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Looking to get a big bike as your first motorcycle? You may want to think twice


Ducati Streetfighter V2

For many motorcycle enthusiasts, upgrading to a big bike is one of the ultimate goals of the two wheeled lifestyle. Most of us season riders, however, started our two-wheeled journeys aboard something more modest. That being said, it isn’t uncommon for first-time riders to buy the bike of their dreams straight away, especially for those who are financially loaded. 

However, did you ever stop and think that maybe this could be a bad idea? Well, today, we’re going to discuss whether or not it really is a good idea to start your two-wheeled journey aboard a big bike. By big bike, we’re referring to performance-oriented machines faster than most cars on the street—bikes like the Yamaha MT-10, BMW S 1000 R, and Ducati Streetfighter V4.

Big bikes are harder to handle

Yamaha XSR900

First and foremost, don’t allow yourself to be deceived by the notion that riding a big bike is just the same as riding a scooter. Sure, you may have taken your friend’s Vespa out for a spin around the block and thought to yourself that it was an effortless experience. However, let us be the first to tell you that even riders who have years of experience on scooters can easily screw up once they ride a big bike for the first time. 

Not only are big bikes heavier and more powerful, they’re also a lot more sensitive to rider inputs—be it the throttle, brakes, or clutch. As such, a small mistake that can easily go unnoticed on a small bike can easily translate into a potential crash-causing error while on a bigger, more powerful bike. 

It takes a lot of skill and discipline

MV Agusta Brutale 1000

It certainly goes without saying that riding a big bike requires a lot of skill and discipline. First time motorcyclists will inevitably be excited to experience the thrills of going fast—the rush of acceleration, the excitement of taking corners. However, doing so on a motorcycle with upwards of 100 horsepower on tap is a recipe for disaster, regardless of how high tech the bike’s electronic systems are. 

There’s a reason why training courses for big bikes are far more in-depth and extensive than a basic riding course. Sure, you may be the most skillful rider when it comes to technical skills. However, do you have the right mindset when it comes to handling the power. Even mid-size big bikes like the Kawasaki Z650 are faster than 90 percent of cars on the road, and can very easily give a first-timer a lot more than they can chew.

A few exceptions

Kawasaki Ninja 400

If you’re really adamant on starting your riding journey aboard a big bike, then you’re in luck. There are a few exceptions which, when paired with proper training and discipline, can work very well as a learner bike. For starters, today’s 400cc segment occupied by the likes of the Kawasaki Ninja 400, KTM 390 Duke, and CFMOTO 400 NK have modest power outputs, and can easily be tamed and managed with proper practice. Bigger bikes such as the Honda CB500X, and even the likes of the Triumph Street Twin and Ducati Scrambler can also be included in this list, however, the rider must have a strong sense of discipline, as well as the commitment to really practice and develop their skills.

As is the case in most things in life, there’s always a risk associated when it comes to getting into big bikes. The likelihood of you dropping the bike in the parking lot or while traveling at low speeds is a near certainty, so be sure you’re prepared for that. Also, never skimp on training. Take as many riding courses as you can—both online and in-person, so you can develop a strong foundation, both in-theory and practically, on how to become a safe and proficient motorcyclist.


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Rabbits face a fresh onslaught akin to myxomatosis – can they survive?


After bouncing back from one viral threat, rabbits are being sucker-punched by a second killer disease – and these unsung eco-warriors need our help



Life



16 March 2022

European rabbits (Oryctolagus ciniculus) juveniles emerging from burrow, Cheshire, UK May

Ben Hall/naturepl

MR MCGREGOR’s only desire was to keep Peter and his pesky playmates off his vegetable patch – and, if he got lucky, to make a pie out of them, according to Beatrix Potter. Meanwhile Elmer Fudd’s fervent wish was to put a bullet through his arch-nemesis, Bugs.

Popular culture depicts a certain antagonism between human and rabbit, while often emphasising the bunnies’ role as sassy survivors. But having already seen off one huge existential threat in the past century, the viral disease myxomatosis, rabbits now face another horrendous adversary, rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus, or RHDV. At the same time, we have come to realise that rabbits aren’t just fast-breeding agricultural pests, but key to many healthy, functioning ecosystems worldwide. “Rabbits are in a lot of trouble,” says Pip Mountjoy at UK government agency Natural England. “They need our help.”

The European rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus, evolved around half a million years ago. It was once widespread across Europe, including the British Isles, before being penned into Iberia by the last ice age. Their global expansion began in the 1st century BC with the Romans, who domesticated rabbits for food and fur and spread them back across their former range.

Some say the Romans reintroduced the rabbit to Britain, others point to the Normans. It was definitely the British who brought them to Australia in 1859 and New Zealand in the 1860s. A small colony established in the US in 1875 to control weeds quickly expanded across North America. The European rabbit is now one of the most widespread species on Earth, living on every continent except Antarctica.

That is partly because …



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KTM Philippines unleashes the 2022 RC 200 at Batangas Racing Circuit


2022 KTM RC 200

The KTM RC 200 has long been the favorite of both sporty commuters and track day aficionados alike. It really is the first of its kind—a small-displacement sportbike that offered the ergonomics and handling properties of a full-fledged superbike. While the previous generation RC 200 was mostly used on the street, it was undoubtedly designed as a solid, beginner-friendly track tool. With sharp bodywork, a lightweight chassis, and a punchy motor, everything about the first-generation RC 200 was designed for both street and track use. 

Now, for the 2022 model year, KTM has completely revamped the RC 200, bringing the little sportbike into a class of its own. Everything about the RC 200 is new, and has resulted in it being sharper and more performance oriented than ever before. KTM Philippines debuted the bike in the local market last March 19, 2022, in none other than Batangas Racing Circuit. The event saw eager attendees consisting of friends from the motoring media, fellow KTM owners, as well as special guest influencers. 

