Main building, Getty Museum

The Art of Subtraction in Contemporary Architecture Photography

Photography and Text by Andreina Diaz

When it comes to visiting, exploring and photographing contemporary architecture, there are two places in Los Angeles that I find myself going back to again and again; the Walt Disney Concert Hall (by Frank Gehry) and the Getty Museum (by Richard Meier). These two locations manage to capture my undivided attention for hours. Over the years I have created hundreds of photographs at each location and I still discover new photographs every time I go.

Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry

Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry

Aristotle said “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” but when it comes to photographing these specific locations I feel like the parts are greater than the sum. These two sites are architectural masterpieces, but what really amazes me are the lines, shapes, forms, textures, patterns, and colors you can find once you begin to break the buildings into sections and sub sections. This is what I call the “Art of Subtraction”, when you take parts of a grand subject and capture it in sections.

Getty Museum by Richard Meier

Getty Museum by Richard Meier

Next time you visit either of these places, try to capture their simplicity, harmony and mystery. Make sure you find an interesting composition that holds a unique point of view under the perfect lighting.

Getty Museum by Richard Meier

Getty Museum by Richard Meier

I can’t wait to see what you will find. Feel free to tag me on Instagram so I can see your pictures @eyeseesb

Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry

Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry

Eye See Santa Barbara offer photography tours for people of all photographic skill levels. Explore Santa Barbara with your camera while learning how to take better photographs by join one of our photo tours. For information about times, tour locations or to book a tour, visit our Photography Tour Section

20 Belonging--Photographic Collage by Joyce Wilson

Experience The Subtle Art Of Photographic Collage

Photography and Text by Joyce Wilson

In my previous article, I covered the beautiful process of Photogravure Etching. This process is well worth exploring, but if you get hooked, you will need to take occasional workshops to have access to a printing press, or invest in a press for your studio. This month I’m going to cover another alternative processes that anyone with an inkjet printer can master—photographic collage.

I was teaching a workshop in St. Remy, France in 2007, and happened upon the studio of Kamil Vojnar. I was smitten with his work and intrigued with his use of collage, varnish and painting techniques. I invited him to join our group for a patio party and show his work. For the past ten years, Kamil has resided for half the year in the Los Angeles area and I’ve hosted him for workshops in Santa Barbara. I modified Kamil’s methods to work with materials accessible here in the States and, with his blessings, was able to add this to the curriculum at Brooks Institute and the workshops I teach. Search Kamil Vojnar to see a variety of his work.

The collage images are selections from the original photograph that are adjusted lighter/darker and desaturated. Selections are made in Photoshop and created as separate layers. These layers are turned off during printing of the original image and then printed individually. A variety of beautiful papers are available for inkjet printing and I’ve used Japanese rice papers, handmade bark paper, Yucatan heavily textured paper and the fine art papers available from Canson Infinity and Hahnemuehle. The prints can be mounted on cradled art boards using archival glue or Breathing Color varnish, which also works as the bonding agent. The collage sections are applied during the varnish process using paint and antique glazing techniques. Wonderful final touches complete the process.

20 Belonging--Photographic Collage by Joyce Wilson

20 Belonging–Photographic Collage by Joyce Wilson

The image at the top of this post was printed in 9 sections and mounted on 24 x 30 canvas. The collage pieces are subtle, one on the subject’s face, and the other over crosses on the right lower corner.


Samples of photographic collage by Joyce Wilson.

The photograph on left has several sections collaged over the original image. The creator of this image is Emily Connolly, who happens to be my sister and co-teaches with me. In the image on the right, Joseph was photographed leaning on a piano. Two sections have been collaged over his hand, the background mosaic patterns overlaid in Photoshop and a piece of cotton netting collaged into the image and placed over portions of his torso.


Samples of photographic collage by Emily Connolly and Joyce Wilson.

“Plight Thee My Troth” was composited with an image from an antique marriage license and collage pieces positioned over the subject’s hands and eyes. The image on the right was taken at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. The lens was pulled out of focus while aimed at the crack of light coming through an entrance door. I cloned the larger circle on the right side and printed a small version to collage in the lower section of left side. All of these images have a similar color tone because I am usually working on a series for exhibition and want a sense of continuity.

