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The Gentleman Wayfarer

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Words of Wisdom About Photo Composition

If you have participated in each of the lessons in this course, you now know the rules of composition.  You also know it is ok to break the rules if you can do this effectively.  Additionally, with each lesson, we have had a good practice which allowed you to put the rules into practice.

You may still be asking yourself what is the secret to creating amazing photos with brilliant composition?  The answer is no secret at all.  The answer is practice.   Practice, practice, practice and more practice. 

I can’t stress this enough.  

Practice will give you experience.  The more photos you take practising everything we have discussed during this course the better photographer you will become.  All of the so-called rules will come to you without thinking.  I promise.  It may seem like you’re not doing anything special, but actually, you are quickly taking stock of things like leading lines, filling your frame, or avoiding the middle though your not consciously thinking about it.  All the elements talked about are very important to your photography composition and while it may seem overwhelming at first, grasping these tools means that you control exactly how your audience views your photos.

Take your camera everywhere you go and set aside time each day or each week to take photographs.  I often hear this from people – there is nothing interesting to photograph where I live.  There is your challenge.  Make the uninteresting interesting through your photography.  If you can do this, you know you’ve mastered composition, conveying a message and photography.

Step away from the perpetual horn honking and mad driving in Kathmandu for a genuine travel adventure in Bhaktapur.   Every dirt road, crooked building and Temple will take you to a time read only in books.  

BHAKTAPUR NEPAL

Travel Destination – Bhaktapur 

One of my favourite travel photos from Bhaktapur. Ganesh, the hen, and a sleeping dog. They all seem perfectly aligned in front of the weathered brick wall. Of the areas around Kathmandu, Bhaktapur was the one place that captivated me the most as it seemed to be a step back in time.

I will let this photo stand alone as for me it epitomises Bhaktapur.  This image is available as a Mini Art Photograph, printed on metal in Mark’s Art Photographs Store.

Consider these interesting facts about Bhaktapur, Nepal ::

Bhaktapur—locally known as Khwopa—is world renowned for its elegant art, fabulous culture and indigenous lifestyle. For its majestic monuments, colourful festivals and the native Newars best known for their long history of craftsmanship, the ancient city is also variously known as the “City of Culture”, the “Living Heritage” and “Nepal’s Cultural Gem”. Given such unequalled opulence in ancient art and culture, Bhaktapur is more like an open museum, and the ambience here is such that it instantly transports visitors back by centuries the moment they step into its territory.

Bhaktapur has its gem in the Durbar Square—a World Heritage site listed by the UNESCO. Strewn with unique palaces, temples and monasteries best admired for their exquisite artworks in wood, metal and stone, the palatial enclave has bewitched pilgrims and travellers for centuries. Yet, they are not all though. Adding to the mesmerizing environs is the holy Himalaya that makes the backdrop of the city. Stretching all along the township, the panoramic Himalaya levitates in the skyline as if to keep vigilance on the city’s enviable beauty and splendour.

Bhaktapur, at 1,401 meters above sea level, spreads over an area of 6.88 square kilometres. It grows from a collection of villages strung along the old trade route between India and Tibet. The capital city of the Greater Malla Kingdom till the 15th century AD, Bhaktapur was founded in the 12th century by King Ananda Malla, but it was only in the early 18th century that this city took its present shape. It was at that time that many of Bhaktapur’s greatest monuments were built by the then Malla rulers.

Monumental masterpieces in Bhaktapur are innumerable, and each is more attractive than the other. Mostly terra-cotta structures supported by carved wooden columns, elaborately carved struts, windows and doors, gilded roofs and pinnacles, open spacious courts all around and, above all, the fascinating divine images presiding over the monument—many edifices have many things in common, yet their varied shape, size and designs make the one even more wondrous than the other. Furthermore, each of their components reflects the religious belief, social outlook and the economic status of the builders, and the monuments in all carry along a rich artistic tradition of the native Newars.

