Phogropathy Look, Relax, Remember Thu, 30 Jul 2015 21:44:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Adventuring in Italy Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:03:22 +0000 […]

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As you may know, last week, I was on a business trip that brought me to Parma, Italy. It was a busy week filled with 100 degree days and a lot of work – which I knew going in – so I didn’t even bother bringing my DSLR with me on the trip. That said, the iPhone has become a great second shooter and one that I think is only going to get better as the years go by.

Walking the Streets of Parma

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I was only able to really take photos after work while I was walking the streets of Parma searching for a place to eat. There were so many great looking restaurants I wish I had more time to try them all – I also wish I spoke more Italian as English is not widely known outside of the main tourist locations.

All the above photographs were taken with the iPhone 5S and processed using Snapseed – nothing too fancy – but it gets the job done. Hope you enjoy!

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Essential Tips For Backlighting Your Subjects Fri, 10 Jul 2015 14:00:00 +0000 […]

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This week’s theme covers the topic of backlighting your subjects which, when done properly, can have a powerful effect on the photograph that you capture.


As usual we’ll start with a few examples from the Flickr creative commons and talk about how these examples successfully worked with the theme of the week. Then we’ll dive into some more specific tips for you to keep in the back of your mind as you photograph your next backlit subject.

Three Great Examples of Backlighting Your Subject

This first example, from Madhan Kumar, showcases the idea of getting creative with your composition when backlighting your subjects. This photograph is successful due to its simplicity of composition, focusing on the rain soaked car window. To add a bit of interest and color a street lamp was used to create the primary source of lighting. While a simple photograph on the surface, the composition and the use of backlighting help to create more interest within the scene.

Car window shield in rain, back-lit with street lamp

But, this is really just the simplest idea of how backlighting works and what it can do to a scene. For a bit more complexity the next two examples take the concept a bit further.

One of the key reasons you’d want to backlight a subject is to help create separation of the subject from the background. By creating a subtle rim of light around the back of your subject you are able to create separation from the background that allows the subject to have more presence within the frame of the image – which gives the photograph more drama and life.

One of the best examples of this that I found in my quick search on Flickr was this great photograph taken of a few little mushrooms by eLKayPics.

While it’s not a complicated photograph, the concept of separation from the background is nicely displayed here. While the shallow depth of field does help to differentiate the foreground elements from the background, that subtle, yet very important bit of rim light on the mushrooms really makes them stick out as the stars of the scene.


Finally, when you think about great photographs, lighting is one of the most important aspects of the image. In this third example by Irene Mei the golden colors of the sunset help to compliment the subjects in the photograph in a way that would not be possible during the middle of the day.

Not only does the entire frame have a warm feel about it, but when you look at the subjects closely, you’ll notice they have a stronger rim of orange light around their frames. Much like with the mushroom photograph above, this helps to separate them from the background and make them more present within the static field of a photograph. 

The Stories

Three Actionable Tips For Backlighting Your Subject

  1. Use Soft Light – As with most photography using a soft light will produce a more pleasing and desirable result when backlighting your subject. You can achieve this both naturally, during sunset/sunrise, or artificially using things like soft boxes strategically positioned to achieve the desired effect.
  2. Position Matters – The position of both your light source and your subjects will matter. On the most basic level you’ll want to create that nice rim of light around you subject we talked about. To do this the primary source of light will often have to be placed in such a way that it doesn’t overpower your subject or take away from the scene in anyway. Which nicely leads into the third and final tip…
  3. Don’t Overwhelm Your Subject – While it can be tempting to go big with backlighting and create all sorts of light flares and starburst effects, in most cases, this will just produce a harsh and unpleasing result that actually ends up taking away from the scene you’ve photographed.

Show us your own examples of backlit subjects

Have you been successful at backlighting your subjects? Share your own examples and tips in the comments below or on this thread within the forum.

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Hiking Mount Tripyramid Tue, 16 Jun 2015 14:00:00 +0000 […]

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Every year for the last four years my sister and I have ventured up to the mountains of New Hampshire for a day hike. After accomplishing Mount Monadnock twice (here and here) we then decided to start on a more adventurous goal of hiking the 48 4,000 footers of New Hampshire and summited Osceola last August. Mount Tripyramid makes our second and third check marks on this list and let me tell you we were in a bit over our heads this time. (Note: the third summit of the Tripyramids doesn’t count towards the 48 as the altitude gain between peaks is not significant enough).

