In the never ending quest to stay visually fresh, I have stumbled across a couple of really nice images that were both shot through glass. Not only does the glass provide nice framing but it allows you to include some nice reflective elements. Last weekend I shot an art festival in Athens and found the image of the stained glass window created by a stained glass artist. This weekend I was shooting a street festival in the rain and kept hearing this beautiful music. When I approached the scene the first view of the musicians I saw was through the window. I was absolutely arrested.
I love to hear classical music well played and strings singing together are just beautiful. The lady and her husband were two members of a string quartet but they were the only two playing when I arrived. The music floating out from under the entryway to a store was just wonderful. Then I saw her face framed in the reflections from the street and I knew I had a very nice image. The musician, Gonca Huff, was playing a cello and her husband Mark was playing a double bass. Her face was a study in beauty as she focused on the music. I don’t know if a picture could do justice to the sound but I absolutely loved the way her face was framed amid the reflections. She had a classically beautiful face that matched the music so very well and that is the first thing I see when I look at this photo.
The previous Saturday in Athens I was wandering around the courthouse square trying to find anything that would set this festival apart visually from the many other festivals that we shoot this time of year. September is just loaded with festivals. I found the stained glass booth and as much as I am a sucker for classical music, I may be twice as big a sucker for stained glass. I am drawn to stained glass like a moth to the flame. So I was bound and determined to get me a shot there. It didn’t take long to find the small, stained and cut glass window and to see the potential for framing a shot through it. The only difficulty was in waiting to find a person who would come close enough to the window to get a discernible face in the frame. I was on my knees and didn’t have to wait too long.
There are no great technical secrets involved in shooting this kind of picture. The only thing you really have to do is see the picture and make sure you do the little things to make it a good shot. For instance, framing the girl’s face in an undistorted portion of the window was really important. If her face distorts I don’t have a picture. Likewise, placing the musician’s face in a portion of the window that is not showing a distracting reflection is critical. Like I said, the music caught my attention but her face framed amid the reflections is what really arrested my attention.
The real challenge in shooting images like this is in getting something that is publishable in the newspaper. To be blunt, newsprint is about one step above toilet paper in terms of its ability to reproduce a color image well. If you are shooting for a magazine or the internet then you have no problems. If, however, you are shooting for newsprint you need to be aware of the limitations of your media. When ink hits newsprint it tends to wick out because of the porous nature of the paper. This can degrade sharpness and contrast so some images might not do too well on newsprint. That is another reason to pay close attention to the positioning of the face.
This type of image can be overdone too. In the newspaper business we are in the business of reporting the news. That means that editors may sometimes shy away from “artsy” images feeling they don’t help carry the news pages well. Doing “artsy” images, and I really hate that term by the way, is something you need to do sparingly. Festivals are great opportunities for these types of light weight images because if you don’t find something a little off the well worn visual path you will come away with nothing but images of people walking around looking at stuff. I don’t think I need to tell you how visually boring that would be. So use your opportunities to be “artsy” wisely but definitely use them when the opportunity presents itself.
Photos copyright Gary Cosby Jr., The Decatur Daily. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.