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Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Improve your photo creativity by looking for art in everyday scenes close to home

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Two Bottles And A Vase
This image was backlit with window light at Myers’ mother’s house where she came across a blue wine bottle next to a vibrant yellow vase. She looked around for something red to add to the shot’s palette. Finding a red bottle, she turned it upside down to take advantage of its interesting surface and shape. She used the slow shutter speed to get a minimal amount of handheld blur to add more abstraction and to make the result, as Myers says, “seem even more like a painting.” Her goal wasn’t perfectly fine lines, but a sense of blur and softness created by the slow shutter speed. Canon EOS Digital Rebel, Canon 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 at 42mm, 1/5 sec., ƒ/14, ISO 400

Oil Stand
Myers took a scented oil holder with three blue glass triangles and lined them up to get as many shapes as possible. Unlike many of her shots where she uses a minimum depth of field, she closed her aperture to ƒ/14 to get more in focus. Canon EOS Digital Rebel, Canon 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 at 40mm, 1/40 sec., ƒ/14, ISO 400

There couldn’t be truer words than those found in the Latin proverb, “By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn.” My cameras have taken me to more than 80 countries around the globe, but Tiffini Myers, a student of mine at The Art Institute of California in Hollywood, reminded me that there’s a whole world of photo opportunities waiting for us much closer to home. In fact, as Myers demonstrates in her series of abstract photos, they’re not only closer to home, but they can be found in the home. Myers and I discussed the best ways to discover and photographically capture these hidden gems that, while often in plain sight, are more often overlooked.

First, it’s important to understand what abstraction means as it relates to art. The word itself can be loosely defined as something that has been dissociated from its original form. For our artistic endeavors, this translates as a visual language of form, color and line independent in varying degrees from its “real-world” visual reference. For photographers, it’s examining the world in a new, unique way.

Kitchen Sink

Myers noticed patterns created in her kitchen sink with the dishes. She took advantage of the forms—a red plate with Tupperware® on top, filled with water, a spoon inside and the reflection of the blinds in the water. The contrast of the warm-colored shapes with the cooler angles of the blinds is what attracted her eye. Canon EOS Digital Rebel, Canon 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 at 40mm, 1/20 sec., ƒ/4.5, ISO 1200

Look for patterns in manmade objects, nature and a combination of the two. Patterns in architecture are an endless source of photo opportunities for interesting abstractions. A long telephoto lens can bring you into an interesting part of a building, rather than just documenting the structure itself.

Time of day is vital. Study the object you’re photographing and notice how the direction of light is affecting it. Are shadows being utilized to give a sense of depth? If it’s a small enough object that can be moved, rotate it and see how the light affects the piece.

When it comes to large, immobile objects, we have to wait for the right time of day. The direction of the sun can give texture to an abstract scene. Small silver or gold reflectors or even mirrors can be used to shape light on an object. For smaller objects, Myers holds them in front of her lens, then moves around to see what kinds of shapes and color reactions she can get from a variety of backgrounds.


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