If you need a nudge to get to that next level with your work, come join a small class of creative souls, September 22-23, to learn this process and experiment with metallic leafing. The September blog will cover metallic leafing with inkjet printing.

Enjoy this paradise we call home…beautiful and unique images are just waiting to be discovered.

Joyce Wilson Class Schedule

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon



During a recent road trip to Oregon with a good college friend, we decided to stop at Crater Lake National Park on our way back to California. And I’m so glad we did!
What an amazing place with breathtaking views. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S. (1,943 feet deep) and the 9th deepest in the world. The lake was created by a volcanic eruption about 7,700 years ago. Another fun fact is that Crater Lake is among the five clearest lakes around the world. The main reason for the water being so clear is because there are no streams flowing in or out of the lake. The water is maintained only by precipitation (snow and rain), which helps to explain its clarity and extremely reflective blue appearance.
We had just a few hours to experience the park, so we decided to hit the main overlook. We entered through the North Junction and our first stop was Watchman Overlook at over 8,000 feet of elevation. It was the beginning of June and there was still lots of snow on the ground.

Road to Crater Lake

Road to Crater Lake

The first time you see the lake it takes your breath away! We had a magnificent view of Wizard Island – a small island located at the west end of the lake. The reflective quality of the water is almost like a mirror. White puffy clouds formed above the rim and streaks of snow added extra reflections on the water. I was taken away by the reflective quality of the water. Pure magic! So I grabbed my camera and immediately wanted to take the “perfect” picture.

Landscape of Wizard Island on Crater Lake

Landscape of Wizard Island on Crater Lake

However, I quickly realized that I was photographing the lake without a foreground – without it I realized my photographs lacked visual reference. By adding sections of the foreground to the images, the photographs became a bit more grounded and relatable to the eye. Also, I became aware of the placement of Wizard Island in the frame. Instead of placing it right in the middle of the shot, I decided to put it either on the left of to the right of each frame (rule of third). This placement of the island makes for a better composition that is more pleasant to the eye.

Landscape of Crater Lake with snow

Landscape of Crater Lake with snow

Every stop we made along the ring the view changed slightly but the feeling of peace and tranquility kept rising. As I continued photographing the lake, I continued to add visual elements to frame the view. I included sections of the grown covered in snow, rocks and green pine trees. All these added texture and dimension to each shot.

Landscape of Crater Lake and reflection

Landscape of Crater Lake and reflection

I also tried to be selective with the way I shoot and instead of taking hundreds of photographs, I decided to take a breath, take a look, evaluate the view and pre-visualize each image. I said to myself, “If I were to tell the story of my visit to Crater Lake in 3 amazing photographs, how would I photograph this incredible location?”
Of course, I took more than 3 photographs but I purposely took my time and slowed myself down to enjoy the view. There were times in which I didn’t take any photographs and thought “This one is for my eyes only!”
Crater Lake is nature at its finest. A National Park you must to put on your bucket list.
Eye See Santa Barbara offer photography tours for people of all photographic skill levels. Explore Santa Barbara with your camera while learning how to take better photographs by joining one of our photo tours. For information about times, tour locations or to book a tour, visit our Photography Tour Section and follow us on Instagram @eyeseeSB

laelia orchid

The Challenge Of Creating Visual Impact In A Photo Essay

Text and Photos by Chuck Place

One of my favorite assignments, no matter the subject, is a photo essay. I love immersing myself in a subject and drilling down into it, exploring all the nooks and crannies. My curiosity and my love of photography intertwine in a joyous dance that is new to me every single time.

orchid collector checks a hybrid orchid in his shade house

orchid collector checks a hybrid orchid in his shade house

A photo essay is essentially a story told with minimal words and, hopefully, lots of photographs.

