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Category Archives: Composition

100 Photography Tips Infographic – Expert Photography

Welcome to ExpertPhotography’s top 100 photography tips, picked from the best tutorials of 2011, and brought together in one place, for your ease. These tips are extracts from a variety of to the tutorials, where you’ll find much more information, to help you improve your photography. Here are the tutorials that the tips came from:

10 Tips For Better Portraits

10 Steps To Taking Better Photos

10 Top Tips To Taking Sharper Photos

10 Tips For Taking Better Candid Photos

10 Embarrassing Mistakes I Made As A Beginner Photographer

10 Ways To Critique A Photo

10 Reasons Your Photos Suck

10 Reasons Why Being A Photographer Sucks

Top 10 Photography Clichés You Should Avoid To Improve Your Photography

10 Accessories To Improve Your Photography

via 100 Photography Tips Infographic – Expert Photography.

 

TUTORIAL: What’s your time of day? (Part 3) The Midday Sun

By tom dinning via Light Stalking

Noel Coward wrote that only mad dogs and Englishmen would dare go out in the midday Sun. Fortunately for us, Noel didn’t include photographers in those that shouldn’t.

Now that we have been up since 4am for the First Light at the beach and spent a pleasant morning strolling through the gardens in the Second Light, we may as well stick it out for the rest of the day. I still have some space on my CF card. Do you? So lets get out from under this tree and enjoy the rest of the day.

11.01am

My watch says 11.01am and it’s heating up. It’s going to stay this way until about 2pm so some preparation is in order. Looking out there, you might think there isn’t much to offer. But you are very much mistaken.

11.10am

Other than some UV cream and a hat, a comfort stop and a cool drink, I’m ready. I’ve snapped on a wide zoom (17-35mm) because I’m not heading anywhere special. That’s my ‘nothing special in mind’ lens. I’m going to wander to see where life takes me. Since I cast only a little shadow to follow I’ll let my nose lead the way. It’s big enough not to loose sight of in a crowd.

11.24am

I’ll do a quick pass by the beach to see if there is anything going on. The glare will be severe so I’ll slip on a polerising filter to cut back on the reflections and increase the blueness of the sky. You might be lucky enough to spot some interesting landforms as well ….. whatever your preference.

11.26pm

11.27am

11.35am

Last week the storms made the sky a bit more interesting but you take what you can get when it comes to the weather.

11.55am last week

And when things start to happen you don’t consult your watch to find out if its within your allocated shooting time.

Just because its midday, there’s not reason to be wasting your time in a library with a good book – or not!

12.08pm

If you’re looking for people doing interesting things, go have lunch with them. People, for some reason, swarm around food outlets at this time of the day. I don’t have a lot of luck with my pick-up lines but you might try: ‘I like the look of that pasta. Can I have a bite?’

12.22pm

If the weather permits, stay outdoors and shoot over the top of your sandwich. The wide angle will help here. Since there will be plenty of light, find a good depth of field and the focus will take care of itself. This is candid stuff – not museum masterpieces, so enjoy the moment without the hassles of perfect picture control.

12.50pm

You might be lucky enough to have a local market handy if it’s the weekend. The colours will be bright in this full sun so search out those in the red end of the spectrum.

12.59pm

If you are near a local Mall, have a walk down the thoroughfare. If it’s too hot you may have the place to yourself. Look around for those colours again. Assume that anyone who looks a bit strange has been affected by the Sun’s heat and give them some space; cranky fairies included.

1.00pm

Keep in mind the shadows will be about 8 stops below the sun lit promenade, so don’t expect too much detail up alley ways and through doorways.

The contrast at this time of the day is extreme and it can be used to your advantage. If you have some countryside nearby look out for full sun on textured surfaces. The sky might get a bit burnt out here so keep your horizon high or totally out of the picture.

1.02pm

If you choose to include the horizon, convert to B&W and darken the sky with the blue slider in the B&W adjustment layer. It looks better than a big blob of white overhead.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing the tourist thing and taking that shot from the lookout with the busload of grey nomads on their ‘Round The World Expedition. I fit right in.

