Brenda’s A Photo Study: Rule of Thirds

This is my submission for Brenda’s A Photo Study: Rule of Thirds.

Brenda said, “Photography is an art form and as such need not rely on rules. Yet, it is important for the photographer to keep in mind that the composition rules help create balanced, dynamic, and interesting images that invite a viewer to stay and visit in comfort.”

Before I say anything about rules, I want to share a story with you. When I took my first photographing workshop, I kept receiving one particular feedback from my instructor: “try not to place the subject in the center.”

His words stayed in my mind long after the workshop was over, and the rule of the third became the RULE for me even when taking portraits.

One day my husband said to me, “Why do you always place your subject off the center? It doesn’t look good.”

“I like it that way,” I said, even though, deep down, I do feel that particular portrait with an off-center model looked odd.

I continued following the rule of thirds for more than a year, and, slowly, I began to realize I knew exactly how I wanted my photos to look.

Now go back to what Brenda said about creating balanced, dynamic, and interesting images… my guess is that each of us may have a different definition/idea for “balance, dynamic, and interesting” and because of that, we have our own unique photographing styles.

Thinking back, those days, when I followed rule-of-thirds diligently, had given me a better understanding of how I would create balanced photos. Some of my photos may still look a little weird, but that is more “by-design” nowadays 😉

I took the following American flag photo through mini-blinds. The gap was very small, which made it difficult to focus. I was happy how it turned out.

Which one of the following two do you like better? I like how the left one looks, but the right one gives me more “alone” feeling.

Which one of the next two do you think is more balanced?

Finally… cropping tool, for me, is quite useful for composition. I often move the cropping grid all over my photo to find out which composition I like better.

Thanks, Brenda!

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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Brenda’s A Photo Study: The Photographer II

This is my submission for Brenda’s A Photo Study: The Photographer II.

“To have a point of departure is not to go out and shoot. It’s to have a project in mind and going out looking for a shot that represents or showcases this emotion or concept that your project is about.” ~Ralph Gibson (I copied this from Brenda’s post 😉

Even though I often go out to shoot whatever I see, Ralph Gibson’s words do resonate with me, because (1) if I have a project in mind, I would focus on the project and see things (related to the project) that I usually may not be able to see. (2) I know what to look for, and that makes easier for me.

So, this morning I went out to look for lines and shapes.

(Snowed yesterday, can you tell?)

Thanks, Brenda!

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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Tomato and Apple

Staring at this picture long enough, I started hearing voices. Some came from the tomato, some apples.

Discrimination doesn’t come with a sound or smell. It’s difficult to prove its existence. Some aren’t aware of been discriminated; some don’t know they discriminate.

“Is it possible that you were oversensitive?” I asked my friend this question after he described how a guy, in a pretty empty elevator, asked him to push the floor-button for him.

“Of course, it is possible,” he said. He looked into my eyes. It was clear to me that he didn’t tell me the whole story. I decided not to ask.

This conversation happened many years ago. Now I am older and know better, I wonder if there was some extra meaning behind one of my colleges’ question: “why don’t you go back?” or one of my landlord’s comment: “you guys took all the good jobs away from us.”

In first case, I simply ignored my college’s question because I didn’t know what was going on, and in second case, I politely asked, “What are you talking about? Who are ‘you’ and who are ‘us’? You are an American just like me, right?” (By the way, my landlord’s son is a lawyer.)

The only time I was so sure that something wasn’t right was when I took my daughter and her friend to a local restaurant for lunch. We waited for a long time for our service person to show up. When she came, she had an expression that I could never forget. It was the same expression I saw on my daughter’s face many years ago when she spitted out the food I fed her.

I ordered a cup of soup. It took forever for soup to come; when she came, she dropped the bowl on the table, making a disturbing noise. And the soup was cold.

She is so young; what had happened to her? I thought to myself. I wasn’t upset at all; I was puzzled (maybe even a little amused). I tipped her anyway. However, when I walked out the door, I told the manager what had happened. He said, “No, we don’t treat anyone like that here.”

I smiled. “I think I know how I was treated more than you do,” I said and walked away. I never went back to that restaurant again.

A week ago, I emailed my friend to apologize. I assured him that when I asked him whether he was oversensitive, I wasn’t questioning what he said. I wanted to make sure there wasn’t any misunderstanding; I wanted the truth.

