Tag Archives: photography techniques

Taking Pictures: SOL23 Day 9

In addition to having students observe, sketch, and write under the influence of nature outdoors, I also like to have them use their iPads to take photos. I’ve learned over the years that most students take better photos if I take the time to teach them some photography techniques. So earlier this week I taught my students three photography techniques: bird’s eye view (shooting from above, looking down), bug’s eye view (getting low to achieve a low perspective, sometimes looking up), and using the rule of thirds where they use the grid feature on their camera to frame their subject thoughtfully off the center.

Once I showed them photos of the three techniques and we noticed how the photographer used their camera, we headed outside to try these techniques. The only rule: no photos of people. We were short on time (this has been quite the week), so I asked students to take 2 photos using each technique. We spent about 7 minutes outside taking photos–with me taking photos too. What I love best is that they were actively engaged in trying out the techniques. I had kids laying on their back shooting the underside of plants, kids holding their iPads up high to get that bird’s eye view, and careful framing using the grid lines.

After our reading groups and lunch we came back and took a look at the photos we captured. Each student examined their photos, remembering which technique they used for each photo. I had them pick a favorite and tell us what technique they used and why it was a favorite. Some of the images were stunning! Some were ordinary. But all students felt success–and came up with photos that were intentionally framed and for the most part, did not include their classmates. Here’s the one that resulted from the image I captured above (Thanks L!). Can you guess which technique was used?

Tomorrow we will go on a photography scavenger hunt to give students a chance to put these new skills to use. Wish me luck as we head out to explore and photograph our school campus!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Leading Lines

Lines can mean linear–straight lines from here to there and in my life I can be resistant to those neat and tidy pathways.  But in photography, sometimes the lines can create interest in an image.  I started to look at photos taken this week and noticed a number that highlight the photography technique of leading lines.


Here’s a pretty traditional leading line I noticed in downtown Seattle where the arch and the sidewalk lead your eye down the street…but what I was seeing in the distance was this:


and I’m not so sure that it qualifies as a photo with a leading line.  (It is a fun neon sign!  Can you imagine a hotel room for 75 cents?!)

As we were looking for the light rail, I caught sight of the train coming along the tracks below.  The lines converge and diverge, with the train following a clear line.


I started to notice some lines in nature too.  In Seattle these purple flowers are in bloom everywhere.  They are made up of tiny blooms and dangle from the branches of bushes (or are they trees?).  I’d love to know the name of these beauties.


I chased down this swallowtail as it flitted from bloom to bloom while I walked around the hotel grounds where our resource development retreat was held.  Sometimes you just need to get outside to clear your head and take a mental break!  It seems that the butterfly creates its own line in the photo.


I liked the way the window created some interesting lines in this image from the restaurant window where we enjoyed some clam chowder and musical entertainment…you can catch a glimpse of the Pike Place Market outside the window.


And the sign itself–which does not include a vertical line, uses horizontal lines to draw your eye across the words.


And today, as we drove from Seattle toward Tacoma and beyond, we crossed this lovely big bridge.  Through the passenger window of the car, I was able to capture this view.  I love the clouds in the distance…with just a tiny hint of blue toward the top.  After leaving a heat wave in southern CA, this weather is almost winter-like with temps in the low 60’s and occasional rainfall.


So, try your hand at leading lines in your photos this week.  What lines will you find?  Will you capture a traditional vertical line or will you find some other variation?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #leadinglines for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

So follow some lines and see where they take you!  I can’t wait to see what you find.

Love to Play: February’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

Since making play my word for the year, I find myself looking for opportunities to incorporate more play in the ordinariness of my everyday life.  How can I be more playful on my commute to work?  How can vacuuming and doing the dishes be more like play?  How can grant writing and lesson planning play with ideas I’ve always wanted to try?

So, playing around with the theme of love in honor of Valentine’s Day, (right smack in the middle of February), let’s put some love into playing with some photography techniques!  (Thanks, Janis, for the suggestion!)

So for February’s #sdawpphotovoices photo-a-day challenge, we’ll focus on a different aspect of photography each week.

After you shoot, post a photo each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twitter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts.  If you are game for some more playfulness, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, make a video or slideshow or try a learning walk!  (More about learning walks here and here) You are invited to create a pingback by linking to this url or post your blog address in the comment section.  It’s fun for me to see what others are doing with the same prompts I am using!

Week 1:  Playing with Composition

1. Simplify the scene—move in closer to remove distracting details

2.  Rule of thirds (or simply avoid the middle)–what happens when you frame your subject off center?

3.  Use leading lines—frame your shot by letting the natural lines (fences, roads, walls…) direct the viewer’s eye

4.  Use diagonals—shift the angle, tilt your camera…

5.  Check your background—what’s behind your subject? Experiment with finding a background that works with your subject

6.  Fill the frame—zoom in or step closer to fill the frame with your subject

7.  Break the rules—experiment with your own compositional style

Leading lines

Leading lines

Week 2:  Playing with Light

8.  Shoot into the light to create a silhouette

9.  Capture a shadow

10. Find the light in a dark setting

11.  Make light the centerpiece of the photo

12.  Experiment with light and dark in one photo

13.  Include a reflection (water is useful here!)

14.  Try something new with light (either natural light or some other light source)



Week 3:  Playing with Perspective

15.  Get low

16.  Shoot from above

17.  Create an optical illusion

18.  Play with negative space

19.  Get close

20.  Try a wide angle effect

21.  What other perspective have you tried?

Looking Up

Looking Up

Week 4:  Playing with Genre

22.  Architecture

23.  Black and White

24.  Children

25.  Landscape

26.  Macro

27.  Nature

28.  Street photography



Our goal is to play, share with each other, and learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot.  Each week includes seven suggestions for exploring the technique.  You are welcome to follow them in order, mix them up, or exchange them for a technique you want to try on.  You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life.  Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!