1.07pm

I love the fountains at this time of the day. The water sparkles but you might need to walk around to find the right angle. Then wait for the lunchtime crowd to pass by. Someone will catch your eye.

1.10pm

Of course, if you live in some miserable climate like Brighton or Vancouver and it rains all the time, you can still go out. The wet streets provide a great atmosphere for you to practice your skills or just record your memories.

1.27pm

The old buildings are worth a look. Because the Sun is high in the sky, the shadows will be short. You will find one side of the building in light shadow, though. This is probably a bit easier to work with as far as exposure is concerned.

1.29pm

But don’t neglect the sunny side. Again, the contrast will be extreme and this can give you some interesting textures and shadows to play with.

1.32pm

Those hours between 11am and 2pm when most people are having a siesta, lunch or a respite in the air-conditioning can be a rewarding and exciting time for you with your camera if you are willing.

Oh, and save some memory for our early afternoon shoot. There’s always a sunset on the way.

2.00pm

Besides. if you’re making excuses for not taking photographs you’re only half serious.

via Light Stalking » TUTORIAL: What’s your time of day? (Part 3) The Midday Sun.

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2011 in Composition, Featured, Landscape, Technique, Tutes & Tips, Worth a Look

 

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TUTORIAL: What’s your time of day? (Part 2) Shooting at Second Light

By tom dinning via Light Stalking

This is a guest post by Tom Dinning who, besides being a professional photographer, teacher and mini-celebrity in the Light Stalking community, has also shared some very popular tutorials in the forums and in other posts.

If you have recovered from my recent post on shooting at first light, you might be ready for something a little more sedate. Enjoy breakfast with your partner, have an extra cup of coffee, even suggest your partner might like to come along (…on second thoughts, tell him/her you’re going to the dentist). Today we are photographing in that lovely light after sunrise.

Second light – Botanic Gardens.

I call this second light because, although I hate getting up too early, my preference is still for the light before sunrise. Still, it’s a great time to be out and about, especially if you’ve pulled a ‘sicky’ from work to join me.

I’m heading for the local Botanic Gardens for no particular reason than it’s there. My kit is made up of the usual suspects: a wide zoom (14 -24mm) and mid (24-70mm) but I’ve added a macro and a long focal length (200mm) for good reason as you will see.

Today is bright and sunny so I make sure I have all my lens hoods and a hat (that’s for my balding head). The tripod is always with me. In my experience, this time of the day can be deceiving. There seems to be heaps of light about but the shadows are quite dark so there could be some moderately long shutter speeds, especially if I want an extended depth of field.

(If you’re a beginner and I’ve just lost you with that stuff about depth of field and shutter speed, ask someone on Light Stalking to explain it to you. They’re really good at that.)

In my part of the world, this time of the day always seems extra saturated with the colours and the tonal contrast is amazing. So, I take full advantage of this. It’s what I call ‘shooting for the conditions’. I can’t change the climate but I can learn to live with it.

My eyes immediately begin to search the landscape for places where this saturation and contrast brings out the best in the frame. Deep green shadows are avoided. Speckled light is hard to expose correctly so I move out into the open.

Botanic Gardens are designed. So it’s worth looking for vista’s, frames within your frame, and nooks that have been purposefully constructed to catch one’s eye.

The low angle of the Sun provides beautiful backlight, rimming the tree trunks and highlighting the foliage. I walk and watch towards the Sun. seeking out long shadows that can be used to lead the eye.

Foreground and background are important but it’s easy to clutter the frame with too much. To avoid this, I take full advantage of my walking shoes and seek the best perspective before shooting; always endeavoring to keep that sun in the background.

‘But shooting into the sun?’ I hear you say. With a bit of maneuvering, the sun can be tucked behind some foliage or a tree trunk. You will need to  watch that histogram for blow-outs (sorry, there’s nothing wrong with the tires on your car). If you’re not sure how to use it, read the Light Stalking article on how to read a histogram.

Go for detail in the shadows if you can and let the sun burn out a bit behind the trees. It gives a nice halo effect and gives the impression of a brilliant sunny day. But don’t overdo it.

Since it’s usually quiet this time of the morning there’s always an opportunity for a self-portrait. Seats are placed strategically among the trees for effect as well as rest, so include them in your shots.

Also look for those special plants, unusual textures, surprising angles and, of course, the obligatory close-up.

One thing I learnt from this trip was to watch where I leave my kit. This is the time when the gardeners are testing their sprinkler system. At least it saves me washing this week.

For some reason, Botanic Gardens are not heavily frequented by wildlife. I have more birds in my back yard. I did find a few grazing geese and a spider, but other than a stray dog and a dead cane toad, I was the only animal in the park – and even my zoological status has been questioned by some.

Now its time to finish up. You’ll have enough time to download this lot before settling on a nice lunch and a glass of Chard. Then prepare yourself for the midday run.

Thanks for joining me.

This is a guest post by Tom Dinning.

via Light Stalking » TUTORIAL: What’s your time of day? (Part 2) Shooting at Second Light.

 

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TUTORIAL: What’s Your Time of Day (Part 1)- Shooting at First Light

By tom dinning via Light Stalking

This is a guest post by Tom Dinning who, besides being a professional photographer, teacher and mini-celebrity in the Light Stalking community, has also shared some very popular tutorials in the forums and in other posts.

Recently I had a browse through my files to see if there was any consistency with the times of day I choose to take photographs for my own pleasures. To my surprise, there was an even split between early morning, mid-morning, midday, late afternoon and evening. Its good that I’m not a creature of habit.

I though it might be a good exercise to examine each of these times of day in terms of the photo’s  taken and the issues that arise during the preparation stage and the recording of the images.

So here’s the first.

EARLY MORNING – COAST

First Light. Nightcliff Beach NT

I’m not good in the morning so the first preparation for such an event is to psych myself up weeks in advance for a possible 4am start. The next bit of preparation is to prime Christine for the awakening for fear she may be expecting something more than a gentle kiss goodbye. She’s even grumpier than me in the morning.

High tide. Myilly Point NT

Since I want everything to be just right for such a monumental occasion I check the sunrise times well in advance. I’m also interested in the time for first light, since I want some preparation time when I arrive at my destination. My preference for the coastline means I need to check the tides. Low tide is best where I live. It allows access to the beaches. It’s also more visually interesting since there will be many isolated pools along the beach for those nice reflections. All the information you need with regard to sunrise, first light and tides can be obtained through the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) website (in Australia) or the equivalent in your country. While you’re there, check the weather. You don’t want to be caught out in the rain, but a few clouds add interest to the sky.

Casuarina Beach NT

Checking the equipment the night before is part of the routine. Clean your sensor. Those funny little spots will show up against a clear sky at small apertures. Charge your batteries and take a spare. I’m not big on long focal lengths but that’s just me. I find myself using wide to mid-range (anything between 14mm and 70mm). A tripod is essential since you will probably be shooting at shutter speeds slow enought to write in your diary while taking the shot.

Tidal pool. Casuarina Beach NT

Getting there before the first glow of light needs a torch if you have some interesting ground to cover. It helps to find your way, locate things in the kit bag, provides a reading light for your camera knobs and dials if you haven’t learnt to find them in the dark yet, and, if its a big enough torch, it will fend off the dogs and muggers ( and the odd croc in my part of the world).

Casuarina Beach NT

It’s always good to check out the scene from a vantage point and grab a few shots to start with but usually I reconnoitre the spot a few days before so I know what I’m in for. Moving around in the dark in unfamiliar territory is risky for an old bloke like myself.

Rock outcrop. Nightcliff Beach NT

Shooting from water level creates great foreground for the shots. Look for items along the beach that might serve as points of interest. Watch how the light reflects from the water. Look for points of contrast as focal points in your frame.

This can be a time of solitude as well. Encompass that feeling and get it in the frame. Simplicity and the light is all you need to work with.

Casuarina Beach NT

Think in B&W as well. The tones will be subtle but worth capturing.

Little Watego’s Beach, NSW

Keep your shutter speed long enough to blur the movement of water. If the clouds are moving as well, all the better. You can get some great textures in the sky.

