Details: Collections, Vignette & Close Up
One of those things that you can work on throughout a trip is a collection. You can work on this throughout the rest of your life. All of you have particular interests, and there's collections of photographs that you can keep adding to your own. Here's a good quote to help you with this one. And I have found that this ends up being very different things in different places. In Cuba I kinda hooked onto light standards. They were exceptionally ornate, usually not working, but very ornate. And so I was just collecting these. I ended up turning 'em black and white, 'cause it just felt better to me for these types of photographs. They feel very old school, old style that you don't see on modern architecture. And I end up with a nice collection of images. And as I mentioned back at the beginning of the day, when it comes to travel photographs, I think they have more value when they're part of a collection. And so if you can make a collection, I think it makes those photos have more value. Wh...
en I was in Mongolia, I found some very rudimentary basketball nets. They're not really nets, backboards and rims, you might say. And so I was always looking for an unusual backboard. In East Africa we were photographing wildlife, but I really loved the balanite trees. And they look really nice. And so I was just getting a collection of tree shots, even though we were there to shoot wildlife. In Ulan Bator, Mongolia, going to the marketplace, wonderful wares from one place to the next, and there was just these unbelievable pattern collections. And it's not that I'm particularly interested in what's that photograph? But I think all of 'em together and all the different patterns make for a fun collection. One of the more unusual collections I got, for some reason in Mongolia there's a lot of buildings under construction. And I don't know if construction takes a long time or they decide, they change plans or what, but there's just a lot of buildings that are partially built. But there's some beautiful patterns in these buildings, and so I'm photographing all these buildings that are unfinished. And so I'd just try to photograph them in many, many different ways. And so it's just kinda fun to have something, part of a collection, it's something you can work on. None of these are my favorite photos from that trip, but it's something I can work on, because I don't like to have too much dead time photographically. You know, between shooting great portrait shots, at least I have something else going that I can keep on as a hobby, you might say. Somebody else on one of my tours gave me this idea. Not to code, what do you mean? He goes, "a photograph like this." You know, that wouldn't meet standards back at home. And so I was photographing all of these electrical outlets and things, you know, with exposed wires and things done in ways that are totally unacceptable at home. And that goes into kind of the, this is what this location is like. This is how they make do. And it can really tell the story of a location very well. So some thoughts on making collections. And there's just so many different options here. There's a lot of different things that you can do. There's really no end to collections, but here's some quick ideas for you. A lot of these have been done before, but it's just fun to have a hobby while you're already pursuing your hobby. And so it's a sub-hobby, you might say. A vignette, so in this case what I'm thinking of is, it's not necessarily a close up, but it's just a glimpse into what life is like in one particular location. So you're not trying to show everything. You're just trying to show a little bit and hint at what a location is like. And so if a market's selling this, but then waiting for that one person. The timing of it is important there. A restaurant we were going to was hanging up to dry all the towels. Using that shallow depth of field so that your eye really hones in on exactly what I want it to hone in on. Kind of a larger example in this is the treasury building, which is in Jordan. Petra, this is the building here. They used it in one of the Indiana Jones movies. And I knew about this. Okay, this is on, very high on the list. This is probably the number one thing I want to photograph when I get to Jordan. And what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna be there at the opening gates five minutes before. I'm gonna be the first person in. I'm gonna walk down there as quick as I can, before all the crowds get in there, so that there's not a lot of people. I'll photograph it in every way, shape that I can. Yep, some camels in the foreground, that's always good. The standard shot that I wanted to get that everybody else gets is looking down the slot canyon. So this embodies one of my favorite aspects, which I mentioned before, mystery. It gives you a hint of something awesome just beyond the opening there, and you're left with your imagination as to what the rest of this looks like and how big it is. And I got the shot, kinda, you know, check box, got the shot, time to move on. And then there were some more people, and I thought, well, they were kind of in the way. But then I asked them, "hey, when you get down to the end, "would you stand down there for about 10 seconds "so we can have some people for scale in there," which I thought was really nice. And I didn't feel totally fulfilled, maybe just 'cause it just seemed like everybody else's shot. Well, when I came back in the afternoon, 4:00, 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon we came back up, and normally you want to get down there early in the morning because nobody else is down here, and this isn't all crowded with chaos down here at the bottom. And in the afternoon it is filled with chaos. But what I realized in the afternoon is that there was a strong light hitting one rock wall, bouncing onto the front of the treasury building, and it was in a very different light. Now I couldn't shoot the bottom part down here, so I just had to crop it a little bit differently. But it had a really warm light to it. And I really like this. I also shot a horizontal version of it, which I like very much as well. And this is one of my favorite shots from that time period right there. And so had an idea but had to work on it and just be open to things around. So it is good to get in before the crowds arrive. Always be looking. So when I'm walking down a walkway, I'll be walking, and no, I'm not being chased. I'm not being stalked by anyone. I'm just looking around because maybe I don't recognize something that's gonna look good looking back that direction that I didn't see before. And just be open to changing your mind about what you thought was going to look good. Another little vignette, this one's from Cuba. Doing some street photography, looking at some reflections in one of the old cars there, and there was a guy who stopped on his bicycle. Okay, I'm gonna need to reposition, 'cause I'm a little bit in the way. So I'll move a little bit off to the side. You know, nice little shot there with just a hint of the car, maybe too little of a hint. Let's have a little bit more of the car in there. And so my favorite of this was this one here. And I felt like that is a good, solid shot. Nice job, John, it's time to move on. Okay, we're done here. And then I thought, wait a minute, oh, we're not leaving? Oh, we've got more time? Oh, wait a minute, I can still work this scene. Okay, let me just, let's do something completely different. So I went around to the other side of the car and I shot this one, which I like even more. And you know, sometimes I don't want to be greedy. I've got my good shot. I don't want to push this situation. Let's just leave now, and I'll download my memory cards, and everything will be good. But if you have the time and opportunity, keep working at it, because there may be more shots that you haven't even considered. And so thoughts on this one, always be looking even though you thought you'd finished and got your shot. And so don't be afraid of asking for a bonus. You know, you gotta ask your boss for a bonus. Do that in photography as well. So some final thoughts on the vignette. Just hone in on a little area, get a few details, and keep those frame edges clean. We can also do close ups. I rarely ever bring a macro lens with me, just 'cause it's not what I do a lot of. But there's a lot of zoom lenses and a lot of fixed lenses that can focus really close. And it's nice to be able to get in really close on certain types of subjects. And so if you do have small objects that you are free to get in close to, that's a good time for adding a different mixture into your big landscape city shots is getting in close to those details. And so there's a lot of different ways to work with here, so think about your telephoto lenses. Think about which lenses give you the greatest magnification on 'em. Depending on, it might be at the short end of the zoom or the long end of the zoom. It can vary. Sometimes it's a 35-millimeter lens, not the 200-millimeter lens. Because these work well. If all your photos are just overviews of cities, that gets very boring. You want a variety of shots in your collection of shots. And so when you're looking for close ups, just find something that has nice detail. Make sure you have a clean background. So there's a lot of things that you can do to work around that. Typically this is gonna work best with a short telephoto lens, but can work with a normal lens or even a slightly wide angle lens.