Can You Shoot Thirteen Views?


I was reading a book recently called “Beyond the Obvious” by Phil McKinney (great book by the way) that challenges people to think about concepts and questions, and then encourages people to look beyond the knee-jerk reactions and responses.  This same mentality exists in the world of photography.  We see a scene, a portrait, or something that catches our eye and our instinct is to capture that “something”.

McKinney illustrates his point in asking the reader to answer the question:

“What is half of 13?”

He then goes on to show that there are many responses to this. The canned answer is always 6.5, and that’s what came to my mind too.  But in going “beyond the obvious”, he shows that if you think about it from the perspective of say, a deck of cards, and 13 cards in a suit.  Since the ten, jack, queen and king all are values of 10, then really, half of thirteen in that scenario is 5.5, not 6.5.  You could also say that half of thirteen is really “thir” with “teen” being the second half!  By illustrating that you can divide either numerically or semantically, entirely different perspectives, thoughts, and answers can be right at the same time!  Once I got on the mental plane of looking at things differently, my own result was that half of 13 could also be 1 or 3 – applying the semantic concept to the number…

That is such a great concept, and one I’ve always tried to help people understand here in many different ways.  The “half of thirteen” way is probably one one the most succinct I’ve ever seen though.  Let’s take that concept now and apply it to photography.  Go get your camera!  Right now…seriously!  Go get your camera, and pick some random object in your room, office, or where ever you happen do be.  I don’t care if it’s your SLR, P&S, or camera phone.

Now what?  Take 13 pictures of that object.  Make each one different!  Change the angle, change the light, change the object itself.  It doesn’t matter what you do, just do 13 different things.  I can guarantee you that at least one of those photos will be something new, unique, and even compelling.  Now, take the most compelling one, and post it here.


To get you started on the right mentality, if you’re not already, here’s my own set of thirteen:

The shots above come from the “Wreck of the Peter Iredale” – on the coast of Astoria, Oregon.  Now, granted, the setting sun, and the unique nature of the composition made my 13 shots a little easier, but there’s now reason you can’t do the same.  Take a speaker and shoot it from as many angles as you can.  Run out of angles?  Try a different tack and change the lighting!  What happens if you pop an on-camera flash?  Try throwing your hand up to act as a barn door of sorts.  There’s no end to potential…it just takes thinking outside the box!

Photographing Architecture Painlessly

Joe Farace Blogs

Joe Farace Blogs

Guest Post by Joe Farace

One of the best things about photographing architecture is that your subject doesn’t move around but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be moving around to find the best possible angle. In fact, there are only two main considerations when photographing any kind of a building: The time of day and the camera placement. I think it was Ansel Adams who once said :the difference between a good picture and a bad one is knowing where to place the camera.” Sometimes you don’t have a chance to scout a building before photographing it but if you do it will be obvious that either shooting in the morning or afternoon will produce the best results.

Tip #1: To produce the minimum amount of noise in an image, I prefer to use relatively low ISO settings to minimize noise. To me that means using the lowest “standard” setting your digital SLR is capable of producing for the given lighting conditions. That does not include any expanded or extended settings that are possible to using the camera’s custom function, which can in many instances increase noise. For night architecture shooting increased shutter speeds increase noise, so it becomes a balancing act between ISO and shutter speed. You find the perfect intersection of the two by shooting some tests before shooting it “for real”.

Tip #2: Try to keep the buildings’ lines as straight as possible. I divide my time shooting architecture equally between hand holding and tripod mounted exposures but when tripod-mounted I find a double level bubble accessory, one for horizontal alignment and another for vertical, slipped onto the camera’s hot shoe make its easy to keep all my lines straight.

Tip #3: Try to avoid Keystoning. If you’re photographing a tall (more than three stories high) building, don’t shoot too near its base. This will make the base of the building look too large compared to the top. Find a higher advantage point and if possible bring your own ladder to make your picture. But I realize that it’s not always possible. You can correct it in Photoshop using Edit > Transform > Perspective and that can save some images but it’s no substitute for a PC (Perspective Control) or TS (Tilt-Shift) lens.

Tip #4: Apply standard compositional rules. The ubiquitous Rule of Thirds states that an image can be divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. Aligning elements in a photograph with these four points creates more than simply centering that element. I treat these kinds of “rules” as suggestions so let your eye be the final judge of what looks best.

Tip #5: Ignore some rules. The human eye sees parts of a photograph in the following order: sharpness, brightness, and warmth. The first thing the eye notices is the sharpest part of the photograph, next it gravitates to the brightest part of the image, then finally to the warmest. By placing your subject in accordance with these rules you get to control how people look at your photographs.

Some people call placing the subject of your photograph in dead center the “bull’s eye” syndrome and in many cases applying the rule of thirds to your photograph will produce a better looking photograph than might otherwise be the case but I didn’t think that rule is cast in concrete and other rules that govern how the human eye looks at elements within a photograph bear equal weight.

Visit Joe Farace at his blog “Saving the World, One Pixel at a Time“ (


Three Posing Tips, Part 3

It's All In the Eyes - 1

Previously, on the blog, I had brought up a couple posing tips.  In Part One and Two, we talked about two ways to get better portraits.  The first was to turn the shoulders, bringing a slimmer appearance to your subject.  The second was to try dramatic lighting styles, and we specifically looked at the Rembrandt style of lighting your subjects.  The final installment was supposed to be run later that week, but apparently the scheduling got all out of whack, so this never ran.  I’d recommend taking a broswe through the archies, and when done, enjoy this final installment for how to take better portraits through posing, we’ll consider the element of focusing (if you’ll pardon the pun) on the eyes!

They say that the eyes are the window to the soul, and from an emotional perspective that may be true.  From a photographic perspective though, the eyes are always the key to a photograph.  If you are shooting portraiture, yes, the posing and lighting matter, but even with the perfect post, and the perfect light, if the eyes are are out focus, or the person is not really engaged with the photographer, the result is a flat or blurry shot that the viewer just will not identify with.  The eyes can be sparkling with laughter, a mischevious grin, or a smouldering seriousness that indicates something deeper to be found within.  Without some emotion in the eyes, then the photographs’ chances of success will be more limited.  Here’s a few examples of what I am talking about:

It's All In the Eyes - 1


It's All In the Eyes - 2

It's All In the Eyes - 3

It's All In the Eyes - 4

There’s lots of moods to a persons’ eyes, and each person has their own unique moods.  In taking portraits, the job of the photographer is to be able to both put your subject at ease, while also trying to find “the essence” of what that person is about on some level that can bring emotion to the image.  Without emotion in your images though, the result can be flat…

That likely only raises more questions – how to bring out emotion in a person with a short window of time, how to find “the essence”, and get people to open up.  For so many of us, that is hard to do, and that is part of what makes portrait photography such a challenge!  Hopefully these tips can get you started, but in coming up with emotional images that draw the viewer in, you have to find a vision of your own and speak with that voice to bring out emotion from your models, and then to share with the world that vision.  Have you shared your vision lately?