Rocks. Byron Bay, NSW

Reflections work well. Seek out the pools left behind. Walk around the pools to find the best angle. Get the best depth of field possible for these shots and make sure the foreground is sharp. If the auto-focus isn’t working its because it can’t find enough contrast in the scene to focus on. Switch to manual. When the going gets tough on focusing, I set the manual focus to about 2m and the aperture to about f:18. This seems to take care of most situations.

Dripstone Cliffs NT

As the light intensity increases, life and focusing will get easier. But there will be another issue to deal with. Exposure.

That sky will be about 6 or 7  f:stops over the ground exposure level. Your sensor will probably have a fit. Bracket and deal with it when you get home and have had your first cup of coffee.

Outcrop facing East. Nightcliff beach NT

In spite of the sand in your shoes and camera, wet feet from the incoming tide, the odd dogs dropping you stood in, a grumpy spouse to return home to and the need for a Granny Nap during the day, it should be worth every minute of your timely effort.

Low tide. Lee Point NT

If it’s not, take up knitting.

This is a guest post by Tom Dinning.

via Light Stalking » TUTORIAL: What’s Your Time of Day (Part 1)- Shooting at First Light.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2011 in Composition, Featured, General, Landscape, Technique, Tutes & Tips, Worth a Look

 

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How Seeing in 3D Can Improve Your Photography

By alohal at LightStalking

When I first started carrying my camera around every day, I saw pictures in two dimensions. My photos were like line drawings on paper—so many inches wide and so many inches long, but flat. Later, I started to see differently. I learned to see in multiple planes, like an architect would when drawing perspective sketches of a building. When I learned to see multiple planes in a scene, I saw a change in my photos. They didn’t look like flat recordings of things I’d seen. Instead, the multiple planes in the photos created depth, so the images looked three-dimensional.

One of a photographer’s challenges is to see multiple planes, and make photos that look like the scene itself—with volume, with mass, alive in all its dimensions.

Here are a couple of things I’ve tried that you might like, to give depth to your compositions.

Use foreground framing

Foreground elements can frame a shot and add depth to it. Copyright Aloha Lavina 2011.

This photo of a child hanging laundry has the danger of becoming flat. If I had framed her with less of the bamboo fence, I would have gotten a flatter composition. But using the bamboo as a frame and allowing a lot of the ground behind the girl adds depth to the scene.

Tilting the camera is a way to achieve depth. Copyright Aloha Lavina 2011.

Similarly, this photo of a man repairing wooden structures at the temple uses the same technique, but with the additional help of camera tilt. If I had stood closer to the man, and parallel to the scaffolding, I would have gotten a flatter composition, like in the diagram below. What I did to achieve some more dynamism in the composition was to stand a little diagonally to the man; this added a tilt to my wide-angle lens, and that gave the composition a bit more interest.

Changing vantage points changes a shot.

Play peek-a-boo

Planes can present ‘layers’ of information in a photo. In environmental portraits, one of the things I find that work is to play peekaboo with the subject. What I mean is to use foreground elements to hide some part of the subject, to give it context. Usually the foreground elements are related to the subject and generally add more to the story.

Partially revealing a subject draws attention to it. Copyright Aloha Lavina 2011.

In the photo of the child, the fact that he is hiding behind his mother’s skirt gives us a big part of the story: he’s shy when he notices a stranger with a dSLR smiling at him. The man who walks past while I took this shot gives another part of the story away: we’re in a crowded place full of strangers but here is a glimpse of someone’s personal space.

Layers of foreground and background can help tell a story. Copyright Aloha Lavina 2011.

The woman at the market is also another peekaboo shot: I catch her framed by what she does. The scale, the colorful plastic cover of her market stall table, the vegetables, and the echo of color behind her all suggest the explosion of colors and life at this market in Vietnam.

Learning how to use multiple planes in your compositions gives your images an added depth. When you change the way you see, you will see the change in your photos.

via Light Stalking » How Seeing in 3D Can Improve Your Photography.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2011 in Composition, Featured, General, Inspiration, Worth a Look

 

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14 Essential Landscape Photography Tutorials

By Light Stalking

The theme of landscape photography repeatedly shows up in the most popular posts on Light Stalking and if the proliferation of websites and magazines specifically about landscape is anything to go by, then it is very popular among the wider photography community too. Getting started in landscape need not be a huge exercise – there are literally hundreds of fantastic tutorials available for free online. We have taken the liberty of collecting some of our favorites.