Truth may remain mystery in many cases, of course.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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Brenda’s A Photo Study: Negative Space

This is my submission for Brenda’s A Photo Study: Negative Space.

Many years ago, one friend showed me several of his friend’s paintings. He flipped through each one, and kept telling me how wonderful they were. At first, I wanted to be polite. I told him they were pretty good. Seeing the fourth painting, I couldn’t stand it any longer. “They are good, but I don’t think I like them,” I said, still trying to be polite.

Later I told another friend what had happened. I used the word “suffocating” to describe how I felt on that day, and told her I didn’t really know why I felt that way. My friend said, “Do you know that Chinese paintings usually have a lot of white space, and many western paintings don’t?” (Ah ha!)

Gradually, I learned to appreciate paintings without any white space and learned to appreciate white space (negative space) even more.

The first photo was taken with 300 mm focal length. The goose was far away, but seeing through the viewfinder, I felt she was looking straight at the camera.

In the middle of taking neighbor’s boy’s photo, I saw the moon and the treetop. I quickly took several shots. Standing quietly next to me, the boy looked up to the moon. He kept staring… at that moment, I felt we were connected.

I was having fun playing with light for the next 3 photos. I didn’t really get the effect I wanted. I will keep trying for sure.

Thanks Brenda for another good lesson. I truly appreciate it.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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A Warm Day and a Cold Night

We had one 50+ degree day a week ago (or two?). People who live in this area know that we should appreciate it, enjoy it and take it as it is and not expect anything more. Sure enough, next day was around 30 degrees (below?).

We did go out on that warm day. A part of the river started melting.

Fishermen were out.

Some preferred ice fishing.

And there was this lonely boat.

A blue moon showed up a few days later. It was a cold night; we didn’t go far; two steps onto our deck, that was all 😉

Not every day can be a warm day; not every day is cold. However, every day is a gift.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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Brenda’s A Photo Study: Abstract Photography

This is my submission for Brenda’s A Photo Study: Abstract Photography.

For many years, whenever I saw an abstract painting, I felt intimidating. It’s just a black canvas, isn’t it? Why is it hanging on the wall at this museum? What’s there to see? I didn’t get it, and frankly, it didn’t bother me a lot that I didn’t get it.

I was surprise how much I liked abstract photos. I guess it is because abstract photos are not totally abstract. I mean they are based on real (not abstract) subjects. Since I know they do exist in real form, I don’t have a need to question why they exist, so I can focus on seeing their beauty. (Make sense?)

First photo was taken at a dental office’s parking lot. I wonder if they knew how it would look like on snowing day before they built this wall.

One side of Zumbro River …

A different view of Minnehaha Regional Park… 😉

As always, I checked around on the Internet, and this time I found: ABSTRACT PHOTOGRAPHY TUTORIAL – Macro Photography Challenge Using Spoons. After seeing that video, I took the following photo.

Brenda said, “I’ve come to understand abstract/non-representational imagery as an absence of the type of discrimination and labeling process that seeks an answer to, ‘what is that?’ to one that invites the viewer to explore, ‘what feelings does this image evoke?’”

Ah… I think I am ready to go back to the museum to take another look at those abstract paintings! Thanks, Brenda!

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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Brenda’s A Photo Study: Shutter Speed

Here is my submission for Brenda’s A Photo Study: Shutter Speed.

Brenda explains shutter speed well in her post. I appreciate how she is able to present the subject in such a thorough and yet easy-to-understand way.

After reading Brenda’s post, one thing came to mind was panning. Last time when I was playing with shutter speed, I didn’t have a chance to take a panning photo. So, you can imagine how excited I was when I saw neighbor’s boy was outside riding his bike. 😉


1/30 Sec. (Panning)

After letting me take several photos, he went on jumping on his trampoline. The shutter speed for next two photos is 1/1600 Sec.)

(Thank you, Western! You are my superstar!)

Last, I am amazed at how good iPhone camera is. All I did was pressing the button; I didn’t even try to focus on anything! And I got this photo. (Not a beautiful photo; still, I was surprised at how easy it was to take a photo of a moving subject.)


1/2183 Sec. (What a number! 😉

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