Lucky shot, or is it…?

By David de Leeuw

David de Leeuw‘WOW!’ – I’m sure every photography enthusiast recognizes the feeling when you hit the shutter button on your camera and instantly realize you have a winner here. It happens to me once every 100 shots or so. Not that much, indeed. And while my ‘a day without a good photo is a day not lived’ – motto drives me to pimp and/or fantasize non-existent beauty in my other pics, deep down I KNOW that’s no way to crank up my success rate.

So maybe good things are worth waiting for and I should thank the Lord or the Flying Spaghetti Monster for my luck, or is there a way to trick fate into handing me more WOWs?

David de Leeuw
Fortunately, there is. Luck can be tempted to be on your side. A few tricks I employ to that end:

1 Go out a LOT.

Take your camera with you everywhere you go. That way, when you glimpse something beautiful, it can be captured. Don’t be tempted to let it go, but pause and take the time to take that photo. You never know.

2 Be alert

Pay attention to what happens in the corner of your eye. If something you see gives you that WOW-feeling, even if it’s just like a kind of stir, it’s probably worth your time.

3 Act before you think

Hit the shutter button immediately when something happens quickly but you suspect it might be beautiful. Hey, we have digital photography now! Who cares about a few hundred wasted shots.

4 Get a compact camera

Use a compact camera for maximum reaction speed! Oh wait, that’s just because I lack money to buy one with interchangeable lenses. Skip that.

David de Leeuw5 Gain experience

Gain experience and use it. I now know the temptations of the blue hour, around sunrise or sunset. I especially love it when it becomes the red or pink or golden hour, and when the water of my Amsterdam canals becomes still and reflective. So that’s for timing. I’ve also come to appreciate the shadow and silhouette worlds that backlight can provide: shooting against the sun can produce some wonderful instant mystery. And to that end I like small diaphgrams, a lot.

6 Experiment.

Improve. After too much of the same, I start to bore my audience and myself. Look at pics by famous photographers and be inspired. I try to add more dynamics to my photos. People moving and all that.

7 Leave some room for cropping

Don’t worry about getting it exactly right immediately. Ofcourse tweaking your camera settings is essential, but when not sure about framing the picture, make sure to leave some room for cropping.

And then. Respect luck and accept it whether it decides to lend a hand or to take a nap instead. You’ll see some photos I took posted with this column. They would definitely not have been possible without sheer luck. So thank you, luck. I’ll keep on wandering around to let it find me, and hope it will find you too.

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Likes, egos and freedom

By David de Leeuw
David de LeeuwI share I lot of my photography on facebook as well as elsewhere on the internet. Aside from (if I’m lucky) ego-boosting numbers of likes, comments are made and often a dialogue with the audience ensues. A ritualistic exercise in futility, I find.
Some examples:

1. ‘Mind the rule of thirds!’

A favourite among some of my followers. The rule of thirds means that the object of your photo should be at an intersection located somewhere else than smack in the middle. That would be more pleasing to the eye. Well, I disagree, even if the principle were true in general. I like a lot of my work, especially reflections, with a horizon SMACK in the middle. I work intuitively, learn as I go and make up my own rules. Reinventing the wheel perhaps, but definitely evolving my way instead of fearfully studying all possible rules and techniques, or maybe attending a boring, ‘let’s drain those sheep of all their money’- kind of photography school, before finally venturing out. Does this make my photographs less pleasing to the eye? A growing number of buyers don’t seem to think so. And neither, of course, do I.

Cyclist, David de Leeuw Amsterdam 2015

2. ‘Make it a square!’

I truly have no idea why people so vehemently propagate square photos. I like all sorts of formats. Broad often makes a dramatic impression, long vertical photographs can both minimise and, therefore, accentuate some tiny detail(s) at the bottom edge. And, most importantly, I DO rather than THINK. My photographs come into existence without much thought, but with just the eye, intuition and experience. That is the ‘story’ and ‘philosophy’ behind my work.

3. ‘You always photograph reflections in water!’

Yes! 🙂 I bloody well photograph what I like. That’s what’s being an artist is about. If you don’t like it, don’t try and make me do something you DO like – go look for artists who cater to your needs. I do what I want and the popularity of my work is a pleasant consequence to me, not a driving factor. I am not an art takeaway – what were you thinking?

Now, this is not to say that I am a very accomplished photographer. Remember, I just started three years ago. I can safely say, however, that a lot of comments originate from people who –when I take a look at their photos- almost never succeed in bringing magic into their work. One can sense they are stifled by convention and obsessed with technique and equipment. ‘I have just bought a so-and-so camera with a this-and-that lense!’ they clamour, and still the results remain the same – bleak and boring, boring and bleak.

My equipment has been, and will be for some time, a modest compact camera – the Panasonic Lumix DMC LX5 and LX7. Suits me just fine and it’s all I need. I can carry it around and use it everywhere. Heck, I’ve seen people make fantastic shots with their mobile phones. Equipment is second to artistry. So, all you would-be critics: surpass me by your works, not words!

Two cities

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How to make an abstract selfie

Are you ready to reinvent yourself? Rembrandt did it, Van Gogh did it and so can you! We have an irresistible solution. Instead of going around with a selfie stick to get the best angle for your profile picture. Instead of going to the hairdresser or making radical life choices like gambling away your house or cutting off an ear, you could try Clippr. Clippr is an online image distorter developed by Elout the Kok, owner of Pixel Lab. It is fun to try and gives you an abstract portrait for free. Get your own artistic selfie at Clippr. You can’t change the world, but you can change yourself.

Unfortunately, the mobile version of Clippr has some difficulties. You can see how the tool works, though. To create your own work you will have to get to you desktop or laptop to run it. Sorry, we are working on that! We hope you will enjoy it anyway.


Metamorphosis: Van Gogh and Rembrandt meet Clippr

Tutorial on Clippr

Not sure how it works? Read the tutorial.


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