The trick is creating a diverse range of images that are all necessary to fully explain a subject or location. Whether it is a long-form essay, like a coffee table book, or a short-form essay, like a two page magazine article, the steps are the same—research, organize, shoot and edit.

laelia orchid is pollinated to create a new hybrid

laelia orchid is pollinated to create a new hybrid

Let’s use an essay I photographed recently on orchid collectors for Seasons Magazine as an example. I dabble in gardening and like most people, find orchids both beautiful and exotic, so it was a subject that I found fascinating. Santa Barbara is known for its commercial orchid greenhouses and the city also holds an International Orchid Show each year. The magazine asked that I tie those into the piece as well.

collector tends a cymbidium orchid

orchid collector tends a special cymbidium orchid

Research was going to be critical. Finding contacts at the greenhouses and orchid clubs, collectors that were willing to be photographed on location, schedules for orchid competitions and sales and sources for various types of orchids in full bloom had to be compiled.

prize winning cymbidium orchid

prize winning cymbidium orchid

For such a simple subject, this was going to be a complex project.

In addition to contacts and permissions, research helped me put together a shoot list. This list is critical to making sure that coverage is as diverse, and thorough, as possible. And compiling a shoot list is not a static process as changes and additions are continuously made to the list as images are reviewed.

collector views images of micro orchids

collector views images of micro orchids on a Scanning Electron Microscope

While making appointments was stressful, shooting was a great experience. That is not to say that I could just go out and create beauty shots of orchids all day. Let’s face it, that would quickly put my audience asleep. The flowers are addictive, however, and I had to force myself to cover related subjects.

collector looking at a flower spike of micro orchids

collector looking at a flower spike of micro orchids

Growing and hybridizing orchids has a laboratory phase. Some collectors specialize in miniature orchids, so small that the individual flowers are hard to see without a magnifier. I found a collector that paints orchids. Subjects just popped up as I explored the unique world of orchid collectors.

orchid seedling are checked

orchid seedling are checked in a commercial greenhouse

Post-production also came into play as I created studio portraits of blooms against a white background in the greenhouses. Editing was on ongoing process and accurate captions were critical for the article’s text.

collector paints orchids

collector paints orchids using the Chinese brush painting technique

expensive paphiopedilum orchid

expensive paphiopedilum orchid

Although this sounds like a lot of work—well, it was. The magazine did a great job laying out the images, however, making it all worthwhile. Try it yourself. Pick a topic and spend a month or two researching and photographing a narrow subject or location. You’ll be amazed how it forces you to be a more thoughtful and sensitive photographer and how much fun it can be. Then find a publisher. Think big!

If you are already shooting photo essays and have a favorite subject, share it with the group in the Comments Section. Thanks.

colorful building details

Have Fun Searching For Colorful Photographic Details

Text and Photography by Chuck Place

The colonial towns of Mexico are some of my favorite locations for photographing details. Early and late in the day, I’m often working on capturing the iconic buildings and sites of a town, but during the middle of the day the harsh sunlight is very strong and, like the locals, I try to avoid it. That doesn’t mean I have to stop shooting, however.

colorful windows details

colorful windows details, Oaxaca, Mexico

Many buildings have unique architectural details, while shops and galleries often display their wares outside in the shade. It’s all a bit like a photographic scavenger hunt.
Sometimes the image is perfect just the way I find it and sometimes I have to move things around for a better composition. Maybe a potted plant is in the wrong location or some carved animals need to be grouped together. I always ask permission first before I touch anything and have rarely been turned down.

carved wooden animal folk art

still life of carved wooden animal folk art, Oaxaca, Mexico

For me, these intimate photographic details often say more about the culture of an area than more general shots and they always add a spot of strong color during a drab part of the day.

cactus fence detail

cactus fence detail, Mitla Archeological Zone, Mexico

Sometimes in can be as simple as stumbling on a fence made of living cactus, sometimes it’s a detail of a popular form of folk art.

detail of black pottery

detail of black pottery, San Bartolo Coyotepec, Mexico

Colorful images can be easy to produce at the beginning and end of the day, when warm light is prevalent, but creating fascinating photographs during the rest of the day is definitely more challenging.

hotel archway details

hotel archway details, Oaxaca, Mexico

How many of us like to collect doorways and windows? They represent an entrance into another culture and I photograph them any time I find one that is unique.

old door detail

old door detail, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Developing your ability to find hidden color among the details not only broadens your coverage of a subject, it also fun and helps you see what others miss. And seeing the world with greater clarity is, after all, one of the main reasons we all love creating photographs.


