Friday, November 23, 2012

How to Take Great Silhouettes

Sometimes it's better not to know. Who's in the picture that is.

A reporter at our publication many years ago was looking for a way to add some graphic interest to a story on drug abuse. Keep in mind this was back in the cut-and-paste days, well before online images were available for editorial content. There were some terrific portfolios of clipart,  but if you needed something with a little more impact, more personal, you wanted a photograph.

And if you wanted a photograph, you took it.

This was a small community; the idea of finding someone willing to have their picture taken to accompany this type of story was unlikely.  So well acquainted was everyone with everyone else, that the potential was even good for someone to be recognized in disguise or shot from behind.

It's not as if willing volunteers were going to line up either.  People indulging in this particular social issue definitely preferred anonymity.  Those not into that type of thing certainly didn't want to appear otherwise. 

The solution this reporter came up with was a moody silhouetted shot of her husband, which she fortunately had the skill to achieve.  Had the task fallen to me, we'd have still been looking for options. Any silhouettes I'd ever taken had been purely accidental and generally were not the look I'd been going for.

Like any other type of photography there's a knack to getting a perfect silhouette shot. Here are some sites I uncovered with tips on how to do it right and others showing you some beautiful examples:

DPS Photograhing Silhouettes in 8 Easy Steps

DPS Silhouette Photography Technique

 PictureCorrect Silhouette Photography

Smashing Magazing Examples of Silhouette Photography Silhouette Photo Collection

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Entertaining Clipart

They have the ability to move us, transform us, to take us away from reality into places of magic and beauty. They make us laugh, cry, listen, learn and tap our toes. They are the folks who entertain us.

My house has always been an 'entertaining' place.  Music played a big part of my life and the tradition continued with my children.  Piano lessons were de rigueur for all of our kids, until they found their preferred choices in school ensembles — clarinet, flute, trumpet and of course their own wonderful instrument — their voice. 

Our younger daughter channelled her inner — and outer — drama queen in secondary school musical productions, as well as taking a variety of dance and vocal classes as a child. Our youngest studied jazz guitar at college and not surprisingly has become one of our favourite performers to go hear.

Entertainment is an integral part of life, giving us culture and amusement, though genres and forms vary greatly. Some may choose slapstick over sophisticated.  Some like blues; others prefer opera. Some like to sit through a play or watch ballet; others prefer kicking up their heels to country. Or shake their booty to a salsa beat.  Some blow off steam listening to great electric guitar, while others prefer Yanni.

No matter the choice,  if it makes you feel good, it's good.  Hope you find this clipart salute to the arts and culture entertaining too:

Clipart Guide Illustrations of Entertainers Entertainers Clipart

Acclaim Images Entertainer Clipart

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Images of Family

Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow. ~Edward Sandford Martin

I love that quote. While Thanksgiving is set aside as a day to offer gratitude for our good fortune, acknowledgement, particularly for those of us lucky enough to live in freedom and bounty, should come each and every day. It's a practice to which I've tried to adhere, willing my mind to heed my grateful heart and daily take stock of the blessings of my life. Always the first to top my list is family. Except ironically during our annual Thanksgiving dinner announcement of what we're grateful for, as my kids have told me I can't keep saying the same one all the time.

Decades ago, family generally followed the nuclear format of mother, father, and children. The 21st-century family, however, comes in many shapes and forms. Today's can have same-sex parents or single parents. They may have one child, two children or opt for no children.

So too, are there those in this often turbulent society who have lost loved ones or have shunned or been shunned and thus step outside the traditional bond to find the connection that gives them the feeling of unity others find with blood relatives. For them adopted kin or a strong circle of friends may give meaning to the word family.

While blood still tends to be stronger than water, family is ultimately about the strength and comfort it gives you than the shape it takes. Actor David Ogden Stiers once said, "Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.

So we take this opportunity to salute family in all its forms with these charming photos: Family Photo Collection

AntsMagazine Family Photographs

Acclaim Images Family Photos

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Black and White Photography

Once upon a time it was the only option. The images people captured on film were colourless copies of the real world and the folks in it.

The sepia-toned portraits of early ancestors in tune with the romance of history perhaps held a certain attraction. But, the  black- and-white photo stories of my parents' coming of age surely seemed stark after everyone began shooting with colour film.  Imagine the excitement of being able to take a picture that actually showed the roses in a child's cheek. The idea that people would ever want to go back would have seemed ludicrous then.

However, as we all discover in this life, things do like to come full circle. Today there is a shift back to the old as people are  taking those realistic colour images with digital cameras, then with the help of technology transforming them to dramatic black and whites.  How to get shots with the kind of striking elements needed for beautiful black-and-white photography is explained very well in this article by Scott Bourne in photofocus:

photofocus Black and White Photograhy Tips 

And now that you've learned how, here are some inspiring examples for your viewing pleasure:

Smashing Magazine Beautiful Black and White Photography

phototuts Awe-Inspiring Black and White Photographs Black and White Photo Collection

National Geographic Black and White Photos

Monday, November 19, 2012

We Love Santa Claus

I have a crush on this fellow.  His appeal is unique, he's not typically the kind of guy who inspires infatuation. But there's something in his spirit, in the twinkle of his eye, his generosity, the mystery that surrounds him,  the way he is with children, that I find irresistible.  I flat out love Santa Claus.

Let's face it,  he's held my attention longer than any other man. For me, like most children, the initial introduction didn't go particularly well, but in time I grew to see the kindness shining through that hirsute visage.  And while cynics might believe he won me over with gifts,  I can only say that when I no longer made his list my feelings for him didn't change.  As a parent, now a grandparent, I could never imagine a Christmas without him.

The thing is, while good old Saint Nick may not be the 'reason for the season', there is no doubt in my mind that he too exemplifies a lot of what's right about it.  He gives without getting back (well with the exception of some milk and cookies to help him on his way), he's always ready with a smile,  and most of all he reminds us to keep believing in the magic.

So as he will soon be making his appearance, here are some great Santa collections to get you in the spirit: Santa Illustrations Santa Photos

Acclaim Images Santa Claus Clipart and Photos

ToonClipart Santa Cartoons

ClipartGuide Santa Illustrations