Not Your Grandma’s Black & White

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Summer Photography: Beaches & Sunsets

I love teaching this class! Please come join me. . .
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Photography In Motion

My latest class is Photography In Motion. Here is a sample of the type of photographs we will learn to take.

Autumn is Coming!


The colors in Autumn are either amazing or subtle in the Pacific Northwest. After a long hot summer, the weather is turning to rain, cooler temperatures, and the days seem darker. The reds, yellows, and golds are beginning to peek through, and shine on these shortening days.

There are 2 different weather conditions I prefer to shoot fall color in. . .sunny (or partly cloudy) and over-cast. These offer 2 distinct opportunities to record the amazing color of the trees and flowers at this time of the year.

The sunny sky offers bright, vibrant leaf color, and a blue sky to place in the background. It is usually warmer, and more pleasant to be outside photographing nature. I use a polarizing filter to bring out the best color, and minimize the “hot” spots in the photo.

On the other hand, over-cast days offer even light and less contrast. The colors are often muted. The clouds at like a giant diffuser of the sun’s light, and offers a “softer” light on everything. I may or may not use a polarizing filter under these conditions. I do like the way it removes the “white” reflection of the clouds on the colors making them richer in color saturation.

Then, there is the rainy weather. I’ll save that one for another entry. . .

Happy Shooting. . .Karen

Black & White Photography Tips


Black and white photography relies on the tonal quality of the colors in the scene. The way the photographer “sees” the image changes. Without the reliance on color, the photograph relies on whites, blacks, and gray tones.

The human eye sees about 16 million colors. To create a successful black and white photograph, those colors need to be translated into their tonal quality. This is dependent on camera settings, and post production processes.


Traditional black and white was done with black and white film. The process of exposure and film choice dictated the end photograph. Modern digital cameras work differently. The camera’s photo sensor sees light and filters colors. Black and white settings on the camera can produce beautiful photographs, though it will depend on the camera’s programming.

The contrast between light and dark, along with the mid-tones, create the black and white image. The settings for black and white are in picture style, filters, or color (tone) menus of the digital camera. In many cameras, the photographer can set the contrast, brightness, and other settings for the photograph.


The second way to create successful black and white photographs is in the post processing phase of modern photography. There are many different types of photo processing software and photo filters available. The photos in this blog were done in Adobe Photoshop.

Visualize ~ Create ~ Evoke

To learn more, I’ll be teaching Black & White photography on the amazing Oregon coast this June 2018. The Oregon Coast in Black & White, June 18th & 19th, 2018 at the Sitka Center for Arts & Ecology. For more information, click here.

Seeing & Incorporating Patterns into Composition

copyright Karen Ulvestad

Patterns in a composition can take many forms. It adds an interest depth in the photograph, or an element of chaos. Patterns are the repetition of shapes or similar shapes. It works in macro, landscape, and most other types of photographs.

Patterns are naturally occurring in nature, or created by man. Either way, intentional use of patterns creates a greater depth in the photograph. In the image above, the main patterns are created by the clouds in the sky, and the patchy snow on the meadow.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

Patterns take many forms. It is simply the repetition of a shape, color, or color. The above photograph is a common murre colony. The pattern comes from the multitude of birds with their consistent black and white coloring.

Sometime, the goal is to fill the frame with something that creates an interesting scene, and it also includes a pattern. It this case, the common murre offer the visual of a nesting colony and the pattern of their shape / coloring.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

Then, there is the multitude of flower. This pattern of pink is broken up by the strong lines of the tree branches. The subject matter is endless. . .

Visualize ~ Create ~ Evoke

Composition. . .Man & Nature


Composition is one of those subjective topics. It varies from person to person and artist to photographer. . .or, is there really a difference between artists and photographers? At it’s core, composition is simply about the arrangement of the visual image.

From an artist’s perspective, it is broken down into lines, shapes, forms, color, etc. All these concepts span all the art forms. The combinations of these concepts help a viewer “see” the intent of the artist.

In the photograph above, the design of the man-made arch incorporates mirrors to reflect the natural environment surrounding it. The shapes of the clouds are similar to the circles on the arch. The composition brings both of these elements into focus.


The photographer adds a few other “rules” to the idea of composition. The rule of thirds is one of the best known. It brings the focus away from the center point of the photograph, offering another perspective.

The photography above uses columns to move the viewer’s eye through the photography. It is the perspective that allows that to happen. The columns are framed by natural elements. . .the trees and clouds.

The use of perspective as a composition element is valuable to a photographer. It gives a “feeling” to the viewer about the subject. The art of the photographic images is how the photographer chooses to compose the photograph.

In the last photograph, the surrounding scene is reflected in the lens of the lighthouse. It’s all about the creative point-of-view.

Visualize ~ Create ~ Evoke


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