Toronto Skyline2

How To Prepare For A Photo Trip

Photography and Text by Andreina Diaz

 “Photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” ~ Elliott Erwitt

As a photographer, I spend most of my time photographing the city of Santa Barbara and its surrounding areas. I must admit I really enjoy photographing this beautiful place. However, I have a passion for traveling, exploring new cities and capturing photographs of different places around the world.

Most recently I had the opportunity to visit the city of Toronto, Canada, a great city that combines the look and feel of the old traditional world, in combination with new and modern architecture.

Toronto Skyline1

Toronto skyline during the day

Pre-trip research and planning

Every travel destination has its own charm, landscape, culture and history. In order to capture the essence of a new place you must prepare. I strongly recommend you do some preliminary research about the place you are planning to visit as well as checking its weather forecast. Take the time to learn about its iconic locations, their accessibility, distance between them and the best time to photograph them. To help you with your process you can read travel guides at your local library, do some research online or use my favorite visual resources Instagram and Google Image Search.

After doing my research, I create a rough photo itinerary or shot list, with the places I would like to photograph. I say “rough” because with photography we must leave room for the unexpected, for the spontaneous moments that happen once you are walking the streets of your new travel destination.

Start early and stay out late

Most photographers would agree that the best times to take pictures are early morning and sunset. Plan your day accordingly and your chances for finding really good lighting will increase.

Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

My visit to Toronto was at the end of winter, beginning of spring. The hours of daylight were short and I knew it would be cold and cloudy most days so I bundled up, grabbed my camera and tripod and off I went to photograph the city.

First stop, the Royal Ontario Museum, an architectural gem with very modern and unique architecture. I decided to start early in the day with this location because it is located on a very busy street. I wanted to capture it with the least amount of cars traveling up and down the street. My intention paid off, because I was able to capture it before it was time for rush hour traffic.

Humber Bay Bridge, Toronto

Humber Bay Bridge, Toronto

Use a tripod

Next stop was the Humber Bay Bridge. I love the abstract lines playing against the sky and cityscape. I was hoping to capture the contrast of the white structure of the bridge with blue sky as a background, but it was still cloudy and the wind was picking up, so I set up my tripod to stabilize my camera under the windy conditions and tried not to freeze. I’m happy with the results, but I would love to go back in the summer time to capture the bridge against blue sky.

Photographing indoors – Adjust your camera settings

Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Toronto

Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Toronto

It was time to go indoors to warm up and wait for the wind and clouds to pass. I decided to visit the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, a total contrast from the first couple of locations. It is considered a city landmark and this hotel is located at the heart of downtown, minutes from the city’s biggest events and attractions including: The CN Tower – which was my next shooting location.

Photographing indoors is very different from shooting outdoors. You can’t rely on your camera to make the exposure decisions for you, if you want to capture the ambient light as realistically as possible without having to use the camera flash. The interior of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel is warmly lit and it doesn’t have lots of natural light.

Here are the settings I used to take pictures inside the hotel:

  • White balancewas set to Tungsten
  • ISOwas set to 1500 ISO, this way my camera sensor would become sensitive enough to the available light, without the need of flash so I could capture the ambient light as my eye saw it.
  • Camera was set toAperture Priority F8 so I could get good the depth of field with sharp images without having to use a long shutter exposure.
  • Shutter was set by my camera.

Once I had the correct settings in my camera, I was ready to take some pictures of the beautiful lobby.

Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO combination

Then it was time for the grand finale. As the sun was going down it was time to capture Toronto’s Skyline from Polson Pier at sunset. To capture this location, I knew I would need to set up my camera aperture at F22 to guarantee the greatest depth of field which will translate in a sharper image all through out. The ISO was set to a 100 to reduce the amount of digital noise. This combination of a small aperture of F22 and 100 ISO will result in a slow shutter and/or long exposure of 1/2 to a full second as the sun kept going down. A tripod was required to eliminate any blurry images resulting from the slow shutter setting.

Toronto Skyline2

Toronto skyline at sunset

Toronto Skyline3

Toronto skyline after sunset

Toronto Skyline3

Toronto skyline at dusk

These are the images that I captured that evening. They were taken about 30 min apart from one another. As the sun kept going down the exposure (shutter speed) kept getting longer from 1/2 a second, to 1 second to 1.5 seconds.