Hiking Mount Tripyramid

Hiking Mount Tripyramid

Hiking Mount Tripyramid is not exactly something that I’d recommend to someone who is just getting started at conquering the NH 48 4,000 footers, and I probably wouldn’t recommend it to someone who simply wants to hike a mountain. It’s not only that it’s a difficult hike, but also, there’s just not much to see at the summit, making all the effort feel a bit disappointing.

These two photographs were both taken from the summit of Mid Tripyramid which is the only peak of the three that has any view whatsoever, but it’s limited at best, with only a few areas to peak through the tree line for photography.

Hiking Mount Tripyramid

Now, hiking Mount Tripyramid is not exactly an easy task and that’s why I say that this mountain (or set of mountains) really isn’t worth it unless you have the desire to check the boxes on this list. The hike itself starts easy enough along a wide dirt road, but quickly becomes much less forgiving.

About four miles into the 11 mile loop (which MapMyRun actually put at 13.5 miles) the real hiking starts as you begin to ascend what’s referred to as the “North Slide”. This landslide was formed back in the late 1800’s when heavy rain caused the earth to give way on the side of North Tripyramid and as a result this landslide is now the most direct route to the summit of the mountain.

The North Slide on Mount Tripyramid

Here are a few photographs that I took with my iPhone as we began the track up the slide. As you can see it’s essentially just boulders upon boulders at about 40-50% grades for about a mile.

the trail-2The Start of the Slide ( It doesn’t Look too Bad)

the trail-3Okay it’s getting a bit steeper now…

the trail-6This was the last photo I took of the Slide (still less than 1/2 way to the top and it gets much worse!)

As you get further up the slide it becomes even more exposed and there are a few dicey spots where you’re scrambling up slabs or letting go of hand holds to grab on to the next. All told the North Slide ascends approximately 1300 vertical feet in less than a mile – not for the faint of heart!

After the North Slide the trek to the three summits is actually quite easy in comparison as all three peaks are fairly close to one another and the altitude difference between them is not all that drastic.

Once you’ve crested over the top of the South Peak you’ll start heading back down the mountain and yes, there’s another slide to contend with – aptly named “The South Slide”.

The South Slide on Mount Tripyramid

The route is recommend in this direction as the south slide is much less steep (30-40% grades) and more broken up so you’re not having to descend rock slabs without hand holds, but rather, can snake your way through the loose rocks and sand.

My favorite photograph from the day was this seven frame panoramic photograph that captures the south slide and the mountain in the distance. And for what it’s worth – the views from the slides do make up for the lack of views on the summits – but if you’re too focused on completing the task at hand or too terrified to look you’ll end up missing them.

Hiking Mount Tripyramid - The South Slide

All said and done the hike took us over seven and half hours to complete, it ended up being 13.5 miles according to “MapMyRun” and according to my FitBit I took nearly 27,000 steps!

While the photographs weren’t exactly spectacular, mainly due to the simple fact that I lost motivation to take photographs and simply wanted to finish the hike, I’m still happy I was able to get something to share with you. I do hope you enjoyed the story and I’d love to hear about your most memorable hike in the comments – or maybe you’ve hiked Mount Trypyramid or some of the other 48 4,000 footers in New Hampshire – I’d love to hear that story too!

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Wide Angle Photography Sat, 13 Jun 2015 14:00:00 +0000 […]

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Wide angle photography is the bread and butter of the landscape photographer – if you don’t own a wide angle lens you’re missing out!


As usual we’ll take a look at a few photographs that successfully demonstrate how to photograph using a wide angle lens and then we’ll move onto some more specific tips focused on improving your wide angle photography.

Examples of wide angle photography

Wide angle lenses, as I mentioned, are often the go to lens of the landscape photographer. They allow you to showcase a scene in a way that the human eye just isn’t able to do. In this photograph of Excelsior Glen Falls by Shobeir Ansari you’ll see exactly how a wide angle lens can create a perspective that simply takes you into the scene.

By having a strong foreground of fallen leaves and the leading lines of the river and the cavern walls this photograph goes from interesting to more interesting as you are brought through the photograph. By taking the shot from a low angle you as the viewer are placed within the perfect location of the scene to draw you into it and allow you to get lost.

Excelsior Glen Falls, Finger Lakes.

Of course wide angle photography is not just for landscapes so our next examples takes us to the urban photography world with this photograph of the Boston skyline by photographer Daniel Parks.

What makes this image such a strong wide angle photograph was the choice of the photographer to include the chain link railing  in the foreground. By including this strong foreground piece the image becomes a more complete photograph and one that takes you from the foreground towards the city lights.

Dark and Stormy Night

The third and final example today is from Sharada Prasad CS and is a great example of how you can use wide angle photography to showcase things and objects within your frame.

This photograph has everything you’d want in a wide angle photograph – great depth throughout the frame from the prominent foreground subjects to the middle ground of the open water, to the background of the mountain range. It even incorporates one of our previous themes of using repeating patterns in photography to add emphasis or drama.

Boats in Pokhara

Key elements of wide angle photography

When you’re using a wide angle lens there are a few key elements that you’ll want to keep in mind as you compose your photographs. These three tips are probably the most important guidelines to follow if you’re looking to really set up a dramatic wide angle photograph.

  • Depth – Wide angle lenses have a very large depth of field, even at their largest openings, and as a result it becomes important that whatever you photograph with a wide angle lens has depth. Try to find subjects with strong foreground, mid ground and background elements that support one another within the frame of the image.
  • Perspective – Wide angle lenses offer a view that is very different than what we see every day. As a result of this wider angle of view the perspective of the photograph is extremely important and will help you tell your story.
  • Get closer – One of the most common mistakes people make when photographing with a wide angle lens is that they fail to get close enough to their subject. As mentioned above, both the depth of the photograph and the perpsective of the subject are important and by getting closer you’re able to increase your depth of the scene and change the perspective.

A bonus tip – check the edges!

Wide angle lenses often have such a wide angle of view that when you’re looking through the viewfinder of your camera the edges of the frame escape your attention. Don’t let this happen as little pieces of litter, or random tree branches, feet from bystanders, or any number other distractions can creep into the side of your image ruining an otherwise perfect photograph. So make sure to check the edges!

Share your own wide angle photograph

As always, head on over to the forum, and share your own wide angle photograph. Be sure to tell us a bit about how you framed the shot and what your intentions where as this helps us know where you’re coming from and believe it or not, explaining a photograph in this manner will help you learn more about your own intentions as a photographer.

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Anchored Tue, 09 Jun 2015 14:00:00 +0000 […]

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If you haven’t caught on by now, starting last month, I’ve been testing a new content strategy here at Phogropathy. Tuesdays I share a photograph from my collection and a bit of a story of how I captured/process the image and Fridays consist of an article on a specific theme/topic in photography. So far I think it’s been going over quite well and I’m excited to continue this format throughout the rest of the summer to see how it evolves.



A few recent forum topics from Don and Dolores had spurred my interest in diving back into the idea of creating art from my photographs. Instead of using Impression, I actually dove into Topaz’s other art maker, Simplify and created this image of an anchored boat off one of the harbors along the coast of Cape Cod.

It was taken during the middle of the day so the light wasn’t extraordinarily good, but I do find the result interesting. As you can see there was quite a bit of snow on the ground and do to the rather cold winter we’d been experiencing part of the harbor was frozen with chunks of ice.

I hope to have some photographs from the trip up to the top of the Tripyramids tomorrow – this 11-mile loop hike summits two of NH’s 4,000 footers and a third peak, which is over 4,000 ft high, but doesn’t qualify as the altitude gain between peaks isn’t great enough.

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Using Negative Space in Photography Sat, 06 Jun 2015 15:15:00 +0000 […]

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Using negative space in photography is a technique that can add a great deal of drama, intensity or even emotion to your subject – but you must use it properly in order to achieve these results.


While not an overly difficult concept to grasp, negative space, can be a bit tricky to implement in successful ways. The problem with using negative space in photography is that if forced it can lead to boring or confusing subject matter which inevitably will hurt the overall story you may be trying to tell.

In this article you’ll see some examples of negative space being used successfully and get some practical and useful tips on how to pull this technique off yourself the next time you’re out with the camera. Let’s get started!

Three successful images using negative space in photography

First, what exactly is negative space? Well technically it is anything that is not your primary subject matter in a photograph – so you can think of negative space as the space that fills the area between the border of your photograph and the subject you’ve attempted to capture.

When using negative space as a feature of your photograph, what you end up with is a composition that is extremely simplified, and this can be referred to as a minimalist style of photography. Take a look at this example titled Dawn Sculler by Ian Sanderson

Dawn Sculler


The kayaker in this photograph creates a strong focal point for the eyes to be drawn to, there’s a clear path of where he’s been and enough negative space within the rest of the frame to allow the eyes a place to rest and ultimately be drawn back to the kayaker. By photographing the scene in such a way the image becomes very simple and yet, still conveys a message.

Another example of simplicity is this photograph titled Lonely Phone by Sarah Laval. Here the viewer is show just a lonely phone on a wall with a strong vingette to draw us even further into to the image. The phone is slightly off center leading to an interesting, and thought provoking subject.

Lonely Phone

The final example from Bryon Lippincott titled Waiting for Traffic is a great example of how you don’t need an image to be completely devoid of other elements within the frame. Here we see a combination of straight lines and curved lines that all lead us towards the subject, or help to frame the scene. There’s enough negative space to allow you to get a sense of the scene, but still is simplified enough strengthen the main subject of the photograph.

Waiting for Traffic,

Strategies for using negative space in photography

As you’ve seen from the examples above, using negative space in photography relies on a strong and engaging subject (the positive space) complimented by a pleasing and supportive background (the negative space).

You don’t necessarily have to go full fledged minimal with a photograph on this theme, and in fact, every photograph you take will have negative space within it – it’s simply just a matter of how much that negative space is emphasized within the image as to whether or not it becomes a significant part of the story or not.

So when you’re composing your next photograph and you’re trying to emphasize the negative space of the scene remember these three things:

  1. Make sure you’ve got a strong, compelling subject
  2. Make sure everything other than your subject within the frame does not compete for attention
  3. Use the scene to frame and guide the viewer’s eyes either towards the subject, or towards a question about the subject’s motivation.

And with that all you’ve got to do now is find a subject. If you’re interested in showing us what you’ve been able to accomplish on the subject feel free to share it on the forum.

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Cumberland Farms Tue, 02 Jun 2015 11:00:00 +0000 […]

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It’s hard to believe we’re starting the sixth month of 2015 – a lot has changed here on Phogropathy since this past winter and I’m liking the new direction. I have been feeling a bit under the weather over last last few days or so, but I’m feeling like the I’ll be back to 100% soon.

Cumberland Farms


A few weeks ago I went to a Red Sox game and while I was bored watching the home team go down 4-1 by the second inning I started looking for photography opportunities.

Because I was traveling light I just had my iPhone 5s and my collection of Olloclips. This image was taken with the Telephoto Olloclip and I thought the full moon as well as the Cumberland Farms sign made for an interesting composition.

Due to the poor quality from the iPhone camera I decided to go with a desaturated black and white image slightly toned towards the sepia look.

I processed the image in Photoshop using a curves adjustment layer to add contrast and a black and white layer to desaturate the image and tone the various colors (you’ll notice how brightly lit the sign itself is – this was done inside the black and white layer).

Overall – it’s a simple image – but one that I like quite a bit.

Hope you’re having a great week – as always – share your own photography in the forum always love to see what you’re up to!

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Capture Motion in Photography Fri, 29 May 2015 14:00:00 +0000 […]

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You might think about a photograph as a moment frozen in time and maybe you might think that because a moment has frozen in time you can’t do a lot to portray moving things within the frame of a photograph. Well – today we’ll learn how to capture motion in photography!


As usual let us start with some examples from Flickr to set up the concepts and ideas, and then move into a few tips to capturing images like the ones seen here today.

Inspiring Photographs that Capture Motion in Photography

As I mentioned, there are many ways to capture and portray motion within an photograph. These three examples will try to give you some ideas as you pursue your own attempts at capturing motion in photography.

The first example, is somewhat of a common idea on the subject, and that is capturing a person standing still as a train or car passes by in the background. In this image titled, “On the platform…reading” by Mo Riza, captures a woman waiting for a train to come to a complete stop. Engrossed in a book and alone on the platform this photograph has a bit of a story to it – heading home from a long day of work and taking every possible moment for “me time” perhaps?

On the platform, reading


The photograph succeeds in a couple ways – first the dramatic lighting that helps to bring you into the frame. The simplicity of the subject matter – woman and train with no other complications. The added color from what appears to be the train’s logo adds a bit of extra motion to the image. While not overly sharp, or complex, this shot works just as well.

Of course, being in the big city isn’t always possible so it’s a great thing that you can also find motion in nature. Water is probably going to be your go to here – waterfalls, rivers, oceans, even runoff of a downpour all produce motion and there are a number of other ideas out there as well.

Coldwater Creek

This example photograph from Billy Wilson titled Coldwater Creek is one of many possible ways of portraying motion in nature. The water flowing towards the viewer, with the remainder of the image tack sharp allows for a the viewer to be drawn into the frame and enjoy the image.

Of course, you can also get creative and create your own motion. Of course, this is going to be most likely reserved for those occasions where you’re attempting to create something a bit more abstract, but if you can make it work, then why not go for it?

