Guest Photo Challenge: Negative Space by Sue Judd

The very talented and creative photo blogger Sue Judd accepted to host today’s challenge at Lost in Translation which made me very happy and honoured. Sue came up with the theme “negative space” and if you read the article bellow, you’ll know what she meant.

Sue Judd:

sue judd

Negative Space

Negative space (sometimes referred to as white space) is the space in your image that does not contain your main subject (the positive space). It might be clear space with no detail or almost none, perhaps predominantly black or white, or it  might be a blurred background that contrasts with your (in focus) subject. Negative space is perhaps the single most important aspect that helps the subject in your work – the element of interest – stand out and attract the viewer’s attention.

When used properly, it will provide natural balance against the positive space in a scene, drawing our eye to the main subject and providing breathing space, something we don’t have if the image is too cluttered. The thing is, we don’t ‘see’ negative space naturally, we are too intent on concentrating on our subject. But it tends to help if you keep the composition as simple as possible. So how to achieve this?

In these first two examples, I have positioned my subjects in front of plain backgrounds – the negative space here is ’empty’, there is no detail to distract from the main subject.




Tulip bowing out

Another way to create negative space is to use a wide aperture, thus throwing your background out of focus.


School yourself to see negative space…patches of open sky, large areas of shadow, the blur of a wide aperture, the compression of objects in your frame created by using a long lens. But bear in mind that negative space does have it’s own visual ‘weight’….try to balance the elements, and beware of too much emptiness…you want to draw attention to your subject, not lose it completely!


Hopefully, these examples will spur you on to create your own efforts. Above all, have some fun!

Thursday’s Special: Organised Noise

Tobias M. Shiel today’s guest and photo challenger at Lost in Translation invited us to apply the concept of organised noise to photography.

In his inspiring post, Tobias elaborates the idea and gives us some very useful pointers as to how to approach this theme.

Here is my response:

organised noise-1_potpis_manja





Please join Tobias with this challenging theme and leave links and tags #Guestchallenge, #ThursdaysSpecial, #organised noise.


Please have a look at the entries of the participating bloggers by clicking on the titles bellow:


Silent Building?


Organized noise by Tish

Organized noise by Klara

Organized noise by Lynne

Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park Mexico

Organized noise by Pommepal

Organized noise by Sanfermo

January Snow and Pathways

Guest Photo Challenge: The Local Watering Hole (Black & White)

Irene Waters



For those of us that live in the city turning on a tap is our method of obtaining water and it is often a vital commodity we give little thought to. Living in rural areas or in areas where water is scarcer we realise its immeasurable value. On the island of Tanna there are no rivers, lakes and very little surface water available. Instead villagers get their drinking water at the ocean’s edge, digging a pit which fills with fresh water at high tide as a result of the pressure causing the water table to rise. Otherwise they catch rain water and the lucky ones have sunk a bore. Wild horses are lucky to find a place to drink. In Australia many refer to the pub (hotel) as the watering hole.
I’m looking forward to seeing your photos of your interpretation of a local watering hole. Perhaps you have been on safari in Africa and captured some animals drinking, perhaps it is where your water for your town comes from, a reservoir, tank or perhaps it is where you have a cup of coffee in the morning.
As with all black and white photography paying attention to the contrast, shadows, tone and texture is important as colour is not able to lead the eye.






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Entries to this challenge are:

Guest Challenge: How to Tell a Story through B&W Photography



So, the last time that I guest-posted here we focused on getting emotionally involved with the subject matter we’re recording in full colour photography.  Now, we’re going to work a little harder by producing black and white images.  Stay emotively connected, you’re still going to need to apply that to whatever type of photography you prefer.

Why is black and white photography harder to do?  It’s because most of us see in vivid living colour.  We’re so used to seeing that way that we also instinctively try to shoot that way.  Unless severely colour blind, we technically do not see in monochrome.  Our eyes themselves do not see in colour, but our brains extract that photonic information from the light spectrum, and processes it so that we can appreciate colour.

