Phogropathy Look, Relax, Remember Fri, 22 May 2015 21:23:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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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Snowy Beach Tue, 19 May 2015 11:00:00 +0000 […]

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Another week, another photograph – but first some news! Topaz Simplify (Read: Simplifying a Favorite) is on sale again! If you missed it last time now’s as good a time as any – just use the code MAYSIMP on checkout – get it here.

Also in other news – the site has successfully be upgraded to a new server and is running faster and smoother than it ever has. Of course, there have been a couple of little hiccups, but overall things are great – if you do notice something let me know and I’ll be sure to either fix it myself or inform someone who can.

Snowy Beach on Cape Cod

Snowy Beach

Here’s another photograph from my trip to Cape Cod this past winter. As you can see there was still plenty of snow on the ground. I went for a cold black and white look with this image as I felt it suited the overall mood of the weather.

The image was taken on a tripod at 16mm, f/9.0, ISO 100, 1/50th. This was on our way back to the Jeep (you can see the dark clouds approaching here from the right side of the frame – which were the same dark clouds in that photograph.

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Find and Photograph Patterns in Nature Like A Pro Fri, 15 May 2015 14:00:00 +0000 […]

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Why do patterns in nature make such compelling subjects?


Learning to photograph patterns in nature is one of the most powerful ways to add drama and substance to a photograph. Once you understand how patterns work to improve composition and where to find them you’ll wonder how you ever created images without them.

What makes patterns important in composition?

Patterns in nature are everywhere! This, unfortunately, may make photographing them a bit more difficult than you might initially expect. One of the most difficult things to do in photography is to take something so simple as a pattern and turn it into an amazing, interesting piece of art, but that’s what this article aims to teach you how to do.

Learning to photograph patterns in nature, goes beyond simply creating abstract pieces of art, by finding the right way to add a pattern to an every day scene you can truly capture a masterpiece. Of course, the first step in this process is actually finding and photographing patterns, so let’s get started with some basics.

Where do you find patterns in nature?

As mentioned above, patterns in nature are everywhere! So finding them isn’t necessarily a problem. What becomes the problem is finding the right patterns and then photographing them the right way to make them shine within the confines of a frame.

Key tip: When framing a subject (any subject) ask yourself ‘What needs to be in the frame and what should I remove?’ and frame according.

To get a better idea of what is meant by this let’s take a look at three examples of patterns in nature from Flickr.

This image by Eric Wüstenhagen is a great example of how you can create an interesting, almost abstract image, by just photographing a repeating pattern. However, you can’t just photograph this plant any old way, the reason that this image works so well, is because of two choices that the photographer made.

  • Isolation of a focal point – Where the rotation of this pattern comes to a point is the focal point of this image. The fact that that part of the image is tack sharp, while the rest of the image is blurred with a shallow depth of field, is what allows this isolation to occur.
  • Balanced composition – By placing the focal point mentioned above on the lower left side of the frame the rotation leads us to that focal point and keeps the eye there. Had this been placed on the right side of the frame the image would have appeared more cluttered and confined.

patterns in nature

But patterns in nature don’t have to be so obvious, take a look at this next image from james j8246 who captured a foggy mountain range.

patterns in nature

Here you get the repeating shapes of the various peaks, isolation of the subject by ignoring the horizon, and a nice compression of the features by the choice to use a telephoto lens to capture the image. Add the black and white treatment in post production and the image really comes together.

The final example for this week’s theme on patterns in nature not only shows you how easy it is to find great patters to photograph, but ties this theme together with last week’s theme on panoramic photography.

In this image from Sacha Fernandez the trees repeat and repeat as they fade away back into the fog. It may not be what you first think of when you think of finding patterns in nature, but the repeating element of these trees allows the viewer to really get lost in the scene.

patterns in nature

Again, much like the other two photographs featured in this article, it’s the photographer’s choices that make the image interesting – not the pattern itself. In this example, the trees provide an interesting pattern that the viewer can follow into the scene, the compositional choice to go panoramic with the image allows for a more simplified and pleasing result, and finally by choosing to photograph while the scene was blanketed in fog and lit with a soft golden light completes the dramatic scene.

3 key tips for composing patterns in nature

Here are three tips for photographing patterns in nature that you can take away from the three images above.