I look forward to another visit to Toronto in the near future. If it was beautiful to visit during this cold season I can only imagine how beautiful it must be during the summer time.

Until next time Toronto!

Explore Santa Barbara with your camera while learning how to take better photographs by join one of our photo tours. For information about times, tour locations or to book a tour, visit our Photography Tour Section and follow us on Instagram @eyeseeSB

Portrait of San Juan Pueblo Deer Dancers

How To Manipulate Depth Of Field For Spectacular Portraits

Text and Photos by Chuck Place

During my years as a photography instructor, I have seen many great location portraits produced by my students. Great expression, nice lighting—they should be beautiful portraits, except for one major problem. The foreground, subject and background are all sharp. The images are so busy that the subject is overwhelmed by the surrounding details. It’s difficult for the viewer to know whether the subject or the location is the most important part of the photograph.

I think of this as the point-and-shoot camera effect where everything is in sharp focus.

There are subjects where everything in the frame should be sharp, such as the portrait of a Victorian couple in front of a Victorian building below, but portraits usually benefit from a shallow depth of field. Depth of field is defined as the area in front of and behind the plane of focus that is acceptably sharp. Human vision can’t actually see shallow depth of field. It’s an optical effect.

Portrait of Victorian couple, Cape May, New Jersey

Portrait of Victorian couple, Cape May, New Jersey, 28mm lens, f8 aperture

Shallow depth of field, however, is one of the most powerful tools in photography for separating a subject from its background. By capturing a sharp subject and letting the background go soft, you are telling the viewer of your image what is most important and what is less important. It’s a relatively simply effect to achieve, but you must take control of your camera and get away from letting your camera make photo decisions for you.

Portrait of vendor at Farmers Market

Portrait of vendor selling strawberries and lettuce, Farmer’s Market, 70mm lens, f2.8 aperture

First, set your camera to full Manual or at least Aperture Priority. The aperture, or f-stop, controls depth of field by changing the size of the opening in your lens. High f-stops numbers, like f16 or f22, create a tiny opening and lots of depth of field. A small f-stop number, f2.8 or f4, creates a large opening, or aperture, producing very shallow depth of field.

I know. It would be nice if big aperture numbers created big openings and small aperture numbers created small openings, but it’s the reverse. Blame the optical engineers. Maybe the easiest way to remember this is small f-stop, or aperture, numbers give you the least depth of field and higher numbers give the greatest depth of field. Once you start using this technique, it will quickly become second nature.

Portrait of young woman

Portrait of young woman, 100mm lens, f2.8 aperture

The lens aperture setting is not the only way to produce shallow depth of field in a photograph, however. The longer the focal length of a lens, the easier it is to get a sharp subject with a soft background as seem in the featured image of Deer Dancers above. A short telephoto has traditionally been the preferred portrait lens partly because of this ability to produce a soft background. A longer telephoto will produce an even softer background, making it easy to separate your subject from the background clutter. A wide angle lens, on the other hand, makes it difficult to soften your background.

Portrait of young Hispanic woman with flowers

Portrait of young Hispanic woman with flowers, 300mm lens, f2.8 aperture


One other technique for achieving shallow depth of field is moving the camera closer to your subject. It gets a little techie here. This is all about the relationship between camera to subject distance and camera to background distance. As you move the camera closer to your subject, the relative difference between subject distance and background distance becomes greater, producing a softer background. Check out this Depth Of Field Calculator, at, to see the effects of f-stop, focal length and subject distance on depth of field. Change the lens focal length and f-stop to see how depth of field changes.

Portrait of traditional powwow dancer

Portrait of traditional powwow dancer, 200mm lens, f2.8 aperture

If you are like me, all of this technical stuff gives you the shivers, but it’s all good to know. As a working professional, I tend to walk around with my lens aperture “wide open” or set for shallow depth of field. I shoot many subjects, from people to sports and even food, with a shallow depth of field. I need a reason to “stop down” my aperture and create great depth of field. When you have to tell a story with each image, shallow depth of field makes it easy to show viewers what is the most important subject in an image and what is secondary—usually the background. This approach keeps things simple and takes control of this powerful tool away from the camera. Your camera is, after all, just a computer with a lens hanging off it. The best camera is the one inside your head. Control depth of field and rule your world—photographically speaking.