2022 KTM RC 200

2022 KTM RC 200

The first thing that will strike you about the new RC 200 is definitely its looks. Gone is the subtle headlight and razor-sharp styling, and instead, we find a large, centrally mounted headlight surrounded by a bulbous front fairing. The entire body has been redesigned to offer a more ergonomic fit that makes the bike even better-suited for track riding. In terms of suspension, the new RC 200 receives premium 43 mm WP front forks mated to a preload-adjustable WP monoshock. While it doesn’t feature any adjustability, it does, however, feel adequately damped for both road and track use.

The new KTM RC 200 finally offers dual-channel ABS as standard. Furthermore, it allows the rider to choose ABS settings, and even has supermoto mode, allowing the rider to switch off ABS at the rear. This allows skilled riders to perform maneuvers such as slides, skids, and stunts in a closed and controlled environment. All these features can be configured via the bike’s new full-color TFT instrument panel, similar to what we find in the 390 Duke and 390 Adventure.

At the heart of the new RC 200 is a 200cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, single-cylinder engine. Updates to the powertrain consist of improved airflow, resulting in cooler operating temperatures and a maximum power output of 26 horsepower and 19.5 Nm of torque. KTM Philippines has pegged the price of the new RC 200 at P198,000. It’s available in two Ready to Race colorways consisting of black and orange, and silver and black. 



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Why is it Important to Fill the Frame for a Fantastic Composition?

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To fill the frame is important to good composition. This is because it keeps everything relevant to the image you are making. Beginning photographers are often frustrated when they review their photos. They see things in the picture they had not noticed when they were taking it. In this article, I will teach you how to see those extraneous elements and what you can do about them before you take a photo. I’ll also cover other important aspects of what to include and exclude from your compositions as you are taking photos.

Everyday photographers are taking photos of any subject imaginable. Many of them are then shared. The competition to have your photos seen and noticed is intense. No matter what you photograph, the way you photograph it makes the most important difference. When you create well-composed images where the whole frame is intentionally filled, your photos will stand out from the crowd.

Being intentional about how you fill the frame when composing a photo is essential to making good pictures. What you include and what you exclude from your frame shows people how you view the world around you. It also makes for a strong photograph or a weak one. When you capture photographs that include irrelevant stuff, your pictures lose impact.

A composition with a clear subject often has the most impact. Images showing all manner of irrelevant stuff will not captivate a viewer’s attention. Or, at least, not for long. Choosing only what you want to include in a photo that supports your main subject will always result in a better image. Fill the frame encourages you to think more about what you see through your viewfinder.

cropped frame.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

I had to crop in tight for this photo of the monk leaving the ordination hall at Sri Suphan temple. I wanted to avoid including extraneous elements in my composition. In the foreground outside, there were people, signs, and other distractions.

I was using my 85mm prime lens, so I took a few steps forward as I saw him exiting the building. This meant I also had to crop some of the roof and sides. Sadly, I could also not include both the statues at the foot of the stairs. It did mean that my frame only includes relevant elements.

The Two Main Rules

When I started working in the photography department of a daily newspaper, I was eager to learn as much as possible. There were two rules repeated often. Make sure it’s sharp and fill the frame.

Out-of-focus photos were not acceptable. Even slightly soft images were discarded as they always look terrible reproduced on newsprint. Filling the frame was also essential as space in the newspaper was always at a premium. Journalists wanted their stories to run longer, and photographers wanted their images to fill more of the page. Submitting weak compositions that a sub-editor could crop and still retain the meaning of the picture was a mistake.

The better I could fill the frame, the more likely my photos would not be butchered by a sub-editor’s blade and the larger they would run. Besides this, a frame well-filled makes for an all-round more interesting image. Only including that which is relevant to the story my photographs illustrated meant they were more compelling.

sharp focus image.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Having everything in your frame sharp is not always necessary. Often you’ll only want a small amount of your main subject sharp to ensure that’s where viewers will focus their attention. The amount of sharpness in a photo can be controlled by managing the depth of field, or as in the photo above, by controlling motion blur.

For this photo, I used a shutter speed of 1/20th of a second, so the passing truck is not sharp. My aperture setting was f/20 with an 18mm focal length. Using a fast shutter speed would mean the truck was sharp and a distraction away from my main subject.

What is the Frame in Photography Composition?

When I’m encouraging you to fill the frame, I am not talking about getting your photos printed out and hung on the wall. That comes later. First, you must fill the frame you’re looking through when you take photos.

Our vision is unbounded. As we look around, we can see life as it constantly changes without any borders. Taking a photo is different. You capture a brief moment in time, encompassed inside four corners and four edges of a frame. This frame is integral to your photos.

Usually, it’s rectangular. Sometimes it’s a square. Whichever shape, you need to decide what you include in it before you press the shutter release button.

woman making a frame with her fingers.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

To fill the frame means you have to be mindful of everything you include, not only your main subject. You need to consider the entire frame when you are looking through your camera viewfinder. Beginning photographers too often are fixated on their subject. This is not all you need to be thinking about. 

You also need to look at what’s in the background and what other elements are in your frame. Think about how these things add to or distract from your subject. How does the light affect your composition? Will using a wide-angle lens, a zoom lens, or a telephoto lens help you frame your subject better? The more pointless things you have in your frame, the less visual impact your photo will have.

“photography

Key Tip

As you go to take a photo, look around the edges of your frame and at each of the corners. What can you see? Is it helping to fill the frame in an interesting way that adds to the photo you are taking? What’s peripheral in your photos often either helps contain a viewer’s gaze or takes it outside the image. 

One reason vignettes are a popular editing addition to photos is that the darkened edges help keep people’s attention on the subject. Having light or bright shapes or lines at the edges or corners tends to draw attention outwards and away.

close up portrait of a women.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Adding a vignette to this portrait helps keep your attention on the subject. Light areas at the edges were distracting. Even though the depth of field is very shallow and there’s no mistaking what my main subject is, the bright areas did not add to the composition. There was also one white flower in the background that I cloned out for the same reason.