In Bhaktapur, visitors confront a smaller or larger monument almost at every ten or twenty steps. Perhaps stunned by the clusters of monuments, a visitor in the past had admired the Kathmandu Valley, saying that “every other building (in the Valley) is a temple and every other day a festival”. The proportion, owing to continual external invasions and natural calamities, might have changed over centuries, yet the presence of variously shaped and sized monuments in Bhaktapur is still awe-inspiring. The world-famous Nyataponla Temple, Bhairavnath Temple, Taleju Temple, 55-Window Palace, Golden Gate, Golden Faucet, Big Bell, Yaksheswor Mahadev Temple, Dattatreya Temple, Peacock Window, Taja Math, Pujari Math, Wakupati Narayan Temple, Nava Durga Temple, Chandeswori Temple, Barahi Temple, Bharbacho Gate, Terra-cotta Windows and Nepal’s largest Shiva Lingum at Hanumanghat, and such historic ponds as Ta-Pukhu, Na-Pukhu, Bhajya-Pukhu and Bahre-Pukhu (Kamal Pokhari) are simply a few among many that embellish the city’s brick- and stone-paved squares, courtyards and open fields. Besides, the presence of a great many Buddhist monuments, many of them rubbing shoulders with Hindu shrines, simply reaffirms the age-old Nepalese tradition of social harmony and religious tolerance among its peace-loving populace. Because of this time-tested tradition, Bhaktapur’s well known Lokeswor Mahavihar, Prasannasheel Mahavihar, Chatu Brahma Mahavihar, Jaya Kirti Mahavihar, Sukra-Varna Mahavihar, Dipanker Mahavihar and many other Buddhist shrines have been the places of esteem and adoration for the Hindus alike.

Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square is the gem not only of Bhaktapur but also of the entire nation. The fascinating structure here is the world-renowned 55-Window Palace. The elaborately carved windows and doors are something that visitors simply cannot help admiring. The seat of royalty before 1769 AD, the building now houses the National Art Gallery—the museum better known for its rich collection of paubha scroll paintings and breathtaking artworks in stone.

The world-famous Golden Gate rubs shoulders with the 55-Window Palace. An unparalleled specimen of repousse art dating back to 1756, it is the entrance to the marvellous Taleju Temple Complex. Getting into it leads to a number of artistically designed chowks (courtyards) including the Royal Bath, which is adorned with the well-admired Golden Faucet among others.

Another artwork that unfailing-ly bewitches visitors in the Square is the Big Bell. Big enough to match its name, the bell was erected by Ranajit Malla (r. 1722-1769), Bhaktapur’s last Malla king. It was used in those days for paying homage to Goddess Taleju, the lineage deity of Malla rulers, as well as to call assemblies of the citizens to discuss on given subjects concerning the state. Today, it is rung twice a day as a mark of tribute to the goddess. Right next to it is a smaller Barking Bell. To one’s surprise, all dogs around it start whining the moment it is run by its caretaker.

The Yaksheswor Mahadev Temple equally adds to the Square’s unparalleled beauty. Named after its builder king, Yaksha Malla (r. 1428-82), the two-storied pagoda was constructed after Kathmandu’s world famous Pashupatinath temple. It is noted for its wooden struts full of erotic carvings.

Other notable monuments in and around the historic Durbar Square are the octagonal Chyasin Mandap, Siddhi Laxmi Temple, Shiva Temple (Fasi-dega), Vatsala Temple, Bhandarkhal Complex, Chatu Brahma Mahavihar, Indrayani Temple, Balakhu Ganesh Temple, Tripura-Sundari Temple and the Char Dham symbolizing the four greatest Hindu pilgrimage sites.

The Nyataponla Temple presides over the Taumadhi Square. Dating back to 1702 AD, the colossal five-storied edifice is the country’s tallest pagoda temple. The struts, doors, windows and tympanums—each embellished with attractively carved divine figures—perfectly portray the creative tradition of Newar craftsmen. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Siddhi Laxmi, the manifestation of female force and creativity. The latest major renovation of this monument was carried out in 1997 AD by Bhaktapur Municipality using the revenue it collected from tourists.

Next to the Nyataponla Temple is the rectangular shaped Bhairavnath Temple. It houses a gilded bust of Bhairav, the ferocious manifestation of Lord Shiva. The three-storied pagoda was razed to the grounds by the 1934-earthquake, and its latest renovation was undertaken by Bhaktapur Municipality in 1995 AD.

