Project 52/Framed: Creative complexity – layering

And it’s week 4 of our month of creative complexity at Who We Become. This week’s topic, layering, has intimidated me all month long. Layering as we define it here involves having a well-defined foreground, middle ground, and background in the photo. The concepts we explored in the first three weeks — depth of field, filling the frame, and subject separation, all come in to play in various degrees. Having my husband’s extended family together for a reunion at his mom’s riverside home gave me an opportunity to snap lots of busy scenes and hope that one would come together in the right way. Here are the two best results:





PUSH creative challenge: Backlighting

After falling off the PUSH wagon for a few months, I’m back on track…at least for now. We are following the Clickinmoms monthly creative challenges. This month’s topic is backlight. I played with the setting sun and trees in two different locations in the last couple of weeks.

My parents’ backyard:


Push-July 2014

Push-July 2014-2

Atlantic Highlands harbor, NJ

Push-July 2014-3

Push-July 2014-4

You may have arrived here from Lisa’s blog. Click on to Michele’s site to see her creative take on backlighting.

Project 52/Framed: Creative Use of Tone

In the first three weeks of this month, the Project 52/Framed group took a disciplined approach to tone in composition. We explored the effects of enforcing consistency of tone in our backgrounds and often even our subjects:first bright/high tones, then low/dark tones, then a middle level. The resulting mosaics of our collected photos at were remarkable for their cohesiveness and harmony. This week, expect some more variety as we each explore mixing tones in creative ways. Some of us will reintroduce dramatic contrasts to our compositions by combining different tones. Some may toy with the expected mood conveyed by tone, for example with a serious expression from a subject in a light, airy high-key photo. Others will play with tone in post-processing,perhaps with split toning of black and white photos, a technique that goes back to the days of the darkroom.  The “split” part of the technique introduces a color cast that can be isolated to highlights without affecting the mid-tones or shadows, or vice versa. In this scene from Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, CA, on an overcast day, the original lighting was fairly flat. Adding blue to the highlights and brown to the shadows created a sense of depth and richness.


Project 52/Framed: Mid key

This week we continue to experiment with tone and mood in our compositions. While high key images are created with bright light tones and low key photographs rely on shadowy dark tones, mid key images are created by isolating the mid-level tones. It may be subtle and pleasing rather than dramatic and often appears better in color than a monochromatic scheme. Colors can be complimentary and yet the same key, so although in black and white everything would blend, in color it works. In this photo, the brighter colors of my daughter’s clothing help bring the focus to her.

See the whole collection at Who We Become.


Project 52/Framed: Traditional contrast

In the last two weeks of Who We Become, we looked for patterns: repeated similar elements in our compositions. For the rest of March, we shift our focus to contrast. A broad definition of contrast in art is the juxtaposition of opposite elements. Contrast between adjacent elements intensifies the properties of each and adds dynamism or drama to a work of art. The most well-known application of contrast in photography is the degree of difference between dark and light elements. This week, our photographs employ contrast in this traditional sense as the foundation of our compositions.

In this photo of my husband and daughter birdwatching at Huber Woods Environmental Center, the contrast between the bright outdoors and dim indoor space throws my subjects into partial silhouette.

Click here to see the Who We Become group mosaic.


Project 52/Framed: Aspect ratio

This week on Who We Become we are looking at alternate aspect ratios and how they can impact the image. The aspect ratio of an image is the relationship between its height and width – effectively defining how square or rectangular the image is. Most DSLR cameras use an aspect ratio of 3:2. By changing the aspect ratio we can use the height and width of the image to strengthen the composition, play with the perspective or create a more balanced image. This week are using aspect ratios that are more commonly found on medium and large format cameras, for example 5:4, 7:6, 16:9.

In this image, I found that cropping to 5:4 gave me some extra width to have balanced space to the sides of each of the groups of birds, while not leaving too much empty space above and below.


PUSH creative challenge: Reflection

The PUSH blog circle is forging ahead for 2014! This year, we will be following’s monthly creative challenge. Our theme for January is reflections, and these cooperative birds at the harbor in Atlantic Highlands, NJ helped me out.

You may have arrived here from Catherine’s blog. Next up in the PUSH circle we welcome a new member, Michele.

Push - reflection

Push - reflection-2

Project 52/Framed: Geometry in the environment

This week’s composition exercise was to look for repeating shapes in the environment.

Kiteboarders at Spermaceti Cove, Sandy Hook National Seashore, New Jersey. To see this shot together with my friends’ takes on the assignment, link to our new blog at


And a few others from the same afternoon with repeating shapes




And this one was just cool.


Project 52/Playing with Light: Day Light

The second installment of our time-of-day theme is day light. Meaning midday, the kind of harsh, unflattering light that normally makes photographers run for the nearest open shade. With the challenge of shooting in full sun in mind, I headed for a late-morning solo walk on the beach one day on our Panama trip, while the more sensible members of my family stayed out of the sun.

Far down the beach, I crossed paths with a group of locals out for some fun on Easter Saturday.

Playa Blanca kids

What was so interesting down by the water? A lovely creature like this. That they were kicking around like a soccer ball.

Panama jellyfish

Please continue around the circle to the blog of my friend Erica Collins, who photographs truly lovely creatures — her five beautiful children.