Saturday, January 29, 2011

Understanding Contrast in Photography

Knowing how to use contrast will help you create eye-catching images.  Contrast is a tool that photographers use to direct viewer’s attention to their subject.  There are two types of contrast: Tonal Contrast and Color Contrast.  Tonal contrast refers to the difference in tones from the lightest tone to the darkest tone, in other words, the difference in tones from white to gray to black.  Color contrast refers to the way colors interact with each other.

Tonal Contrast is normally described as high, normal or low.  A high contrast image mainly includes white and black with few or no middle grey tones.  A normal contrast image will have elements that are white, some that are black and many middle tones of grey.  A low contrast image is the one with almost no highlights or shadows; all the tones are very similar one to the other.  High contrast images are harsh while low contrast images are soft.

Color contrast is used to achieve great compositions.  Colors with opposite characteristics, like blue and yellow, contrast strongly when placed together.  When two opposing colors are placed together they complement and accentuate the qualities of the other color.  Cold colors and warm colors almost always contrast, light colors contrast against dark ones and bold colors offset weak colors.

Composition in photographs is also classified as low and high key scenes.  When an image contains mostly dark tones or colors it is referred to as low key, when it contains light tones or colors it is said to be high key.  Low and high key images transmit moods.  Normally a low-key image is serious and mysterious while a high-key image creates a feeling of lightness and delicate subjects.

Silhouettes are a good example of tonal contrast.  Silhouettes are created through a sharp difference between dark and light areas.  Color contrasted images contain complementary, or also called opposite, colors.  Two colors on the opposite side of the color wheel create contrasting colors.  Yellow & Blue or Green & Red create contrasting images that grab attention.

The important part is to learn how to combine and use to your advantage tonal contrast and color contrast or even how to compensate them when used separately.  Great color contrast is a great way to compensate for tonal contrast.  An image with low tonal contrast can be improved by incorporating a contrasting color into it. 

A photo with low contrasting colors, for example, yellow and orange, can look great if a tonal contrast is accomplished by using lighter and darker yellows and oranges.  Photos with low contrasting colors are quieter but generally great for seasonal and landscape images.

Another characteristic that impacts contrast is color saturation.  Color contrast improves as the vibrancy of the colors increase.  When the tonal contrast is very similar between colors, color contrast is reduced, as color saturation increases color contrast takes over.

Color contrast works better when using few and larger color masses.  As more colors are incorporated then tonal contrast takes over.

Learning how to use and incorporate contrast in your images will certainly produce amazing results.  Contrast will turn your images into an eye-catching photo and properly used can turn an ok photo into an awesome creation.  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Mystery of the Biscayne’s Bay Piano

An abandoned piano was found on a sandbar in Florida’s Biscayne Bay.  It’s a mystery:  Who placed a 600 lb piano in the middle of a bay and more intriguing went unnoticed?

It’s been a mystery for almost 20 days since neighbors of Miami Shores started noticing the Piano, the news went viral after NBC Miami posted the news.  Why is it there: a prank, a bet, a domestic dispute, maybe its part of the opening events of the New World Symphony building.  No one seems to really know and no one and as long as it does not cause problems for boats and wildlife then it will not be moved.

It had to be well planned.  It is placed in the highest part of a sandbar, which prevents the high tides from covering it.  Even dolphins have been spotted in the surroundings, maybe trying to investigate and understand what that strange object is.   Pelicans and seagulls are already making it part of their daily stops.

Independent moviemaker Billy Yaeger just came forward claiming credit for the placement of the piano, saying he and his wife (a very strong woman) hauled it there while shooting a film, ‘Jesus of Malibu’.  He goes on saying they’ve left five pianos around the world in different locations as an artistic protest.

Anyway it’s a fun and curious news.  The piano is a nice addition to the bay and a highlight for many people in Miami.  Maybe some one can teach the pelicans and the seagulls to play the piano and serenade couples, creating a real piano bar in the open waters of Biscayne Bay.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Miami International Art Fair 2011 Draws Art Enthusiasts

The Miami International Art Fair opened its doors on Thursday January 13 for a preview with a selected few and for an enthusiastic art crowd from Friday to Monday January 17. 