In order to see in black and white; therefore, we have to condition our minds to ignore all or most colour, as though it’s a distraction, and concentrate on all the other aspects of imagery at the moment we are shooting:

  • Form/shape;

  • Texture;

  • Light and shadow (from bright white, through all grey values, to pitch black);

  • High or low intensity of contrast;

  • Soft diffuseness or hardness of light;

  • Opaqueness of darkness;

  • Composition;

  • Whatever else we can use to dramatize and describe whatever we’re shooting.

Although it’s a funny word to be associating with creative photography, what we want to do is illustrate our subject matter.

My background in the arts is that of an illustrator.  Illustrators use visual art to tell stories; either real or imagined.  I am specifically a 2D visual artist; I paint and draw.  It is the techniques that I rely on as an illustrator that I also apply to my photography, especially my B/W work.  Here are a few illustrators’ narrative techniques that you will need for this challenge:

  1. Exploit exaggerations, especially in regards to physical movement.  We like to photograph faces because so much can be interpreted; accurately or inaccurately, from someone’s physiognomy and expressions.  Sometimes, however, you can’t or don’t want to photograph people up close.  This obviously means that you can’t rely on faces too much in telling a story.  Look for body movement that illustrates that someone or something has triggered a reaction in another.  If a cat is virtually motionless while pivoting only an ear to focus on a sound coming from somewhere, it may be better to wait for that cat to turn its head and articulate its body in order to look in the direction of the sound.  Photograph that body language.  Show that exaggeration.

  1. Play mind games through straight photography.  Many of us enjoy using Photoshop and its contemporaries to make unrealistic scenes, like turtles flying through the pellucid air of someone’s bedroom.  There is a challenge; nevertheless in trying to photograph something as it actually is while relying mainly or exclusively on tricks of natural or unnatural light to create a fanciful idea.  Induce emotions, curiosity, surprise and bewilderment in your viewers by making them question if what they see is possible or not.  M.C. Escher was an illustrator who did this often.

  1. Photograph subject matter that either leads up to or away from the climax of a story.  Yes it can be powerful to photograph a house, fully engulfed in flames with its family and neighbours standing by watching firefighters do their best to save the home.  Impact can still be made about how the place looks after it’s been gutted, and the homeless family might be in a temporary shelter somewhere dealing with loss and an insurance company.  There’s a story outside of the climax that needs to be investigated and told.

Now let’s see what happens to your B/W photography.  Straight monochromes, duotones, tritones, and quadtones are all included in the black and white realm of photography.  Show the world what you can do!




Chico Solitario

Chico Solitario


Hey Look at Me When I'm Talkin' to Ya

Hey Look at Me When I’m Talkin’ to Ya


It's Been a Long Night

It’s Been a Long Night


Life Is . . .

Life is …


Low Key

Low Key


Shame On You

Shame On You


Here follow links to contributors’ posts: 

Guest challenge: Street Photography/Portraits




I am honored that Paula has invited me to host the Thursday challenge this week.  Our theme this week is street photography – and while many people have different takes on approaching street shots – I invite you to share a photo that speaks to you!

Some folks try to photograph that special moment, some look for setting and include a rich backdrop, and then others might want a distant shot with little interaction – but the bottom line is that there is no single formula.

For my featured photo today, I highlighted the artsy expression of a college student.

This is Audrey, a German major at a local college – who also has great interest in art history.  Her tattoos, or body art, spoke to me and when I asked her if I could take her photo, she said, “Absolutely.”

 For this week’s challenge, I invite you to share a street photo that speaks to you.  It can be from a distance, it can include a rich setting, or it can be a posed shot like this featured one with Audrey.

Best Wishes,







Fabulous entries from contributing bloggers:

Guest Challenge: How to Tell a Story through Colour Photography

 allan hamilton

Allan Hamilton (The Mofman):

Finally!  I get to present this challenge.  It’s no fault of Paula’s, she asked me to guest post a long time ago.  I just haven’t been able to make time to commit to this opportunity, and I’ve really been looking forward to doing it.  In fact, I hope that this is the first of two of these posts.  Thank you Paula.