The enclosed complex facing the Nyataponla Temple is dedicated to Tilmadhav Narayan, a manifestation of Lord Vishnu, who is one of the Supreme Triumvirate of Hindu pantheon. A few steps ahead of it, to the southwest, lies the famous Pottery Square, where visitors can see the city’s well-known potters making variously shaped and sized earthenware. The major monumental highlight of this square is a temple of Jeth Ganesh, which dates back to the 14th century.

The Dattatreya Square is Bhaktapur’s third dazzling gem. The seat of royalty till the 15th century, the area still houses a great number of historic monuments including many wondrous Maths (residential mansions) and temples.

The Dattatreya Temple is the main attraction of the Square. Constructed by King Yaksha Malla, the giant three-storied temple is believed to have been built with the stem of a single tree. Having defied series of calamities, it still bears testimony to the incredible achievement made in those regal days of the Nepalese history.

The Wane Layaku complex, which lies to the south-western corner of the Dattatreya temple, is noted for Bhaktapur’s second Taleju shrine. Enclosed with old houses, the courtyard sees throngs of people, especially during the Mohani (Dashain) festival, when a rare Ghau-batacha (Water Clock) is put on public display. During the Malla Era, the water-clock was used by the then rulers and astrologers for fixing “propitious moments” for commencing and concluding various state and social ceremonies.

The Peacock Window, which is also called the “Mona Lisa of Nepal”, is a rare masterpiece in wood. Dating back to the early 15th century, the unique latticed window has an intricately carved peacock in its centre. The window adorns the Pujari Math which, with rows of exquisitely carved windows and doors, is equally appealing. The building presently houses the Woodcarving Museum. The museum has a rich collection of unique pieces in wood.

The Brass & Bronze Museum, housed in the historic Chikanpha Math, is the next highlight of the Square. It has a wide collection of bronze and brasswares including the ritual jars, utensils, water vessels, pots, spittoons and similar other household items.

Near the Dattatreya Square is the Wakupati Narayan Temple. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the two-storied structure is a unique specimen of pagoda architecture. Next to it is Bhaktapur’s second Pottery Square.

Primrose Hill is a hill of 213 feet (65 m) located on the northern side of Regent’s Park in London, and also the name was given to the surrounding district. The hill summit has a clear view of central London, as well as Hampstead and Belsize Park to the north and is adorned by an engraved quotation from William Blake. Nowadays it is one of the most exclusive and expensive residential areas in London and is home to many prominent residents.

For a nice overview of Central London, Primrose Hill should be on your list of things to do. The area sits high enough to view from the London Eye to Canary Wharf in one sweeping view.  What I find most interesting is from the London Eye to Canary Wharf London seems no longer/larger than the Las Vegas Strip.  I need to investigate the distances of both to see if my eyes are deceiving me.

Directions to Primrose Hill from Chalk Farm Tube Station::
Chalk Farm Tube Stop is probably easiest if during the evening: When you leave the Underground Station, head West up Adelaide Road, first left up the gill and over the bridge. Decent pub on the left if you need a refreshing drink. Then veer right down the middle road of three (Regents Park Road) and follow it around. Queens Pub at the end of the road before the park is great.  

 Map showing Chalk Farm Underground Station to Primrose Hill

Directions to Primrose Hill From Regent’s Park Tube Station ::
1. From Regent’s Park tube, enter the park via Park Square East and turn left on to the path heading clockwise.
2. Follow the path around the outer edge of the boating lake and turn right at the top of the lake, past the cafe.
3. Cross the footbridge and take the outermost path round to St Mark’s bridge.
4. Walk over the bridge and go down Prince Albert Road to Primrose Hill.
5. Walk clockwise around the edge of Primrose Hill and head up the slope on the outer path.
6. Towards the top, come off the path to walk around the playing fields to your left, rejoining the path again at Elsworthy Terrace.
7. Walk alongside the wall to the corner of Primrose Hill Road.
8. Take the path up to the top of the hill.
9. Walk down back to where you first entered the park.
10. Repeat this loop around Primrose Hill.
11. After the second loop, go back across the bridge to Regent’s Park and walk down the Broadwalk about 1.2km to the ornamental gardens.
12. At the end of the ornamental gardens, turn left and exit the park to walk back to Regent’s Park tube.

