Picture This

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Staff Posted: Nov 16, 2011 Published: Oct 01, 2011 17 comments
Composition dictates that we place a frame around the world before us. The lens we use, the depth-of-field effect we choose, and most importantly the elements of the scene we choose to include and exclude make up the final image. There are numerous compositional gambits, including sense of scale, where we include familiar elements in a scene to help establish size, distance, and, metaphorically, our sense of importance, or lack of same, of the object or subject used to establish that sense of scale.
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Posted: Oct 01, 2013 Published: Sep 01, 2013 0 comments
This month’s Picture This! assignment was Shadow Play, the role played by shadows in a photograph’s composition and, often, meaning. Shadows define form and shape, but they also can add an aura of mystery and intrigue, one where the recognizable subjects are altered by their presence. They can also be the subject of the image, and dominate the frame to create an abstract view of the world. Readers sent in images that accomplish all the above, with photos of people, places, and things that are enhanced by the sense of depth and space created by these light-formed elements.
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Staff Posted: Sep 17, 2013 Published: Aug 01, 2013 1 comments
Our Picture This! assignment this month dealt with the entirely photographic and visually arresting technique built around the idea that foreground/background sharpness differentials can create both a painterly effect and a more prominent foreground subject, thereby adding a sense of dimensionality in what is essentially a 2D medium. This approach considers more than just what is sharp and unsharp, but also has a profound effect on compositional decisions, where the placement of the unsharp portion of the image can be used to juxtapose or, more likely, reinforce the color and design of the subject that sits at the main point of sharpness. Readers sent in a wide variety of images, with the preponderance being natural subjects, which for many seemed to be a perfect way to express this technique.
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Staff Posted: Aug 07, 2012 Published: Jul 01, 2012 19 comments
Our Picture This! assignment this month was “Silhouette,” using exposure and composition to create an iconic form within the frame. The exposure technique involves choosing a brightly lit background, making a reading of that value and then having the form, or subject, sit between you and the light source. Readers responded with a host of subjects ranging from sculptural figures to wildlife to natural forms. We were excited by the many great images we received and choosing from among them was one of our toughest editing assignments yet.
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Staff Posted: Feb 27, 2014 Published: Jan 01, 2014 0 comments
Our Picture This! assignment this month was Stacking, the lingo used to describe the optical effect that makes subjects at some distance from one another seem closely packed together through the use of a telephoto lens. But given the right point of view and arrangement of forms, some readers also sent us successful shots taken with “normal” focal lengths as well. We received a wide range of subjects, from ancient towns to nature studies, all with apt points of view and good application of technique. It all goes to show us that there are simply some images that can’t be mocked up after the fact and that there remain many ways to create an effective image in camera via composition, the proper lens, and a good understanding of exposure control. In that we can all still take heart.
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Staff Posted: Oct 08, 2012 Published: Sep 01, 2012 2 comments
There are a couple of things about telephoto lenses that make them unique. First, and most obvious, is the ability to bring distant objects closer than working with a “normal” lens. Second, and the subject of this month’s Picture This! assignment, is a visual effect known as “stacking,” making subjects that sit at a distance from one another appear closer together, sometimes in an almost surreal way. We asked readers this month to send us examples of this effect, and responses ranged from nature to crowds to perhaps the most popular topic, architecture in urban centers. As you can see, there’s more to working with long teles than at first meets the eye.
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Staff Posted: May 27, 2014 Published: Apr 01, 2014 0 comments
This month’s Picture This! assignment was Still & Motion, the premise being that photography can capture what the naked eye can’t see—motion within a “still” image. Steady hands or a tripod, a slow shutter speed, and a sense of visual juxtaposition were key. It’s all about the physics that only a camera can reveal. Readers sent in a wide variety of images ranging from cityscapes to sports to a casual passing of a moving subject, all showing us an abstraction of our usual perception of time and space.
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Staff Posted: Jul 22, 2014 Published: Jun 01, 2014 0 comments
This month’s Picture This! assignment was the “Power of B&W” and we were thrilled by the many and varied images we received. Clearly there is a love and appreciation of monochrome photography, and we saw images that ranged from portraits to abstracts to intense studies of line, form, and tonality. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of black and white is the ability to interpret the image through contrast and tonal manipulations (even constrained HDR) without verging into the kinds of tricks to which color seems more prone, all while maintaining a certain photographic “credibility.”
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Staff Posted: Jun 05, 2012 Published: May 01, 2012 0 comments
Our Picture This! assignment this month was “Things Are Looking Up” and readers responded with a great variety of images with a skyward point of view. Many were architectural studies, and the fascinating compositions we received transformed the spaces in which we work, visit, and live. The abstraction engendered by taking a new point of view was certainly visually rewarding in all the entries we saw. It reminded us that some of the best images we can make are those that are made by looking anywhere but straight ahead, and we think when you look at the images below you’ll agree.
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Staff Posted: Mar 28, 2014 Published: Feb 01, 2014 0 comments
Our Picture This! assignment this month was Twilight Time, the moments when the light of the rising or setting sun creates a magical light that is the delight of all photographers. Readers sent in a preponderance of nature and scenic images and each shows the beauty that only natural (and directional) light can deliver.
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Staff Posted: Jul 19, 2013 Published: Jun 01, 2013 1 comments
Our assignment this month was Urban Art, and I am happy to report, based on the wide range of images we received, that the art form is alive and well. Photos ranged from the wildly colorful to the nostalgic, with a good seasoning of irony and surrealism thrown in for good measure. A number of areas seemed to inspire photographs based on the artfulness and placement of work, which helped us create a list of places we’d love to visit someday with camera in hand. In all, we hope you enjoy the diversity of art and points of view as much as we did when viewing the work.
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Staff Posted: Mar 05, 2013 Published: Feb 01, 2013 2 comments
Our Picture This! assignment this month was “Water Reflections,” and readers sent in a wide variety of images ranging from abstract to actual, with every shot showing the magical quality that happens when water and light interact. Often, images of reflections display the border between the real and the fanciful, and as the wind blows those borders become even less defined. In all, the images are a celebration of light and the fluid nature of perception. (Note: You have the option to view this page upside down as well, as many of the shots take on a whole other meaning when viewed that way.)
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Staff Posted: Jul 14, 2011 Published: Jun 01, 2011 2 comments
Our Picture This! assignment this month was “Art Filters,” those in-camera special effects processing scripts that seem to be all the rage in cameras these days. Rather than have users spend time with computer software these days, camera makers are incorporating some interesting tricks into their imageware. You can think of them as subsets of Scene modes, as shortcuts, as fun filters, or as preprogrammed image processing effects that go right from camera to memory card. Readers responded with a host of images that display many of the “art” options and special effects available today.

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