  1. Isolate a primary focal point – As we saw, it’s not always necessary to have a primary focal point, but when you do have one, make sure it is isolated and dominates the photograph.
  2. Telephoto lenses often work best – While wide angle lenses are often a lot of fun to use, in my experience, patterns look much better when they’ve been shot on the telephoto end of the shooting range. This compresses the features of the pattern and enhances their imagery.
  3. Don’t just photograph a pattern – Don’t photograph a pattern for the sake of photographing a pattern. Find a way to make that pattern tell a story by including it in a dramatic scene, or isolating it to demand attention and focus.

Share your own patterns in nature photograph

As always, I love seeing what you’re able to come up with on the themes that I cover here. So please feel free to join the discussion on the forum and leave your own photograph below!

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What’s Next? Tue, 12 May 2015 14:00:00 +0000 […]

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It’s been quite exciting getting back into the swing of things here, traffic is up, engagement is up (just check out the comments on Friday’s article about panoramic photography!). So yeah, I’d say that I’m starting to find my rhythm again – but – Phogropathy does still have an issue. Simply put every new post, every new uploaded image, and every new member puts a strain on the resources my modest hosting plan allocates to the site – and this presents a problem that needs to be solved sooner rather than later.

What’s Next

What's Next?

I thought this image of a boardwalk on Cape Cod taken the same day I photographed my Jeep on a snowy beach was a good fit for an article like this. ‘What’s Next’ depicts a boardwalk that leads out to a vanishing point – what’s out there? Well, for Phogropathy, the future is unclear as well – as this server issue has lead me to a crossroads of sorts and I’ve got to decide between a fresh start or investing in the future.

Option One – The Compete Reset

This option is enticing as it’d essentially take Phogropathy back to ground zero with a fresh install of WordPress and the forum software that runs the site. The downside to this approach is it’s ground zero – which means bye bye to over 1,000 articles on the blog and 10,000 topics on the forum. Not to mention the damage 404 pages do to a site’s ranking in Google search. This is a drastic measure and one I don’t think I’m quite ready to take… therefore option two is the most likely route – what is option two you ask?

Option Two – An Massive Upgrade

The main problem with the site as it sits is that it simply requires more memory than my hosting plan has allocated to the site to run it. Therefore if more than a handful of people are browsing the site at the same time (which happens fairly often) you might go to load a page and the resources to load the page don’t exist thus you see a 505 error. Bad news panda.

Upgrading the site should (fingers crossed) solve this issue for the foreseeable future. So what’s the downside? Well nothing for you really – but for me – my wallet will take quite a hit as the hosting costs for this move would triple from where they are now. And Phogropathy is not exactly generating a steady stream of income.

Therefore upgrading the site would force me to get motivated again and move back into product development mode – or start freelance writing again.

Back to the Photo

Okay – so now that all that depressing mumbo jumbo is out of the way – let’s talk about the featured photograph in the article.

This image really sort of stood out to me as being a perfect candidate for a desaturated (not fully black and white) and somewhat high key sort of look. There’s a lot of white in the image, but the wood boardwalk offers some deeper blacks as well in the grains and knots of the wood so that’s kind of how I arrived at this decision for the processing. I also thought it needed a bit of a mysterious effect to the edges so I added a radial filter and added some blur around the edges and towards the front of the boardwalk.

Hope you like the result! Next week I’ll bring you another photograph from my travels, until then, I encourage you to share your own work on the forum!

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Essential Guide to Panoramic Photography Fri, 08 May 2015 11:00:04 +0000 […]

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Panoramic photography can be extremely rewarding when done correctly and that’s exactly why I’ve decided to share some ideas on the subject with you today. First we’ll start with a general overview of panoramic photography, then a few inspirational ideas and finally a simple three step guide to get you started.

What is panoramic photography?


Panoramic photography is a technique that allows a photographer to showcase an elongated view of a scene. To do this the photographer will capture multiple single frames with their camera and stitch them together to create the final panoramic. The stitching of these frames is done in post production using software like Photoshop or GIMP in order to create that seamless final image.

Bonus Tip: when framing each subsequent image try to overlap the frame by 20-30 percent. This will allow your software program to have enough data from each image to create a seamless merge.