This challenge-slash-tutorial is about storytelling with photography.  I’m sure that you’ve heard many highly successful photographers place emphasis on being able to reach others by using photographic skills to convey a story.  Whether it’s with a series of pictures, such as a photo essay or even harder, with a single image, we can’t reach anyone without effectively conveying a story.  Although there’s a long list of photographers who have proven to be exceptionally gifted at this, it is definitely easier said than done.  If it were easy, it wouldn’t be a challenge now would it?

In this challenge we’re going to make the effort as easy as possible by shooting in colour.  That’s not to say that storytelling through colour photography is easy, it’s just a little easier than doing it through monochrome photography.

What’s the usual way we try to tell real or imaginary stories through photography?  We rely on the usual physical and technological techniques that pretty much everybody has heard or read about by now.  Things like:

  • Careful equipment selection;

  • Use of talented models;

  • Use of filters and other accessories;

  • Timing;

  • Exposure settings;

  • Composition;

  • Carefully selected natural or artificial lighting or shade;

  • Cropping and post-production editing; etc.

Good.  Hang on to those dearly.  You’re still going to need them.  As useful as they are; however, they only get us partway to our goal of making a mental impact on others.  You’ll have to apply them with other more sensatory considerations; aesthetics and emotion.  Get ready to apply those to whatever type of photography you prefer to express yourself with.

Portrait photography; you probably don’t want your shots of someone’s likeness to be flat and emotionless by having them stand before your lens looking straight into it blankly or with some artificially induced reaction.  You look at the work of Steve McCurry and Annie Liebovits and instantly recognize how they naturally captivate you.  There before you are profound glimpses of personalities coming at you from a two-dimensional medium.  It’s amazing.  A personality could be saying my story is that I am someone’s grandmother, and I have survived war, extreme hunger and malnutrition since the age of five.  One maybe saying, I just graduated from high school, and I’ll soon be leaving home for the first time to start university.

Street photography, rural photography and photojournalism; oh yes, those of us who engage in these genres and field itch to capture those personalities but also more.  We try to convey the importance or significance of the circumstances that those personalities are subject to at specific moments in time.  We do this in order to make statements about communities or society at large.  It’s not enough to photograph just anyone walking down a street; we’re trying so hard to show how a subject and what’s going on in their environment reveals a way of life somewhere near or far.  A story could be why some seventeen year-old drug dealer brandishes his 9 mm Glock with the cockiness of a seasoned gangster.  The story might instead be how people can be so comfortable doing personal things in public that a man is willing to nonchalantly floss his teeth in a restaurant, in full view of other patrons.

Urban and landscape photography; you’re driving along a highway in Colorado when suddenly, snowcapped mountains glistening in the evening sun seem to rise up on both sides of you and scrape the threshold of outer space.  The light and colours are so perfect that you need to stop, grab your camera, jump out of your car and quickly compose a shot because you are determined to show everyone back home how you know that you have experienced God’s power out there in the great frontier.  Ansel Adam’s landscape work is so incredible because he had an ever so strong passion for nature and conservation.  He was also a humanitarian.  You may be familiar with his landscape work but have you seen the portraits he published in “Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese-Americans?”  It’s so eerie; downright uncomfortable, to see the happy, smiling faces of people being forced to live in fear.  Perhaps there’s a long abandoned and dilapidated baseball stadium that’s been in your town since 1901, and you have the chance to go in and feel the nostalgia that has gone unrecognized for decades before the city has a demolition contractor blow it to bits.  You want to make every old time baseball lover sense the ghosts of the now unlit stadium through your imagery.

Wildlife photography; you’ve spent all week in some African national park waiting to see some interesting creature.  Just before your time is up, you spot a lion brazenly stalking an adult male giraffe.  Knowing that this is truly undocumented behavior, you stick around long enough to record how the giraffe makes one kick with a hind leg and drops the powerful lion motionless in the dirt.  A viewer will connect more with an image depicting natural animal behaviour than a picture of a beautiful animal just looking beautiful.

