Shooting with the Dynamic Monochromatic Filter

I love walking through the woods near my house. Yesterday was sunny and warm so I decided to see if I could find something to take pictures of using the Dynamic Chromatic filter on my point and shoot camera.

Texture

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Texture can be an interesting subject to focus on. Remember those baby books that have the different textures you can touch that are soft, rough, smooth, bumpy, cracked, etc? You can find an endless variety of textures in the woods. I really like the different types of bark and weird knobs and growths that show up on trees. Regardless of the environment you’re shooting in, see how you can get creative with texture.

Light

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Since photography is drawing with light it’s very important to pay careful attention to your lighting. Spend time getting to know light. Learn about color temperature and pay attention to where the sun is and what kind of photos you can get at different times of the day. You might also enjoy reading books for inspiration and a deeper understanding. Start with Science for the Curious Photographer.

Aperture

One thing I like to play around with is my depth of field. If you’re new to photography you should definitely get familiar with aperture. It controls blurriness and the amount of light that enters your camera.

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I had fun shooting with the Dynamic Chromatic filter. I hope you get out there and experiment with your filters and with texture, light, and aperture. Have fun shooting.

 

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A Parked Car – In Color and B&W

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This is my parked car. It’s been parked since 2011. Maybe it can get back on the road soon. I liked how the sun was shining on the seat and the steering wheel. I also liked how the trees were reflecting in the window.

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A Basic Lesson on Value – Drawing a Dog with Graphite Pencils

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This Picture broke my first digital camera that I got when I turned 15.

Shadows, midtones, and highlights which are caused by our trusty light source the Sun, make all the awesome stuff we see everyday visible. To create a believable and interesting 3D image on a 2D surface you must become BFF’s with these three things that make up the design element: Value or Tone.

As an 18-21 year old student in my early art classes I really struggled to comfortably discern between the three and determine what I needed to adjust to make everything look right.

What Exactly Are Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights?

Basically, Highlights are the really bright spots that get the most direct amount of light. The Shadows are the dark spots created by something that is blocking the light. The Midtones are everything in between the two extremes.

After I got my initial sketch of Dynamite down with correct proportions it was time to focus on building the variety of tones that will form the dog.

  1. I like to start with my darkest darks and my lightest lights. I mark where the white parts and the bright highlights are so that I make sure to keep them clean. It’s a lot harder to remove than to add. And I like adding the darks early on because they help me to adjust and refine placement and they’ll eventually disappear a little bit as the drawing develops. They’re also really easy to see.
  2. After filling in the darks and lights, I start filling in the midtones almost everywhere, following the shapes of the muscles and folds in her coat. I also add a light layer of pencil in the background so that Dynamite has a place to live in.
  3. The last step is to continue adding the variety of values (tones) until the drawing can be called finished. After drawing for a while, I noticed that her belly and her back leg area needed to be moved down some. Both were easy fixes.
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3.

Practice working gradually in a balanced pattern throughout the image being careful not to focus on just one part of the image for too long. If you do work on one single detail you run the risk of making irreversible mistakes.

So that’s Value in a nutshell.

I’ve noticed that at first, the people I’ve taught art to really struggle to discern Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights . . .  and it’s easy to get a little discouraged. Just Remember it will eventually become second nature. I can barely remember a time when my brain didn’t notice these three and all the other elements of design. If you diligently practice seeing these details you’ll get to the point where you can’t NOT see them.

Guy From Burn Notice who sees patterns

The guy in the middle

I always think of that crazy guy from Burn Notice in S3 E5 who said,  “Once you see a pattern, you can’t un-see it.” That’s what we’re going for, minus the crazy part. Then again, if crazy works for you . . .

Quick Tip Before you Go:

When you’re working with graphite, you can cover the entire page with a graphite powder if you like to speed up the process. It’s such a light layer of graphite, that you’ll be able to draw in details with your graphite pencils and your kneaded eraser. Read the label carefully! It’s pretty dangerous stuff to breathe in.