 Map showing Regent’s Park Underground Station to Primrose Hill

I love this area, and it is a quiet part of London simply to sit, watch, and enjoy.  When visiting London you might get tired and need a break.  Primrose Hill is the perfect destination for this.  Add it to your list of things to do while you are in London.

I headed up to catch the blue hour as London’s night lights were turning on – not quite night photography, but close enough with the splendid views.  You can see the view from Primrose Hill in the photos below.

With Valentine’s days away, why not learn how to say I Love You around the world?
This tip is invaluable if you find the love of your life in a foreign country and feel the need to blurt the words before thinking.  Love can happen anywhere if you let it.  But, what if you can’t say I love you in the right language?  Your love at first sight moment could turn into the one that got away.

Years ago I wanted to tell my housekeeper I appreciated the job she did and I wanted to give her some time off to reward her.  The housekeeper spoke only Spanish and I only knew a few choice Spanish words.  Read into this, I could not complete a coherent sentence in the housekeeper’s language.  So, I used a free translation website so I could tell her just what I shared with you.  How clever, right?

I wrote the words down on a clean sheet of paper, then shuffled across the house to tell her she’s done a great job and she deserved a holiday.  After the words came out of my mouth in what I thought was a symphony of Spanish, she burst into tears, flung the dust cleaner across the room, then forcibly shoved the sofa against the wall with a crushing and deadly blow to my cat.  Moments later she burst out the front door and I never saw her again.

Needless to say, the free translation website was wrong, which then meant I was wrong in what I said.  I lost my cat.  I lost the housekeeper.  She was a bit moody on a normal day but had I known the language, or enough of it, the horrific day wouldn’t have happened.  My example is a bit off the wall but explains the need to know the language when you’re trying to say something important.  By the way, I miss my cat more.

To help you celebrate a successful Valentine’s Day, here are 49 ways to say I Love You in a foreign language.  Whether you’re travelling or you simply want to impress your lover, you can now express your love and desire in a variety of ways.

 

Photo of Multiple Bokeh Hearts

English ::  I Love You

French ::  Je T’aime

Spanish ::  Te Amo

Irish :: Gráim thú

Portugese ::  Eu Te Amo

Dutch  ::  Ik Hou Van Jou

German ::  Ich Liebe Dich

Italian :: Ti Amo

Maltese ::  Inhobbok

Czech ::  Miluji te

Slovenia ::  Ljubim Te

Slovak ::  Lúbim Ta

Croatian ::  Volim Te

Hungarian ::  Szeretlek

Romanian ::  Te Uubesc

Bulgarian ::  Obicam Te

Serbian ::  Volim Te

Albanian ::  Te Dua

Greek ::  S’agapo

Turkish ::  Seni Seviyorum

Estonian ::  Ma Armastan Sind

Belursian ::  Ja Ciabe Kakhaju

Ukranian ::  Ya Tebe Kohayu

Polish ::  Kocham Cię

Lithuanian ::  As Tave Myliu

Latvian ::  Es Tevi Milu

Norweigan ::  Jeg Esker Deg

Danish ::  Jeg Elsker Dig

Swedish ::  Jak Älskar Dig

Icelandic ::  Ég Elska Pig

Georgian ::  Mikvarhar

Inuit ::  Nagligivagit

Russian ::  Ya Tebya Liubliu

Mandarin ::  Wo Ai Ni

Japanese ::  Aishiteru

Thai ::  Pho Rak Khun

Indonesian ::  Saya Cinta Kamu

Korean ::  Sarang Hae

Vietnamese ::  Anh Yêu Em

Bengali ::  Ami Tomake Bhatobashi

Hindi ::  Main Tumse Pyar Karta/i Hoon

Hebrew ::  Ani Ohev Otach

Persian ::  Duset Daram

Brazilian (Portugese) ::  Amo Te

Afrikaans ::  Ek Het Jou Lief

360 View of White Sands National Monument.  The endless sea of white sand dunes and the Sacramento Mountains of Southern New Mexico are in full view.

Before there was an actual 360 Degree Camera, there was me with a small video cam physically turning 360 degrees until my head would spin and I’d nearly fall to the ground.  Visualise this.  True story and this is how I captured the video seen in this post.

By now, everyone knows the affection I have for White Sands.  Now with more photographic and video armoury in my caché, I’ll return to this great sand dune area for updates.

