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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Peering Gymnast

Shy gymnast peeks while waiting to perform during Lowell, Ma. Recreation Department gymnastics competition (© Michael Maher, The Lowell (Ma.) Sun).

Peering gymnast photo by Michael Maher

The Photo:
When I photographed a youth gymnastics competition, I first shot competitors in action on the balance beam, parallel bars, etc.  However, since these were very young kids, it was unlikely they would provide spectacular action or difficult feats.  I shifted my attention to other gymnasts watching, in case I could find expressions of emotion after a friend or teammate had a stellar performance.  When I pointed my camera at one girl sitting on the floor among the others, she hid her face behind her knees.  If I put my camera down or pointed elsewhere, she looked up again with face fully visible.  This went back-and-forth until she peered her eyes over the top of her knees and stared at me.  It was a charming photo for it conveyed her personality and shyness.  I often prefer the subject not look at me in a picture, but it’s perfectly acceptable in a personality photo because it expresses the person’s character more strongly when they are looking at the camera, rather than if they were merely looking away.
3 Tips: 
1) Shyness can create a charming trait for a photo. 
2) Shyness often requires repeated effort to capture. 
3) Personality photos are often much stronger when the subject looks at the camera.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Uncorking the Giant Wine Bottle

The distorted size perspective technique can provide very creative and funny photos.

Proper positioning of foreground subject Carol Maher depicts her about to uncork a giant, two-story wine bottle in the village of St. Julien in Bordeaux, France (© Michael Maher).

The Photo:
When traveling on vacation, people frequently take photos of themselves or others in front of landmarks or interesting objects. How you position the foreground and background subjects relative to one another can create an illusion of the foreground person being smaller, larger, or similar size as the background landmark. Sometimes you may want to intentionally create such an effect, like a person appearing to be the same height as the Eiffel Tower. This is called altered or distorted size perspective. As my wife and I drove along a road in the village of St. Julien in Bordeaux, France, we spotted a two-story cement wine bottle in the distance. Because we had a wine bottle uncorker in our traveling bag, we decided it would make for a humorous photo if one of us appeared to be opening the giant bottle with our tiny uncorker. We walked forward and backward several times until we got the relative size just right, and had our funny photo.

3 Tips:
1) Where you position your foreground and background subjects will determine their size in your photo relative to one another.
2) This effect, called distorted size perspective, is most often seen in travel photos, but can be used for almost any picture.
3) This technique can also create humorous pictures, such as a fellow traveler towering over a famous landmark.