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Category Archives: Photo


The movie Citizen Kane is famous for using this technique to magnify publisher Charles Foster Kane, and it worked pretty well in King Kong, too.  Similar personality types, I guess.  The point is that looking up at a subject gives it a certain dominance over the viewer; we are diminished and the subject is magnified in power and importance.

You can shoot low-angle shots to good purposes too..  You can use low-angles to stress distance and height, increase depth, and capture things like the Northern Lights or even a redwood tree.  One or two samples will give you the idea.

Oh, yes, using a wide-angle lens for low-angle shots magnifies the effect.  See for an example.

Here are four examples of low-angle shots taken to impress the viewer with the subjects weight, power, size, or majesty.



_DSC6631  Gold Dredge Gear pano 3

Glacier_Fangs_Eric_Hatch_ABSTRACTIONS  Matanuska low Angle

Sequoias4Sequoia low angle

Sequoias34Sequoia low angle
Low-angle works for people, too.  This body builder was 50-something when she started getting in shape.  She is about 5-foot-nothing, but she wanted “to show the world what you can do if you try.”  This picture does that!



Want more tips?  To buy Explorations in Photography as a print version for $35.95, go here.  To buy it as an e-book for $9.95, follow this link .

Photo Tip of the Day — When to Choose Color and When to Choose Black-and-White

The Sage tells us, “wise photographers shoot for the inner spirit of their subject and choose color or black and white to enhance their insight.”

OK, but the rest of us could use some guidelines.


Go for color when:


  • The photo is ABOUT the color (the color IS the subject)
  • Color assists you to achieve the primary message of the subject
  • Color creates the mood in a way that a montone image could not


Go for BW  / monotone when


  • The image is fundamentally monotone to begin with:  all leaves, or grasses, or snow, or waves, or sky.  Images which are mainly yellow or green make GREAT black and whites.  Images that are primarily red or blue usually do not work as well
  • The image is very high contrast or (conversely) misty or low-contrast
  • You want to emphasize texture, grain, and surface
  • You are after a quality of starkness.

I keep saying monotone instead of  BW because toning, sometimes very subtle toning, greatly enriches an image.  Follow the advice of the Sage, above.

Also, you can cheat by using Selective Color (only certain objects in the image are in color) or toning.  Selective Color is frequently hideous.  Listen to the Sage.

Shoot in color, then convert to BW or tone in the computer. Don’t let the camera choose for you.  The Sage says “keep your options open.”  Ommmm.


Monotone vs color —toned Grailville, color Grailville.  Color separates house from sky, toned version links them.

_DSC6589_v1  grailville snow sepia_1 small small_DSC6589 Grailville color

Art Alley – all about the color.  Converted to BW, this looks like mud (dark on dark).

DSCF4600art alley samples_1

Ice Fishing Shacks — This picture is about negative space.  The color in the widely separated fishing shacks calls attention to them and to their separation from each other, which is the true subject of the photo.


Biker in the Snow.  Four different treatments.  1.  As shot

_DSC6586_v1 biker in the snow as shot

2.  Jacket left bright, background de-saturated somewhat (especially the sign, which wa

_DSC6586_v1 biker in the snow partial desaturation

s distracting in the as-shot version.

3.  Selective color.

_DSC6586_v1 biker in the snow selective color

4.  Black and white.  In this version the snow had to be burned down because it was too distracting.

_DSC6586_v1 biker in the snow BW

Which works better?  You decide.

T.I.-TIP-OF-THE-HATLook for more Tips of  The Day, starting on Monday 12/3.  Tips are planned for Monday, Weds, and Friday every week.  Up next week:  Dropping out backgrounds (in the field, not in Photoshop), Cutting to the Chase, and one I haven’t decided on yet.

If readers have tips to offer, please let me know.  Tips should deal with a single subject, be about 125 words or less, and have at least one photo that directly illustrates the point being made.


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