Sports and action photography; at a local shiai, you get to show how a skinny 14 year-old sparred valiantly in her last a 5-point karate match.  A crowd of parents begin to protest loudly, and you zoom in on the young girl’s face as tears start to flow down her cheeks the moment she realizes that she will lose no matter what she does.  With the spectators crying foul, she just found out that one of the referees is the father of the other girl she’s up against.  It has just come to light that he and the judges, who are his friends, don’t run this tournament fair and square.

Regardless of what type of photography you shoot, see the possibilities.  Know what you must strive for.

How do you do it?  Allow yourself to feel.  I mean really feel.  That’s the challenge.

Try to identify with the circumstances in front of your lens.  Whether in favor of it or against it try to moralize it or politicize it in your mind.  Try to appreciate the humor in it or the adventure, wonder or even horror of it.

Most will agree that drama is something to keep out of your life but in order to make a photograph have power to move others, you’re going to have to let yourself get a just little bit emotional and shoot under such conditions.

By nature, our species is an emotional one.  At times overly so but although the world today is pushing to turn everyone into completely logical Star Trek Vulcans, we can still benefit from many emotional experiences.  It remains an important means of communicating to and relating with each other.  Make images that speak to others emotions.

Take on this challenge, and let’s see what happens to your full colour photography.

Later, we’ll try storytelling again but in black and white, and I’ll break it down in a more systematic fashion.

Good luck!

 Bubble Girl

Bubble Girl





Rainbow Girl

Rainbow Girl





The Nice Policeman

The Nice Policeman


World Cup Win

World Cup Win


People have responded to this guest challenge:

Guest Challenge: Symbolism



The Venetian Gondola

The shiny, sleek keel-less vessels navigating the winding waterways of Venice, might not be the choice of transport of its diminished local population any longer, but they remain the most familiar visual identifiers of the city. Cliched symbols inextricably linked to its cultural identity. Perhaps more universally recognised than its monumental components.

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While a selfie on a romantic cruise is a mandatory ‘must do’ on most Venice itineraries, few tourists are aware of the gondola’s history or the symbolism inherent in its design.

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The earliest known ancestors of the present gondole were large, multi-oared boats with little ornamentation. By the fifteenth century they shrank considerably in size, acquiring vibrant awnings, ornate seating and plush upholstery. Within a century, they evolved into sleeker, sumptuous and colourful showpieces of wealthy aristocrats, until a 17th century egalitarian Doge’s edict decreed the uniform black enamel and the precise dimensions of 10.87m by 1.42 m. The only change since has been the lengthening of the left side by 24cm to counterbalance the gondoliers weight and rowing action. This late 19th century refinement gives the craft its characteristic list along with its current fluidity of motion.

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Each gondola assembled from 280 components is handcrafted from eight types of natural wood. Each is fitted to individual gondoliers, with unique and detachable rowlocks – forcola – carved to the gondoliers personal specifications. And each incorporates visual metaphors in its elegant design embellishments.

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The sinuous shape of the heavy iron prow the ferro di prora, is said to mimic the Grand Canal itself. Its distinctive blade, the Doge’s cap. The six prongs (rebbi) beneath, depict the six sestieri (neighbourhoods), and the lone prong opposite (risso di poopa), the island of Giudecca. The other iconic symbol of the city, the Rialto bridge, is represented by the tiny arch between the ‘cap’ and the prongs!

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With the number of vessels plying the canals down to a few hundred from some 10,000 at the end of the 16th century, and just three squeri (shipwright) working overtime to replace aged craft, this most beautiful boat in the world faces the risk of fading into the pages of history. Regardless of the fact that it only ferries tourists today, Venice would not be Venice without its gondole.

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Especially written for Paula’s Thursday Special challenge – Symbolism. I am honoured to be hosting today’s challenge…..thank you very much Paula! 