In the meantime, have you ever wondered how the white sand dunes move?

According to the National Park Service –
Sand can only be moved by strong, steady winds. The air must be moving at least 17 miles per hour to be able to pick up sand grains. In the Tularosa Basin, it is primarily between February and April that the winds are strong enough. These winds are called unidirectional winds because they always move in the same direction, from the southwest to the northeast. As the wind blows, it pushes the sand ahead of it, so individual dunes are slowly moving to the northeast.

Sand is not as easy to move as you might think. Even very strong winds can’t lift the sand any higher than three feet above the ground. As the wind blows, it lifts small sand grains a few inches off the ground, then drops them. When they hit the ground, they bump into other sand grains and cause them to jump up and be caught by the wind. It’s almost as if the sand is playing leap-frog, jumping and bumping along. This kind of jumping movement is called saltation. You can see this kind of movement on the windward side of the dune, or the side facing the oncoming wind. But what about the leeward side of the dune, protected from blowing wind? What causes the sand to move on that side?

As the tiny sand grains slowly work their way up the windward dune face, they finally reach the crest or top of the dune. They fall over the crest and start to pile up because they are protected from the wind. Now gravity steps in to move the dune. As more and more sand grains pile up, the angle of the leeward face becomes steeper and steeper. A pile of loose material, like sand, can only hold a slope of about 34 degrees. When the slope gets greater than 34 degrees, gravity pulls the loose sand down. Small avalanches occur. The sand might run down the leeward face like a waterfall, or the whole side might slip at once. When the entire face of the dune slips, it’s called slumping.

How fast a sand dune moves depends on a number of things. Of course, the speed of the wind is a big factor. A wind that is blowing 45 miles per hour will move more sand than at 17 miles per hour. The size of the dune is also important. Smaller dunes with less sand move much more quickly than large ones. The vegetation also plays an important role. The dunes get caught on the plants that grow in the basin, and that slows them down.

There are 4 types of dunes at White Sands National Monument. The first ones to form, the “baby” dunes, are called embryonic dunes. They are usually not more than 20 feet. high, and speed along the basin floor as much as 40 feet a year. Transverse dunes form long ridges of sand and can be very tall. They move much more slowly – usually between 8 to 12 feet a year. Barchan dunes are crescent-shaped. This sand dune looks like a new moon. The arms or horns of the barchan dune always point in the direction the wind is blowing. Barchan dunes are also very large and move between 8 and 12 feet per year. The last type is called a parabolic dune and looks like an inside-out barchan dune. The movement of this dune has been slowed down by vegetation, and rarely moves more than 5 feet per year.

Obviously, I’ve visited White Sands often.  What strikes me most is the dunes are never the same each time I’m there.  The power of nature is awe-inspiring.

Map Showing The Location of White Sands National Monument ::

 

Destination:  White Sands, New Mexico, USA

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And, here we are again visiting an old friend.  The London Eye.  It’s a Ferris wheel, right?  Seriously, it’s all it is.  This one is right in the heart of London and quickly became synonymous with the city when it was installed near 2000.  Take a quick look around at photos of London and you will often see The Eye.  So, I had to ask myself – “how many ways can you photograph the London Eye?”  Tongue in cheek, here’s my take.  

Behind the London Eye towards Waterloo Station?   From the side toward Westminster Bridge?  From the side toward the Golden Jubilee Bridges?  Across the Thames along Victoria Embankment?  Directly under the London Eye?  A few steps back?  How about from Royal Festival Hall or the Queen’s Walk?  From Westminster Bridge?  From Waterloo Bridge?  From Cleopatra’s Needle?  From the Golden Jubilee Bridges?  From Embankment Underground Station?  From Jubilee Gardens?  From the top of the steps?  From the bottom of the steps?

Take the challenge and discover how many ways you can photograph this London icon.
If you are going to take photos of London, you’ve got to know all the best spots!

As you think about the plethora of ways you can capture the huge Ferris wheel, consider these interesting facts about the London Eye ::

:: Ride a giant big wheel 135 metres high taking 30 minutes to travel one revolution. The London Eye is situated right at the tourist heart of London, (opposite Big Ben by the River Thames) with commanding views, (25 miles on a good day). You ride in a luxurious capsule in comfort.

