Sheila White Guevin: Blog en-us (C) Sheila White Guevin (Sheila White Guevin) Tue, 07 Mar 2023 19:55:00 GMT Tue, 07 Mar 2023 19:55:00 GMT Sheila White Guevin: Blog 120 120 Gestalt Theory for Photography



Gestalt theory, based on Gestalt Psychology of the early 1900’s, is summed up in the adage “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”.  Gestalt theory is taught to graphic designers so they can create more dynamic, impactful and memorable images.


 When applied to photography the theory shows us how our brains look for structure and patterns in order to organize and simplify complex images. Our brains group together parts of an image instead of treating at it as a series of unconnected elements. Viewing images in this way, gives the viewer a visual understanding of the photograph in a very short period of time. Basically, in the blink of an eye, as little as 13 milliseconds. Faster than the shutter on the camera that took the photo.


Creating more engaging photographs starts by understanding how the viewer will “see” the photograph. We think that it should be the way we see it, but the viewer lacks a powerful element which distorts our view: the original experience. When you remove the emotions of the experience, does the photograph still resonate with the viewer as it did with us? To truly share that moment, we need to apply the composition rules we can learn through Gestalt.


The following 10 Gestalt theory ideas should help you on your quest to create better photographs. As you learn to apply these guidelines, you should be able to capture the photograph you want in camera!


This list shows 10 ways the brain, as defined by Gestalt, reads your photographs.


  1. Figure/Ground   The eye quickly decides what is the subject or figure and what is the background. When this is unclear the photograph appears unstable to the viewer. If the photograph is unstable, so is the message.
  2. Similarity   Shape, size, color or texture can allow the eye to perceive things as belonging together.
  3. Focal Points  These are points of interest that draw the eye and hold the attention of the viewer. Certain colors white, yellow, red draw naturally draw the eye, so we have to be careful that the focal points are chosen by us and not distractions that appear in the scene.
  4. Continuation   Eyes natural follow lines and implied lines, such as the gaze of a subject. When lines, or implied lines head in a direction it is assumed that they continue out of frame.
  5. Symmetry  Symmetry, when used in photography, gives the viewer a sense of order and solidarity.
  6. Closure  The eyes and brain work together in processing the world. The brain will fill in gaps of missing information to get closure.
  7. Proximity  Things that are close together belong together. This can create a sense of emotional warmth.
  8. Parallelism   Elements that are parallel appear more related than elements that are not.
  9. Common Fate   Elements that appear to move or even look in the same direction appear related to each other. Someone just looking in a different direction will then appear as an “outsider”.
  10. Connectedness   If we draw lines on the art showing the invisible lines, curves and shapes, we can see how connected the subjects appear to be to each other. If we are shooting group or family portraits, it is important that these lines connect the entire group.


Assignment in two parts:


One: Pull up photographs on the Internet and find an example for each of the 10 principles listed above.

Two: Create photographs to illustrate each of the 10 principles.


(Sheila White Guevin) Advanced composition rules composition creating photo art fine art photography Gestalt Theory maryland photographer perspective photographer photography Sheila White Guevin Blog technique Tue, 07 Mar 2023 19:40:22 GMT
Going Au Naturale with Color Natural light varies in color temperature from early morning to sunset. On an average day, color temperatures can start with a very cool white light, get brighter and warmer toward noon and then fading away at sunset with even warmer tones.

To work in the extremes you get from sunrise to sunset, you must be very color conscious. See the actual colors and don’t force them either in-camera or in post-production to be what you think they should be. Rather let them reveal themselves and their truth.

Sadly many photographers are now replacing skies in their photographs. They now artificially live in a place where the skies are always bright blue, deep rich pastels or vivid setting colors. In this new digital world, there are never gray days, or blown out skies, or days when the morning comes so gently that you can barely see the horizon line.

We have come to expect this plastic version of living from advertising ads and postcards, but in our real lives it can be jarring.

The primary problem in post is that the photographer replaces the skies without taking the rest of the photograph into consideration. The temperature of the light changes the look of the other colors. Grayer skies give us cooler temperatures – moving bright blues to cooler softer blues. The same is true for every shade in the rainbow. So when you replace the skies with a bright blue when the colors in the rest of the photograph were shot with a cold gray, the photograph looks “photoshopped” and I mean that in the bad way people use the word. Artificial. Unattractive.

While I am a fan of post-production editing, it should be done in an artistic way. Making changes that bring out the best in the photograph while still leaving a consistency in the color range of the elements.

The challenge this month is to work in the various color temperatures and then resist the temptation to “replace” or “over-enhance” the skies.

Take the challenge.

Go Au Naturale!









Sleepy morning as the colors begin appearing on the horizon is a soft cool shade compared to end of day with its vibrant warm shades. Instead of looking at the sky line, look at the blue in the building next door.


(Sheila White Guevin) creating photo art fine art photography perspective photographer photography technique Thu, 18 Aug 2022 18:11:20 GMT
Didactic, Descriptive, Reflective “I want the photo to stand on its own.”

“I want the viewer to make their own interpretation.”


There is an element to photography, that the photographer seems to forget – the emotional experience. When we take photographs, we have the emotional advantage of the experience itself. A photograph of a foggy harbor is not the same as standing in the chill of a foggy morning taking the photograph. Remembering how shortly after, cold and damp, we warmed up in a local restaurant with fresh squeezed orange juice and home made pancakes. The smell of the coffee. The joy of being warm again.


For us, that one photo evokes a flood of memories and smells. It triggers an emotional impact beyond the page.


It may trigger the viewer also and in ways we don’t expect, based on their life experiences. When that happens, when a single photograph can be viewed by hundreds of viewers and connect, we know that our work is “good”.


So why would we need to put a title on it? Why write an artist statement?


Titles and artist statement do not stop the photograph from standing on its own, they do not keep the viewer from their own interpretation. Titles and artist statements are a way to reveal the artist thoughts, to give another layer to the art, to impart an emotional interpretation, to guide the viewer to see how the photo fits into a complicated world, to highlight a possibly hidden aspect of the image.


A Title can open a conversation between the viewer and the artist. It is brief and potentially profound.


The artist statement is often a brief written description of the artist work in their own words. It can inform, connect, and present the basis for their work.

The artist uses this written extension of their work so the viewer can see the work as the artist sees the work. It can be didactic, descriptive or reflective in nature.


This month’s challenge is to create both a titles and an artist statement for a small collection of your work.




(Sheila White Guevin) fine art photography perspective photography technique Fri, 03 Jun 2022 18:25:18 GMT
Creating Portraits on Both Sides of the Camera So far this year, we’ve worked in Light Painting, Candlelight, Ambient Light, Refraction and Natural Light. It is time to turn the light on ourselves with self-portraits. It is said that portraits are made on both sides of the camera, the challenge is to be the one person on both sides of the camera.

Like many photographers, I am far more comfortable on the back side of the camera. When I move in front of the camera a thousand things run through my head. Who will see this photograph? What will they think when they do? Am I too old? Too fat? Too ugly? Is my skin flawed? My personality? Am I singing off key?

Technically it requires being able to “see” blindly through the lens. I must imagine what the final product will look like and set up at the right location with the right lighting.

You can use several technical approaches to take this photo:

  1. Cell phones require that you have long arms or a selfie stick. Set the phone to timer mode: 10 seconds. Hold the camera away from you and shoot. #amillioninstaselfiesplusone
  2. Grab a tripod and set the timer feature on your camera. Mine blinks with a red light to warn me that the shutter is about to take the photo.
  3. Grab a tripod and a remote trigger. You can find brands like Vello on sale for under $10.
  4. Grab a button pusher. Setting up the shot and having someone else push the button allows you the most freedom. I control every aspect of the shoot except pushing the button. This allows me to have the button pusher shoot from low, or high with minimum time spent in making the adjustments. Far more flexibility than a tripod.


Before you press the button, I am suggesting you start with time to consider the following:


Is there a concept? How will this photo be used? Professional headshot? Instagram Post? Do I want something unique or just uniquely me?


I like to “see” the photo in my head and often scratch a version onto paper. This allows me to consider which lens I will use and whether to use a distortion lens or refraction tool. Will I tell a story?


Can I convey who I am without appearing in the portrait? Can I convey the story with just hands? or beloved chotskies? or shadows? 


Will I smile? Joy is a true expression of my inner self. But then again, so is quiet, or serious, or exhausted.


The challenge is to create authentic portraits your inner self.





(Sheila White Guevin) annapolis photographer creating photo art maryland photographer perspective photographer photography Sheila White Guevin Blog technique Wed, 20 Apr 2022 18:54:08 GMT
Here Comes the Sun... Working with Natural Light  

For many photographers, natural light is their only light source. When there is enough light, they take photographs. When there is a lack of light or bad lighting, they take bad photographs.

The reason to start light studies with electrical lights is to learn to get control over the light source. In studio photography, you have three options. 1) move the light 2) move the object 3) move the photographer. Where you stand, what you see, how the light hits it, are all factors in creating the photograph.

In natural light photography, we may find that one or more of the three factors is stationary. We can’t move the sun. If our “object” is a building, we can’t move it either. Usually, we can still move the photographer, but sometimes even that comes with limitations. For example, at the edge of the Niagara Falls you can walk near the edge but are limited to a strip of sidewalk.

So how do better photographers get better photographs, especially in a situation where you can’t move the light, can’t move the object, and have limitations for where the photographer can stand?

While I can’t move the sun, I do know that the sun itself moves across the sky giving us a different light at different times of the day. You can find apps that will tell you the sun’s position relative to your subject (let’s say a building) at any time of the day. An hour before sunrise, sunrise, and early morning have very different light compared to mid-afternoon and sunset. Bright diffused light with few shadows can be achieved on a bright but clearly overcast day. Stormy, angry skies produce yet another view.

In the business world there is a phrase “I’d rather been lucky than good.” As a photographer, serendipitous moments of fabulous light are our better lucky than good moments. For me, I’d rather be both lucky and good.

Interesting photographs start with better information. These apps can help you track natural light:

The Photographer’s Ephemeris

Light Trac

Magic Hour

Sun Seeker

Sun Surveyor


Note: when trying out a new app, I always start with a free version to be sure that I will use the app before investing.







(Sheila White Guevin) annapolis photographer Camera basics creating photo art fine art photography maryland photographer natural light perspective photography technique Wed, 20 Apr 2022 18:53:53 GMT
Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Refracting Light  

Refraction of light occurs when the light passes from one medium into another. Think of a ray of sunshine passing through the air and then through a prism. Refraction changes the speed and direction of the light, and in the case of the prism it can split white light into rainbows. Refraction occurs all around us and often unnoticed. While this common phenomenon occurs with many mediums, such as plastic, it is with water drops, glass or crystal that we see the most striking results.

Drops hanging off a branch create tiny magnifying glasses. An easily reproduced and controlled effect, using glycerin, which moves slower and creates larger drops, we can place them on glass sheets or leaves or branches and shoot tiny worlds of things like a single flower which repeats in all the drops. To get best results, you will need a macro lens, a small bottle of glycerin which you can purchase at any pharmacy, and an eye dropper.

For the second experiment in refraction, I suggest a wine glass of water. The double convex of the glass curves causes the viewer to see a reversed image. This is especially powerful with a high contrast simple background, but the application of distortion using this technique is endless.

For the gear heads, there is a large list of available options: prisms, lens balls, marbles, convex lenses, crystals, CD’s, cut pieces of copper pipe and a kaleidoscope lens are just some of the refraction distortion objects that find their way into my photography bag.

While each of the above creates a different distortion the artistic application can be similar. Many of these tools create interesting soft color edges, which can give a portrait a romantic look. They have the same effect on landscapes and cityscapes.  Who doesn’t want to live in a world of gentle, colorful, flaring light? Each tool creates a unique fingerprint, but the overall effect speaks “same family”.

My tip is to start simple and with inexpensive supplies or things you already own.