This example, Forest on Fire – Trees in Motion taken by Vincent Brassinne is a great example of just that. The intentional blur from moving the camera during a long exposure shot creates the abstract nature of the image, the vertical lines of the trees actually references back to our previous challenge on patterns, and the highly saturated colors work well to create interest as well.

Forest on Fire - Trees in Motion 1 [Explored]


Of course, these are only a few examples of how you can capture motion in photography – there are countless other ideas as well – including: light trails, star trails, ghosts of people moving about, cars, airplanes and more!

Three Helpful Tips for Capturing Motion in Photography

  1. Careful with the shutter speed – In most cases you’ll want to have a longish exposure to allow enough time for the motion to take place.
  2. Panning – Panning is a great skill to learn and one we’ll be covering in a future theme here on Phogropathy. Essentially this involves locking in on a moving subject and panning your camera with while you photograph the shot. What occurs in the end result is a frozen image of your moving subject and a blurred background which then highlights the movement.
  3. Visualize – The more you can visualize the motion that is happening in front of you, the better you’ll be able to capture and portray that motion in your photography.

Share your own

Finally go out and capture some photographs in motion – then come back here and share what you’ve created. Tell us how you went about capturing the shot, and what tools you used to accomplish the end result.

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Baby Doves Tue, 26 May 2015 11:29:20 +0000 […]

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I wanted to let you all know that I’ve started getting back into the swing of things and have two articles queued up for DPS already in June. I’m also working on my second batch of Lightroom Presets and so much more is in the works as well – but I’m taking things slow so I don’t want to say anything specific yet.

Baby Doves

As you might know if you follow the site regularly I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of Mourning Doves choose one of my window boxes as a nesting place to raise their young. It’s been a fun experience watching them grow, get fed, and then finally leave the nest. The following is a collection of photographs that I was able to capture.


While it was sad to see them go, the good news is, the mother is back on top of another pair of eggs already so it looks like the cycle will continue at least for one more round! I’ve read that Mourning Doves can reuse the same nest up to five times in a season so we’ll see maybe I’ll get very good at photographing baby birds by the end of this summer.

Hope you’re having a good good week of photography – be sure to share your own shots on the forum so that we can see what you’ve taken!

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Composing The Theme of Three Fri, 22 May 2015 14:00:00 +0000 […]

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Three is a powerful number – it appears quite often in mythology and even in nature. But did you know it’s also a key component in composing photographs?

This week we’ll talk a deeper look at using the this powerful number as a theme to influence your photography.


Some inspiration using the theme of three

As usual, let’s start with a few examples from Flickr and figure out why they work so well at illustrating the theme of three.

First up is a photograph by Anjan Chatterjee titled Fishers Three – and as you can see clearly the theme of three is evident in the photograph.

fishers three

The three subjects are well composed to balance the scene, there’s a nice contrast of the human element and nature with a common element tying them all together – namely they fishing.

The processing to black and white was a nice touch, however, a stronger composition would have been to move the horizon line above the heads of the two men as it’s typically not a good idea to have a hard line like this running through the main subjects of your image.

Next up is a great photograph that also illustrates last week’s theme of patterns quite nicely – it’s from photographer Robin Jaffray and is titled Three Boats.

three boats

Again, much like the first image this photograph does a great job of isolating the primary subject matter to tell the story. Additionally there’s an interesting element here where the boats get larger as they go from bottom to top and having one of the three boats facing in the other direction adds a bit of disorganization that feels more natural and I think adds a bit of interest.

Finally here’s a photograph by fs999 titled threes


It’s probably one of the most common ways that you’ll see the theme of three portrayed and that is in nature itself. Here we see a great use of simplicity to really draw you into the subject of these three trees. The post production to blow out the sky in the background and truly brighten the image was a smart choice as it forces the viewer to really focus on the three trees – you simply can’t help being drawn to them.

Some tips composing the theme of three

While we do have ‘the rule of thirds’ three itself isn’t a true rule of composition, but as you can see from these images, using three similar or contrasting subjects in your photograph can help make it more interesting.

The key to this concept of using three subjects, as we’ve seen in these three examples, is to make sure that you’ve got a strong message to portray. The three subjects must be obvious within the image and everything else should be insignificant – the idea here is to only show what’s necessary.

Again, as we’ve seen here, incorporating last week’s theme of patterns will help you find interesting ways of composing the image.

Share your own

As always I love to see what you’re able to come up with on these themes so share your own photographs of three things on the forum today!

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