Ideas for panoramic photography

When you approach the theme of panoramic photography for the first time one of the most important things to consider is the subject matter. Ask yourself the question:

Does elongating this scene help showcase something that can’t be done in a single frame?

Take the below image of Chicago by Christopher as an example. The panoramic nature of this image draws you into the city as well as the colorful sky above it, something a single frame would not have been able to achieve.


Other great ideas for panoramic photography include photographing seascapes, mountain ranges, and rivers – the possibilities are endless!

Panoramic photography done creatively

If you’re looking to get creative maybe a panoramic photography project is something you’d like to try.

Just take a look at this photograph by 55Laney69 that transitions from day to night throughout scene. Something like this isn’t going to be easy as there’s a lot of planning and post production involved in creating something like this, but the result is certainly going to wow your friends!

Trier - From Day to Night Panorama

Other variations of this type of panoramic transition could include changing weather or seasons.

Panoramic Photography Done Vertically

Finally, don’t forget to go vertical with your panoramic photography! Tall and thin is a great way of showcasing the scale and that can have a powerful effect on an image.

Take a glance at what Frank Kehren has done in this photograph of the Cologne Cathedral and just imagine being inside the cathedral yourself!Cologne Cathedral

If you’re looking for more on vertical panoramic images a while back I actually shared a tutorial on creating vertical panoramas of the night sky if you’re curious.

3 Simple Tips for Panoramic Photography

Now that you’ve got some inspiration you’re probably wondering just how to go out and capture a panoramic photograph right? Well, here are three simple tips that’ll point you in the right direction.

  1. Use a TripodA tripod will help you line up your shots and allow you to very easily move from frame to frame of the panorama.
  2. Use the correct orientation – when you photograph a horizontal panorama capture the frames in portrait orientation and use a landscape orientation when you photograph a vertical panorama. Yes you’ll take more frames to capture the entire scene, but you’ll have more information on the ‘short’ edge of your final panoramic image.
  3. Go manual – Basically use as much manual control as you can when creating a panoramic photograph. The reasoning for this is simply that any variation between frames will stick out like a sore thumb in the final stitched panoramic image. For a seamless image make sure you’re at the very least locking down aperture, white balance, and ISO.

Share Your Own Panoramic Photography

As always, I’d love to see what you can come up with, so please share your own panoramic photography below. Be sure to tell us a bit about why you choose the subject, and what you did to get the final result.

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Jeep Awaits the Storm Tue, 05 May 2015 14:00:00 +0000 […]

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It feels good to be back behind the reigns here at Phogropathy and I think one of the things that I was missing was sharing my own photography.

Jeep Awaits the Storm


This image was taken a few months ago on a spontaneous trip to Cape Cod. We visited the ocean by Sandwich and we were able to walk a bit of the ways up a long boardwalk to capture some images of various things. However, the best photograph of the outing had to be this one that I captured of my jeep alone in the parking lot.

The rain was starting to fall so I had to be quick, but I like the outcome quite a lot. I think there’s some good subtle colors in the sky and the ominous clouds toward the right side of the frame help tell the story of the approaching rain.

The image itself was captured at f/8, 16mm, 1/16th, ISO 100 and minimal processing in Lightroom as applied. The largest change was to desaturate the colors slightly, add some detail to the foreground, and crop to fit the 16×9 aspect ratio.

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Assignment – Photograph Smoke Fri, 01 May 2015 11:15:01 +0000 […]

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This week’s assignment is to capture photographs of smoke, or more precisely, to use the theme of smoke photography to fuel the inspiration for this week’s challenge.

How to photograph smoke?

Smoke photography comes in many forms and as a result there are many themes, subjects and ideas that you can use to fuel your inspiration this week. Think about all the places that you see smoke – factories, campfires, people smoking, burning buildings, the list goes on right? So the challenge then becomes, how do you form an idea, and how do you make that idea into a powerful and though provoking image.

Photograph Smoke in Portraits

Below you’ll see a photograph from Boby that showcases how you can use smoke to create dramatic emotion within an image. The smoke being exhailed in a thick puff, combined with the dramatic lighting and the black and white processing is what takes this portrait image to the next level. It gives the image both a sense of motion as well as giving the subject more character than if the smoke was not there.


Photograph Smoke in Landscapes

f you’re looking for something more suited to landscape or cityscape subject matter to fill your need for smoke photography then look to your nearest industrial skyline or factory.

Factories produce smoke by the tons, many do so day in and day out as well which may allow you to capture the smokey skylines at different times of the day. Not only that, but you’ll also have the great mechanical nature of the building’s architecture to play off of while you’re composing your photograph.

Bonus Tip: When you go out to photograph smoke of a factory scene try doing so during sunrise or sunset as the colors in the sky will dramatically enhance and contrast with the smoke making for a more powerful image – as seen below in this photo by Guy Mayer.

" Smoke Gets In Your Eyes "

Photograph Smoke in Abstract Shapes

Finally, and probably the most fun way to photograph smoke, is to go abstract with it. Smoke swirls in the wind very easily, and it will also take the color of various lighting shined through it. This allows you to create some amazing abstract images of smoke – just look at this beautiful swirl from Pascal Bovet.

Smoke IV - Double Color

Share Your Own

No matter how you photograph smoke I’d love to see the results. So share your own smoke photography in the comments below. Be sure to tell us a bit about how you approached the theme and what you did to capture the image.

And finally – don’t forget to share this article with your friends and groups on social media – the more people participating in a challenge like this the better they get!

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Nesting Dove Tue, 28 Apr 2015 21:11:43 +0000 […]

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It’s been a while since I’ve been able to share photography here on the site, but as I’ve mentioned a few weeks ago, I wanted to start doing just that again.

Nesting Dove

nesting dove
While I’ve never successfully grown flowers in this flower box, apparently, it’s the perfect home for a mourning dove. I’m not too knowledgable about birds, but I did do a bit of research on mourning doves, and I guess it’s not all that uncommon for them to find flower boxes safe homes.

Other interesting things that I learned in my short amount of research includes the fact that the male and female birds take shifts (day and night) incubating the egg. It happens so quickly that you might think the same bird never moves for the entire two week incubation period.

As you can see from this image, the bird is just sitting in the corner, it’s been about a week since I first noticed the bird, so we’ve got around a week or so to wait until we hopefully see some chicks and yes if and when that happens I’ll be documenting it with my camera.

Speaking of my camera, I suppose it’s worth mentioning a bit about capturing this photograph and processing techniques. The image was captured using my 55-300mm at ISO 100 | f/5.6 | 300mm | 1/200 sec on a tripod. It was taken during the mid-afternoon on a cloudy day. Processing was pretty straight forward – just a few minor adjustments to add some contrast and tweak the white balance. I also added a radial filter to the bird in order to help direct the attention of the viewer.

And yes, throughout May, I’ll be sharing more photos here on the blog so stay tuned for that!

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Lightroom CC – First Impressions Wed, 22 Apr 2015 21:37:36 +0000 […]

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After many months of rumors – it’s finally here – Lightroom 6 AKA Lightroom CC. The new iteration of Adobe’s popular photo editor is filled with some great new tools for processing photographs as well as a massive speed bump in terms of performance (which I think is probably the best feature of them all).


This isn’t going to be a full review, I’ve got to spend some time diving into the new features before I give my full opinions on them, but I wanted to get this out there for discussion as soon as possible.

So What’s New in Lightroom CC?

Well first of all Adobe has vastly improved the performance of Lightroom. Images load faster, processing feels a bit snappier, and overall the fluidity of the software seems much improved over Lightroom 5.

In addition to the massive performance boost in Lightroom CC you’re also getting a few cool new features that will without question make processing your photographs even more enjoyable.

HDR fanatics can rejoice now asa there’s a built in HDR merge feature. It’s not nearly as customizable as something like Photomatix Pro, but it does appear to get the job done – I’ll be testing this out in more detail in the next couple of days.

Panorama’s are now possible inside of Lightroom with the Panorama merge feature. Again, it remains to be seen whether this feature will replace the idea of exporting images and merging them in external software, but it’s nice to see that Adobe is giving the option to do it all without leaving Lightroom.

Filter brushes are another great, and much needed, feature that I’m happy to see added to this addition of Lightroom. Essentially you’re now able to fine tune your filters by brushing down or up the intensity of that filter. Great for if you’ve got a foreground element that sticks up above the horizon and you’ve wanted to use a graduated filter to balance the exposure a bit more.