  1. When working with a lens ball, you need to recognize that it performs the same function as a magnifying glass. So if you are holding it in the sun on a bare hand, like a magnifying glass, it will try to start a fire. Simply put, it will burn your hand. It is magnifying the sun beam. This is a very quick and very painful experience. To avoid this, you can make sure to keep the ball shaded. I am also careful to store any light bending equipment in a drawer or box and away from direct sunlight to avoid starting an accidental fire.
  2. Many of these objects are used by holding them near or against your lens. I recommend you protect your lens with a filter. But even filters aren’t disposable equipment. Often we invest in them to get a high quality glass and finish. The answer is to be careful about how close you place the objects and to not scrape the lens or filter surface. This is especially true when working with cut copper pipe.
  3. With some of these, you are bending light back into the camera to cause a kind of sun flare. Be careful that you aren’t sending sunlight directly into your eyes. Take precautions to avoid eye damage.

The first rules are always be safe, be patient. From there it is a matter of practice and experience so you can create a consistent photo effect.


(Sheila White Guevin) annapolis photographer camera basics creating photo art fine art photography maryland photographer perspective photographer photography refraction refraction light photography Sheila White Guevin Blog technique Fri, 25 Mar 2022 05:34:01 GMT
Ambient Light - The Basics   

Ambient light is defined as any light the photographer does not bring to the shoot.

By definition, sunlight known as “natural light” would be ambient light. But since it has its own category, I prefer to separate natural light, especially the light that we have access to outside our home and buildings as its very own topic. In part, natural light has so many options and modifiers that it is not just its own topic, but it is its own book.

In that same vein, shooting at night is another very specific skill set. One we will explore at another time.

What does that leave us? Any light source inside your home or building that is there for a purpose other than photography. The sources we see repeatedly: Natural light that falls into a room to provide a base line of light for navigating from room to room; lamp light; mood lighting; overhead light; appliances often have their own lights to make it easier to see into them when working.

When using public or commercial buildings, the light may have been staged to create a look or mood. That is still ambient light. However, you as the photographer should not restage the light. This is an exercise in seeing the light exactly as it appears and bringing that to the photograph.

Facebook and Instagram are filled with photographs shot using ambient light. It is the light source of choice for most amateurs. It is available light.

For photographers who are adept is studio lighting, off camera flash, and alternative lighting, their view of ambient is different. They are used to walking into a room seeing where additional light might be needed and supplying that light before taking their photographs. They are confident in moving ambient light sources to create a better lit subject.

To begin this exercise, find a quiet place to sit and write. Without moving from room to room, create a listing of all ambient light in your home or apartment. And with each item listed, write down the light principles for that source: Direction, Intensity, Color, Harshness.

The same exercise can be done in any commercial building. One of my favorites is the Portrait Gallery at 8th and G streets in DC. It is a mix of ambient light and surfaces which bounce light.

Step two is to visualize your photographs before you start shooting. This will help you see how well you see light.

Step three is to create photographs using these light sources.

Did you understand how much drop off you were going to get from that source? Did you visualize how it would light up your subject or did it surprise you? Did you see in your mind what the camera saw?

We are working to develop the skill set of seeing light the way the camera sees light. That means by-passing the way our eyes see light. In a room with a single lamp, our eyes adjust very quickly from looking at the light source, to looking at the room, to looking at the darkest spot in the room. The eye is built to level out the light. But the camera doesn’t have this advantage. Depending on how you are set to meter the light, it may try to average all the available light and with only one light, it will overexpose the photograph. As metering occurs periodically, depending on where you are placing your subject, you often get a mix of overexposed and underexposed photos with very little control.

This problem goes away when you take control of the camera. The best way is to shoot in full manual mode. But for beginners shooting in a mode, like aperture mode, you can grab control by using the exposure compensation bar. With single source ambient light, often sliding down one full stop will get you a photograph closer to the one you thought you would be creating.

Two more things. One, when I am shooting on a location or even with a client, I am chasing ONE strong photograph. After years of photography, I know the power is in just ONE. Can you tell the story in just ONE photograph? The second tip is mental focus. I keep a small cheap journal book with me at all times. If I were going out to work on ambient light, I would be very focused on just that one task. Seeing and shooting ambient light. In my head, on the paper, I would have ideas of what I might like to shoot at that location. But often, while working, I get lost in being present in that space and it might take me in a new direction. After shooting for a while, I will take a break. Review my notes. See the space with fresh eyes and shoot a second set of photos. This is my process. Yours might be completely different, but this is what works well for me.

As you are working with ambient light, remember, we learn by doing. We learn by making mistakes. We learn by bringing a beginner’s mind to every exercise.


Collection of Ambient Light photographs.









(Sheila White Guevin) ambient light Camera basics composition creating photo art light light workshop photographer photography Sheila White Guevin Blog technique Tue, 22 Feb 2022 19:27:01 GMT
Candlelight - The Basics Candlelight illuminates subjects in such a romantic way. When used for portraits it can produce both amazing shadows and soft skin textures. If light sources were dances, candlelight would be the tango. The light that dances with our souls and fills us with love.


Some cameras work very well at low light and you can shoot using just a single candle. For other cameras, this will produce only a very noisy photograph. If this happens, you may choose to add more candles or another light source. You can try an out of frame ambient light, or “kiss” the subject with a very soft flash. I prefer a diffused flashlight as my fill. It is an easily controlled source for both amount and direction.


Warning: Fire is hot. Glass breaks. Candles are dangerous.

Take precautions when working in this medium. At minimum, we have a good fire extinguisher at the location we are working and we take precautions with people, hair, clothes, paper and any other flammable objects. In addition, when using a candle taper, hot melted wax may drip on things. It hurts if the things it drips on are hands.


Candlelight: Intensity, Direction, Color

Intensity: While candlelight is intense at the source, it is much less intense than most modern light sources and single candle produces significantly less light than the average light bulb.

Direction: The candle is omni-directional throwing light in all directions. However, we primarily sit candles below the face. Watch that the light and shadows cast don't give you the look you get when holding a flashlight under your chin. Subtle adjustments in candle position can make a huge difference in the final photograph.

Color: Candlelight is warm. You may need to address white balance issues. In camera, try setting for inside, or tungsten. In post, you can adjust the warmth or coolness of the photo to your taste.




  1. Use a tripod
  2. Use a fast lens at an open aperture. f4, f2.8, f1.2. The smaller the number the larger the opening for light.
  3. Light loves white. You can get more light into the photos with reflectors or light surfaces. These will bounce the light back.
  4. To get a sharp drop off into black, sit your subject away from other objects, like walls. Light will fade off and the background will fade away.
  5. I expose the photo to the subject. Setting exposure to the candlelight can overexpose the photograph.
  6. We don’t show the light source in most photography, the same can be true here. You have the option to include the candle(s) or to have them outside the frame.
  7. There is more power in the photograph if the composition and the subject “work” with candlelight. Think what works in a romantic way. Old books. Faces. A simple cluster of candles.
  8. As with all photography, you will get a better exposure if you set manual settings. Here the most important setting will be ISO. Start with choosing an ISO of 400 and work from there. Set your aperture wide open (don’t forget this will soften the field, so if that isn’t a look you want set it for f8 and compensate with shutter speed). Use shutter speed to bring enough light into the camera. On a tripod, you have no limits on shutter speed.


Lessons learned from experience:


  1. Hot wax drips and can get on floors, tabletops, carpets etc.
  2. Dripping hot wax is HOT and will burn your human subject.
  3. Glass containers for candles get hot and hotter as the candle continues to burn. Keep wicks trimmed to reduce the heat factor. Overheated glass will crack and shatter. It is a big fire hazard.
  4. Candles should NEVER be left burning and unattended.
  5. Assume anything and everything can catch fire. Be super cautious!! This is not a beginner’s medium.
  6. Pets can be curious and should be locked away in a cage or another room.
  7. Start simple. Keep it simple.
  8. Always be prepared to put out a fire. You can get a fire extinguisher at any big box store: Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes. If you don’t already own one, this is a must purchase. We have several in our home. And not as a reflection of my cooking, there is always one under the kitchen sink. ALWAYS!

CS 3-2CS 3-2





(Sheila White Guevin) candelight lighting creating photo art fine art photography love and light perspective photographer photography sheila white guevin blog technique Mon, 24 Jan 2022 16:56:34 GMT
Light Painting - The Basics  

Intensity, Direction, and Color, the understanding of light starts with these three principles.

Intensity is how bright the light appears. Direction is just that, in what direction is the light traveling. Color, we don’t always think of light as having color but look at how “white” Christmas lights are packaged as “cool” or “warm”. Even white has a range of color.

As we explore light this year, we will learn to manipulate light whether is it natural light or man made sourced. But for this first dive, we will only look at the three basic principles: Intensity, Direction, and Color. Write those down. Memorize them.

For our first experiment in light, you need a subject, a camera, a tripod, a dark location, and a flashlight. I like to start by setting up my subject in a room in my house. It is best if this room does not get ambient light, like streetlights, leaking in from outside.

Instructions: (and yes you can modify them to suit your taste, just like a recipe)

  1. Set up your subject
  2. Put your camera on the tripod
  3. Using ambient light, or room lights, get a sharp focus on your subject. If you use the auto focus feature, be sure to switch it to manual once you have your focus locked in.
  4. Set your camera to the “self-timer” setting. Mine gives me 10 seconds from when the shoot button is pushed to when the camera actually takes the photo.
  5. Set exposure. I start with 5 seconds and move up as needed. I rarely paint for more than 15 seconds when working inside.
  6. Put the camera into Manual mode. Start with these settings: Exposure: 5 seconds. Aperture F11. ISO 100. You may need to adjust. You will probably need to adjust. But I find these work for me most of the time.
  7. Turn on your flashlight. Turn off your room lights. Use the flashlight so you don’t bump into things. Stop laughing. It is a wonder I haven’t broken more toes.
  8. Push the timer button. Walk to the subject and NOW turn off the flashlight. OFF.
  9. My camera has this nice flashing red light that lets me know the timer is working. I wait till I hear the shutter open, and then turn on the flashlight and begin “painting”.
  10. If you have the flashlight on before, you can have light spilling on things you didn’t plan. Or moving it to the subject you might get a white streak. Or, my favorite, sound moves slower than light. So by the time I hear the shutter, it was already open and I have flooded the initial spot with light causing it to over-expose that one spot while painting the object gives me a better exposure and a different look.
  11. Review your photos. Chimp away. And make adjustments as needed.



At this point, I usually dance about with glee. Stub yet another toe. And think I need a less physical sport, like book reading.


For beginners there are two obstacles that might slow you down. Manual focus. Manual settings. Don’t let them stop you. Get out your camera manual (you can find a copy on-line if you tossed it when you opened the box) and learn how to change settings; learn to move the focus from auto to manual (look on the lens AF, MF); and how to put your camera in timer mode.

Things you learn with experience:


  1. The further away your flashlight is from the subject, your light will appear less intense and more spread out.
  2. Older flashlights produce this “hot center” which makes it look like you are outlining things with light.
  3. Mag lights produce a cooler light with a wider spread even when just an inch from the subject.
  4. Flashlights turning toward the camera will produce streaks.
  5. Keep the light moving evenly. Even distance, even speed. Think of it as water. If you are watering a row of plants and you keep moving, they all get the same amount of water. If you stop moving, that spot will get more water. You control the water. You control the light!
  6. When I finish painting before the shutter closes, I turn off the light. (See #5 to understand why. Extra light creates over exposure)
  7. The closer you are with the flashlight, the easier it is to create dramatic shadow light effects.
  8. Wear dark clothes, so in the worst-case scenario that you are caught in camera by the light, you will be more of a shadow.
  9. When using this for portrait, your subject needs to stay motionless.
  10. This is supposed to be fun. Embrace the mistakes. Adjust and move on.


Practice Photos using four different styles of Light Painting: Portrait of Paul, Stuff stacked in a laundry basket, Ukulele and Light Painted Name.




(Sheila White Guevin) annapolis photographer Camera basics composition creating photo art fine art photography fine art photography annapolis light painting maryland photographer photography Sheila White Guevin Blog technique Fri, 07 Jan 2022 18:57:05 GMT
2022 - The Year of Light and Love The topic of light is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. On the surface it seems very basic, but it is only as you explore the topic do you see how much variation light brings to photography.