:: Each of the 10-tonne (11-short-ton) capsules represents one of the London Boroughs, and holds up to 25 people, who are free to walk around inside the capsule, though seating is provided. The wheel rotates at 26 cm (10 in) per second (about 0.9 kph or 0.6 mph) so that one revolution takes about 30 minutes.

:: The London Eye took 7 years to construct and was designed by a number of architects including, Mark Sparrowhawk, David Marks and Julia Barfield.

:: Despite there only being 32 capsules, for superstitious reasons they are numbered 1 – 33. For good luck number 13 is left out.8. The London Eye can carry 800 people each rotation, which is comparable to 11 London red double-decker buses.

:: The London Eye is one of the more famous structures rising on the landscape of London. It is an enormous Ferris wheel that sits on the south bank of the River Thames. It is on the west end of Jubilee Gardens on the South Bank and it stands roughly 135 metres in height. The wheel itself has a diameter of 120 metres.

:: With more than 3.5 million people checking out the Eye every year, it’s now the most popular paid tourist attraction in the U.K. The most popular free attraction is the British Museum, which sees more than 6 million visitors each year.

:: You will see most of London landmarks: the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Shard, the river Thames of course, Buckingham Palace, The Tower and The Tower Bridge, St.Paul’s Cathedral, London parks and gardens and so much more.

:: The circumference of the London Eye is 424m (1,392ft) – making it the largest wheel to exist in Europe.  The height of the London Eye is 135m (443ft – equivalent to 64 red telephone boxes piled on top of each other), making it one of the tallest structures in London.

:: Coca-Cola is to become the new sponsor of the London Eye after signing a deal to replace France’s EDF Energy. The capital’s giant Ferris wheel has been a leading tourist attraction since it was introduced in 2000 when it was known as the Millennium Wheel.

If you are visiting for the first time, consider purchasing a London Eye Fast Track Ticket so you can avoid the queues and have guaranteed entry.

Included below are a few images I’ve captured of the London Eye at night ::

 

Destination:  London

Elements of Photo Composition :: A Re-Cap

Download the Free PDF I created for you that reviews the essential elements of photo composition.

Rule One 

Simplify the scene.

When you look at a scene with your naked eye, your brain quickly picks out subjects of interest. But the camera doesn’t discriminate – it captures everything in front of it, which can lead to a cluttered, messy picture with no clear focal point.

Remember, don’t let your camera rule you.  You rule the camera!

What you need to do is choose your subject, then select a focal length or camera viewpoint that makes it the centre of attention in the frame. You can’t always keep other objects out of the picture, so try to keep them in the background or make them part of the story.

Silhouettes, textures and patterns are all devices that work quite well in simple compositions.

The simpler the shot the bigger the impact

Move in close to cut out other parts of the scene
Silhouettes and shapes make strong subjects
The balloons radial lines draw you into the frame

Rule Two

Fill The Frame

When you’re shooting a large-scale scene it can be hard to know how big your subject should be in the frame, and how much you should zoom in. 

In fact, leaving too much empty space in a scene is the most widespread compositional mistake. It makes your subject smaller than it needs to be and can also leave viewers confused about what they’re supposed to be looking at.

To avoid these problems you should zoom in to fill the frame, or get closer to the subject in question. The first approach flattens the perspective of the shot and makes it easier to control or exclude what’s shown in the background, but physically moving closer can give you a more interesting take on things.

Rule Three

Horizontal vs Vertical

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and take every picture with the camera held horizontally.  In fact, I was taught to shoot this way and only this way.  It took time for me think of turning my camera vertically.

Try turning it to get a vertical shot instead, adjusting your position or the zoom setting as you experiment with the new style.

Rule Four

Avoid The Middle

When you are a newbie, or just starting out, it’s tempting to put whatever you’re shooting right in the centre of the frame. However, this produces rather static, boring pictures. One of the ways to counteract this is to use the Rule of Thirds, where you split the image up into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and try to place your subject on one of these imaginary lines or intersections. 

Let me say, however, this is an overrated approach.

Instead, move your subject away from the centre and get a feel for how it can be balanced with everything else in the scene, including any areas of contrasting colour or light. 

