Xiomáro MNHP Workshop Video 3

Morristown National Historical Park

Open Transcript


Hi I'm Xiomáro. For today's video I’m going to cover three more tips on how to see like an artist that I think will help you with your photography. Whether you're shooting with a cell phone or DSLR or point and shoot, really any kind of camera, because it's really not about the camera. It's really about how you see, just like with an artist. It's really not, not about the artist's paints or their brushes. If it's a writer, it's not about what word processing program he or she uses, it's really about the mind so that's what we're going to cover today. Now you might be joining for the first time so if so there are two prior videos that also cover some other tips that you should check out. And I guess you should know that my name is Xiomáro. I'm a nationally exhibited artist. I’m a published author and teacher and I’m also the Virtual Artist in Residence at Morristown National Historical Park. It's virtual because I usually present these programs in a public setting but due to the pandemic we're broadcasting them via video to keep it nice and safe for everybody. I’m actually at Morristown National Historical Park right now in an area known as Jockey Hollow and, if you don't know, Jockey Hollow is actually the site where George Washington’s troops were encamped during one of the very bitter winters of the Revolutionary War. I photographed some of the key features of Jockey Hollow pursuant to a commission from the National Park Service and some of those photos are actually on display as part of an exhibit at the Jockey Hollow Visitor Center. That exhibit is from June 6 to July 31st and so I hope you'll check it out. You'll see the pictures are mounted on the windows facing outwards so it's nice and safe for people to view them from outdoors. So do check that out check out. The other videos that I mentioned there's also another video that will be coming out that presents an overview of my fine art photography not just with Morristown National Historical Park but also with many other parks so keep an eye out for that. But for today's video I want to get to these three tips. I think they'll really help you out a lot. Uh, to do that we're going to cut away to my photography studio. We're going to get behind my computer and this way I can show you some some images on the screen to demonstrate the principles that I’ll be covering. So let's head on over there. A very popular subject in photography that you'll see online and elsewhere are images of sunsets and also flowers. And I guess it's no surprise because these are subjects that are inherently colorful and we're drawn to color. We love that but sometimes, sometimes we don't see as much color as we would like, you know? We might be in a in an area that's or like a landscape area or in a place where the color is kind of drab looking and just uninteresting and so then we don't take any photographs but that's why tip number one is going to be to look for color. Not just be aware of color, but to actively seek it out. And look for it because it's there, but sometimes it just requires a little work on our part to, you know, to find it a perfect example is when I did the photography at Jockey Hollow. At the time of year that I was photographing it was pretty monochromatic, you know. There were a lot of browns, a lot of earth tones, even on this particular day when I took this photograph I kind of lucked out in the sense it was very, very clear day so we had at least a nice blue sky with some puffy white crowds clouds. But there were days when I was out something of color I did notice that, uh, on the wood of the cabins that there are patches like what you see here in this image where it's kind of uh it's a brown, but there's a richness to it there's some there's some reds in it it partially had to do with the time of day we were approaching what we sometimes call the golden hour, which is when the sun is starting to set and you're starting to get kind of a warm glow. You'll see that oftentimes in photographs of models in the beach for instance because it's very it's a very flattering color. I guess is what I’m looking for. So what it did was it kind of brought out some of the browns and the reds and and some of these colors in the wood and so that made for a good image and it wasn't everywhere in the cabin, but it was in this area and I kind of decided to do a close-up because I also like the shape of the, um, of the logs or protruding outwards. So sometimes you have to really look hard for it you wouldn't think of seeing oranges and reds and warm colors like that in a cabin or in a hut as they called it but it's there if you seek it out. And that can make for an interesting image. In fact, I kind of like the fact that it's very colorful on this side here on the left and then you kind of get the driver color here off to the right. Here's an example too with the Wick House. I think I’ve shown this in a previous video. The Wick House is, does have some color to it. You can see it here in the shutters. The reds there, even the door has a little bit of color to it, and again fortunately, it was a very nice cheery sunshiny day, as I talked about the previous video, or we had some blue, but again, if you kind of hunt around you can create these contrasts or these juxtapositions where the color really starts to pop and makes more of a statement. So here's an example by zeroing in on a corner of the shutter we have a bolder looking photograph because we have this driver color off to the left and even down the bottom, but then you have this nice rich red set off against this black bracket over here. So you kind of have to