For more on posing subjects for portraits, see our earlier post “Shy Photographer’s Guide To Putting People At Ease”.

Bar in the Union Hotel

The Joy Of Exploring Small Towns With Your Camera

Text and Photos by Chuck Place

I love exploring with my camera and small towns are one of my favorite subjects. Does the town have a colorful history? Does it have a unique culture? Is it located in a photogenic location? The concept of a small town as it’s own little universe just appeals to me. I even live in the large “small” town of Santa Barbara

When I first started shooting for travel magazines, small town assignments were actually a little intimidating. What should I photograph? Who should I photograph? Where in town should I shoot? As it turned out, these were all the wrong questions to start with.

A photographer needs to be clear in their mind about what is important or unusual about the location. What makes that town unique? What makes it worth exploring? That is the most critical first step. Once I answered that one simple question, everything fell into place.

Bar Stools, Union Hotel, Los Alamos

Farm tractor bar stools in the Union Hotel in Los Alamos

The answer to that question supplies the framework for my photo shoots and frees me up to have fun while capturing the images I need for my client. That one step narrows the focus of my shoot to a manageable range of subjects and eliminates the worry that I am missing something.

I often find that students in my class “Location Photo Shoots With A Pro” often go through the same anguishing process. Our first job when we arrive at a location is answering that question of what is unusual about this small town, not what do we shoot. And don’t think this restricts what a photographer can shoot. In my classes, the answer to what do we shoot is merely a framework for each photographer. It’s amazing how many different ways a single theme can be interpreted by talented individuals.

Rusty antique farm machinery

Rusty antique farm machinery in Los Alamos

Last year we visited the Western town of Los Alamos in the Santa Ynez Valley above Santa Barbara. It’s a very small town, but in recent years restaurants and wine tasting rooms have appeared in some of the old false front buildings. The historic Union Hotel and Bar has long been the main attraction for visitors there, along with a selection of antique shops. We quickly decided that we would try to create images that stressed that old Western feel, whether a new restaurant or rusting farm machinery out in front of the towns old railroad freight depot.

Bell Street Farm Restaurant

Bell Street Farm restaurant and server in Los Alamos

This shoot was both an adventure and challenging all at the same time. Some participants concentrated on the old architecture and one produced abstracts of the old farm machinery. I photographed the blending of old and new as tourism slowly transformed the town. Developing our own assignments covering one small location made the process exciting and forced us to become more thoughtful photographers.

Wine Tasting Rooms

Wine tasting rooms in Los Alamos

As I mentioned in a previous post, give yourself assignments that require you to grow as a photographer. And don’t forget the most important aspect of photography. If you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it all wrong!

Let us know in the Leave A Reply section below if you have a favorite small town that you have enjoyed photographing. Thanks.

Barrels of wine and perspective

Create Great Depth In Your Photographs Using Perspective

Text & Photos By Chuck Place

Perspective is magic! Not as in fairy tale magic, but as in a magician’s magic. It’s an illusion. We take the two-dimensional medium of a photograph and create the illusion of a third dimension by applying perspective.

The technique of perspective has been used effectively by painters for centuries and has proven to be equally effective in photography.

Perspective is all about the relationship of similar size subjects and their position relative to each. Rows of wine barrels in a wine cave are a perfect example. Although all the wine barrels are the same size, as they get farther from the camera they appear to shrink in size, producing the illusion of depth. Shooting with a wide-angle lens enhances this effect as a wide lens enlarges close subjects and shrinks distant subjects.

Steam engines, Golden Spike National Historic Site, Promontory, Utah

Placing a camera close to one of two historic steam engines creates an image with great depth using perspective.

The effect can also be created using only two similar objects. A very flat image is produced with the two steam engines at Golden Spike National Historic Site shot from the side with both engines the same distance from the camera. Move the camera close to one of the engine tenders, however, and shoot down its side toward the other engine and suddenly the scene has a great sense of depth.