Guest Challenge: Architecture in Black & White 02



Cardinal Guzman:

In the beginning of January I had a guest post here in Paula’s blog on B&W architecture photography. Now 3 months have passed and it’s time for the sequel in the series. I hope that you joined the first post, but even if you didn’t you can still join this one.

Return to where you shot the architecture shots last time. Now the season has changed a bit, the light is different (at least it is in the Northern Hemisphere where I live). If the season hasn’t changed much where you live, choose a different time of the day to take your second set of photos. Re-shoot the same place and try keep an open mind and have a look at it with “new” eyes. Perhaps try a different lens? (a different lens is not necessary, but optional).

Think about new angles, lines, curves, things that you’ve might have missed last time. If it’s difficult for you to find anything new, maybe you can try to reproduce your previous shot? It can be a good practice to try to reproduce shots –  you’ll probably notice that it’s difficult to get the same shot twice, even if you try.

When you’re shooting try to look for interesting angles, lines, curves and/or details that people might ignore. Try shooting from afar, see how it feels, then try some close-ups. Compare the shots and think about which ones that are most appealing. Keep in mind that it’ll be black & white, so contrasts are very important – you don’t want a grey and flat photo. When you know you’ve got your shot, turn it into B&W (or you can set your camera to shoot in B&W if you’re not into processing and software), do your post-processing (if you’re into that) and leave a link to your blog here in Paula’s blog.

Try to think about what has changed from your first post: are you a better photographer? Did you use a different lens? A different camera? Which version do you like best and why?

 Entries to this challenge:

Guest Challenge: Abstract




Abstracted moments

I’m very happy to be writing the guest post for Paula’s Photo Challenge this week. The subject I’ve chosen is abstract photography.

The contemporary world is filled with visual stimulation that demands we pay attention and engage with it in some way. Sometimes it can be relief to take time out and let go of the urge to make sense of what is seen – to focus instead on the act of seeing rather than the intellectual processes of naming and analysing what is being seen.

Taking photographs in such a reflective and abstracted state can produce images that become suggestions of environments and moods rather than concrete descriptions of the visual worlds. The viewer is then free to create their own interpretation and the image can become a metaphor.

In the photos of salt lakes that I took last week I experimented with the idea of photographic images as metaphors for openness and timelessness.

Photos of the play of light on water and of distorted reflections can become abstracted images that are ambiguous and fluid.

Abstract photography is not restricted to images of the natural environment. Street lights, fireworks and the world seen through rain splattered windows are time honoured subjects but really the limits are those of your own imagination. It’s all about experimenting and having fun.


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Check out these terrific abstract entries: 

Guest Challenge: Restoration


Restless Jo:

Last August I made an unplanned visit to Seaton Delaval Hall in Northumberland.  I was in the area, visiting St. Mary’s Lighthouse at Whitley Bay.  I knew of the gardens at the Hall, but nothing of the house, so when I saw on the signpost that it was barely 2 miles away, curiosity won.  The huge shell of a house that I found astounded me.

It was, by and large, shrouded in scaffolding, and entry looked improbable, if not a little uninviting.  Still, the National Trust signboard proclaimed that it was open.  Entry was via the gardens at the rear of the house and there was an hour till closing time.  Clouds were gathering overhead, so into the garden I went.

There is topiary, parterres, a rose garden, fountains, pools and statues within the 3 acres of this garden.  Anyone who loves gardens will find something here to admire, but what drew me like a magnet was the lily pond, with its gurgling frog.  It was surrounded by blue agapanthus, with a tantalising view of the house beyond.


The perfection of a water lily

A path led through the grounds and I was distracted by the sight of a substantial chapel.  A volunteer was keen to share the history and I learnt that it dated back to Norman times.  Family crests adorned the walls.  There was obviously much to learn but, mindful of time, I picked up a leaflet and headed towards the house.

