is a great place to do that!

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  25. No laughter here. I’m learning and storing up tips for when I decide to upgrade to a better camera (I’ll be saving my pennies for a while!).

    This is one of my favorite shots from you. The sinuousness of the tree goes with the sinuousness of the road beautifully. And you’re right, it turns a lovely but plain scene into one of more interest.

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  26. A polarizer… I never thought about investing in one of those or how rotating them around can adjust the saturation through the lense (so I certainly learned something new from you today!) Brilliant!

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  27. See, Kai – this is what’s great about this environment…I had to google the terminology “chuffed” to see what it meant! 🙂 I love that there is this photography community that consists of people from all over the world. In my opinion, it’s the comments that make this blog interesting! I try to introduce subjects in the hope that a discussion will ensue! When that happens we all benefit. So absolutely, your comments are appreciated very much! In fact, they’re always insightful and helpful to the discussion. So, keep ’em coming! Because, I’m chuffed that you stop by often and share your comments. (Did I say that correctly?)

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  28. Keep saving, Robin! It may take a while, but when you have a goal like that it’s always a great accomplishment when it’s achieved! You’ll have that camera soon – but, keep shooting until you get it. Thanks for the kind words here. The lines of the road and the tree make for a great contrast, I think! Thanks for sharing your comment. I was just telling Kai, that’s what makes these discussions so helpful. Great comment! Thanks!

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  29. It seems your knee is continuing to improve, e410! Thant’s great news. I never bought one for a while, either. And then when I did, I stopped using it because I was using it incorrectly. But now, it comes out of my bag for nearly every outdoor shot! It just helps everything. I’m even going to try it on sunsets the next time I find myself down at the beach catching a HB sunset. When you attach it to your lens, begin to turn it and you willimmediately notice the color adjustments. Thanks for stopping by today and sharing this comment! Great job!

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  30. I am fairly new to photography and am so thrilled with the tips you are sharing and very impressed with your lovely photos. Just now, I added a polarized filter to my list of “must haves”. Thanks.

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  31. Sorry about “chuffed”, I sometimes forget that some expressions are only from the UK! Yes, you said that correctly 🙂

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  32. Thanks for sharing your comment here, Col! I really appreciate your kind words. I hope you’ll stop back often because we get into some great photography discussions here from time to time. I’ve learned a lot as all the people share their ideas and comments. Thanks for joining in! I’m glad you did. 🙂

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  33. Don’t be sorry, Kai! I’m thrilled to be learning new expressions! I think it’s part of what I enjoy the most about the blog! 🙂

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  34. Excellent tutorial. Both about the use of filters and composition. The second photo is just so much more dynamic just by adding the tree. I think, sometimes, that digital cameras make it almost too easy to take a photo without thinking about it.

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  35. Such beautiful pictures, and I love the journey you take us on how you got to the final product. Very educational for newbies like myself! Enjoyed looking through your blog, and look forward to future posts from you!

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  36. Thank you for stopping by and sharing this comment, Karen! I really appreciate the encouraging words. For me, the best thing about digital is that you can immediately see the shot you’ve captured. Was that bird in the frame? Was my subject smiling? Was my exposure correct? All those questions and more are answered by peeking at the screen after you’ve taken the shot! It’s a great advantage over film. But, I have a great respect for film and enjoy shooting it on occasion as well. It makes for a completely different challenge! Great comment, Karen! Thanks.

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  37. Thanks for adding your comment to this post, Kelly! I love the fact that we can all take this journey together. We have really had some great discussions here through e comments! Stop by often and add your insight! It will always be appreciated and helpful to all of us! I so glad you stopped by today.

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  38. […] Utah landscape.  As you can see from the photos, using my circular polarizing filter (click here to see my photography tip on filters) only enhanced what was already breath-taking […]

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