Take “natural light”. It can be harsh, diffused, bounced, reflected, open shade, end of day, back lighting and more.  You can create starbursts, glares, flares, rainbows or expose it in a way to create silhouettes. Using nothing but the sun as your light source can be the inspiration for a lifetime of creative work.

For portraits, we label the lighting based on the shadow pattern or lack of shadows: Butterfly, Loop, Rembrandt, Split, Rim, Broad, Short, Flat (or Fill).

We identify the lighting source as natural, ambient, flash, continuous, strobe, light painting, gel, candle, fireworks, sparklers, fire, diffused, harsh, night.

Mastering light is what separates photographers. How a photographer sees light; how much they understand how the camera sees light; how they edit the photograph for light are the key factors to developing their style. It is why you look at one photograph and see art and another and think snapshot. It is a show me, don't tell me form of art. 

No matter what you choose for the light source some things don’t change. Light has basic principles like direction, intensity and color. There is a mathematical formula for determining how light will drop off from the point of the source. This is a physics law know as the Inverse Square Law.

The inverse square law describes the intensity of light at different distances from a light source. Every light source is different, but the intensity changes in the same way. The intensity of light is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between light source and measuring point.

Understanding this principle, plus how our eyes are constantly adjusting to light, will help you start to see how the camera captures a scene differently than you view it. Understanding light will help you in learning to control it.

Still, for me, what separates the artist photographer from the technical photographer is our desire to play with light; to dance with light; to sing its song; to be fearless; to find its soul; to fall in love.

Hope you will join me and Photo Society as we take an artistic journey this year with Light and Love.

2022 - the Year of Love and Light

(Sheila White Guevin) annapolis photographer camera basics creating photo art fine art photography fine art photography annapolis light love maryland photographer photographer photography sheila white guevin blog technique Tue, 04 Jan 2022 17:36:35 GMT
Photography and Framework What is the first thing you see when you look at a photograph?

What is your framework for the experience of photography as art? Do you read it? Do you critique it? Do you think "I could have shot that."?

One of the things I've found inherently wrong with the critique and competition culture is that it taught me to view a photograph with these questions, "What is wrong here? What could be improved?" It became not just my primary, but my only framework from which I read other photographs.

Once that critique mindset became my go to, I found it difficult to see what the artist might have been trying to say about themselves or about the world. I stopped what might have been an enlightening conversation with my judgement. I dismissed their voice. Thinking, "I could have shot that", is a sure cue that you are also damaged artistically.

This habit of approaching every photo from the framework of critiquing it is like reading books desperately searching only for the grammatical errors. This is an essential job for editors, but a very damaging perspective for readers.

It is like listening to a musical performance only to point out pitchy notes or bad timing.

There are certainly times when I am reading a book and a typo or grammatical error pops out, but I dismiss it with the thought, "bad editor". I don't let it stop me from enjoying the writer's voice or the story itself. So when I see an obvious beginner's error in a photograph (straighten that horizon line), I think this is someone who has not yet come into their full potential as an artist, but I continue to look at what they did say with their photograph.

There are times I still need to remind myself that it is not respectful to walk up to a piece of art and say "Oh, I see Picasso used an aqua blue and he really should have chosen cerulean blue. And what is he doing with that nose? And BTW, I could have painted that." 

You might not yet see the harm or damage in critiquing instead of experiencing work of other photographers. You may even believe that your experience entitles you to "help" others. So here is the bottom line. This critique perspective ultimately damages your own creative voice. When you can't hear or see the voice in others, it is very likely you can no longer hear your own voice.

The danger in not having your own voice is that your work is trite or copied. You not only "could have shot that" you probably will go out and do just that. What choice do you have when you've become blind to your own visions?

Turning this around starts with learning to read art again. Ask yourself questions. What is the artist saying to me? What is the conversation? What do I see in this work? Is it simple, playful, sensual, serious, political or even humorous? What grabbed the photographer's attention? Why did they choose this subject? This light? This moment?

You can open up your own artistic voice again when you start to read and hear the voice of others. 

In this way, you can truly learn to "see" the world again through your own lens. 


(Sheila White Guevin) Camera basics fine art photography perspective photographer photography Sheila White Guevin Blog technique Thu, 01 Apr 2021 17:48:43 GMT
5 Things You Should Know about Social Media Engagement 1) Algorithms can't read, but they are set to look at word counts. They give priority to comments of 5 words or more. Let's be vibrant, thoughtful, engaging and kind with our comments. WHY? Vibrant accounts can bring in unexpected opportunities for all of our members!

2) Interaction with people is associated with a greater sense of well-being, while passive reading, scrolling and watching without interaction, tends to make people feel worse. (Source: Facebook Research)

3) We are a Hive Mind group: an entity consisting of a large number of people who share their knowledge with one another. Unlike competitive groups, Hive Mind groups produce a base of knowledge or collective intelligence which is greater than that of just the individual.

4) Sharing posts about Industry News makes us stronger. Posts on our Facebook page are limited to those that benefit the group at large. Posts that give the group a photographic or artistic edge are highly encouraged.

5) Thoughtful Leaders: we want to lead the pack not follow the same old worn out path. This will allow us to partner with industry leaders.


Photo Society MD/VA/DC

We are the "where do I go next?" group.

We are the "what can I do with my photography?" group.

We are the working artists using a camera as our tool to create art group.

We are inclusive and open to photographers and artists of all ages and skill levels



You can find Photo Society MD/VA/DC on, and

Join us today. We virtually don't care where you live!

(Sheila White Guevin) creating photo art fine art photography fine art photography annapolis how to make social media work for you maryland photographer perspective photo society md/va/dc photographer photography psoc sheila white guevin blog social media interaction Mon, 17 Aug 2020 17:07:58 GMT
Inspiration Point - 100 Thoughts and Ideas to Jump Start Creativity Among the damage of COVID-19 and the restrictions which keep us spaced apart or close to home, is the lack of inspiration, motivation and creativity.

I get up each day and ask myself  "Am I making the best use of my time?" "Is there anything to photograph or say in my little shutdown world?" "What should I, could I do next?"

I hope you will find this list useful, not only now in July of 2020, but on any given day. Sometimes I find that just reading through an idea list is the best way to jump start my creativity again. Choose one, choose two and create a fusion. Choose more and create a collection!

Take your selected item(s) and make a wish list shoot list. Visualize 10 different photographs. Write them down. If you can't execute them now, put them aside for a future shoot. Create a wish book of cards. When you get to an idea you can execute, get your camera and create a collection of 10 new photos.

On your mark, get set, GO!

1. Patterns

2. Color

3. High Key

4. Low Key

5. Panning

6. In camera motion

7. Stop motion

8. Food

9. Back-lit

10. Sunrise

11. Sunset

12. Cityscape

13. Street Photography

14. Flowers

15. Bugs

16. Nature

17. Lifestyle

18. Posing

19. Flat Lay

20. Shooting from a ladder

21. Shooting down from a balcony or other elevated vantage point

22. Shooting up

23. Laying down and shooting up

24. Framing

25. Shooting through an object like a handful of grass or a flower

26. Using Prisms

27. Using Crystal Balls

28. Fill the Frame

29. Macro

30. Juxtaposition

31. Rearranging objects

32. Flat lighting

33. Split lighting

34. Rembrandt lighting

35 Reflections in glass, water or metal

36. Warhol the wrong colors

37. Variations in the same color

38. Color on color, all one color

39. Black and White

40. Textures

41. Bokeh

42. Photo Journalistic style

43. Found objects

44. Landscape

45. Smoke

46. Holi powder

47. Surrealism

48. Tilt shift lens

49. Translucent

50. Fire

51. Free-lensing

52. Prime lens

53.Telephoto lens

54. Hilliard method

55. Brenizer method

56. Collage

57. Story telling

58. Magazine style: Shoot an opening , closing, portrait, action and detail shot.

59. Architecture

60. Bubbles

61. Sunburst

62. Shadows

63 Selective Coloring

64. Out of Focus

65. Mixed Media

66. Conceptual

67. Inspired by a single word: Love, Peace, Kindness

68. Polaroid

69. Abstracts

70. Find shapes: circle, square, hearts

71. Silhouette

72. Frame within frames, like archways

73. Double exposure

74. Props

75. Ambient light

76. LED panels

77. ND filters

78. Color and Gradient filters

79. Staging natural elements in nature: rock patterns on beaches

80. Dancers

81. Light painting

82. Spiritual

83. Dappled lighting

84. Weather: Four season photos

85. Portraits without faces

86. Portraits without people

87. Still life

88. Natural light

89. Pano

90. HDR

91. Night photography

92. Isolation

93. Negative Space

94. Perspective

95. Water spray

96. Mundane everyday objects and situations

97. Eye level with children, dogs, bugs

98. Spray and Pray

99. Music

100. Dress the part: Change the experience by changing how you look


(Sheila White Guevin) 100 100 ideas creating creative creativity ideas Jump start photo class photo ideas photography Wed, 15 Jul 2020 17:09:40 GMT
Modern Still Life Maryland, My Maryland Still Life is an art form that depicts inanimate, everyday objects. 

What objects can you include? - food, flowers, rocks, plants, nuts, fruit, shells, sticks, even dead animals. Also, bottles, glasses, books, jewelry, coins, pipes and more. 

Instagram is filled with modern still life and more specifically in what is now called "flat lay." This trend is easy to create with a cell phone because you can use a wide angle lens to fill the frame, any table top flat surface, and easily shoot the camera parallel to the surface. 

Still life can be an excellent way for photographers to play with composition and lighting. Still life studies have long been a staple of the budding artists practice.

Things to consider with selection of your elements and composition:

1) Is there a story, hidden meaning or commentary about life you wish to convey? Still life work is filled with these images.

2) White draws the eye. Be careful if using white or very light objects. They will become the focal point and need to be balanced carefully by the other objects.

3) Objects have visual weight. Some objects just draw more attention. This makes placement of the objects critical in creating a visually stimulating photograph. If you think there is something wrong with the arrangement, try moving the objects into different positions.

4) Negative space is a BIG part of the design. Often it is the negative or empty space that bring the emotional impact to your still life.

5) If your design is over-crowded or your objects fill the frame, it can be great or it can feel like the photo doesn't breathe. Try taking away some of the objects or moving further away to give it more breathing room.

6) At first look, your viewer will see the "group". This is the natural way in which we view the world. If it only if the viewer stays with you that they begin to distinguish the actual objects. Our job is to create a piece of art that people will want to view for more than a glance.



1) Create an engaging flat lay style still life using your cell phone. Use everyday objects. Bonus if you create something that is easily translated to make a statement about modern life.

2) Create a more traditional style still life. Be sure to use negative space and lighting to give your still life impact.


You can post your photographs to our Facebook page for Photo Society MD/VA/DC. Or join us on 

(Sheila White Guevin) annapolis photographer camera basics composition creating fine art creating photo art fine art photography fine art photography annapolis maryland photographer modern still life perspective photo society photographer photography sheila white guevin blog technique Fri, 08 May 2020 17:16:18 GMT
Twin Views of your Hometown/City Cities can be fascinating subjects. Watching how the daylight plays around the buildings, or how night falls and the cities light up their skylines and monuments with a view you could never see in daylight. Baltimore and Philadelphia and DC are all just a short car or train ride away. These cities each hold a place in my heart and always bring something new to my camera.

At the edge of the Chesapeake or deep within any of the cities, you find old ruins, abandoned buildings, crumbling walls. Just blocks away, beautifully restored homes or buildings like the Library of Congress that stand tall and proud with their history, their heritage and their marble floors.
Older cities are constantly changing, growing, tearing down the old, building up the new, renewing and reviving. Fells Point, Baltimore has lovely bumpy cobble stoned streets as does Old Towne Alexandria, just across the Potomac from the District. Old railroad tunnels are bike pathways and a cool shade for runners.


This month's artists both see cities in very different ways. 


Brian Romeijn aka “Brian Preciousdecay” is 40-year-old Rotterdam-based urban explorer and photographer with a fascination for decay and abandonments. His career skyrocketed when his Abandoned Orient Express photos went viral in August 2016.  This train stands silently still and out of service in Belgium after its last trip in December 2009.