Swimmers racing in a pool

The swimmers racing in a pool and the floating lane markers create a sense of depth using perspective.

Shooting across lanes of swimmers creates some depth as the competitors decrease in size as they get farther from the camera, but the real force of perspective here is actually created by the floating lane markers. The lines of colorful floats appear to be getting closer together as they get farther from the camera. Because the floats are more noticeable than the slightly blurred swimmers, their convergence in the distance creates the strong feeling of depth. Rows of grape vines photographed from a high angle with a drone produces this same effect.

Rows of vines in a vineyard

An aerial photograph of rows of vines in a vineyard create an exaggerated sense of depth as a result of perspective.

None of this is magic, of course, just optics. You don’t have to be a magician to create the illusion of great depth in your photographs. You merely have to position your camera in the optimum spot to make use of the effect of perspective. Just like magic!

Sunset photograph of East Beach, Santa Barbara

3 Simple Photography Tips To Capture Great Pictures by Andreina Diaz

1.- Fill The Frame – Get Closer

I always say if you feel that your pictures aren’t good enough is probably because you aren’t close enough. One way to take stronger photographs is by filling the camera frame with the most important elements in your image.  As you compose your photographs identify your main subject. Before you start clicking the shutter, hoping for the best, ask your self a few of questions: What is it about this particular scene that’s important to you? Why? How can you photography it best? Then once you are clear about the subject that you are photographing, eliminate any distracting elements that don’t add anything to the actual picture. Can you get closer to your subject or zoom in? Do it!  You will see your images getting better by simply getting closer to your subject.

Here it is an example:

This is the iconic fountain at the Santa Barbara Mission. A subject that is largely photographed by thousand of tourists every year. However, most visitors leave this beautiful site with underwhelming photographs. Most of them tend to capture the fountain with all sorts of visual distractions that include; the sidewalk, the side of the fountain wall, and maybe some uninvited visitors. If what you are interested in photographing is the fountain and its relationship to the Mission, I invite you to get close enough to it. By doing so you will catch the reflection of the Mission in the water, the seasonal water lilies, and the soothing rippling water.

Next time you visit the Santa Barbara Mission you can leave with a stronger image by filling the frame and getting closer to your subject.

2.- Choose A Unique Point Of View

Most amateur photographers capture their images from eye level. This could make your pictures seem predictable. Try shooting shooting from different angles; from up high or down low.  Using a unique point of view can make your images more interesting to the eye. You can shoot from a high camera angle by getting up on a bench or shooting from higher grounds.  Maybe by getting low on the ground or on your knees you will give your images the extra edge you are looking for.

Shoot From Up High

While visiting the Santa Barbara Courthouse make sure you check out the view from the Clock Tower. This is a great example of an image captured from a high point of view  Yes! The top floors have best views. From up there you will be able to capture an striking view of the city framed by the incredible mountains. This is a view you don’t want to miss.

Shoot Down Low

When you are a sea level get down on your knees and photograph the nice foam of the waves gently touching the sand. By capturing low angles you will place the person looking at your photograph “in your pictures” as if they were there with you. It’s a subtle invitation to be part of your journey.

3.- Choose The Best Light – The Golden Hour

The best time to take outdoor pictures depends on the quality of the light. The light of the sun can change the atmosphere, the mood and the overall look and feel of your photographs. The Golden Hour is the time of day when the sun is closest to the horizon which creates a magical golden glow. So based on this, the best times to go out with your camera would be either during the hours of sunrise or sunset.  Santa Barbara is known by its magical sunrises and sunsets, so don’t miss them the next time you visit. As a photographer I always say; “the best time to go out and take pictures would be either early in the morning or late in the afternoon; and during the middle of the day, take a break or a nap!”


I hope you find these tips useful. I can’t wait to see the images you’ll capture in this beautiful city of Santa Barbara or somewhere else! Use the hashtag #eyeseeSB or tag us on your pictures @eyeseeSB on Instagram. I will leave you a nice comment telling you how good you did!

The next time you are ready to explore Santa Barbara with your camera join one of our photo tours. For information about times, tour locations or to book a tour visit our Photography Tour Section.

SEE you soon!