Say cheese (definition); an instruction used in photography who want their subjects to smile. By saying 'cheese' most people form their mouths into what appears to be a smile-like shape. Additionally, the absurdity of saying 'cheese' for no apparent reason, can incite glee in some people.
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"There are no rules for good photographers...there are only good photographers." Ansel Adams
For over 30 years, I was a woodcarver, and during that time, I carved over 200 different cartoon-like characters in wood. (almost all were captioned). I also carved a few wildlife and religious pieces...but since I always liked to make people laugh...I pretty much stayed with the cartoon-like characters. That's where photography and writing came in.
As a woodcarver, I participated in over 40 arts and crafts shows all over the state during that time. One time, I participated in a show held at the Hilton hotel, where there was about 75 exhibitors in the two ballrooms.
There was another woodworker participating that day...and he was showing and selling his beautiful hope chests that he made. They were made in different sizes and of different woods like cedar; pecky cedar; mahagony; cherry, etc. He did beautiful work!
It would be the photography of his work where he would fail miserably! He had an album of his work on his display, and I thumbed through it, to see more of his current and past work. I was appalled at what I saw!
He had constructed many pieces over the years, and so he had quite a bit to show in his album...all terribly the same! You see, he photographed these beautiful hope chests...every one of them...on the tail-gate of a beat-up and rusty old 1952 dark green pick-up truck! (yuk!) This was just such an awful setting and background for such beautiful work, etc. Why would anyone do this? Photograph such beautiful work on such an obsenity!
This is an example of how the setting and/or the background of a picture makes a big difference in the quality of the picture.
"Photography takes an instant out of time, altering time by holding it still." Dorothea Lange
A blizzard of color (Icicles): It was a cold morning in March, and I was up early on a Saturday and getting out to do my chores, etc. I turned the corner, and headed down the highway, when I noticed to the entrance of the shopping center, an island with about four small trees. The grass was still brown...but turning green, and the sprinklers were on, and the wind was blowing hard...about 30 mph with gusts about 40 to 50 mph. The wind was swirling the water around, and the mist from the water was going in every direction possible!
Because the wind was blowing so hard, and the sprinklers were on...it made for one of the most beautiful settings for me to take a picture. So, I turned back to go home to get the camera and not let this get away from me, etc.
Water from the sprinklers was being blown all over the place...in every direction...up and down...east...north...west and south! Gorgeous and colorful icicles were forming on the trees from the cold morning which was about 30 degrees; the wind blowing hard and the sprinklers being on. What a unique and colorful sculpture was being formed by the wind, sun and water. I took about six pictures of this artistic creation, and when I got the pictures back, these were some of the best pictures I had ever taken. I am so glad I captured the moment, etc. Dazzling display of man-made icicles on the trees...what a sight! The pictures were cool, too! Get it? (pun intended)
Black and white picture in color: One day, I was at the park to take some more pictures...then all of a sudden, it started to snow! I felt I could get in a few pictures if it started snowing hard. So, I continued with my picture-taking journey and about an hour later I finished and went back to the car. When I got back to the car in the parking lot, I noticed something strange and beautiful. The snow was still gently falling in certain places. I noticed the cracks in the asphalt gathering snow, which made for an unusal design...looked like a picture puzzle in black and white.
I was careful not to take a picture of the yellow lines in the parking lot...only the snow gathering in the cracks of the asphalt. When I got the pictures back...they were great...all this white snow zig-zagging across the black asphalt! This is the only color picture I've taken...that came out in black and white. I call the picture, 'Falling Through the Cracks"
"Photography is truth." Jean-LucGodard
Embarrassing myself to get the picture: As I said earlier, I have about over 200 figures that I carved over the years. One of them, was a piece I called the "mad scientist." In my mind, I pictured the 'mad scientist' mixing the wrong chemicals...and the explosion blew his through the roof in the lab...and the 'mad scientist' could be scene danggling from a tree branch, etc. But, how was I going to get the 'mad scientist' to be dangling from a tree branch and make it look realistic?
There was a ravine (arroyo) next to the park, and one day, I was just looking around for ideas for the next shoot. That day, I noticed there was a pile of trash that was dumped by somebody in the ravine. Upon closer check, I noticed several small branches in the pile of garbage. The branches had small branches...sort of like spagetti-like branches which was what I was looking for. I thought for a moment, and then came up with an idea to photograph my 'mad scientist.'
I had to get down on my back in the ravine...and scoot under the branches...sort of like a mechanic scoots of a creeper to get under a car. I scooted on the gravel on my back until I got the right angle for the picture. I placed the 'mad scientist' on one of the branches...which bent right away...but didn't break!
Amazingly, this was the answer! As I aimed the camera at the 'mad scientist'...with the blue sky in the background along with the puffy clouds...I got the picture I was looking for. When the pictures were developed, they were great! Nobody would ever guess how I got this picture...but I had to work for it, and embarrass myself to get it!
Here's a grown man, down in a ravine, lying on his back on the gravel under a pile of trash, taking a picture of a wooden figure. This man should be locked up in a mental institution and the keys thrown away! (blush-blush) I agree...
Silhouettes: I love silhouettes...whether it be clip-art or any other medium. I wanted some silhouette photos of my wood carvings in the worst way! But, how could I do it...I had already failed getting a silhouette at sundown! Once in a great while...I get a brilliant idea...let's say every 200 million years! Anyway, I got this idea to shape down the wood figure...not finish it...and then I would spray the wood figure with black paint! (I then removed the paint later)
It worked beautifully, as now the time or the light of the day didn't matter as much, I got several silhouettes at dusk. What made these pictures stand out, was the sunset itself. Everyone knows every sunset is different...orange; gold; pink; purple and so forth! Once in awhile, I can show my brilliance! (ok 'Mr. Brilliant,' didn't I see you the other day, lying on your back down in a ravine, under a pile of trash taking some pictures?) (can we change the subject? blush/blush)
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"The world just does not fit conviently into a 35mm camera." Eugene Smith
I think a good background; the setting of a photograph is just as important as the subject of the photo.
But, if the reader is into cheesey photography...the next time you're taking a picture of one of your friends coming out of; going into; or proudly standing next to a porta-potty...remind your friend to...say cheese...won't you?
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