Jordon Matter, formerly an actor now photographer, uses NYC as his primary backdrop.  Matter his known for his work with dancers in urban settings and his books like "Dancers Among Us". For him the city provides endless opportunity to explore portrait work. And like many photographers, his primary day to day work is headshots. According to Matter "Although I have photographed people all over New York City, my location of choice is Ft. Tryon Park. Just thirty minutes from midtown, it's the park in northern Manhattan near the Cloisters Museum. The park and its surrounding area have space, beauty, variety and privacy. There's nowhere better for outdoor photography. 



Brian uses HDR techniques to post process his images – you can see this in the intimate detail and dynamic range of the photos in this post.

Brian gets truly fascinated by these places and scenes, so therefore, tries to find out the reason why the places are abandoned and when it happened. He digs into the history behind them by looking up information all over the net. 

“The idea of walking around in buildings which were abandoned for various reasons fascinates me. What happened here and why has it been abandoned? What’s the story behind the abandonment and can I find historical facts of these places on the internet?”

When Brian was asked if he would like to say anything about his work so far and his involvement, he says:

“I try to feel the emotions of its past and that is what I want to show in my pictures”. “When people are looking at my work and raise questions about the what, why and the when then I feel that I have succeeded.”




Follow this link for more on Brian Romeijn and his work: (excerpts from this article)


Jordon Matter puts the focus on people. For me, I think his background as an actor shows in his ability to set the scene with the city as a backdrop.



Despite his success, I find him one of the most relevant and relatable photographers of our times.

Matter started his career on the other side of the camera. 

"One day I was at a friend's house, looking through her headshots. Not one photograph said the slightest thing about her. They were very generic, very studio and very boring. When she told me what she had paid, I almost choked on my Starbucks. Outrageous! I've been the victim of that a few times myself. The next day I grabbed my camera, took her up to the roof and fired off two quick rolls before the sun set. That was it. I was hooked, whether I knew it or not." (from )

Matter sees himself as just 1 of 1,567,892 photographers currently residing in NYC. There is not a single day that I can't relate to this perspective!


Artists Challenge:


For this month's challenge use Romeijn and Matter as inspiration to bring your chosen hometown or city to life by creating two sets of photos.

For one set make your hometown or city the star. Use a light touch of HDR to give it a vibrant punch.

In the second set, use your hometown or city as the backdrop for portrait work. Your subject does not need to be dancers or models. You can photograph friends, family, children, even pets.

Just one BIG NOTE here: It is important that you NEVER put your models into danger. There are plenty of safe locations and safe uses of a city backdrop that don't require them hanging off fire escapes or standing at the edge of buildings. Let the drama come from beautifully executed photographs not dangerous situations!

Each set should contain 5 photographs. These photographs can be posted to our Facebook page or on the group site: Photo Society MD/VA/DC












(Sheila White Guevin) city life fine art photography perspective photography street dancers Mon, 06 May 2019 17:15:55 GMT
Judge and Jury

You are finally ready to put yourself out there. Take the big next step. Go beyond the "Likes" your friends and mother give you on Facebook. 

You could join a local club or meetup where they "judge" your photo or critique them. How does that work? Often the person giving the critique is going to tell you how to improve the photograph. Just the nature of the photo being "critiqued" causes the person to look for problems. You are hearing their version of how they would do it differently. It is purely subjective.

Objectively you may learn things like leading lines, rule of thirds, and how to level your horizon line. In addition, you may learn to tell a story with your photograph, or use color to bring emotion, or how choice of lens and aperture plays a role in the final product. In fact, there are over 60 composition considerations and just as many editing techniques to master.

Beyond critique, there is exhibiting. Now you move from someone judging your work to being juried into a show.

How is that different?

Arts Council for Anne Arundel County jury their shows by team; sometimes three, sometimes four jurors. Each juror scores every submission on how it fits the topic; composition; originality, quality, and overall impression. Each juror gives up to 5 points. Top scoring work makes it into the exhibit and lower scoring work does not. They are currently exhibiting work in a gallery at BWI and the building for What's Up Magazine. Both are highly visible and lead to sales.

Maryland Federation of Art invites jurors who are established art professionals, such as art Professors from colleges. The juror is given instructions to curate the exhibit. How does this differ? First, it assumes all the submissions are art and the juror curates an exhibit she/he feels best interprets the theme. Here the art is interdependent upon other submissions to create something interesting and yet with a cohesive thread.

The trouble artists can run into, especially photographers, is when the submission is beautiful, but the final piece doesn't do the work justice. The juror may have a preliminary list for awards, but in person, be disappointed if the artist did not present the work in its best light.

According to Joann Vaughan, Executive Director of Maryland Federation of Art:

"However, for awards, there really are a lot more specific criteria. I would state the following:

  • Make sure your work is well-framed
  • Make sure the frame doesn't distract from the artwork
  • Make sure your mat is clean
  • Make sure your glass is clean
  • Cheap frames look cheap"

To sum it up, being judged is a good way to learn about where you need improvement and being juried into a show is what you do when you are happy with your level of expertise, looking to establish yourself as an artist, and start selling work!






(Sheila White Guevin) annapolis photographer color composition creating photo art exhibiting art fine art photography juried exhibits maryland photographer perspective photographer photography Sheila White Guevin Blog technique Fri, 19 Apr 2019 00:20:48 GMT
Ethereal Obessions Each spring, I start stalking the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms. National Park Service horticulturalists monitor the Yoshino Cherry trees through their stages: green buds, florets visible, elongation of the florets, puffy white,  peak bloom. They post the stages but it is only at ten days out that they can reasonably predict Peak Bloom.

I am not alone in my ethereal obsession. The blossoms draw a crowd of over 1.5 million visitors annually and nearly everyone of them with a camera. This year will be no different for them or for me and yet, every year, the photographs I take tell a story unique to that year. I am already mentally preparing for my experience; planning my gear; looking forward to my same and yet unique visit. 


Photographer:  Bahman Farzad  Jan 1, 1944 - July 8, 2016

Bio: Farzad worked as a systems engineer for the same company for 41 years. His passion in life was photography. 

He taught photography at Birmingham's School of Photography in Birmingham Alabama. He was a graduate of the University of London with two Master's degrees in Engineeering and Computer Science. He won numerous awards in photography and graphic design. Farzad had both articles and photographs published in many photographic magazines including American Photo, Popular Photography, Petersen's Photographic and Darkroom. 

Farzad also published a book: The Confused Photographers Guide to Photographic Exposure and the Simplified Zone System.



This is Serenity. It is just one of a collection of work created by Farzad featuring Lotus blossoms. He used his technical mastery of the camera and software to produce an ethereal effect. Farzad's exquisite photographs balance composition, color and light.  His work is inspiring not only for the photographs, but also his ability to take a single subject and create a portfolio of work that is both diverse and consistent in style. 

Photographer's Challenge:

Choose a floral subject. Using natural light, create work that feels light and airy. You can use modifiers for the light sources such as diffusers and reflectors. You are welcome to add additional light or flash. There is no limit on the use of post processing. 


Artist: Katsushika Hokusai, Oct 31, 1760 - May 10, 1849

Bio: Hokusai was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and print maker of the Edo period. Born in Edo (now Tokyo), Hokusai is best known for a series of woodblock prints "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji" c. 1831. The most recognized of these is The Great Wave off Kanagawa.


Hokusai created the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji from a personal obsession with Mount Fuji, but also in response to increased domestic travel to this area. It was this series and specifically two prints, The Great Wave and Fine wind, Clear Morning, that secured Hokusai's fame both in Japan and overseas. 

Hokusai gives us both a complete and limited collection. Using just 36 prints (which was later expanded to 46) he takes the same subject and explores it from many locations and during every season. He is an example of how an artist's personal obsession can motivate him to create a cohesive collection of work. Unlike a photographer who can easily create a thousand digital photographs of the same subject in a single afternoon, Hokusai crafted a much smaller collection curated from many years of work. 

It is inspiring to see how his compositions are both boldly graphic and yet feature fine details. This juxtaposition of bold and delicate brings a signature look to his prints.

Challenge:  Create a collection of 12 photographs of a single subject or location. As a bonus challenge, attempt to create work that creates a bold graphic look while also showing fine details. 


Photographers are invited to join us on or a group Facebook page. You can post one image from each challenge at each of those locations. We are Photo Society of MD/VA/DC.  Local residency is not required. 





(Sheila White Guevin) artist challenge creating photo art fine art photography perspective photographer photographer challenge photography photography challenge Sheila White Guevin Blog technique Fri, 29 Mar 2019 20:10:50 GMT
I can fix that in post.  

Old film guys did not say "I will fix that in post". 

I remember a time, when I could afford one roll of Kodachrome. Just thirty-six frames of film, so every shot needed to count. 

I remember a time, when I could out wait the lion at the zoo, till he finally turned his majestic body, walked my direction, raised his flowing mane covered head and for just a split second looked straight at me through my lens with his piercing gold eyes.

I remember a time, when I could out wait a blue-eyed toddler for that same connected moment.

You might ask if I also hiked to school in the winter when it was sub-zero; ice and snow blowing into my face; three miles uphill in both directions. Sure, probably. 

Early on, in the transition from film to digital, an instructor stated, you can't just take a bunch of digital photos and hope one of them turns out to be interesting or good. You can't just shoot hoping for a lucky accident. But, the truth is, that is exactly what you can do with digital. There is even a special coined phrase for this called "spray and pray".

Truth is, you don't need to wait for your moment. You don't need to wait at all. Shoot a bunch of stuff and create composites of the photos you would have rather taken. It's digital. You can fix it in post.

And, then one day, you are taking a photo and you see that there is a coffee cup sitting in the background and think "I can fix that in post".  There is a piece of trash on the ground: "i can fix that in post". The background isn't exactly the way you want it. The light isn't perfect. The sunset isn't pink enough. The sky doesn't have clouds. One of the children had his head turned. The model has a blemish. You wanted flying dinosaurs. Wouldn't it be great if that person in the red coat was breathing fire? Or better yet, breathing fire while wearing a kilt and dancing on top of a circus ball like one of those performing dogs. No worries. I CAN FIX THAT IN POST!!!!!

Or, and don't take this the wrong way, you could fix it now. 

There was a point, where I lost my film eye and trusted the digital ways. I saw that something in the frame was not right and instead of taking the few moments to correct the problem, my brain skipped right over that and in my head I heard, I can fix that in post. I wasn't even aware anymore that I was saying this. And the truth is, I could fix that in post. 

So what's my point?

My point is this. When post production became my crutch, I became crippled by it. And when I realized how much time I was spending in post production, I began to wonder, if I was really putting in my best work. Was i? I didn't think so. So I took a breath and went back to photography using both what I had learned shooting film and what I knew I could do in digital manipulation in post production.

A few months later, I came in from a shoot and loaded my RAW images into Lightroom and was starting to work on the first photo when I realized there was nothing to do. The photo didn't require anything. The light was perfect. The color was perfect. The photos were exactly what I meant to shoot, the way I meant to shoot it. My hand was twitching to get to work on the sliders, but there was nothing to fix in post.

Post production takes up a lot less of my time now. When I see something that needs to be fixed on location, my first instinct is to stop and fix it. If it isn't possible, I look to see if there is a better angle or a better location that doesn't include that problem. And my LAST resort now is to choose to take a photo I know I will need to fix in post.

My photography is now more deliberate. Not counting on post processing, has made the experience better for me. I am more focused, more present and more aware and that has lead to catching better moments. I take exactly the photograph I see in my head. I have time to wait for the exact moment when the subject connects to me through the camera. And, I still have spare time, because I am not bogged down plowing my way through a mountain of post production tweaks and fixes. A mountain this is always three miles uphill in both directions.

Just something to consider. If you spend hours digitally correcting your photographs and manipulating your images, maybe you want to try something new by trying something old. Take a breath, be more deliberate, find your moment and try taking exactly the photograph you want to take.

After that, we can meet up for coffee while the other digital photographers are spending their time fixing their work in post. 


Photo Challenge:  Taking it Old School

For this challenge, you get 36 shots.

Choose an afternoon adventure. Invite a friend. Capture a best of your day in just 36 shots. 

This might be so much harder than you think, but it will certainly challenge you to really look at what you are shooting. Frame it carefully. Shoot it once.

Bonus: You can create a collage of your 36 shots and post it to our Facebook page: Photo Society MD/VA/DC  Local residency is not a requirement of this group. There  is currently no annual membership fee. (March 2019) 



(Sheila White Guevin) annapolis photographer Camera basics creating photo art digital photography fine art photography maryland photographer perspective photographer photography post production Sheila White Guevin Blog technique Mon, 11 Mar 2019 12:49:09 GMT
Food for Thought I yearn for spring and its colorful blossoms, but instead am greeted daily by the gray light of winter. When nature cannot feed my colorful soul, I turn inward to my imagination. This month's artists created unexpected art with their use of color and texture. They inspire me to awaken from my winter's hibernation and photograph a vibrant artisanal feast for the eyes. 

Artist: Andy Warhol   Aug 6, 1928 - Feb 22, 1987


American artist, director, producer who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertising that flourished by the 1960's, and span a variety of media, including painting, silk screening, photography, film and sculpture. Some of his best known works include the silkscreen paintings Campbell's Soup Cans (1962) and Marilyn Diptych (1962), the experimental film Chelsea Girls (1966) and the multimedia events known as the Exploding Plastic Inevitable (1966-67)  (source Wikipedia) 


Pop artists believed art could be found in the popular, the mass culture, comic books, and common everyday items.  It is nearly impossible to think pop art and not think of Warhol's Campbell's soup cans. Warhol's bold use of color and the interesting skewed combinations created powerful graphic images. 

Photographer's Challenge:

Take a single common object found in your home and turn it into pop art. You can do this by altering the physical package or product, or by digitally manipulating it in post production. 


Photographer:  Aya Brackett


Bio: from Aya Brackett's web-site. 


Aya Brackett was born and raised in a traditionally built Japanese house in Nevada City, CA and is now based in Oakland, CA.  She grew up with two wood stoves, a generator for electricity and a long dirt road. Aya received a Magna Cum Laude dual B.A. in Visual Arts and East Asian Studies from Brown University, and also studied photography at Rhode Island School of Design and the California College of the Arts. She worked for four years as the photo editor at Dwell Magazine where she contributed her own photography and styled food and props for many shoots. Her love of food and design informs her photography and fuels a constant search for the unusual and inspiring. 



This photograph of peaches is from her collection Soiled. I find her work has an intriguing textural and graphic appeal that is enhanced in the photo by presenting two unexpected elements.  Brackett's compositions are inspired by the interplay of texture, color and an attempt to see food in a perplexing way.


Photographer's Challenge:

Create a still life using an unusual pairing. 


Photographers are invited to join us and to share a single image from each challenge at or our group page on Facebook. We are Photo Society MD/VA/DC. Local residency is not a requirement. 



(Sheila White Guevin) annapolis photographer color composition creating photo art fine art photography fine art photography annapolis maryland photographer perspective photographer photography Sheila White Guevin Blog technique Fri, 22 Feb 2019 06:18:50 GMT
Inspiration or Theft? Annie Leibovitz, in her on-line Master Class, discusses pulling books by other photographers such as Robert Frank and immersing herself in their work for inspiration. Her well-worn books are her go to for new ideas emerging from the masters of their craft. She pulls from their use of light; expressions of the subjects; the connection between subject and viewer. What she does not do is recreate a replica of the photographs from which her inspiration comes.

Tyler Shields also draws his inspiration from other photographers. In fact, it is difficult to tell Shields' photographs from the originals. Shields blatantly copies the photograph and produces work that has subjected him to law suits.

As a photographer, it is a fine line between being inspired and stealing a concept as your own. You can see this monkey see - monkey do phenomenon in any given photography Facebook group. One photographer discovers mist rising in a graveyard and a  month later, a dozen other photographers have created their version of this moment.

In the past few years many trends have also raced through the on-line communities. Unlike theft of concept, trends usually involve techniques and photo tools: crystal balls, prisms, light painting, astral photography, trail lights, HDR, selective coloring and panning are just a few that top my list. The big difference is that in a trend, the photographer learns a technique or skill and applies it to his own vision.  In a few cases, the photographer actually steals the concept and recreates a nearly identical work.

It will help as you study other photographers and artists to ask yourself this question: How can I take this concept or technique and use it in my own work?

One way to assure you are utilizing the inspiration and not stealing work is to reshoot one your own photographs using the new concept or technique.



(Sheila White Guevin) annapolis photographer Camera basics composition creating photo art ethics fine art photography perspective photographer photography photography theft Sheila White Guevin Blog technique Tue, 12 Feb 2019 19:39:32 GMT
Light and Shadows  

Photographers learn to read light and shadows. Portrait photographers are especially sensitive to seeing how light falls and where it creates its shadows because for us the portrait is in the light and shadows.

It is possible that this has made me a better driver. It is also possible that "seeing" the world the way I do saved a life or two.

Wednesday, I was driving to Annapolis. Getting there means hopping on Md Route 3 and then catching I97. Where Rt. 3 merges on to I97, Route 32 also mergers in. Great design for On-Ramps; which run parallel for over 1/2 a mile. But also, lots of traffic. And if you don't make the double merge from Rt3 to I97 you will find yourself exiting off to Crownsville.

There is a lot of local traffic at this location and the merge lanes are quite long and so the traffic is at Interstate speed when you make these mergers. Most everyone leaves space so the merges occur like a zipper. Smooth and quick. And then the two Maryland route roads merge into the I97 traffic just as smoothly. Often the traffic on I97 clears the right lane completely to allow this.

Wednesday, as I was zipping along and ready to make the first merge, I checked my rear view mirror and it showed just one SUV about four lengths back. I turned my head to the left saw nothing beside me and hit my turn signal to make the merge, but as I was turning my head back I noticed the shadow running on the road next to me. A shadow my own car could not make. I looked again for another vehicle but saw nothing, but that shadow convinced me there was another vehicle tucked into a blind spot. So I held my lane.

Seconds later, precious seconds later, a sports car emerged from what seemed like nowhere.  Into the I97 traffic, merged a dark blue Corvette. A stunning dark blue Corvette.

Small car. Big shadow.

Life of a photographer.




(Sheila White Guevin) light perspective photographer photography shadows Sheila White Guevin blog the art of seeing Sat, 15 Dec 2018 18:11:54 GMT
What is so fine about the art of photography?  

Maryland Federation of Art just hosted their annual Collector's Choice event. For a price of $185 ($250 for the VIP option), you can select a piece of art. Each patron gets a ticket with a number. The numbers are drawn randomly, and when your number is called, you select your work of art from any remaining. The first patron whose number is called gets his first choice and this continues till the very last patron number is called.

There are short breaks between the calling of numbers to allow you to regroup as the longer you are there, the more likely it is that your first choices have been selected.

It is an evening of great fun and lots of applause and moaning as your favorite piece goes home with someone else. Or cheers, when you get your first choice selection!

This was our fourth year and this year, my selection was a photograph by Christopher Fowler. A beautiful tree printed on metallic paper and framed to enhance the tones. It is a piece of great beauty.

But like every year before, this event brings out the question "What is so fine about the art of photography?"

There is a bias that often shows in the art community that paintings and hand created art are of greater value than a photograph. Since other art is created by hand and each piece is an original that alone gives it a superior attitude. But also, that photographer, could take a stunning photo and still print it a million zillion times thus decreasing the value.

Then there is a belief that painters/artists take years to master their art and photographers just push a button.

Ever heard this joke:

A photographer is exhibiting a brilliant photograph. A friend sees is and says to him "That is stunning. You must have a very good camera." A short time later, he is invited to her house for dinner. She serves an amazing feast.  He turns to her and says, "That meal was sensational. You must have a very good stove."

There are artists who embrace the paradigm that originality and true artistic expression can only occur in art created by hand and entirely from their imagination. They believe it impossible for conceptual art to exist in a photograph. This above all, diminishes the photographer to a button pusher. A recipe follower. A serendipitous moment that anyone with a cell phone could have experienced and captured.

Plus now, there is the deceit factor that photographs are now post processed so they lack authenticity. Instead of viewing post processing, often referred to as Photoshop after a single Adobe digital product, as a way for the artist to create an interpreted piece of art, it can be viewed as cheating. Even in the photography community you can see the bias between photographers who shoot film, or shoot digital but believe is it only authentic straight from the camera.

At Collector's Choice the bias is not so evident, but still felt in the undercurrent. A well-known photographer who told me his wife would not allow him to take home anything but a painting. The woman who was quite excited about the above photograph "Our Dream" till she saw the label read photograph and then she exclaimed "How can this be a photograph? It looks like a painting. I don't want a photograph. I want an oil painting." Her husband, offered to take it off their list, but she whispered "No keep it on the list, but not as first choice. I still like it."

"Our Dream" was someone else's second choice, behind a painting by a close friend of theirs. I was happy to see it find a home with someone who could value it for the work and not the medium. I was happy that my piece of art was their second place choice in a room of 151 pieces of art.

I don't know that photography will ever reach the status of a painting. I don't know if it should.

The bias is real. It shows when photographers don't want to collect photographs of other photographers. When even local collectors only want paintings. When we live in a world flooded with snapshots, and an attitude that any photograph could be snapped off with a cell phone. When jurros of nationally juried shows publically state at the art opening, "Look, I even selected a photograph as one of the honorable mentions for best in show." When rumor is an internationally known photographer paid a million dollars (anonymously) to purchase one of his own photographs from a reputable auction house in order to drive up his prices.

But the question of art always comes down to the person viewing it. The question of what is so fine about the art of photography is in the value you place on it.

Do you think an oil painting of any quality is of more value than a photograph?

Have you ever had a photograph hit you emotionally? Is there one that still haunts you?

What would you pay for a signed original Annie Liebovitz? Peter Lik? Ansel Adams? Henri Cartier-Bresson? Dorothea Lange? Vivien Meyer? Steven McCurry? Alfred Stielglitz? Diane Arbus? Sheila Guevin?

When you figure out this out, you will have the answer to the big photography question.

What is so fine about the art of photograph?




(Sheila White Guevin) fine art photographers fine art photography perspective photographer photography Sheila White Guevin Blog the art of phtoography Thu, 01 Nov 2018 20:03:28 GMT

Hanami is the art of slowing down to enjoy the flowers. It is a celebration noted for its connection to Cherry Blossoms or Sakura.

Here in DC, the Cherry Blossoms arrive to great fanfare and thousands to millions of visitors. The frenzy of people crowding around the Tidal Basin can make it difficult to remember to slow down. Some days, it can make it difficult to remember to breathe.

This same frenzied rush can happen on any photo shoot. Often, photographers will talk about how on a shoot they were in such a hurry that they didn’t take time to breathe or to think. When they noticed a mistake the same shot zipped through their thoughts: “I can clean that up in post.”

For photographers the rush probably comes from an overload of adrenalin caused by nerves.

How can you change this experience?

  1. Always prepare a pack and shoot list and then use it.
  2. Remind yourself to get all the shots “right” in camera.
  3. Get to the shoot location early so you can scout out locations and prepare for any unexpected.
  4. Think quality over quantity. A few excellent photographs are always better than a bucket full of average.

Hanami – slow down – enjoy the flowers.


(Sheila White Guevin) annapolis photographer camera basics creating photo art hanami perspective photographer photography sakure sheila white guevin blog slowdown smell the flowers technique Wed, 16 May 2018 04:14:28 GMT
Behind Door Number One


This was photographed using a 24-70mm lens at F4. By putting the focus on the light on the handrail, it creates a photograph that draws the viewer into the frame and toward the closed door.

Doors are used in stories and mythology to create mystery. They can protect those who live within; or maintain a secret; or seclude a sacred space. For me, this door looks like a dozen others in my childhood small town and by using the soft focus, it becomes any number of doors and holiday memories from my life.

Shallow depths of field (DOF) give the viewer a fuzzy glimpse at the subject forcing them to create the rest of the image in their own imaginations. It can bring romance to an otherwise average location.

Here the soft shallow DOF evokes the traditional Christmas feel of any home. For me, I can feel the crisp cold air and smell the warm cookies just coming out of the oven.

We can only guess what happy surprises await us behind this closed door.





(Sheila White Guevin) annapolis photographer baltimore camera basics christmas christmas lights christmas photos color composition creating photo art fine art photography fine art photography annapolis hampden hampden md maryland photographer miracle on 34th miracle on 34th street night photographs night photography night photos perspective photographer photography sheila white guevin blog technique Tue, 05 Dec 2017 05:53:01 GMT
Story Telling in a Photograph Miracle on 34th Street, Hampden, MDHere a black SUV sits on the street in Baltimore. The Hampden 34th Street is a block in the city where every home is lit up in Christmas lights. 2017 is the 71st year of this event!

One of my favorite composition techniques is to tell the story in a reflective surface.


Reflections give a distorted view of the scene often making me and the viewer look closer.


Here a black SUV reflected the lights from different angles and so the eye has a different perspective of the street depending on which surface you are viewing. From the back of the SUV you can tell both sides of this street is lined with light covered houses. From the side, you can see that they are row homes with porches. From the lights showing across the street you get that gentle bokeh casting of being just out of focus.


Centered to the back side window, a lit Nativity scene with a star. 


This is "The Miracle on 34th Street" Hampden, MD, which is a Baltimore location. 2017 marks the 71st year of this event. An entire block of city townhomes that sparkle in lights from head to toe. They light up around the 30th of November and run through the 30th of December every night. The street remains open to car traffic which allows you to drive through the block. Parking is premium around the neighborhood and sidewalks are bursting to the seams. There are no outside vendors.


Of my favorites is a home that features the mustaches man from Natty Boh, a local beer, and the girl from the Utz potato chips. Other highlights include a hub cap tree, a big lit up red crab and a tree decorated in angels made from recycled Natty Boh beer cans.  





(Sheila White Guevin) annapolis photographer baltimore camera basics christmas christmas lights hampden hampden md maryland photographer miracle on 34th miracle on 34th street perspective photographer photography sheila white guevin blog technique Mon, 04 Dec 2017 15:32:20 GMT
Zoom Burst


The first question intermediate and advanced photographers ask when viewing a photograph like this is "What is the EXIF?"  This is the information about the camera settings.  


This photograph was shot using a 24-70 mm lens. Aperture was set at F10. ISO 100. Shutter speed 1/2 second. Starting point was 28mm and zoom was away from the subject.   Using these settings gave me a clean center, in this case the building and allowed it to be as in focus as possible while giving a zoom burst effect to the surrounding Christmas lights.


When you look at the burst lines, you see they are very straight. This means that the camera was stabilized in some manner. Either using a tripod, a monopod, setting the camera on a stable location (which doesn't work well with the zoom effect because you must move the lens while the shutter is open) or hand held in a stable standing position.

Hand holding like this requires a lot of practice, otherwise, you get very squiggly lines. I rarely take a tripod, so most likely this was shot hand held. My stance is to hold my camera with my right hand, feet about 18 inches apart, and then I take a breath, not a big deep breath but a slightly bigger than usual and I blow air out through pursed lips while shooting. At the same time, you need to twist the telephoto lens away from the subject to a wider angle. 


To try this technique, I recommend you start with a tripod and also that you start with a shorter shutter speed. 1/30 then move to 1/20, then to 1/15, eventually working your way up to the 1/2 second. Also, it is important that you use an ISO of 100-400 so that you get nice clean light and colors. Higher ISO will blow out the lights causing them to both lose color and clarity.


The third tip is don't worry about how fast you move the lens. Steady movement creates a better photograph than fast movement.


Zoom burst can be used in many situations to give an awesome in camera special effect.


Zoom zoom!





(Sheila White Guevin) annapolis photographer camera basics christmas light photography christmas lights fine art photography fine art photography annapolis maryland photographer mormon lights night photographs night photography night photos perspective photographer photography sheila white guevin blog technique zoom zoom burst zoom effect Sun, 03 Dec 2017 17:36:05 GMT
Light and Bright


The emotional impact of a photograph can be found in many of the elements such as composition, placement of the subject(s), lighting, use of negative space, shadows, and color.


Here I used a technique called "high key".  The key light is the primary light used to light a subject. Key light is usually the first light placed in studio lighting. This is usually the brightest light used and the fill lights are used to soften shadows or craft the look of the final product. But in high key, not only is the key light used to create as few shadows as possible, very bright and light, the fill lights also are placed in a manner that reduces or eliminates contrast and shadows.


Here the lights flood the subject to the point of blowing out the highlights in some areas. The use of bright light in the photo evokes a crisp snow like appeal giving the peppermints the feel of a wintery day.

Emotionally the impact is light and airy and crisp.



(Sheila White Guevin) camera basics christmas photos color composition creating photo art high key perspective photographer photography sheila white guevin blog technique Sat, 02 Dec 2017 13:40:29 GMT
Carol of the Balls Carol of the BallsA musical composition as a photograph.


We often find ourselves drawn to simple compositions with repetitive elements. It is the appeal of a zen garden full of stones, raked patterns in sand, or snow falling from the sky. There is something peaceful in the repetition and a musical element of rhythm.


Here the balls mimic the pattern of notes across a page and evoke the sounds of Christmas carols with their bright holiday colors.


The frame literally "frames" the elements giving them  more value. And the balls which drop just outside the frame work reinforce that this is a three dimensional piece of work.


There is a brightness with the color that evokes happy Christmas memories, but also a repetitive use of the gold tones which appear in the wall, the frames and several of the balls. The use of a single color pattern gives a sense of completeness and calm. 


Finally, a controlled chaos is found in both the simplicity of the composition and creating this photograph from a straight on perspective. Both the frame and the straight lines keep the colorful balls within its "boundaries". 


Photographs like this lend themselves well to editorial print work. Where a quick glance tells a familiar story and draws the reader into an article by complimenting but not overwhelming the topic. 


While you are out taking photographs this Christmas season, look for subjects use repetitive elements and rhythm to tell the story.

(Sheila White Guevin) camera basics christmas photos color composition creating photo art online photos class perspective photo tips photographer photography rhythm sheila white guevin blog Fri, 01 Dec 2017 16:06:01 GMT
One in Two Billion

One image in 2 billon.

As of 2017, there are an estimate 7.5 billion people in the world.

Based on 2014 statistics, there are 1.8 billion photographs loaded up to the Internet on a daily basis.

 So for 2017, I am just going to call that 2 Billion photographs a day or 750 Billion photographs a year.

Smart phone users in the US take an average of 7 photos a day. They look at their phone an average of 46 times a day. Does it surprise you that on the list of cell phone use actual calls come in at #5 and are on the decline?

As a photographer, these statistics haunt me and lead me to asking a lot of questions.

  1. Why am I shooting this?
  2. What is the point?
  3. Does it add anything to the conversation of life?
  4. Is this my best work?

In the editing stage, I ask another set of questions.

  1. Which of these photos tell the story?
  2. Which photos have the most impact?
  3. If I can only post one photo which one will it be?


That is the number of photos needed to be heard in this daily deluge.

One really good photo can stop the viewer and allow them to really see your work.  A group of photos, has them just glancing at each one and zipping along their way.

If you truly want to be seen and you want to be heard in this storm, learn to cull and edit your photos to ONE.


(Sheila White Guevin) 1.8 billon 7.5 billon conversation culling editing one people perspective photographer photographs photography sheila white guevin blog statistics technique voice Thu, 27 Jul 2017 15:38:20 GMT
One New Thing

When I reach a stagnant point in my photography, my art, my life, I always go back to this. Do one thing different. 

This week, I am trying two. Tonight, my husband Paul and I are going to take our first ever dance class together. We are going to attempt the very basic walking steps of the Argentine Tango.  We met the Annapolis Tango group last month, when I was invited to photograph a workshop. The group expanded their inner circle far enough to include Paul and I in their event. Though we were watchers, many of the Tango dancers spoke to us about what they loved about the group and the dance.

What ever we bring positive and negative to the experience, our love of music and our in-ability to dance, we are open to the experience.

This may be the type of adventure, where we never speak of it again. 

Even if it just for tonight, we will Tango.

I am stepping out in other ways too.

More often that one would imagine, people approach me to ask about technique or to ask if I want to go out and try a new technique with them. 

Recently I saw a post saying there are 101 specialties in photography. Adding Rodeo photography to their ever growing list. What this means is you can be an amazing and recognized photographer in one area of specialty and far less experienced in another. 

The problem is once you've established as a photographer you wouldn't really want to be seen as failing in another area, such as night photography. 

I immersed into digital photography six years ago (2010). Over that time period, one phrase seems to be repeated often and resonates with me.

"I'm a natural light photographer" means "I don't know how to use lights."

While this may not be true and often isn't it is commonly accepted that someone who only uses natural light probably isn't comfortable with other light sources. So how do they balance their thriving natural light business with dabbling in studio lights or night lighting? They find a group where they can learn and fail and not be judged.

After six years and complete immersion in this digital photo world, I am still learning; still experimenting; and still willing take you along on the ride regardless of your skill level.

So I jumped in to start a "Meetup" group that will allow me to do this.

Last fall, there was an informal meetup of people who inspired this group. We took our left over fall pumpkin. One person cut a face into it (Thank you T). Leslie is our resident fireworks person and great at adding suggestions on how we can get a bigger brighter flame. Paul was our experimental guy with the flammable objects. And I, the idea person, manned the camera and the tripod. 

Team pumpkin hoped for a success and planned to accept the epic fail. Cause if you are going to fail, do it big! We also took a lot of safety precautions and had someone manning the hose, because failing big meant getting a really bad photo, not burning down the house!! We had a blast. Nothing burned but the pumpkin!

And that is all I have to say about this.

Step out. Step on. Getting moving. Dance. And embrace the epic fail.



(Sheila White Guevin) challenge do one thing different meetup group perspective photographer photography technique Fri, 18 Mar 2016 21:03:36 GMT
the Insight project; executing a vision Eye photos taken during Artomatic 2015


Artomatic 2015 opens the 30th of October and runs through the 12th of December--six weeks of the area’s largest collaborative artists’ show. The Artomatic experience includes 2D, 3D and performing artists with special event nights tossed into the mix. Un-juried. Uncensored. It is artistic freedom at its best. Think an overload of ideas and color. You don’t attend Artomatic as much as you immerse yourself and experience Artomatic.


For me, Artomatic began with a building in Arlington, VA in 2012. Paul and I were just two of the 70,000 plus visitors to attend the event and experience the work of over 700 artists. The impact was so profound that I can still recall many of the exhibits. A twelve floor office building was filled with paintings, drawings, photos, sculptures, lights and more and still my recall of some of the exhibits is crystal clear:

  1.       A photographer who put together visual triptychs of phrases like “rock, paper, scissors” “peanut butter and jelly sandwich” “duck, duck, goose”
  2.       An artist that collected postcards of people’s secrets. In anonymity, people revealed secrets they were willing to unburden through this project. You could add to the collection if you felt drawn to do so.
  3.       An artist whose nude photos of real women of all shapes and sizes had an interactive piece where you could post your own notes about body image and how the American advertising standard affected you and your life.
  4.       There were old book jackets made into pocketbooks and sculptures.
  5.       A collection photographs of vanity license plates.
  6.       A performance by Dance-a-fire. A troupe of performing artists who play with fire.

Two thoughts lingered with me, long after the exhibit was over. One is that in all my wanderings through museums and galleries, I had never experienced anything quite like Artomatic. The second was how much I wanted to participate as an artist instead of a patron.

My first step was to follow them through Facebook and to sign up for e-mails directly from their web-site (

In the three years that have passed since the last Artomatic, I’ve had plenty of time to imagine an exhibit. In my head, I have painted walls with chalkboard paint, exhibited just Cherry Blossom photos, produced exhibits of portraits, imagined a wall with only my best work, and wondered what if I could create an interactive exhibit piece.

Between real clients, managing my web-site, joining local art groups here in Maryland, and exhibiting, I still have quiet times when my imagination can run wild. In that free space, I created my exhibit a hundred different ways.