Consider Your Main Subject

Many strong photos have one main subject. It’s a rare photographer who can include many, many elements in a frame and hold a viewer’s attention. Sebastiao Salgado is one who does it magically well. For most of us, it’s often best to include a single subject for viewers to focus on. This might be one element or a group. The more whatever else you include in the frame to support this subject, the stronger your compositions will be.

street parade off-center placement.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

For this photo of a young man with his French horn playing in a street parade, I positioned myself carefully. I have also chosen a narrow aperture setting and come in close to him. This is so the busy background is not distracting but still provides supportive information.

I wanted to feature him. The shape of his instrument attracted me, as did his red shirt and intense concentration. I used my 35mm lens set to f/1.4. Had I used a narrower aperture setting and stood further back, his bandmates in the background would compete visually. Being close to him and using a wide aperture means you know who the other people are in the photo. But they are not taking attention away from the young man and his French horn.

Had I stood to his left, most of the band would be excluded from the frame and the bystanders watching the parade would be visible. While this would also add context, it would not make such an interesting photo. Including the other band members adds to the story in a more interesting way.

Can Negative Space be Used to Help Fill the Frame?

Yes. So long as it’s intentional. Negative space is all the area around your main subject. Some photos have no negative space. The subject fills the entire frame. Most compositions do include some negative space. This is a legitimate way to help fill the frame, so long as the space is a deliberate part of the photo.

Snapshot photos often contain vast amounts of space. This space has not been considered at all by the photographer. They are fixated on their subject and are not paying attention to what else is happening in the frame. With care, any space can be creatively included in a photograph. But it must be intentional and add something to the image.

Fill the frame does not require you to compose, so only a small portion of what’s before you is in your photos. In any photographic situation exploiting the options of filling the frame with some empty space or taking a close-up is good practice. Ask yourself, does the empty background add to or detract from the composition?

wide angle image of a boat on a beach.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

When I took this photo, there was nothing much other than negative space to include. I did not want to crop in tight to the young guy in his canoe. That would have meant losing context. The lake and the beautiful light are also important elements in this photo.

The negative space is relevant and adds to the overall aesthetic. Along with my exposure choice, it creates the mood of the picture. Had I set my exposure for the man and canoe, the reflection on the water would contain little or no detail. Having no texture visible in such a large portion of the frame would not have helped my composition.

Is It Possible to Use Other Composition Rules and Fill the Frame?

Yes! Making good use of other composition rules will help filling the frame in more interesting ways. The rules of composition are popular for a reason. They work. Most composition rules have been used for hundreds of years by painters. Photography has adapted them to the medium, but often in a more limited manner.

Painters and sculptors are not restricted by time and space as photographers are. Our cameras take a photo in a split second. A painter has as long as they like to work on a piece. They can compose and recompose as often as they like. Moving elements around on their canvas is much easier than moving them around in your camera’s viewfinder.

Contemplating how you’ll compose a photo, think about the lines and shapes you are seeing. Will they fit with a dynamic symmetry grid? Could you apply the rule of thirds? Are there strong lines, either real or implied, you can make use of? Whatever other techniques you incorporate into your composition, use them well. It’s never a good idea to apply a rule when it doesn’t help enhance the picture.

woman sitting against an old tree stump for filling the frame.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Don’t Force It

Never force the use of a composition rule when you are framing a picture to take. Make sure the elements you are working with come together well. Don’t try to manipulate images, so they comply with any composition rule you feel like using. Fit the rule to your subject.

Whenever you are composing photos, it’s best to do so using your intuition. The better you know, and the more you have practiced the rules of composition, the more freely you’ll make optimum use of them. Don’t force a rule on your subject. Let it happen naturally. Practicing and understanding composition techniques enable you to become skilled at using them. The more you practice, the more naturally you can incorporate them into your photos.

Don’t aim to break the rules of composition. Aim to know them so well that you can use them without consciously being aware of what you are doing. With plenty of regular practice, you can learn to apply composition rules most creatively.

Strong Shapes and Lines

frame composed with shapes and lines.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

I composed this photo to make use of the strong shapes and lines. I always like photographing bicycles whenever I find them in interesting locations. The circular window provides a perfect balance of the bike’s wheels. Together they form an implied triangle that mimics the shapes in the bicycle and the triangle shapes seen through the window.

The red lines of the fence and the one painted on the wall are prominent elements, as are the vertical lines in the round window. The three potted plants add to the visual harmony. If there had been two plants or four plants, they would not have helped to fill the frame so well. 

Structuring a photo well is important. How you arrange elements within your frame can add strength or create visual chaos. Filling the frame is not about cramming as much into it as you can. Leave space. Manipulate the lines and shapes. Consider the weight of light tones and dark tones. Use the building blocks of composition well.

Key Tip

The rules of composition are best applied when you know them so well you don’t have to think about which one to use. You will see a scene to photograph and know intuitively which rule will best apply. This takes time and practice. Experience will show you when it’s best to apply a particular composition rule to help you fill your frame.

Edward Weston said, “Now to consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravity before going for a walk.” 

couple walking along the mountains in the background.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

How to Fill the Frame?

Filling the frame is a matter of including what you want and excluding everything else. There are various techniques and tricks for doing this well.

Where to Take a Photo From

Where you take your photo from, your point of view determines much of what you’ll see in your picture. Positioning yourself well, you can exclude elements from the background you don’t want to see in your photos.

Photographs render what we see in three dimensions into two dimensions. This means that elements included in a composition may appear differently through the lens. When we see with both eyes open, we have a different perception of depth than what is captured in a photograph. Closing one eye as you line up a photo can help bring this into a clearer perspective.