look for it but then by looking for it and limiting yourself you can create a more interesting picture. Because you can still have a photo like this of the entire house to represent it but then you can zero in on a detail and have that color you know really speak volumes this is a photograph that I took at Jockey Hollow in the Visitor Center, which is currently closed, but eventually when it reopens you can go back in there and you'll see that there is a display in the Visitor Center that shows you what the inside of these soldiers huts you know would have looked like back in their time so they have, um, you know different clothing and different implements kind of laid out inside and quite frankly it's pretty drab. Also, it's, it's kind of all monochromatic. Tends to be a lot of browns and and colors of that nature but I did notice that there was this jacket--kind of like what you've seen me wear--with that nice bold red again it's that red color and I did advise in a previous video about zooming with your feet to get close this was a situation where I could not do that because it's a display and there's a barrier to getting any closer. So in this instance I did zoom in with my lens and again by zooming in I was able to draw attention to that nice rich red band which really stands out in contrast to the navy blue on the left and also kind of the warmer orange palette kind of the earth tone to kind of surround it. So again, you kind of have to hunt for it but by looking for color what happens is you make color sort of the star of the show of your photograph. Outdoors I had a similar situation. Lots of this is one of the trails within Jockey Hollow. There are many of them and they're very nice to walk through and so there were a lot of greens, uh, and some colors like this here which is again, you know, more of a brown earthy tone. So sometimes it could be a little bit of a challenge to photograph something that's a little bolder but, you might recall from my previous video I talked about the element of light, right? So if you're aware of light that can also bring you into the element of color because again all these elements, uh, line light. And we were talking about color now they're all ultimately interrelated. So I found this, uh, image here or this the scene where there was a nice bright backlighting going on and it kind of highlighted more the yellows and the lime greens and those colors against the warmer earth tones of the of the tree, you know, really created a nice contrast. You'll notice too many times in these pictures that what's happening is I’m also zeroing in or taking close-ups. And that's a another thing I want to point out--many people when they take photographs there is a tendency to be far away from the subject and there's a um I guess kind of a saying within the photography world to get closer or you're not being close enough. And being closer can create a very different image even if you're photographing a friend of yours. Let's say you might photograph them, um, you know full body, but consider getting closer, you know, really getting tight on the face. That can make a much more interesting photograph where, uh, more of their character is being revealed. And likewise here more of the character of the, um, of this, uh, tree here this kind of rotted tree more of the character I think is being revealed here in this close-up shot. Another thing to consider is to look for mass and space. These are two separate elements, but I like speaking about them as a team or as a group because they're very interrelated and sometimes it can be hard to understand what mass is without understanding what space is and vice versa. So, uh, tips number two and three is to look for mass and space. And the best way to explain it is was with this illustration that I created. If you look at it, ask yourself what you see you might see one particular thing. You might see two things. Some folks will tell me that they see a vase or a cup of some type in the center. If so, that's what you, if that's what jumps out at you, then what that means is that this white area is the mass. Okay, it's the, it's the subject that has the most weight and this darker area here on the side is what's called negative space. On the other hand, if what you see are two faces looking at each other kind of look almost like Alfred Hitchcock then then the black area is actually the mass or the part that has the weight and the white area becomes a negative space kind of like the background. And you might even flip back and forth and see both, which is good but that's an illustration of what mass means in relation to space and vice versa. And by being aware of mass and space you can use that to your advantage too in your, in your photographs. Uh this picture we were just looking at, uh, even though I was focusing on color right, uh, there's also an element of mass and space because the mass here is this, uh, woody area and the negative space would be the background. And what that does is it creates a shape, right? This kind of jagged shape here up and down almost like they're, almost like they're mountains and then you can also see here there's an element of line, right? It's a very vertical shot, uh, line light, right, we have this very light background and this darker foreground that's line light color right? We talked about that already. Mass and space. So that's an example of how all these elements work together to create a composition that maybe you wouldn't have taken otherwise. Same thing here, here this is a wider shot, but this would represent the mass--the part that has the most weight. And this area here, even though it is cluttered with different subjects being the