This past summer, Artomatic announced they found space and would go live again in October 2015. That is when the real work began. It was time to filter through the hundred random thoughts in my brain and create an executable game plan.

My first goal was to create a cohesive exhibit. Since it is un-juried, the responsibility to put together my exhibit was entirely on me.

My second goal was to attempt to put together something memorable that would stand out in the chaos of art overload.

My third goal was to find a way to make the exhibit engaging and interactive to the viewer.

From this thought process, “the Insight project” was born.

Jumping in where angels fear to tread has been a lifetime flaw of mine. So after I gathered up the first twenty photographs, I immediately went to booking the exhibit at other locations. It is an in for a penny, in for a pound philosophy. This also cranked up the pressure.

As I type this, photos are matted, framed and hanging in my Artomatic space just waiting for the opening. I’ve set up a working studio so people visiting the location have the option to sign a model release and have their eye macro shot added to the collection along with their written insight. I am hopeful that the patrons will find the project fun and memorable.

Going from photographer to a photographer that exhibits has been more about executing my vision than talent. About breaking the project down into doable pieces and executing it from the basic version to the complete vision.

And while I look forward to seeing and interacting with people at Artomatic 2015, my dream would be that my journey or work inspires another artist to break free and exhibit with the next Artomatic. 


Sheila White Guevin

20 October 2015

(Sheila White Guevin) AOM2015 Artomatic Camera basics perspective photographer photography Sheila White Guevin Blog technique the Insight project Tue, 20 Oct 2015 22:14:48 GMT
Climbing up the Ladder  

Climbing a ladder is symbolic of success in the corporate world. It can also literally represent success in photography.

Shooting your photos from a different angle will take you outside the box of the everyday shooter.

Groups especially require the ladder for simple math reasons.  Remembering that the objects closest to the camera will appear larger, if you line up people into several rows, the front row people will appear larger and the people at the back will appear smaller when shot from eye level position. But when you go up the ladder, if you measured everyone from their noses to the camera lens, you would find there are now less variances in the distance and so less distortion in the sizes. For really large groups, you can stack them, kneeling, sitting standing, standing on a riser and get a large number of people into a small space. Go up the ladder and suddenly you have a very balanced photo.





Since we view the world from eye level, using the ladder can make a photo more interesting just because of the change of perspective.

The opposite is also true.

When working with children or pets, I kneel down so that I am now at their eye level.



When shooting objects like a seashell on the beach, you will find me laying on the ground, so that once again I am viewing the object at its level. Ground level also works well for some landscapes, pet photos, and to get nice leading lines on roads and foot bridges.

While carrying the ladder around to shoot can raise some eyebrows, I have also had police officers stop in their cruisers while I am laying on the ground or getting up, to ask if I am “Okay?” I always assume they mean physically and assure them I am just fine.




This week you will literally change your perspective by going high or going low.

For high, you can also find elevated areas such a stairs. When shooting from elevations, it is good to have an assistant or spotter with you as there is a slight risk this may cause you a little vertigo. Also, my ladder of choice is a very sturdy aluminum paint ladder under 6 feet high and with that nice tray area for placing equipment (other than my camera).

Some photographers use knee pads for going low especially when shooting things like parades where they want to pop down and back up quickly on hard surfaces.

(Sheila White Guevin) Camera basics ladder perspective photographer photography Sheila White Guevin Blog technique Tue, 24 Mar 2015 22:08:48 GMT
Lens Capped  

Staying inspired to create new work is an on-going battle for most creative types.

Writers call that dead zone “writer’s block”.  Wayne Labat used his blog to coin a term for photographers – “lens capped”. Call it what you want, it is when you come to the realization that there is nothing new under the sun. Lens capped is a feeling that taking another photo might be pointless. Knowing that out there, someone else has a better artistic approach, a better camera, a better… well everything, including attitude.

Here are a few techniques I use when I feel the inspiration waning and the blahs starting to take over:


1.       I ask friends to recommend a web-site, a book, or a new technique or style they are working on.  Just like when I was a kid looking for something to do on a rainy day. Call a friend and ask “What cha doing?”

2.       Follow a thread around the Internet. Choose any topic and start searching.  This does not have to be photography related and in fact, often is not. I was sewing on a button and saw a spool of red thread. I couldn’t remember why I had purchased the red thread, but then had this thought that red thread is symbolic in other cultures. So it starts. Red thread. Immediately I start finding references to it, a book based on the red thread connection, photographs of red thread and so on.  I may decide to photograph literal red thread or maybe just friends who are connected by the invisible red thread. Or I may divert off course and see that blue thread is more interesting, which leads to old mills in the US that are open to photographers and there I go down another rabbit hole of inspiration.

3.       Take a shower. That is just one of the random tasks that often allows the mind to relax and flow freely. It is the “Eureka” experience.

4.       Housework. The opposite of allowing the mind to enjoy and relax is making it work. Physical labor has a way of bringing on ideas – for me. I don’t know why this works. Maybe the smell of cleaners stimulates my need to escape the work. Perhaps the repetitive task of motion used in cleaning. Maybe it is the feeling of completing a task brings a sense of satisfaction which shatters the blahs. The best part of trying this one is if it doesn’t work you end up with a clean office, or a clean kitchen, or a closet full of clean clothes. It is a win-win solution.

5.       Give yourself a day off. The do nothing day. Put on pajamas. Watch TV. Read a book. Plan to do NOTHING constructive. Just give yourself a break.

6.       Accept that not every project is going to be a winner. Alternatively, I call this embracing the EPIC FAIL. I like to try something new and often my first bite at the apple doesn’t work out nearly as well as it did in my brain. I see a photo I love. I want to try it. Let’s go with my first long exposure of water. I set it up and shot it and it is very overexposed. Ridiculously unusable. I had no idea why. I had seen dozens of this style shot and those all looked fine. Mine was an EPIC FAIL. I did an internet search and found out that for this type of shot I needed a neutral density filter. I didn’t say “yippee something else to buy”. I didn’t immediately run out and buy one or a dozen. I first decided if I will I ever need to take this photo? Is this something I wanted to invest in? How many other ways could you use a neutral density filter?

Some EPIC FAILS have lead to a better understanding of my camera; learning a new technique; or an artistic style which I can tweak and make my own. Some have lead to me owning a neutral density filter or two.

7.       Music is my go to for breaking out of my blah patterns. It comes in two forms. Listening and being happy that the Ipod has made it all so portable. A world of music in the palm of my hand. Joy beyond words. Or playing music. I am fortunate that I find solace and joy in playing the piano. It consumes my mind in a way nothing else can.

8.       Visit a museum. Any museum will do, but it certainly helps when you have the Smithsonian museums just 30 minutes away. National Gallery of Art is my favorite. Not just for the paintings and art, but also the gift shop and the underground café. The stimulation of colors, patterns, people, and lives of the artists are all enough to set me off in a new direction.

9.  (Ross Scribner) You can set up your own album for free or pay $20 a year for bonus benefits. Take a photo every day and post it. The range of photographers is newbies to old-bies from casual to professional artists. There are fun competitions in which winning is the only prize. Just scanning through the “trending” or “popular” category will motivate you. But taking a photo every day, will hone your skills in one year beyond your expectations no matter what your skill level is when you start. It is harder and more rewarding than you can anticipate.

10.   Read: "Steal like an artist" by Austin Kleon. And then do just that... steal like an artist.


Time to stop reading this blog and take the lens cap off.


About the photo in this blog post.

National Aquarium, Baltimore, Inner Harbor. Taking some time away to watch the dolphins play. This photo is what I term a "snapshot". It isn't meant to be an artistic masterpiece. There is not some technique used to elevate it . It is a photo that could have been taken by any camera, any photographer, and at any time. Just one of those photos that makes me smile and reminds me, I can always just take an afternoon and go watch the dolphins play. 




(Sheila White Guevin) an artist austin block Camera basics capping epic fail inspiration kleon lens like photographer photography Sheila White Guevin Blog steal technique writer's Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:51:22 GMT
Any Idiot with a Camera  

One of my favorite photos is a long exposure of the Jefferson Memorial taken just before sunrise, in the minutes before the sun breaks the horizon. It was a quiet moment one Tuesday morning in March of 2013, when only half dozen photographers were shooting. As the sun came into view, I packed up to go home fighting my way through the hordes of photographers who showed up just as I was leaving.

Last fall, the photo was on display at a military spouse’s event when a woman walked up and commented, “Everyone has shot a version of that photograph”.

This is just one of the many discouraging things people will say to you on your photographic journey. Here are a few more:


1.       No real photographer uses the automatic of P settings on their camera.

2.       My friend takes better photos with her iphone.

3.       Any idiot with a camera can (fill in the blank)



#1 –When the photographer says "I don’t shoot in automatic or on P; I only shoot manual and RAW". Shooting in manual and RAW identifies that the photographer has more than a casual working knowledge of their camera. However, I also hear people say this to diminish the less experienced photographer. Here is my advice, put your camera on Auto and get out there and take photos.

Find a good mentor or on-line group and actively learn to use every feature on your camera. I highly recommend the  The 365project is a fabulous community and great safe environment in which to learn. Everyone on the site loves to take photographs and there is a large range of equipment from phones to professional cameras. Most are very willing to share their knowledge and technique. I’ve not been photo shamed once on this site.

Remember that  Auto and P are on the camera for a reason. Don’t be embarrassed by using them.

#2– There are several variations of “my friend takes better photos with her Iphone”.

 Mostly I hear the variation where someone with an extensive technical knowledge likes to point out that they can take better photos with a cell phone than you can with your very new, very expensive camera.

The reference point is, it is the photographer not the camera that makes the photo great.

There is a truth in that concept. It is the dancer not the shoes. It is the painter, not the brushes. It is the musician, not the instrument. But, given a choice, I would rather work with a great instrument.

So if you have an expensive camera and can only shoot on the auto setting, well, good for you. Shoot, shoot and then when you are done get out there and shoot some more.

Don’t sit the camera on a shelf like some beautiful piano that spends its life as a silent piece of furniture.

Now go back to step#1, because it just gets better the more you know!

#3 –Photographers who’ve been commercially successful throughout the film era can be bitter about the ability of the new digital cameras. Photos that were once only possible by applying an in-depth technical knowledge are now possible with many cheap point and shoot cameras.

Add insult to injury, when post editing can turn a passable photo into interesting art.  The learning curve of software like Photoshop has newbies pushing the limits of experienced photogs.  In response to this, the established photographers quickly coined a phrase that is useable with a variety of endings. It goes “Any idiot with a camera can”.

Recently the project of one such idiot with a camera (Brandon Stanton) has gone viral and the impact of his work is making a difference. If you are not familiar with his photoblog “Humans of NY” this is a good time to follow him on Facebook. Stanton’s response to being suddenly unemployed was to take his camera out for a walk on the streets of New York City to photograph and document the stories of people he met along the way.

Was his camera set on automatic? Do his friends take better photos? Did his lack of expertise stop him?

I love that any idiot with a camera can make a difference.

I want to be that kind of idiot.

What about you?

(Sheila White Guevin) photographer photography Sheila White Guevin Blog technique Thu, 19 Feb 2015 21:40:55 GMT
Stop, stop, stop  

Last day of the BIG THREE



ISO is set in response to how the sensor will register the available light. Tv (time value) is how fast or slow the shutter opens and closes. Fast lets in less light. Slow lets in more light.

Today, it is the final point in our BIG THREE. We have aperture. This is the size of the opening in which the light passes.

It is best when we imagine the settings as fractions so 22 is 1/22 and a very, very small opening. Like squinting on a very bright day. While 22 is very small, 2.8 would be a very large opening and allow in lots and lots of light.

All lenses have a sweet spot in aperture. This is where they produce the best and most clear photos.

For most lenses, the sweet spot is around F/8 – F/11. We will often hear the aperture settings referred to as stops.

Portrait photographers LOVE the little F stops.  F 2.8 and F 1.4 are selected to produce a photograph with very soft background.  Portrait photogs like to call this “creamy.” Technical photographers will tell you this is a shallow “depth of field.”

On the other end of the scale is the f/22 and higher. The bigger number F stops are used for photographing  landscapes. By selecting the smaller opening, you get a larger depth of field, which is great when you want the people in the foreground and say mountains in the background to ALL be in focus.