The Norman chapel

The Norman chapel

Seaton Delaval Hall is Grade 1 listed and was designed in 1718 by Sir John Vanbrugh, the architect of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard. Like many of our English homes, it has a patchy history. The Delavals were loyal supporters of William the Conqueror, and were gifted the land for their services at the Battle of Hastings. Admiral George Delaval made his fortune in the Navy, and bought the estate from his bankrupt cousin in the 1700s. When he asked Vanbrugh to help him modernise, he was advised to demolish all but the Norman chapel. The Admiral had grandiose ideas, and wanted a turret from which to view the ocean on each corner of his home.

Neither patron nor architect lived to see its completion. In 1728, two years after the death of the Admiral in a riding accident, the mansion was completed and his nephew, Francis, moved in. The ‘gay Delavals’ brought high good times, and not a little scandal, to the house, but they also exploited the estate’s natural resources. Salt, coal and glass were produced, and a dock was created for export from the local harbour.

Tragedy struck in 1822, when the Hall was gutted by fire, thought to have been caused by jackdaws nesting in the chimney. For forty years the building was without a roof, until local architect John Dobson was hired to shore it up. Internally it remained a shell, the 30 ft high great hall still showing the effects of fire, with blackened walls and muses in the lofty niches.

Further partial restorations took place down the years until finally the National Trust were approached.  After fourteen months of fundraising, they received the keys in December 2009.


Over the garden wall

I could not bring myself to take photos of the scaffolding entrapping the house. But when I stepped inside, I was staggered at the height of the Great Hall. A guide explained about the ongoing work and a little of the family history.

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There’s a ghost story, of course, and tales of military occupation and potential ruin. The house has enormous presence and I found myself willing it to be made whole again, just like the model.
In writing this piece, I returned to the Seaton Delaval website, and was delighted to see the scaffolding removed. The stucco statues are restored, high in their niches and the tiled floor immaculate once more. You can imagine, I’m keen to go back there in the Spring. The work is a long way from finished. The National Trust have ambitious plans for this property, and many others within their care.
I’m writing this post for Paula, with the theme of Restoration, for Thursday’s Special. Do you have a restored property that you would like to share, or maybe one that’s in need of love and attention? I would be delighted to see it. When I return to Seaton Delaval Hall, I shall certainly be sharing it with you. Opening times and full details of the project are within the links.

It just remains to thank Paula for letting me play hostess, or should I say ‘lady of the manor’?


Entries to this challenge are:

Guest Challenge: Let the Shapes Shine Through (B&W Sunday)




Debbie Smyth

The art of photography is all about directing the attention of the viewer.”
-Steven Pinker

This week, I’m delighted to be writing a guest post for Paula’s Black & White Sunday Challenge.

I love black and white photography, and for many reasons. I’m a big fan of street photography; due to the brilliant works of some of the greats such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Gary Winogrand, and the recently discovered Vivian Maier, black and white and street photography go hand in hand in my mind.  Going monochrome can, in my view, add anonymity for the subjects and increase atmosphere.  For me the most important point about monochrome is that by removing the distraction of colour, the photographer is able to direct the viewer to the key elements of the image.  Going monochrome is one of several tools we have as a photographer that allows us to provide focus.

To illustrate, here’s a couple of monochrome edits of two structures in La Defense, a business area in Paris.

Now, here is the original – the eye can’t help but look at the colours, rather than the shapes. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I wanted people to take note of the curves and the juxtaposition of shapes, not the redness of the arch.




This doesn’t apply only to architecture; in the scene below, the thing that caught my eye was the way the shapes of the two men preoccupied with their phones echoed the shape of the metallic sculpture in the foreground. In the colour version the eye is dragged too quickly to the bright buses, whereas I wanted to highlight the shapes.

In the shot below, on the much-photographed Millennium Bridge over the Thames, I opted for a high contrast black and white image to highlight the balance of shapes: the lone person below and the bustle of people above.

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I hope my musings have inspired you to post your own monochrome masterpiece.

“Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected.”
-Robert Frank

Steven Pinker – b 1954, Canada, experimental psychologist and author, specialising in visual cognition and psycho-linguistics.
Robert Frank – b. 1924, USA, photographer and documentary filmmaker – his most notable works the 1958 book, The Americans.

Here are the responses to this guest challenge: