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Week 2: Lines & Diagonals

WEEK TWO:

Thank you Frank for your detailed and thoughtful comments on my week one photos! That feedback is really helpful. I found this second week really challenging. I'm fine when it comes to horizontal lines, I can see them everywhere and work them into the picture. But diagonals, and especially leading diagonals, I just can't seem to see them at all. I'm looking but it's definitely going to take more effort.

Here are my photos for week two:

1. The Fisherman:

My son really wanted a fish and has been saving up his money so he could afford the fish, tank, and supplies. He finally did it, so this captures the moment he's trying to choose the one fish that will go into his tank. The horizontal lines jumped out at me and I'm really glad I managed to catch him standing still long enough to get this shot. I'm not sure about the crop -- is the sliver of tanks at the very top too distracting? Maybe I should crop that out, so it starts at the top with just the gray/green band.

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2. Electro Freeze:

This is my best implied diagonal line, and it happened mostly by accident. I had taken a picture of the scene with both people's backs turned, then all of a sudden the boy turned around and I happened to capture it at the right moment. (His shoes are blurry because they're still in motion.) You can follow the diagonal from the tv in upper left, through the subject's face, arms, and knees, and down through his shoes and the bottom of the pole. His gaze follows that same left-to-right direction but the pole hopefully stops your eye from following the diagonal and his gaze right off the photo. And, because I have such a hard time working supportive foregrounds into my pictures, I'm excited that I managed to get some foreground with leading lines in the bottom of the frame, along with an interesting background.

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3. Brelio a/k/a Shorty:

This photo is from a recent project I've been working on called 100 Strangers (see the 100 Strangers Flickr Group page for more about the project). Brelio (known as Shorty to his friends) works at a salon and happened to be standing outside on a break when I met him and asked if I could take his picture. The sign in the salon window gave me the background with some slightly leading lines into the main subject.

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4. Ferry Window:

During my family's vacation the other week we took a ferry ride. Once in transit, everyone got out of their cars and made their way up to the top deck which had an indoor and outdoor area. I was inside looking out when I saw my nieces hanging out at the yellow railing. Thanks to last week's lesson I immediately saw how the window framed them and knew I wanted this shot. The yellow horizontal line is obvious, and there's a little bit of a diagonal going from the lower left corner through each of their heads.

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5. Team Spirit:

At camp last week the counselors divided the kids into teams and gave each team a color. The green team wrote out their team spirit on their arms and legs, so I wanted to get a photo that represented the fun and spirit of the day. I haven't posed people often, but I thought about how best to concentrate her arms and legs in the picture and, because I'm trying to incorporate the lines lesson into my photos, I realized I could use the arms and legs as lines to build the picture. She was a good sport about posing for me. I was too focused on her to see the distracting slope of the couch cushion behind her, and I knew I only had a few seconds before she complained about me taking pictures, so this one will have to do!

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WEEK ONE:

I've really enjoyed taking the time to think about compositions this week after watching the first lesson.  I can't say my pictures are great, but I can say they're better than they would have been without this emphasis!

We're on vacation this week so my pictures mostly draw from that. 

1. First up is a pretty cliche image out the airplane window.  I had a good seat for this shot and the color contrasts were striking, so I figured I would include it in the set.  Though I did think about the composition, it's pretty flat...my goal is to include foreground that helps give my pictures more depth.

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2. Next is a shot that's not vacation-related but it's a subject that means a lot to my family -- the recent Supreme Court decision finding the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional.  Here I wanted to emphasize our rings and used the Supreme Court ruling as foreground/background to give the rings context and to give the picture its broader meaning, as well as trying to use the angles of the text as lines to make the image a little more dynamic.  This is probably the cheesiest picture I've taken but I still like the message. :)

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3.  Back to vacation mode -- here's a sort of abstract portrait of my son peering out the airplane window.  The vertical bands of dark and light kind of follow the rule of thirds and I put the focus of the picture, his eye, on one of the vertices. Even though his eye leads you out of the picture, I was hoping the window frame in the foreground would serve as a barrier and keep the viewer in the picture.

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4. Relaxing at the beach! This was fun because I had a scene that lends itself to snapshots but I really put some thought into elevating it to a well-composed photo. The kids were happy to play and didn't grumble that I was taking too many pictures.  But...do the lines here lead you out of the picture?

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5. The reader. We forgot to bring books for my daughter so we took a break from the beach and found a used bookstore. We got her a pile of books and she couldn't wait to start reading, so she got started on the short walk from the store to the car. I had to scramble to look up the street and choose a fun background that would frame her.  I'm really excited with the way this one turned out...in the few seconds I had to run ahead and get ready for her to pass, I managed to frame her with the background and  use a foreground with lines leading into the picture.  Back at the computer I cropped it so the background follows the rule of thirds, but I'm disappointed I had to crop some distracting elements from the left of the picture, which means I couldn't place her further to the right without losing too much of the red background and without changing the proportions of the picture too much.

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6. I forgot about this one so I'm adding it in as #6. My goal here was to photograph my dog using the front door as a frame, giving the picture more depth than my usual shots. I had to go with some off-camera flash to light him up inside the doorway. I didn't have time to hide the flash, but luckily the dog complied long enough to pose for a shot.

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