Beyond getting a correct exposure, your style of photography and your desired depth of field are two items considered in determining the proper F stop setting. 

Today’s assignment is focused on the artistic use of an F stop.




Choose the Av setting on your camera (Aperture value).


You will need your camera and a subject .

Stand the person in front of a distant object such as a house or building.


1.       Set the aperture to F/2.8 or the lowest possible setting you can get on your lens, which may be F/4. Focus on the person and take your photograph.Take one photo of just their head and shoulders. Now step back and take a second photo which captures their entire body.

2.       Do not change anything about the subject or background, but do change your aperture to F/8 or F/11. Take a second set of photos.

3.       This time change the aperture to the highest setting, which is the smallest hole, F/18 or F/22. Take your third set of photos.


Compare all photos and make notations so you can remember which setting produces which results.




Look at today’s blog photo. Can you guess the settings?




Aperture:                           F 2.8

ISO:                                        200

Shutter speed:                 1/2000 of a second



(Sheila White Guevin) aperture Camera basics F-Stop photography Sheila White Guevin Blog technique Mon, 09 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Click, click, click goes the shutter  


Part two – Shutter Speed


What is shutter speed?

It is merely how fast the shutter opens and closes.

The faster the shutter, the smaller the amount of light that hits the sensor.

The slower the shutter, the larger the amount of light that hits the sensor.

Fast shutters stop action.

Slow shutters are great for night photos or to intentionally blur the motion.

Shutter speed is in fractions so 1/200 is much faster than 1/15. After the fractions go away, it moves to actual seconds. 1 is open for 1 second. 3 is open for 3 seconds.

There are some photos where the photographer is looking to artistically use the motion blur you get with a slow shutter, but when the effects are not desirable, we can stabilize the body of the camera by placing it on a tri-pod.

Lenses also can have built in stabilizers to assist in reducing blur for hand held shots. However, the stabilizers are only effective if the camera is reasonably steady, so they become ineffective at longer shutter speeds and a tripod or stabilizing the body of the camera becomes essential.

In the last blog we learned that the lower the ISO (100) the brighter the light needs to be or the more light we need.

The higher the ISO (52,600) the less light we need.

Apply this to a dimly lit situation such as lighting a few candles in a large room. If we set the ISO to 100 we will need to use a very slow shutter speed to allow sufficient light to register on the sensor. If we set the ISO to 52,600 we will can use a faster shutter speed to get the same results.

Beyond the technical, there are many artistic reasons to choose a fast or slow shutter speed.

To stop the motion of a speeding car, you need a very fast shutter. 

To stop the motion of just one moving object, you might decide on a method called “panning”. With panning, use a slightly slower shutter, say 1/30 of a second, then “pan” or follow the moving object at the speed in which it is moving while taking your photo. This gives the appearance of the object being still in frame while giving a sense of motion to rest of the photo or anything not moving at an equal speed.  You can try a panning shot on moving cars, runners, bicycles, etc. It takes some practice but gives you a very interesting photograph. Today’s blog photo features a taxi cab using the panning method.

You can select a longer shutter speed to get the creamy effect with waterfalls or a glass-like effect on moving water. Please note that doing this under most lighting conditions will require adding a “neutral density” filter to your lens. Opening a shutter for a second under most daylight conditions would over expose the photo leaving you a very white photograph with little to no detail.

I love night photography, so the slow shutter and a tri-pod are two of my favorite tools. I need the camera sensor to be exposed long enough to see the night lights, the way I see the night lights. My camera sensor is so amazingly sensitive, that it sees color at very low lights significantly better than I see it.

Add people, a flash and a long shutter speed in front of a night lit city and you get wonderfully lit subjects in the front of the photo with night lights coming through behind them. This is especially fun at Christmas.

As you master your camera, you will find the shutter speed plays a huge roll in your artistic choices. We will have many future assignments that call for controlling the shutter as we learn to master the camera, but for today’s assignments, we are going to try just two simple shutter speed techniques that won’t require you purchase any additional equipment.


Assignment for shutter speed:

To change just the shutter speed and let the camera choose the other settings, pick the “Tv” button on your camera. Tv stands for “time value”.


1.    Set a fast shutter speed and stop the motion of a moving object like a car or a running dog. You should start a 1/200th and then experiment with changing it to faster or slower till you stop the motion and maintained a sharp focus.


2.    To play with a slow shutter, you can try a version of light painting. After dark, set a slow shutter for 1 second. Have an assistant use a flash light to write words or patterns while facing the camera. Any flash light will do for this shutter speed experiment. This can be done inside any room in the house with no lights on. You will need to focus the camera first, then set it to manual before turning the lights off. As you gain confidence, slow down the shutter from 1 to 3 seconds or longer.



(Sheila White Guevin) Camera basics Sheila White Guevin Blog photography shutter speed shutter speed basics technique Sun, 08 Feb 2015 06:29:50 GMT
ISO - Part one of the BIG THREE  

The Big Three

Part One: ISO

This is a three-part look at ISO, shutter speed and aperture. If you are ready to move past the automatic settings and take control of your camera, you will need a basic working knowledge of these three variables.

For a more in-depth look, the Internet is a great resource for free articles and videos.

Digital ISO and film ISO have a strong correlation. So if you remember how film ISO worked, you will easily move to digital ISO. 

To select ISO for film cameras you needed to know the light of your shooting conditions. Film boxes often came with a chart for picking the right ISO.

ISO 100 was for very bright sunny days and studio lights.

 ISO 200 was for mostly sunny daylight to partially cloudy.

 ISO 400 was a versatile film geared for cloudy days, but one that could create acceptable photos on sunny days by using a faster shutter speed and in dimmer situations by using a slower shutter speed and a flash. ISO 400 was an all-around film for mixed light.

ISO 800 was the choice for inside and on-camera flash.

Back when Kodachrome was more than a Paul Simon song, photographers chose the film ISO according to the conditions under which they expected to be shooting.  While ISO of 400 was the most versatile, it did not produce the best results in all situations.  ISO choice had a direct effect on the quality of your photos.

Film ISO basics were the lower the number, the more light you needed or less sensitive the film was. The higher the ISO, the less light you needed and the more sensitive the film was. Low light film and conditions produced readable photos, but that often came with a grainy look.

Digital ISO has a similar light chart.  An ISO of 100 requires that a lot of light get to the sensor. If I push the ISO to 25,600 (and yes, you read that right, which makes it 256 times more sensitive than a 100 ISO) I can get a readable image in a barely lit situation, however, this ability comes with “noise.” Both grain and noise are undesirable side effects from shooting in less than ideal conditions.

Unlike film, the sensor does not become more sensitive to light as the ISO increases. Instead, the camera digitally increases the color signature for each cell or individual sensor.

The other huge advantage of digital is that you can change the ISO for each individual shot.  This is great for when your lighting conditions are constantly changing from outside, to bright light, to inside and more.

Take a look at ISO 100: Imagine a perfect sunny day at the beach, where the colors are beautiful and vibrant, the sensor registers variations of the three color bands(red, blue and green) on each pixel sensor at around 85%. Now, on that same beach on a very cloudy day, the sensor sees the same scene but registers the colors at only 10%. If printed at 10% the photo would be dark and lacking in resolution. 

One option on our gray day is to change the ISO from 100 to 800. This increases the value of our registered color from 10% to 8 times higher at 80%. This virtually allows the camera to register more light as a color signature.

The downside of increasing the ISO is that the sensor may also register electronic waves as a version of light. This is called “noise.” So when I push up the sensor reading to be 8 times more sensitive, my other readings are 8 times more sensitive. This means the noise that was not visible on my sensor at 100 ISO is now 8 times stronger.

Sensors are categorized both by pixels and size. As a rule, the bigger the sensor, the bigger the pixels. These larger sensors register a lower amount of noise and a higher dynamic range. Newer generation sensors are less sensitive to noise and this is why many of the expensive full frame sensor cameras give you a cleaner photo with less noise at the lower light levels.

Shooting on automatic, the camera makes choices in an attempt to give you the best quality photo by balancing the ISO, shutter speed and aperture.  But the choice is purely a hypothetical game of math for the camera and this becomes obvious when the wrong object is in focus or perfectly exposed.

Artistic control in the digital world, always starts with technical knowledge.

Tomorrow, we will continue this journey by taking a technical glimpse at shutter speed.

Assignment One:

Pick a location where you can spend 15-20 minutes shooting.   Select “P” for program. If you don’t know how to select a feature on your camera and move around the different settings this is a good time to get out your manual or check on the Internet.

Using the existing light at the location -  take a photo at ISO 100 and then take the same photo at ISO 200 and keep going higher till you have a set of photos at each ISO. The camera will modify the other two from the BIG THREE so all your photos should be readable.

Upload your photos to your computer and notice the differences. This is a visual art. It is all about seeing the results of the camera you shoot.


Note: There are two things you may have put away when you got the camera out of the box. One is the user guide or manual; the other is the lens hood. This is a good time to go get both. Even when you can switch easily among the settings, it is always a good idea to have your user guide around when you need it. And as you learn the technical aspects of your camera – you are going to need it.

(Sheila White Guevin) BIG THREE Camera basics circular learning ISO photography Sheila White Guevin Blog technique Sat, 07 Feb 2015 17:01:02 GMT
Going Around in Circles  

About a decade ago while I was teaching piano, a friend introduced me to the concept of circular learning. Prior to this, I had a more linear understanding of both teaching and learning.

The linear concept, for the theory of learning, is that once you have learned something you move onto the next step or level and continue to do so until you have mastered your art or skill.

When we look at circular learning, we realize that while we do learn a core set of skills, we often circle back and learn them again in a different light.

In math, I might learn the one apple plus one apple equals two apples. But then I get an orange and may have to relearn that the concept that applied to the apples applies to the orange, so one orange plus one orange equals two oranges.

Once I have generalized this knowledge, I can move onto applying this to two of any object until someone hands me one orange and one apple. I don’t have two apples. I don’t have two oranges, but I do still have two. So I learn that one apple and one orange equals two fruit.

 And for years, I apply the one plus one principal and am happy doing so. I feel very confident I have mastered the skill, till the day I walk into a classroom and my math teacher puts up a problem that looks like this: x + 1 = 2. What is the value of x?

Nothing has actually changed in this situation, except how I see the concept of one plus one equaling two.

This understanding of circular learning has helped me accept that no matter how well I know a subject, going back to the basics may bring me to a new and better understanding.

You can apply this to reading a book. If you read any book when you are in middle school and again when you are in college and yet again when you are an adult, your understanding of the book will significantly shift. The same is true for viewing a movie. Life experience and other knowledge will significantly change the perspective and the nuances of the story.

Embracing this concept has opened a whole new attitude in learning from me.  I now accept that even though the material hasn’t changed, I may have changed and with it my understanding. This has made me a far better student. I am now able to take a second look at something I think I know and both confirm the knowledge I have while often seeing it from a new perspective.

Like many photographers, I have been taking photos for a long time. I got my first Kodak instamatic camera sometime in the 1960’s. And like many older photographers, almost everything I knew about taking photos changed suddenly when digital cameras made their appearance.

I bought my first DSLR in January 2011 and it was one plus one equals two all over again.

In the past few years, several friends have encouraged me to share my journey with the intent of taking their photography skills to the next level. Then one friend asked if I would consider a blog - a blog in which I would share the techniques and the stories behind my photographs.

So here it is.

Welcome to my blog. My only advice is be prepared to do a little laughing and little crying and a lot of singing and dancing as we are going around in circles.


Sheila White Guevin

3 February 2015



Will it go round in circles?

Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky?

Will it go round in circles?

Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky?


Billy Preston – from the album “Music is My Life” - 1972

(Sheila White Guevin) blog circular learning photographer photography Sheila White Guevin Blog technique Tue, 03 Feb 2015 16:14:34 GMT
Nothing to Say Now that I have figured out how to start a blog on this site, I have nothing to say.


We know that won't last long.



(Sheila White Guevin) photographer photography Sheila White Guevin Blog Tue, 03 Feb 2015 03:54:02 GMT