Somewhere in the Mojave Desertphoto © 2010 Steve Berardi | more info (via: Wylio)

General Tutorials

Landscape Photography for the Serious Amateur – This remains one of the all time most popular posts on Light Stalking and is a fantastic introduction to the art from landscape photographer, Chris Gin.

11 Surefire Landscape Photography Tips – A general article from a great website.

Three Elements of a Great Landscape – the Photo Naturalist (who took the image above) is a great resource for any outdoor photographers, and this is a typically solid guide from that site. Check out their other landscape articles too.

Situational Tutorials

Not all landscape is the same. You are going to have a hugely differing set of conditions between shooting a coastal landscape and shooting in the desert. These tutorials are a good start if you already know where you’re planning to shoot.

Digital in the Desert – shooting in the desert has a lot of unique challenges. This is a thorough review of some of the issues you will come up against.

13 Steps for Creative Coastline Photography – a tutorial by Simon Bray for the fantastic Tutsplus network – this one is worth checking out for the examples alone.

5 Quick Tips for Coastal Photography – another cool list of tips from Digital Photography School with some fine examples too.

A Guide to Capturing Autumn Mist – a seasonal guide for landscape photographers who are looking to get good captures of mist in their work.

Southwest Desertphoto © 2010 Mike Tungate | more info (via: Wylio)


What Have I Done?photo © 2009 Jessy Celeste Eykendorp | more info (via: Wylio)

Exposure Blending and Landscape Photography

Our own Christopher O’Donnell has written some excellent advice on his landscape photography blog about getting the right exposure in your photographs with the art of exposure blending. We strongly suggest you check out these three fantastic articles and as with everything that Christopher writes, they are thorough and well-illustrated with examples and screen shots.

Unique Approaches to Landscape Photography

Landscape photography and the approaches that photographers take to it is as diverse as any art form. These tutorials will get you started in approaching landscape photography from a less traditional point of view.

HDR Landscape Photography Tutorial – A thorough sequence of tutorials from Naturescapes (fantastic website) about the HDR technique.

HDR Vertorama Mini Tutorial – A slight deviation from HDR in a short and easy tutorial. Jason Smith likes experimemnting with his own versions of HDR techniques so check out some of the other images on his site as they are quite unique.

Long Lens Landscapes – While it’s not uncommon, using a longer lens is not as common as using wide angle for landscape shots. This is a good introduction to going with the longer option.

Tilt Shift Lenses for Perspective Control – the tutorial is a good wrap up of using til shift lenses, but has a solid section dealing with using them for panoramas – something a lot of landscape photographers love to experiment with.

2006-05-09-04photo © 2006 Derek Purdy | more info (via: Wylio)

Hopefully this selection of cool tutorials should get you started with taking your own awesome landscapes. Once you’re addicted to landscape, there’s no turning back.

via Light Stalking » 14 Essential Landscape Photography Tutorials.

 

Creating Classy Compositions

Creating Classy Compositions

(via MadPhotographer)

10 Top Photography Composition Rules

It may sound clichéd, but the only rule in photography is that there are no rules. However, there are a number of established composition guidelines which can be applied in almost any situation, to enhance the impact of a scene.

These guidelines will help you take more compelling photographs, lending them a natural balance, drawing attention to the important parts of the scene, or leading the viewer’s eye through the image.

Once you are familiar with these composition tips, you’ll be surprised at just how universal most of them are. You’ll spot them everywhere, and you’ll find it easy to see why some photos “work” while others feel like simple snapshots.

Rule of Thirds

Imagine that your image is divided into nine equal segments by two vertical and two horizontal lines. Try to position the most important elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect. Doing so will add balance and interest to your photo. Some cameras even offer an option to superimpose a rule of thirds grid over the LCD screen, making it even easier to use.

lighthouse with rule of thirds grid on it.

Notice how the building and horizon are aligned along rule-of-thirds lines. Image by Trey Ratcliff.