You have to ‘zoom with your feet’ to adjust your composition when using a prime lens. You are also more likely to explore different angles as you are not relying on zooming to alter your composition.

As you move about, look at how the relationship between the elements changes in your composition. Watch how the reflection of light can change the appearance of objects depending on where you view them from. Take your time. Don’t rush. When you have found something interesting to photograph, it’s worth spending time to get it right.

Take photos from many different angles if you are not sure. Carefully compose each one as well as you can. Don’t blaze away in continuous frame mode. Compose each frame with purpose, even if at first you are not sure if it will be any good. As you shift your point of view, you will see your subject, other elements, and the background differently.

portrait of a woman outdoors with a blurred background.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Try This

Look at an object about two or three meters (yards) away from you that’s around the same size as a laptop computer. Close one eye and hold one hand out at arm’s length, so the object is obscured from behind your hand. Move your hand a little to the left or right. This reveals the object. Then hide the object behind your hand again.

Now open both eyes. Can you see the thing your hand was blocking when you had one eye closed?

This exercise can help you understand more about what happens when you are looking through your camera lens and not using both your eyes. You see things from a different perspective, even when you are using a standard lens.

camera positioned far from the subject.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

These guys made the most delicious kebabs. I ate there on many occasions and one day took a series of photos. It was an ideal situation. The men were very interactive with customers and even people who happened to be passing by. I knew they would not mind being photographed. I wanted to capture a number of images to show the location and the action.

I moved around and took photos from many different angles. The scene was so colorful and active it was not so difficult to get some interesting pictures of it. Had I only stood in one spot though, my perspective would have been too limited. By moving around, I was able to make a good series with a lot of variety, all of the same subject.

getting closer to the subject.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Move Your Camera

In each place you take a photo from, experiment with your compositions. When you’re taking a photo and there’s something distracting behind your main subject, you can often hide that unwanted element from view. You do this by moving a little. Left, right, up or down. Even a small change in your point of view can make a big difference to how you fill the frame.

A simple camera tilt or shift will alter what you see at any edge of your frame. Where you have something at the top of your frame you don’t want to see, tilt your camera down a little. If there’s something on the left or right that’s best eliminated from view, shift your camera one way or the other. You can avoid seeing the distraction with this basic movement.

To do this well, you need to be paying attention to everything within your frame. This can be challenging at times. If there are a lot of moving elements in a scene you are photographing, it can be tricky to keep track of them all. When you’re making a close-up portrait or taking some still life photos, it’s easier to do.

Look around the edges of your subject and of your frame. Whatever is closest to your subject within your frame, you must pay most attention to. It might be something some distance behind your subject that visually intersects with it and creates a distraction. If you’re not looking for these types of things, you may not see them.

When you are looking and you do notice them, then you can make amends. Often a simple camera movement can help eliminate unwanted elements from within your field of view.

night scene framed in camera viewfinder.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Try This

Find a single subject to photograph. Compose it as you normally would. Take a photo. Then compose it again, but only by moving your camera a little. Observe what you can see in your viewfinder. Look at what else is in the frame with your subject. Is there anything there that does not need to be and is not enhancing your main subject?

Move a little to the left or to the right. Up or down. Can you improve on the first composition you made by simply moving your camera a little? Don’t be shy to check your camera’s monitor to see how you are framing your subject. When you look at your monitor, you may see elements in the frame that you had not noticed when you were looking through the viewfinder.

Once you practice using this technique for a while, you’ll find yourself doing it virtually every time you go to take a photo.

taking photo from a different angle.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

From this angle, I was able to capture some candid photos of this chef. When he was busy, he was focused on his work. I was also around the side of the kebab stand and not obvious to him from this position.

Move Your Body

More than zooming with your feet, move your position closer, further back, left, or right. Even up or down when you can. This will alter what you see in the background and the relationship of your subject to other elements in the frame. Sometimes it takes more than a little camera movement to improve the composition.

When you find something interesting to photograph, move around and view it from different angles. Often, the first place you think to take a photo from will not result in the most interesting picture. The best way to discover where you are going to get the best photo from is to move about. This is one reason using prime lenses helps you compose your photos more creatively.

Take time to observe what you are photographing and consider what will happen when you change positions and view it from a different angle. Exploring the possibilities by actually moving around is the best approach. You will see things alternatively when you change your position. Your final image will be stronger for it.

Your initial impulse for where to take a photograph from will not always make a great composition. It will be the most obvious, so this is where most people will take a photo of the same subject. You will often get better photos from the second or third position you try.

Don’t only think about it, do it. Actually move and observe as you do. Changing where you alter your relationship with every aspect of the composition.

moving close.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

As I moved around, I was able to photograph the same man with a variety of backgrounds. For this photo, I was much closer to him, and we were chatting together as I was buying a kebab from him. 

Distance Matters

The closer you are to what you are taking pictures of, the more pronounced difference changing position makes. Taking photographs of a very wide landscape and moving only a little may not make much difference at all. Photographing a head and shoulders portrait, any small amount of movement you make will have more impact.

Anything that you are close to will be affected more in how it looks in your viewfinder than objects further away from you. Think about this and experiment with how your subject looks by getting closer to it and then further away from it.

As you are learning to use this technique, take lots of photos. Compose and take pictures from each position you try. Even if you don’t think they look much good at the time you take them, don’t delete them from your card.

Review sets of images you make of each subject you photograph like this and compare them. Look for aspects of the compositions you like the most. And those that you like the least. This will help you improve your photography composition much more than if you only take photos from the first point of view you think of.

Change Your Focal Length

Zooming with your feet, getting closer or further from your subject, has a certain effect. Changing lenses to a longer focal length or to get a wide-angle composition with a short focal length produces a different type of image.

Using a zoom lens extended to its farthest focal length gives you a very different perspective than standing close to your main subject. With a wide-angle lens, it looks much different. How your subject appears and what you can see in the background will be very different depending on your focal length and focal point.

Sometimes you might need to stand far from your main subject. To fill the frame well, you may think you need to use a long focal length lens, so a significant portion of what is around your main subject is excluded. Changing lenses and positions may make a more interesting composition. 

Getting into a higher or lower position could help. Including another critical element could enhance your subject. Use an off-center placement of your subject. Embrace some negative space. This can make a creative alternative to always taking close-ups.

The longer the focal length lens you use, the greater the appearance of elements in your frame look closer together. This compression also affects what you see within your frame. Elements appear a lot closer together when you use a long lens than when you choose a wide focal length.

Photographic exploration is a good thing. Using a different lens, closer or further focal point, and alternative points of view helps you to see better ways to compose your photos. Always relying on zooming is not the best option. Using prime lenses forces you to see and fill the frame with your subject alternatively.

less distant image.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

I took the photo above with my 35mm lens on a full-frame camera. I was standing quite close to my subject with the camera tilted down. This allowed me to capture the lovely shadow made as she twirled and swayed her dress.

Experiment with Different Focal Lengths

Find a single subject to photograph that has some distance between it and the background. Compose a photo using a medium lens, say a 50mm on a full-frame camera or a 35mm on a crop sensor. If there are other elements nearby that are in your frame and different distances from the background, this will help.

Take a few photos with your medium lens. Move a little and a lot around your subject to see if you can improve your composition. Keep about the same distance from your subject as you do this.

Then, still using the same focal length, move closer to your subject. Take another series of photos. Then move back further away from it than where you started. Take more photos.

Now change your focal length to the widest you have. Compose your subject so that it’s about the same size in your frame as it was in the first set of photos you made. Take another series of photos. Move about and look at your subject from a variety of perspectives.

Can you get closer to your subject and take another series of images? Then get further back. Stand the same distance away you were when you made the third set of images using your standard lens.

Now repeat this exercise again using your longest lens. Start by framing your subject, so it’s about the same size as it was in the very first photos you made of it. Then move closer and further away as you make this series of photos using your longest focal length.

Review all these photos on your computer. Look at how your main subject appears in your compositions in relation to other elements in your frame.

image taken wtih 180mm lens - focal length example.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Here’s another photo of the same young lady as the image above. They were taken on the same day in the same park. In this photo, I used my 180mm lens for a completely different look and feel to my composition.

How Much of the Image Needs to be in Focus?

Using a wide aperture is a popular photography technique to create bokeh (blur around your subject.) Filling your frame with blur is very effective when you do it well. How much blur you include depends on the subject and how relevant the background is. Sometimes you may want completely soft bokeh. Blur at other times may hide relevant information that can help to fill your frame and add to the image.

In a busy composition where much of the information is relevant to your main subject, managing the depth of field can be challenging. You must combine the right lens and aperture setting. You need to focus and consider the background distance. These things control how blurred or sharp portions of your composition are.

including the relevant surrounding elements.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Managing this well means you can maintain a viewer’s attention on your main subject. You can still have other elements in the frame that provide supporting information. At best, the other elements will be recognizable but not distracting.

This takes practice. Using one focal length consistently means you’ll get a feel for it and how to best manage depth of field. This is one reason I love using prime lenses more than zoom lenses. I use my 35mm and 105mm lenses the most and have a pretty good feel for how the depth of field will appear when using my most common settings.

To learn more about how to do this, please check out my article on depth of field.

Managing Depth of Field

sharp image with blurred background.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

For this photo, I used my 50m lens at f/4. Because I was relatively close to the people’s hands as I focused, they are sharp, and the background is blurred but still recognizable. You can make out that this action of passing the slice of cheese was at a busy market. You are able to make out people and products on display in the background. These help to fill my frame with relevant information without distracting from my main subject.

Had my lens or settings been different, more of the photo could have been in focus. With a wider lens and a narrower aperture setting, a photo taken from the same distance would have a deeper depth of field. The people and products in the background could be sharp. This would distract from the foreground action.

Fill the Frame with What is Relevant

Woman forming a frame with her arms and dreadlocks.
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Filling the frame making the subject spill over the edges is not what it means to fill the frame. When this technique works best for the chosen subject of a photograph, use it! But, you can also make good use of negative space to enhance an image. Filling the frame in photography is about including what is relevant to the photograph you want to make. Exclude everything else.

Be mindful of what you see within the edges of your frame. Filling the frame of your image with elements or empty space that does not support your subject weakens any photograph. Take time to look carefully before you press your shutter button. Your photography will improve greatly the more consistent you are in doing this.





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Understanding the psychology of shapes to improve your Licensing content

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In 1944, the experimental psychologists Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel of Smith University conducted a now-famous experiment: after playing a video featuring three moving shapes—a small triangle, a large triangle, a circle, and a rectangle—they asked participants to write down what they’d just watched. Most saw it as an animated story, with the abstract shapes representing characters with thoughts, feelings, and motivations.


Stairs Of Hope by Hossein Zare on 500px.com

As with colors, we often assign larger meanings to simple shapes. In advertising, marketers use shapes to tap into our own emotions and desires. While often discussed in the context of illustration or logo design, shapes play a key role in all branded messaging, making them an essential tool for commercial photographers as well. In this quick guide, we’ll take a closer look at the psychology of shapes, how they’re used in advertising, and how you can incorporate them into your work behind the lens.

Squares and rectangles


Solitude by D ? L P H I N ?  on 500px.com

Found in the manmade world, squares offer a sense of authority, balance, and stability. Perhaps it’s worth noting that in Simmel and Heider’s experiment, many participants viewed the rectangular shape as a “house.” Connecting squares to ideas relating to security, designers often use square logos to represent trustworthiness and professionalism (think Microsoft, the BBC, National Geographic, Chase bank, or American Express).


Un pas à la fois by D ? L P H I N ?  on 500px.com

In photography, squares and rectangles can be used to “frame” your subject and create balance. The rule of thirds, often used to create harmony in photographs, also relies on thinking about your images in terms of rectangles, or grids.

Triangles


Absence of Daylight by Eivind Hansen on 500px.com

As with squares, the straight lines that compose triangles can be used to represent stability—with a playful or alternative twist. As we associate triangles with mountains, these shapes can also be used to represent success or growth, at least when they face toward the sky, as in the case of, for instance, the Delta or Hyundai logos.


Absence of Daylight by Eivind Hansen on 500px.com

On the other hand, inverted triangles feel precarious and daring. “While upright triangles relate to success, triumph, stability, and balance, inverted triangles might suggest risk,” the 500px team tells us. Finally, sideways triangles suggest forward motion; consider, for instance, the Google Play, FedEx, AOL, or YouTube logos. In photographs, triangles can be employed similarly. In some cases, they can even act as a kind of arrow, pointing us to the most important part of the image.

Hexagons


Below the UFO  by Earendil_Light Yen on 500px.com

Reminiscent of bees’ honeycombs, hexagons are sometimes associated with feats of engineering, and by extension, the future. As complete, closed, and symmetrical shapes, hexagons can also represent feelings of professionalism and trustworthiness, much like squares and rectangles. For example, the HSBC logo, inspired by the bank’s original house flag, conveys a sense of strength and security.

Circles


 by Yiran Ding on 500px.com

Used to symbolize the sun, moon, and stars, circles have also come to represent unity, solidarity, inclusion, and calm. Circles can also feel spiritual, symbolizing the cycle of life as well as celestial bodies. (The NASA logo, for example, includes a circle, as does the tree-inspired Timberland logo). Circles are symmetrical and complete, suggesting strength, but at the same time, they are sometimes interpreted as playful or even “friendly.” Like squares, they can be used to frame photographic subjects, acting as a kind of “spotlight” signaling the most important part of your image.


Circle Of life by Hossein Zare on 500px.com

Unlike angular shapes, which can feel sharp or hard, circles feel soft. As part of one recent study, Amitava Chattopadhyay and his team at the business school INSEAD investigated the influence of logo shape on brand perception. They showed people ads for sofas and athletic shoes, with some participants seeing an ad with an angular logo, some seeing an ad with a circular logo, and some seeing no logo at all. Their findings: participants who saw the angular logo thought of the shoes and sofa as more durable, while those who saw the circular logo thought of them as more comfortable.


Friends by Hossein Zare on 500px.com

Spirals

From the DNA double helix to nautilus shells to hurricanes, spirals appear throughout the natural world. When used in advertising, they can evoke a sense of organic energy or vitality. At the same time, spirals can also create a sense of disorientation; consider, for example, Saul Bass’s iconic Vertigo movie poster. “Spirals feel hypnotic, and they carry different meanings in various cultures,” the 500px team adds.


Gae Aulenti by Sara Zanini on 500px.com

In the photographic realm, spirals can appear in various ways, directly and indirectly. One of the most common techniques would be to use the golden spiral, a mathematical pattern created by following the golden ratio. Compositions that employ this principle are often thought to be more appealing and visually engaging.

Curves and lines


Untitled by ??? J on 500px.com

Though not a shape, organic curves can serve as a powerful element in photographs, helping to guide the eye throughout the image and creating a sense of motion. The Coca-Cola logo and Nike swoosh both speak to the power of curves in cultivating a spirit of movement and creativity. “Often seen in interior design, curves feel smooth and welcoming,” the 500px team says. In the right context, they can also feel seductive: “Consider the ‘sexy curves’ in the body or the design of automobiles,” the team at 500px adds.


Steps by Hossein Zare on 500px.com

Lines can also help differentiate your photographs and convey the right message to your audience. While horizontal lines are usually perceived as grounding, vertical lines might evoke feelings of strength and sophistication. Diagonal lines feel dynamic and even sporty (consider the Adidas logo).

When choosing what lines and shapes to use in your photographic compositions, think of your target buyer. If you’re shooting business-themed images for financial brands, for instance, you might choose straight lines, squares, or triangles. If, however, you’re appealing to a creative and sustainable lifestyle brand, curves, circles or spirals might be a better bet. These shapes can be created through cropping, but we also encourage you to think of them when framing your shots. Stepping back and being intentional about your composition, perspective, and angles can breathe new life into your Licensing portfolio.


Outlands by Alexander Riek on 500px.com

Finally, shape alone is only one piece of the puzzle, and texture and color will also help communicate the mood or intention behind your photos. Be sure to check out our article on this year’s color trends for an idea of how you can use different hues, in conjunction with various shapes, to elevate your work.

Not on 500px yet? Click here to learn about Licensing with 500px.





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Beautiful new photos of flamingos thriving in Mexico’s wetlands


Flamingos prefer their habitats “just so”, and the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico ticks all the boxes, as revealed by Claudio Contreras Koob’s delightful photographs



Life



16 March 2022

Caribbean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) chick under the wing of protective parent, breeding colony, Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, June.Finalist in the Portfolio Category of the Terre Sauvage Nature Images Awards 2017. First Prize in the '2017 National Wildlife Photo Contest' organised by the National Wildlife Federation of the USA

Claudio Contreras

Photographer Claudio Contreras Koob

THESE dazzling photos showcase one of the world’s most distinctive birds: the flamingo. Taken by biologist and photographer Claudio Contreras Koob, the images are a selection from his new photography book, Flamingo, which captures the lives of colonies in the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico.

Caribbean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) walking, Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, August

Claudio Contreras

An aerial view of Yucatán’s flamingos is shown in the final photo. The Ría Lagartos delta, located at the northern edge of the peninsula, and the Celestun estuary, which is a few hundred kilometres to the west, provide wetlands that are an ideal habitat for these wading birds. Shallow waters make these estuaries excellent for nesting and …



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Essential big bike riding skills: the U-turn


Essential big bike riding skills: the U-turn

Riding a big bike comes with its own set of challenges. We’re certain that those of you who are proficient big bike users are all too familiar with the challenges of the U-turn. This is something that we as Filipinos go through every single day, as most of our roads rely on U-turn slots, as opposed to roundabouts similar to what we see in the U.S. and Europe.

As such, U-turns are an inevitable part of day-to-day driving, be it on two or four wheels. They’re especially challenging for big bikes, as it’s all too easy to lean just a tad too far, and having the bike’s weight overburden your strength, causing it to come crashing down. Now, we at MotoDeal.com.ph have spent countless hours honing our riding skills—both with the help of professional riding courses, as well as countless hours on the saddle. That said, here are a few tips to get you started in conquering the dreaded U-turn. 

Be patient

Essential big bike riding skills: the U-turn

First and foremost, be patient. Unlike scooters and underbones, big bikes tend to have a much larger turning radius, meaning they take up a lot more space when doing low speed maneuvers. Yes, you can compensate for this lack of turning radius by adding more lean, however,  that’s an advanced skill and could easily result in a novice rider sending their bike hurtling to the ground. Instead, assume that you’ll be taking as much space as a car, and be patient while waiting for traffic around you to come to free up or come to a stop before you perform the maneuver. 

Feather the throttle and clutch

Essential big bike riding skills: the U-turn

There are a few basic elements when it comes to executing a smooth U-turn—throttle and clutch. You’re going to need to find that sweet spot, as if you were hanging on an incline. Slowly and smoothly find the friction zone, lean into the turn, counterbalance, and exit the U-turn with finesse. Make sure you’re not adding too little throttle, or too much clutch as you could easily stall the bike mid-turn, resulting in a drop, and a lot of embarrassment. 

The rear brake is your friend

Essential big bike riding skills: the U-turn

A pro tip that could go a long way in boosting your confidence when doing U-turns, and any other low speed maneuver for that matter, would be covering the rear brake. Dragging the rear brake through a slow turn adds a little more stability, keeping the bike under control, especially if you haven’t exactly mastered your throttle and clutch work just yet. Just make sure not to step on the rear brake too hard, as it could cause the bike to stall, and have you end up dropping the bike. 

If in doubt, don’t do it

Essential big bike riding skills: the U-turn

If you find all the tips above to be rather intimidating, then simply don’t do U-turns until you’re absolutely ready. You may want to enroll in an advanced big bike riding class, or spend a little more time practicing in an empty parking lot or wide open space. When it comes to riding big bikes, the stakes are a lot higher, as the bikes are a lot more expensive, more powerful, and the likelihood of injury is far greater than that of small bikes. Remember to never rush yourself into riding a big bike proficiently. It’s always better to invest time and money towards your skills rather than rushing into it. 


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Honda introduces the 2022 Super Cub at the Osaka Motor Show


Honda introduces the 2022 Super Cub at the Osaka Motor Show

If you’re into motorcycles, chances are you’re familiar with the Honda Super Cub. This tiny little two-wheeler first made its debut in 1958, and was preceded by the Cub F in 1952, which was essentially a bicycle with a gasoline engine bolted onto it. The Super Cub, basically Honda’s first real commuter machine, has been hailed as the best-selling vehicle of all time. In fact, more than 100 million Super Cubs have been sold all over the world ever since its debut in 1958.

The Super Cub was the motorcycle responsible for propelling Honda to fame in the US, too. It was the center of attention in Honda’s 1960s ad campaign with the slogan “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” This little commuter transformed the public’s perception of motorcyclists from the bad boy image of Harley-Davidson, to a friendlier, more approachable one, giving the two-wheeled lifestyle a much broader appeal. Now, more than half-a-century later, the Honda Super Cub continues to be in production, and has been updated to conform to modern safety and emissions standards.

2022 Honda Super Cub

It’s no longer the ultra bare-bones and affordable two-wheeler it once was, but rather, a model that pays tribute to Honda’s roots—a machine filled with heritage and rich history. In fact, the Honda Super Cub now holds the same retro appeal as some Vespa models. For the 2022 model year, Honda has updated the Super Cub yet again, and unveiled it at the ongoing Osaka Motor Show in Japan. The new bike gets revised aesthetics, an updated engine, and a few enhancements to its features. Perhaps the most striking detail is the new yellow and beige color scheme which gives off a cool and friendly aura. It’s matched with gray alloy wheels and a brown faux leather saddle. 

The engine has been revised to be more efficient and provide better power delivery. It consists of a 110cc single-cylinder engine producing around 7.9 horsepower. Just like the previous model, the 2022 Honda Super Cub sends power to the rear wheel via a four-speed gearbox. Other features include an ABS-equipped front disc brake, a revised instrument panel that now comes with a clock, as well as as-standard tubeless tires. Honda has yet to reveal the price of the new-generation Honda Cub in the international market, so we can’t say for certain if this bike will make it to Philippine showrooms anytime soon. 


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Interview with Hans Gunnar Aslaksen

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Nature is always so cluttered and has so many details. Simplify things. That’s the main thing I would go for.

Hans Gunnar Aslaksen

You can also listen to this episode on iTunes, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Castbox, and Google Podcasts.

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Norwegian landscape photographer Hans Gunnar Aslaksen is our guest this week! Hans is a self-taught photographer who enjoys photographing landscapes and seascapes. As a designer, he knows how to create stunning photos by balancing colour, composition, and light. I had a wonderful conversation with him about his brilliant work.

We talk about:

  • Hans Gunnar Aslaksen’s life as a full-time designer and its effects on his photography
  • Why it’s important to be selective when you collaborate with photography companies
  • How he engages with his followers to build trust

& much more!

I had so much fun speaking with Hans. He’s friendly, imaginative, and full of incredible ideas. If you’re interested in any aspect of landscape photography, I’m sure that you’ll enjoy listening to this episode.

Here is a preview of our conversation with Hans Gunnar Aslaksen.

Q: You’re a designer, so you know more about composition and colour theory than the average person. Are there any specific elements of design that every photographer should study to improve their work?

Hans Gunnar Aslaksen: That has been a big advantage for me in my photography, being a graphic designer. I went to art school, so I drew for one year. It’s mostly the same principles as photography when it comes to composition and colour theory. Drawing is learning to see, and I guess that goes with photography as well.

You know the techniques in Photoshop. You dodge and burn the picture to bring out the highlights, darken the shadows, and so on. You shape the objects so it looks three-dimensional. Those are the basic principles of drawing as well. That has been a good background for me and maybe an easier way into photography.

When it comes to composition and colour, I like to take the “less is more” approach. I really like to play with warm and cold contrasts in my images. If I have more warmer colours against cooler shadows, I try to make the warm colours more uniform. Maybe I have some yellow in the highlights, so I take the yellow and make it more orange. I try to have as few colours as possible in my images.

Q: You reply to almost every comment on your photographs. There are usually hundreds of them! How much time does that take? How important is it for photographers to be active online?

Hans Gunnar Aslaksen: If you want to grow on Instagram, don’t do what I do, which is post every Friday. You have to post more and be a lot more active than than I am. I started off just posting on Fridays because I didn’t have the opportunity to take more images. I didn’t have a lot of new stuff that I could post several days a week.

I think that Friday is a good day. It’s something to look forward to, and maybe I set some time to answer comments as well. It’s just become a thing for me to have those Friday posts. I just kept on doing that once a week.

I like to respond to comments because I think that when people have taken the time to look at my photos and give me feedback, it’s polite and nice for me to give them an answer.

I think that the best thing about Instagram is the opportunity to connect with like-minded people. I met two other guys from a town close to me that I’m now happy to call my friends. We’ve been on trips to Lofoten and Iceland together and we’ve also shot locally. It’s fun to connect with people. I don’t see that as work or as an exhausting thing to do. But usually, I’m active on Fridays, so it’s only once a week. It’s maybe not as much work as you may think.

Q: How do you want people to feel when they look at your images?

Hans Gunnar Aslaksen: I started out with wide angle scenes. I really like scenes that have atmospheric elements in them. If I can add a dreamy look to my images when I edit, I’ll certainly do that.

Nowadays, I’ve switched a bit more to the long lens. I really like to pick up small frames. I think that kind of approach may lead into more abstract work and more experimentation. Images that ask questions instead of answering questions are really nice. If I can spark someone’s imagination with an image, that is a successful image for me.

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Get Rich or Lie Trying review: A pacy scroll through influencer life


Living for likes and subscribers can be a poisoned chalice or a dream come true, according to Get Rich or Lie Trying by journalist Symeon Brown



Humans



16 March 2022

THE influencer economy, fuelled by the ability of social media to instantly reach millions of people, has changed the way we work, rest and play. For some, the rise of this new way to make a living has been a boon – demolishing gatekeepers, minting a new era of celebrities and making millionaires of people who might otherwise be trapped in a dead-end job.

But this has been far from a uniformly good thing for society. As Channel 4 News journalist Symeon Brown uncovers in Get Rich or Lie Trying, the seedy side of social media can be as harmful as it is helpful.

Brown’s reporting sees him go back to the streets of London where he grew up to hear from school friends who have fallen prey to pyramid schemes dressed up as online cryptocurrency investments. He also heads to Los Angeles, where he meets nipped and tucked influencers seeking the perfect body, often ruining their health in the process.

Get Rich or Lie Trying is a chastening read, clearly showing that the lowlights of online fame are as depressing as its highlights are inspiring. Brown races through the influencer economy and the different industries it touches, from the sweatshops churning out poor-quality clothing to ensure that scrolling teenagers can keep up with the latest red carpet looks on a budget, to the surgeons that perform Brazilian butt lifts, a risky procedure where fat is taken from other parts of the body and injected into the buttocks.

At times, Brown hurtles through first-person stories so fast that there is hardly a chance to blink. Those he highlights as exploiting social media – or being exploited by it – sometimes pass by too quickly for us to remember who they are or why we should care. It feels a bit like the relentless hamster wheel of the algorithms that drive social media platforms, and the whole experience can become a bit discombobulating.

At times, you struggle to see who to feel sorrier for: the young woman cajoled into performing a sex act on camera, or the man who is paid to receive insults online. Sometimes, they blur into a catalogue of horrors that becomes difficult to unpick and reflect on.

The book’s stronger sections are those that bring the action closer to home and address some deeper, more systemic issues. A chapter on how social media’s unique voice is often driven by authentic Black voices that are then co-opted and copied by richer, white entrepreneurs without qualms is particularly powerful, and begins to tackle wider problems entrenched in social media.

Elsewhere in the book, the bigger picture is lacking, however. We know, for example, that the drive to achieve physical “perfection” is an issue, and research has made clear both the role that social media platforms play in perpetuating this and the effects of such ideals on mental and physical health. Yet Brown spends surprisingly little time questioning what can be done about the broken bodies and livelihoods left behind in the race to get famous on social media, or even who is to blame.

The book does a much better job of highlighting just how perilous living a life designed to go viral can be – and how quickly the thing that made you famous can become passé. It raises important questions about the value we place on superficial appearances, and how social media all too often encourages us to sacrifice thinking deeply in favour of a neat sound bite.

Overall, Get Rich or Lie Trying is well worth reading – but, like social media, at times it would do well to go deeper and dwell a little longer.

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