trees, it's really the negative space and that's something else to consider many times when folks are photographing a subject. They'll place this subject dead center and there's nothing wrong with that, but, uh, there is a little bit more interest when the subject is off to the side a little bit. You might have heard in photography what's called the “rule of thirds.” And I don't really like the word “rules.” I think rules are made to be broken sometimes. So I’m going to use a phrase “suggestion of thirds,” but the idea behind it is you divide your, uh, your image into thirds and then what you do is you place your subject, you know, somewhere off to the the final third or maybe between the last two thirds and this is a concept that actually goes back to painting, uh, French impressionism. Uh, we'll often have the subject kind of off to the side and it's not original the French impressionism, impressionism they actually got the idea from Japanese art where the subject is often off to the side. So, those are some great artists to model your photography after. This is another example where the negative space is this area over here and then the subject, which has the most weight, is off to, to the left here. All right, but it just gives you a different, uh, experience of the image than if you had placed it dead center. Sometimes things are appropriate to place dead center and they look best to there but often times it's more interesting this way. What it does, if you might recall from my video about lines about giving you a sense of depth, right, a three-dimensionality to a two-dimensional picture and kind of a path to follow you kind of have that going on here. By having the, um, the cabin off to the left, this kind of becomes your your path kind of going out into the horizon. So, consider that with your images. Consider line light color mass and space because when you put them all together that's what composition is all about. You can focus on one specifically if you want to like line so your image can be mostly about that but most of the time, you're going to see that light color mask and space are involved in there too. Your photo can be also color oriented but again there might be elements of line and light. Or it could be some combination of these things. It's almost like, um, as I mentioned in another video it's kind of like the notes in music, you know? You might have a particular note that is dominant in your theme of the song but that doesn't mean that there's an absence of the other notes as well. So, this is kind of the notes you want to play with and the combination and by playing with these combinations that's how you start coming closer to achieving photographs that are a little bit more creative, kind of different more unique, to the way you're seeing; and therefore, more individual. And that's what separates it from a lot of the images that we see that kind of look the same after a while. And there you go three elements that I think will really help you out with your photography. In fact, I know it will because I actually use these myself. So, for these three it's color you want to think about. Color as an element. And then there's two more but they kind of go together it's mass and space. And if you watch the previous video you'll see that the other elements are line and light. So all together to conclude its line, light, color, mass, and space. And then don't forget from the very first video, you want to be where, uh, you want to be aware of your technique. So you want to make sure your lens is clear, right? That you have a lot of stability either in your positioning or with your tripod. And you check all these videos. You put it together. I think you're going to see that your photos are going to improve pretty dramatically and you'll also have images that are very unique to you because you'll be looking for things that maybe other folks are not looking for. So, that's it. That wraps up this workshop. I hope that next year we can do this again, but do it in a live setting where I can go a little bit more deeper into these things and I can actually take you on a photo walk where we can kind of explore these ideas hands on. But until then check out these videos. I hope you'll share these with your friends, if you're viewing this on a platform that enables you to click a like button or to type in a comment please do that. I’d love to hear from you. And if you haven't done so already please come out to Jockey Hollow Morristown National Historical Park. Do check out the exhibit that I have on display at the Visitor Center, which is there from June 6 to July 31st, 2021. Also, check out my other video. They'll be coming out, if it hasn't already, that presents an overview of all my fine artwork with Morristown as well as other National Parks around the country. And I guess other than that, um, as you may know by now I am Xiomáro and on behalf of Morristown National Historical Park and myself, we invite you to check out the parks website for more information about these programs and also check out my website which is www. that's Xiomáro with an A not an S, X I O M A R O dot com. And there you'll find more information about my work with the parks you can also get a free print from the Morristown collection. I’ll be happy to send you and you can get information about my books. So do check it out. National Parks is one of the greatest resources that America has, and we should take full advantage of them by visiting them. So, there you go until next time I’ll see you around.


Xiomaro, Artist in Residence at Morristown National Historical Park, continues a 3-part workshop series where he offers tips for doing cellphone photography.