MIA offered an energizing new wave of performance projects and the first viewing of America’s most exciting mid-winter contemporary art fair, with 25 local and 48 international dealers and artists; some of the dealers being artists themselves.  Featuring contemporary, emerging, conceptual and modern art of all media, including photography, installations, performance and video. 

The diversity and offering of art variety created excitement and curiosity of both adults and children.  The techniques used and the creativity continues to amaze as new and modern technology is incorporated into art creation.  Simple materials as straws and paper bags up to miniature led screens are being incorporated and used to create amazing pieces for art lovers and collectors.

MIA Art Fair was sponsored by Collectrium, The Art Newspaper, Seven Sea Cruises, Florida Design Magazine, Opci Wine Company, Black River Caviar and Tesla Motors.  Hopefully this list will continue to grow and as requested by many the Art Fair can start having an event also during the summer months.

Several book signings took place, also lectures and panel discussions as well as video screenings.  MIA opened its doors with great reviews.  MIA great art exhibition will certainly continue to grow year after year.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Once again Ocean Drive and Miami Beach welcomed the Art Deco Weekend now in its 34th edition.  The theme for this year – Selling Glamour & Style – certainly combining Art Deco and Advertising.  Art Deco and advertising have been used together to create great ads through the years.

The Art Deco Weekend is full of events: lectures, film screening, fashion show, vendor booths, classic car show, parade, tours, furniture expo, artists, street entertainment and lots of beautiful people.

The weekend parade incorporated this year the art deco dog parade, with pooches of all sizes lead by K-9s and showing their best costumes.  The Art Deco Classic Car fest also participated in the parade with antiques from the early 1900’s up to the year 1986, along with the Miami Beach Senior High School Marching Band, local celebrities and officials.

Tours of Miami took place on the hour, lots of people participated trying to learn more about the amazing Deco Architecture.  Ocean Drive Tour, Underworld Tour, Collins Park Tour, Lincoln Road Tour, Cocktails with a Twist, Gay & Lesbian Tour, Fifth ST Gymnasium Tour and Coach Tour, something for everyone.

Vendors from around the country participated and provided area deco style products and yummy finger food, everything from popcorn to alligator skewers.

The 34th edition is not finished yet and I am already looking forward to the 2011 edition of Art Deco Weekend: “Celebrating 35 Years of Miami Beach’s Visionaries”.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ideas for New Year Photographer's Resolutions

It is still time to include some photography resolutions in your New Year’s long list.  The options are endless, just commit the time and the passion that you have and you will become a great photographer.

Shoot RAW – You want to start shooting for real then switch your picture quality setting to RAW.  Do not be afraid, as soon as you do you will start noticing an improvement.  Yes your photos will be heavier and will occupy more space but the advantages of shooting RAW are far beyond the amount of images that you will be able to save in your card.

Accept critique with an open mind – Receiving criticism is not easy but it is the only way you can improve your art.  Show your work to others, both photographers and not, and listen to what they have to say it will help you improve the way you shoot and the way you create your images.

Learn how to use your camera – This is something that everyone should do, but as with other things we never read the manual.  Most of the times we have no idea of what the camera is capable of doing and what each button is for.  Take some time to review your manual and most important to use and push every button, see what they do and the results they produce while you are creating amazing images.  Become an expert in your camera.

Forget the AUTO mode – Auto settings are not always accurate and they do not allow you to create and get the result you want.  Learn how to use manual settings.  Start by using the Aperture Priority Mode first, understand what Depth of Field means and then jump into Manual Mode.  Learn from your mistakes while you learn how to use the Manual Mode.

Avoid your camera flash – Learn about light and the amazing effects they can produce.  Forget your camera has a flash.  Lean how to shoot with wide-open aperture, test decreasing your shutter speed and increasing your ISO settings.  Use a tripod and if you have the possibility invest in good fast lenses.

Set goals to accomplish this year – What ever they are set them and accomplish them.  They can be as simple as learning a photo technique every day or as fancy as getting your work published in the cover of a major publication. 

Connect with other photographers – Photographers like to share their work and how they accomplish it, connect with them, go to photo shoots, workshops, follow them on Facebook and Twitter, read their blogs, join photo communities in your area, the options are endless.  Network with photographers and improve the way you shoot.