Balancing Elements

Placing your main subject off-centre, as with the rule of thirds, creates a more interesting photo, but it can leave a void in the scene which can make it feel empty. You should balance the ‘weight’ of your subject by including another object of lesser importance to fill the space.

Road sign with building behind

Here, the visual weight of the road sign is balanced by the building on the other side of the shot. Image by Shannon Kokoska.

Leading Lines

When we look at a photo our eye is naturally drawn along lines. By thinking about how you place lines in your composition, you can affect the way we view the image, pulling us into the picture, towards the subject, or on a journey ‘through’ the scene. There are many different types of line – straight, diagonal, curvy, zigzag, radial etc – and each can be used to enhance our photo’s composition.

Road winding through mountains

The road in this photo draws your eye through the scene. Image by Pierre Metivier.

Symmetry and Patterns

We are surrounded by symmetry and patterns, both natural and man-made., They can make for very eye-catching compositions, particularly in situations where they are not expected. Another great way to use them is to break the symmetry or pattern in some way, introducing tension and a focal point to the scene.

Chapel entrance

The symmetry of this chapel is broken by the bucket in the bottom right corner. Image by Fabio Montalto.

Viewpoint

Before photographing your subject, take time to think about where you will shoot it from. Our viewpoint has a massive impact on the composition of our photo, and as a result it can greatly affect the message that the shot conveys. Rather than just shooting from eye level, consider photographing from high above, down at ground level, from the side, from the back, from a long way away, from very close up, and so on.

Man sitting on beach photographed from above

The unusual viewpoint chosen here creates an intriguing and slightly abstract photo. Image by ronsho.

Background

How many times have you taken what you thought would be a great shot, only to find that the final image lacks impact because the subject blends into a busy background? The human eye is excellent at distinguishing between different elements in a scene, whereas a camera has a tendency to flatten the foreground and background, and this can often ruin an otherwise great photo. Thankfully this problem is usually easy to overcome at the time of shooting – look around for a plain and unobtrusive background and compose your shot so that it doesn’t distract or detract from the subject.

Female violinist

The plain background in this composition ensures nothing distracts from the subject. Image by Philipp Naderer.

Depth

Because photography is a two-dimensional medium, we have to choose our composition carefully to conveys the sense of depth that was present in the actual scene. You can create depth in a photo by including objects in the foreground, middle ground and background. Another useful composition technique is overlapping, where you deliberately partially obscure one object with another. The human eye naturally recognises these layers and mentally separates them out, creating an image with more depth.

Sheep in field will misty hills in the background

Emphasise your scenes depth by including interesting subjects at varying distances from the camera. Image by Jule Berlin.

Framing

The world is full of objects which make perfect natural frames, such as trees, archways and holes. By placing these around the edge of the composition you help to isolate the main subject from the outside world. The result is a more focussed image which draws your eye naturally to the main point of interest.

Lake framed by hills either side

Here, the surrounding hills form a natural frame, and the piece of wood provides a focal point. Image by Sally Crossthwaite.

Cropping

Often a photo will lack impact because the main subject is so small it becomes lost among the clutter of its surroundings. By cropping tight around the subject you eliminate the background ‘noise’, ensuring the subject gets the viewer’s undivided attention.

Ceramic ornaments of characters hugging

Cut out all unnecessary details to keep keep the viewers attention focused on the subject. Image by Hien Nguyen.

Experimentation

With the dawn of the digital age in photography we no longer have to worry about film processing costs or running out of shots. As a result, experimenting with our photos’ composition has become a real possibility; we can fire off tons of shots and delete the unwanted ones later at absolutely no extra cost. Take advantage of this fact and experiment with your composition – you never know whether an idea will work until you try it.

Lone tree in field illuminated with golden light

Digital photography allows us to experiment with different compositions until we find the perfect one. Image by Jule Berlin.

Composition in photography is far from a science, and as a result all of the ‘rules’ above should be taken with a pinch of salt. If they don’t work in your scene, ignore them; if you find a great composition that contradicts them, then go ahead and shoot it anyway. But they can often prove to be spot on, and are worth at least considering whenever you are out and about with your camera.

(via MadPhotographer)

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2011 in Composition, Featured, Worth a Look

 

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