Today's Awesome Guest Blogger: Rob Dweck


I met Rob at the California Photo Fest. He's an amazing photographer and a sensitive and warm person.

Hey, if you want to attending the California Photo Fest, you can save $60 off the Gold Week Pass ($499) by using this code: Podcast2013.

Take it away Rob.

If you’re at all like me, you want to create photographs that are memorable, evocative and move the viewer in some way. Below are five things you can do when shooting that will get you closer to this goal.

Find contrasting elements
I’m not talking about the contrast slider in your favorite editing program. I’m referring to literal and figurative contrasts in everyday subjects. This image is full of contrasts between the 3 main elements of rock, water and sky: Warm vs. cool tones, still rock vs. moving water, bright vs. dark, dry vs. wet, hard vs. soft, rough vs. smooth.

Look at some of your favorite photographs and notice how the contrast creates more visual interest. Look for contrast in shapes, expressions, textures, lighting, sizes and colors. A single object by itself may not seem interesting, but when photographed with contrasting objects it can make a fascinating image.


Remove distractions
Ever look at a picture that has so much going on that you don’t know where to look? It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to include everything in the frame, especially when shooting wide. Go ahead and take the wide shot, then get closer to your subject, and then closer again. As you get closer, there will be fewer elements in the frame to compete for the viewers attention.

Before you click the shutter, check the edges of the frame for anything that might be a distraction. Stray objects at the edge of the photograph can easily take the viewers eye out of the frame. Remember, what you leave out of the frame is as important as what you include in the frame. In the photograph above, even color was a distraction, so I removed it by converting the image to black & white.


Take control of your camera
If you spend time finding a great subject, carefully composing your shot and removing all of the distractions, then why not take the time to adjust your camera settings to get the result you want? Any time you shoot with the camera on “auto,” you’re letting the camera make decisions that are best made by you. If I had shot this with any of the automatic modes, I would not have gotten the light trails from the cars in front of the buildings.

By shooting in Manual mode, you choose the settings that determine how the camera records what’s in the viewfinder so you can get the result you want. Of course this requires a basic understanding of exposure, which will become an even better understanding as you continue to experiment and shoot in manual. This applies to any other camera settings that can be specified by the user such as white balance.

Of course there are exceptions to this….


Do what you have to do to get the shot
I’m not suggesting that you risk your life, trespass, or engage in other irresponsible or dangerous acts. I’m talking about being flexible and adapting to the situation and conditions.

The image of the two lions above would not have been possible had I not been willing to adapt my shooting style to the circumstances.  I almost always shoot in manual mode, but when photographing wildlife, the slightest delay or hesitation can mean that you miss the shot. Fumbling with dials in manual wasn’t an option if I wanted to be ready when the male lion approached the female. This meant shooting in aperture priority mode so I could set the aperture in advance and let the camera decide the shutter speed. Sometimes you need to let go of your inner control freak and let the camera do some of the work.

It also means that sometimes you have to get a little (or a lot) wet, go out in the freezing cold, the searing heat or contend with bloodthirsty mosquitoes. These temporary discomforts, while unpleasant at the time, are a small inconvenience when you bring home a great shot.


Forget the rules and follow your intuition
One of the first things you might notice in the photograph above is that I made the subject very small in the frame and didn’t conform to the usual rules of composition. This was a no brainer. The drama is in the sky, not in the tree. If I had zoomed in on the tree or placed it according to the rule of thirds, it would be a completely different and less compelling photograph.

Rules can offer much needed guidance sometimes, but can also constrict your creativity. Go ahead and break a few of them, or all of them, and see how it impacts your photography.

Most importantly, figure out what works best for you and wherever, whatever and however you shoot, have fun!

Many thanks to Rick for having me on the blog once again! You can see more of my work and contact me at:


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