There are no hard and fast rules about achieving this kind of visual balance, but you’ll quickly learn to rely on your instincts – trust that you’ll know when something just looks right.

Rule Five

Leading Lines

A poorly composed photograph will leave your viewers unsure about where to look, and their attention might drift aimlessly around the scene without finding a clear focal point. 

However, you can use lines to control the way people’s eyes move around the picture.

Converging lines give a strong sense of perspective and three-dimensional depth, drawing you into an image. Curved lines can lead you on a journey around the frame, leading you towards the main subject.

Lines exist everywhere, in the form of walls, fences, roads, buildings and telephone wires. They can also be implied, perhaps by the direction in which an off-centre subject is looking.

Rule Six

Dutch Tilt

Horizontal lines lend a static, calm feel to a picture, while vertical ones often suggest permanence and stability. To introduce a feeling of drama, movement or uncertainty, try the dutch tilt technique.

You can need nothing more than a shift in position or focal length to get them –wider angles of view tend to introduce diagonal lines because of the increased perspective; with wide-angle lenses, you’re more likely to tilt the camera up or down to get more of a scene in.

You can also introduce diagonal lines artificially, using the ‘Dutch Tilt’ technique. You simply tilt the camera as you take the shot. This can be very effective, though it doesn’t suit every shot and is best used sparingly

The Dutch Tilt can be used for dramatic effect and helps portray unease, disorientation, frantic or desperate action, intoxication, madness, etc….  

Rule Seven

Space to Move

Even though photographs themselves are static, they can still convey a strong sense of movement. When we look at pictures, we see what’s happening and tend to look ahead – this creates a feeling of imbalance or unease if your subject has nowhere to move except out of the frame.

You don’t just get this effect with moving subjects, either. For example, when you look at a portrait you tend to follow someone’s gaze, and they need an area to look into

For both types of shot, then, there should always be a little more space ahead of the subject than behind it.

Rule Eight

Backgrounds

Don’t just concentrate on your subject – look at what’s happening in the background, too. This ties in with simplifying the scene and filling the frame. You can’t usually exclude the background completely, of course, but you can control it.

You’ll often find that changing your position is enough to replace a cluttered background with one that complements your subject nicely. Or you can use a wide lens aperture and a longer focal length to throw the background out of focus.

It all depends on whether the background is part of the story you’re trying to tell with the photo. In the shot above, the background is something that needs to be suppressed.

Rule Nine

Be Creative With Colours

Bright primary colours really attract the eye, especially when they’re contrasted with a complementary hue. But there are other ways of creating colour contrasts – by including a bright splash of colour against a monochromatic background, for example. 

You don’t need strong colour contrasts to create striking pictures, though.

Scenes consisting almost entirely of a single hue can be very effective. And those with a limited palette of harmonious shades, such as softly lit landscapes, often make great pictures.

The key is to be really selective about how you isolate and frame your subjects to exclude unwanted colours.

Rule Ten

Breaking The Rules

Photo composition is basically a visual language – you can use it to make your pictures pass on a particular message

Just as we sometimes use the written word to create a deliberately jarring effect, we can do the same with photos by breaking with standard composition rules.

When you understand the rules of composition and then break them on purpose things start to get interesting

It’s often best to break one rule at a time, as John Powell does in the image above.

Just remember: for every rule we suggest, somewhere out there is a great picture that proves you can disregard it and still produce a fantastic image.

Travel Destination – Dubrovnik Croatia

A walk anywhere in, and around, Dubrovnik will provide you with views unmatched in other areas of the world.  In your imaginative mind, take a step back in time, then wonder what it was like so many years ago when these stunning structures were built.  I love travelling this way. What was it like to be back in time?  What were the sights?  Smells?  Sounds?  

  The luscious blues of the Adriatic Sea surrounding the Old City of Dubrovnik is one of the more beautiful sights one can see in this part of the world.

 

And the scenes during a full moon magnify the beauty of not only Dubrovnik but the Adriatic as well.

Dubrovnik is an easy going city in which to be.  It’s small and sadly overrun with tourists during the Summer.  I visited during early Spring and there were few people around.  Consider these interesting facts about Dubrovnik ::

::  The city is a seaport on the Mediterranean Sea and ancient enough to have other activities apart from soaking in the Mediterranean beaches. The city is as old as the 7th century.