Finally, facial recognition has been brought into Lightroom. This isn’t something that I’ll really use much as I don’t photograph people. But for those of you shooting models frequently this could become a life saver in terms of organizing your photographs from various shoots.

Check out Adobe Lightroom CC in Action

First Impressions of Lightroom CC

As I mentioned above, I’ll be doing my own in-depth walkthroughs of these features in the coming days so stay tuned for that if you’re curious, but as far as first impressions go, this is a winner in my book. The performance boost alone is enough to make it worthy of upgrading, not to mention the addition of the filter brush tool and the panorama option. I’m not convinced the HDR tool will outperform that of Photomatix, but tests are incoming.

Until then…

What do you think of Lightroom CC?

Have you had time to play with this new iteration of Lightroom CC? I’d love to here your experiences so please let me know in the comments below!

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Update… Thu, 09 Apr 2015 21:20:49 +0000 […]

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Four years ago Phogropathy launched as a daily photography blog. Since then the site has seen its share of changes both in terms of direction and design. Today marks another day of change here at Phogropathy and it’s a big one.

Phogropathy 2013Phogropathy ~2013

The changes I’m making today do not come lightly – I’ve invested a lot of time and effort into many of these things and to see them fade away is a bit of a disappointment. However, in order to build a stronger community and a more valuable resource this is the right decision for me to make at this time.

The Changes

The changes are pretty simple and they boil down to one thing – simplicity.

As of today, I’m putting my efforts of turning Phogropathy into a business on hold and instead will focus on finding the spark that lead me to create this site in the first place. What does this mean for you?

  • All courses/workshops are now closed indefinitely (those currently enrolled and not yet finished have until December 31st 2015 to complete their workshops).
  • All recurring memberships have been cancelled. (Those who did join The Phogropathy Enthusiast program will retain their status as Enthusiasts on the forum).
  • My efforts on YouTube are on hold, but will resume once the dust settles from this redirection.
  • Newsletters will return to normal in May
  • And finally to tie it all together – a redesign of the website is in the works and scheduled for early this summer.

As I said above, these changes were not made lightly, but after a great deal of thought I’ve determined that I’d rather find a new direction for Phogropathy than try to continue to force it in the direction it was heading.

The Reasons

The major driving factor behind these changes boils down to dropping traffic on Phogropathy. Over the last five quarters, traffic to Phogropathy’s website, has dropped more than 50%. More over it has not shown any signs of growth in this time period with consistent quarter over quarter drops.


Now, the reasons for this drop in traffic, can be directly linked to the frequency of my writing at Digital Photography School. In 2013 I’d written between 3 and 5 articles a month for DPS. Throughout 2014 I’d averaged about two articles per month (more towards the beginning of the year) and so far this year only two articles have gone live on DPS.

Being that DPS was the #1 referrer of traffic in 2013, sending nearly 40% of all traffic to the site, it’s not surprising that a decrease in writing for them would adversely affect the traffic here at Phogropathy.

But what caused this drop in DPS contributions over the last two years?

The answer to this question is directly related to why I’ve chosen to cut back here at Phogropathy – time.

The Passage of Time

I’m not making excuses – or at least not trying to – but I am a one man army behind the scenes of this site. While I’d love to manage a growing forum, write a blog, freelance for a larger site, manage an eCommerce store, record YouTube videos, develop and promote eBooks and eCourses and somehow do this all while maintaining a full time career and personal life – I simply over extended myself and things began to collapse. As a result the entire site suffered.

Over the last month I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not I could refocus my energy in a way that would allow me to keep everything going as it was, but every time I tried to start something, another thing began to fail. I’d start making YouTube videos and the forum would miss me, I’d start working on developing new courses and the YouTube videos would suffer – it wasn’t working – so the next step is to implement the changes above.

The Future of Phogropathy

The future is never clear so I can’t promise anything specific, all I can do is tell you is what I want to see happen here at Phogropathy and hope that I can come through for you.

  • In the next few months I’ll launch a redesign for the site to highlight the new simplified direction
  • I plan to continue to be engaged on the forum and hopefully will start sharing my own photography again on the blog
  • Eventually I’d like to write more for DPS, and grow the YouTube channel, but I have to be careful not to over extend myself so I don’t simply end up back here in another few years.

Thank you for your readership if you have any questions feel free to contact me anytime.

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