Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge – Cropping

Cee discusses ‘cropping’ in this week’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge. I’ve selected four photos that show before and after cropping.

1st Photo:

I really like the fence in this photo, but the right side of the shot is too distracting. Your eye doesn’t know where to focus.


Cropping-out the shrubs on the right and reducing the busyness of the shot makes the fence posts focal points and creates better composition.


2nd Photo:

I came across an old bath tub that was once used as a watering trough for cattle. I loved the old ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ fixtures, so I took the shot below.


By cropping the shot, I removed some of the negative space to highlight the fixture. You can see all of the fine detail on the rusted metal and you can even make out the word “HOT.”


3rd Photo:

I took the shot of these acorns using my macro lens. I got close, but not as close as I would have liked. I’d also like to position the acorns following the rule of thirds.


The cropped image is much more interesting and I love the detail.


4th Photo:

I took this shot of my daughter’s old typewriter months ago.


The cropped image removes some of the noise and allows a closer look at the keys. It becomes a photo less about the typewriter and more about the words it creates.


As always, I really enjoyed this challenged and I learned a lot!! Thanks Cee.


Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge – Week 14 – Symmetry

I am participating in week 14 of Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge. This week’s theme is Symmetry.

Our weather has been very dreary and unpredictable lately. I was hoping for snow today, so I could take some symmetry photos outside, but instead we got cold rain. So, I started taking symmetry shots indoors.

I immediately thought of the keys on our piano. It qualifies as having symmetrical parts.


Sticking with the music theme and symmetrical parts, I started taking shots of my guitar. Below is my favorite shot.


When I explained to my oldest son (who happens to be a senior in college studying graphic design) what I was doing, he suggested that I take some shots featuring symmetry of two equal parts. I moved on to common household items.


But then my son got really creative and suggested that I use a mirror. What better way to show symmetry than with reflection? I grabbed a broken glass and filled it with a little whiskey (for color). I took shots from several different angles, but below is my favorite. It shows vertical and horizontal two-part symmetry.


I had a lot of fun with this challenge and I got to spend some time being creative and brainstorming with my son. That was the best part. 🙂

Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge – Centerpoint – Breaking the Rule of Thirds

I am participating in Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge Week #11 Centerpoint – Breaking the Rule of Thirds.

This was the most difficult Rule of Thirds challenge for me. Possibly because I’m not a ‘rule breaker’ by nature. One of the first things I learned when I started photography was to follow the traditional Rule of Thirds. Therefore, while searching my archives I found that I take very few shots with the subject in the center.

So…I went outside and took some photos. (That’s what I love about Cee’s challenges. It forces me to get out there and put her lessons into practice).

Here are a few centerpoint shots I took this weekend.

Here are a few from my archives.

And one more to celebrate the Holidays.


I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas week!


Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge: Week #10 Using 2/3 of your photo frame

I am participating in Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge: Week 10 – Using 2/3 of your Photo Frame.

I was finally able to get out to take some photos this weekend. The weather here has been unseasonably warm. Temperatures that are usually in the 30’s, have reached the 60’s. I took advantage of this weather anomaly and grabbed my camera.

I found that I take a lot of shots following the Magic of Two-Thirds, even more so than The Rule of Thirds.

I love this door that I spotted on an old mausoleum in a neighborhood cemetery. Prominently positioning the door in the left two-thirds of the shot gives it lots of character.


The shot below also follows the Magic of Two-Thirds. Positioning the bike in the bottom corner with negative space in front of it, creates the illusion that someone will jump on and ride away.


I like this shot below because the small shed is in the bottom two-thirds of the shot. This gives it a unique look and makes the shed look much larger than it really is.


Last but not least, is my pug Princess Leia lounging in front of my Christmas tree. The lights create a nice bokeh and help draw the eye to her lovable mug. She’s just missing her crown.


Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge: Week #9 Rule of Thirds Introduction

I am participating in Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge: Week 9. This week’s theme is the Rule of Thirds. I try to keep the Rule of Thirds in mind when I am taking photos. I have noticed that I tend to take shots with the main subject in the upper right corner. I don’t do this intentionally, it just seems to happen. I have to remind myself to try different placements and angles.

Here is a perfect example. The flower bloom is in the upper right corner.


Here I tried to get fancy, experimenting with the upper and lower left corners.

But the thing I learned the most from this challenge is that you can use the columns and rows of a shot when following the Rule of Thirds. This can help anchor a shot and utilize negative space to highlight a subject.  I think the sunset shot below is an example of this. The dark trees at the bottom of the photo anchor the shot, but also create negative space to draw the eye up to the sun beams and clouds.


Finally, I’d love feedback on my last photo. I took this shot at a local amusement park this summer. This is a fun statue that everyone sits beside for a picture. I think it follows the Rule of Thirds since the statue is in the right one third of the shot and the rest is negative space. But maybe the negative space is too ‘busy.’ Constructive criticism is welcome…


Thanks for a wonderful challenge Cee! I learned so much!

Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge: Week #7 Vertical Lines

I am participating in Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge: Week 7 – Vertical Lines.

I’ve selected the photos below for the first part of the challenge – strong vertical lines.

For extra credit, I’m submitting the two shots below. I never take photos in portrait, so this challenge really encouraged me to think outside of the box. I was pleasantly surprised at the results.

I like the landscaped shot on the left of this old building and porch pillar. However, the photo on the right has much more appeal. You can see more of the tree in the foreground, causing your eye to move toward the top of the photo further elongating the vertical pillar and giving the photo more height.

I never would have taken this shot in portrait without Cee’s challenge. I will definitely be experimenting with portrait shots going forward.


Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge: Week #6 Horizontal Lines and Horizon

I am participating in Cee’ Compose Yourself Photo Challenge – Week #6. This week’s theme is Horizontal Lines and Horizons.

I’ve selected the photos below for the first part of the challenge. These are photos with many horizontal lines. I use the free software program ‘Gimp’ to edit and straighten my photos.

Extra Credit – Multiple Horizons

I chose this shot because the pond in the center of the photo creates multiple horizons.


Similarly, the ‘rock island’ in the middle of this river divides the shot and creates at least three horizon lines.


Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge: Week #4 Simplicity

I am participating in week #4 of Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge. This week’s topic is ‘simplicity.’

The weather has been dreary around here, so I decided to search my archives for photos depicting ‘simplicity.’ I enjoy macro photography, so I struggled to find photos with subjects that didn’t fill the frame or showcase intricate petals, stems, pollen, and antennae.

I finally selected the four photos below. Each photo has one main subject that doesn’t take up more than 1/4 of the photo, and the void spaces highlight the subjects. I sharpened the photos and increased the saturation slightly.

Extra Credit:

Black & White: Turning the photo below into black and white simplifies this photo and gives it more character.

Cropped: In the first photo, the duck blends into the scenery. By cropping the noise, the duck becomes the main subject.

I really enjoyed this week’s challenge and I learned a lot. Thanks for viewing my post!

Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge: Week #3

I’m participating in Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge: Week #3 Always Take More Than One Photo

This is one photography tip that I have no problem following. I learned very early on that one photo is never enough. There is nothing more frustrating than taking only one shot and then realizing later that it’s out of focus or the angle is all wrong. Taking multiple photos is my insurance policy that surely one of the shots will be ‘the one.’

Below are several photos I took of a sunflower. I didn’t crop the photos but I increased the contrast slightly. I used a 70-300mm lens with a macro feature.

Extra Credit:

I like the photo below because of the detail on the stem and leaves. I also like the background color.


I also like the shot below.  The center of the flower is in focus and you can see other plants in the background.


Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge: Week #2

I’m participating in Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge: Week #2 – What All Well-Composed Photos have in Common

I tend to take photos with one main subject. I like clean, streamlined images that evoke an immediate response or reaction. I try to remove all distraction for the audience.  However recently, I’ve been experimenting and trying to broaden my range of focus. Creating a good balance and keeping the subject identifiable can be difficult.

Below are a few examples of my photos that I believe have a ‘strong, easily identifiable subject.’




For extra credit, I’m also posting three additional photos: a beautiful or inspiring photo, a photo that makes me laugh, and a photo that is sad or melancholy.

Beautiful or inspiring…


Makes me laugh…


Sad or melancholy…