::  The city was the capital of the adventurous Republic of Ragusa, a maritime republic.

::  In 1979, UNESCO added the city of Dubrovnik in the list of World Heritage Centers.

::  The city is surrounded by 2 kilometres of ancient walls and fortifications. Most of its buildings are built using the Baroque style architectural designs.

::  The city receives approximately 7.2 hours of sun per day. This is about 2630 hours of sun annually. 

::  You can engage in almost every holiday activity in Dubrovnik. From jeep safari, horseback riding, canoe safari, kayaking, sailing to the Elafite Islands and a visit to the national park on the Island of Mljet; tourists will never be short of fun things to do.

::  Dubrovnik, being an independent state, was the first country to recognize the United States as a sovereign state when it declared independence from the British.

::  As if to welcome you to its beautiful beaches, Dubrovnik’s altitude is just 3 meters above the sea level.

::  The city occupies a land mass of about 21.35 square kilometres (8.24 sq. mi). In that small space, you will find some of the oldest European museums and buildings.

::  The State of Dubrovnik was among the first countries to abolish the slave trade in the 15th century. It seems the country valued freedom even that far back.

At night one can appreciate the splendour and beauty of Regent Street.  When the lights come on, the complexion of this grand street changes.  The contrast of the grand white architecture contrasted with the dark night sky is simply magnificent.  What is even better is there is little pedestrian traffic so you can appreciate the curved buildings more than when you’re dodging the daily pedestrian commuters, tourists and shoppers.

Many years ago I confused Piccadilly Street with Regent Street for some odd reason.  I’d race up Piccadilly thinking I’d arrive at Liberty in less than five minutes only to find myself at Green Park and far from where I wanted to be.  There is a lesson to be learned when navigating the streets of London on foot – use a map or know where you’re going.  I did neither in my early years.  I can now get from Point A to Point B with my eyes closed.

Since my London book project began, I’ve learned when to zag instead of zig to end up where I need to be.  Thank the street gods for that.  Learning to navigate is not at all difficult.  I often say I am not a fan of public transportation.  The reason for this is because I miss out on London by being on a bus or underground.   The sounds, sights and even the smells of London make it remarkable.  So, stay on foot, walk a bit more and discover London the way it should be discovered.

That said, Regent Street is a good example of starting at one point of London thinking you’ll end up where you want to go, but really end up at Point C.  Always look on the bright side – there are great shops along Regent Street to keep you entertained.  You might also think about these interesting facts about Regent Street :

:: Regent Street was one of the first planned developments in London.  It was intentionally constructed by the government as a commercial business area.

:: Regent Street was given its name in honour of Prince George (later King George IV), who funded most of the construction.

:: In 1850, Regent Street shops stayed open until a whopping 7 pm making it one of the first late-night shopping events in the city.

:: Over 7.5 million people visit Regent Street every year.  The street is over a mile long and the shops along it employ about 20,000 people.  Regent Street also contains room for over 400 small offices and 750,000 square feet of large office space.

::  Due to its status as a fashion Mecca, and its length, Regent Street is also referred to as the “Mile of Style.”

::  Open since 1881, Hamleys toy store is the oldest operating business on Regent Street, having opened originally in High Holborn in 1760. The oldest continually operating store perhaps goes to Liberty, which opened six years before in 1875.

The video above includes a night scene of Regent Street.  The lighted pavement in the foreground is brilliant.  Below are a few images of Regent Street.

LONDON AT NIGHT
REGENT STREET – LONDON UK
REGENT STREET – LONDON UK

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Destination:  London

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During this course, we have covered various elements that will strengthen your photo composition.

These elements include:   filling your frame, avoiding the middle and putting your subject off-centre, leading lines, horizontal versus vertical, sense of movement, the dutch tilt – slightly tilting your camera, the use of depth of field and backgrounds, and colour.

Staying within the “RULES” use six elements of composition to create one amazing photograph.

You can combine any of the six, it does not matter which, but you must use six.

You can choose any scene or subject.

Take your time to visualise the composition of your photo before you ever pick up your camera.

Then take your photo.
After you have your ideal photograph with strong photo composition, share it with me on Twitter.  My Twitter home is @MarkPaulda