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Photo Tips



by Mike Rosen


Hi <<First Name>>,

You may recall I teach a class called "Photo Tips: How to Make Better Pictures" for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), a great seniors ed program of the University of Minnesota. The second to the last session this fall was a photo shoot in the general area of the Guthrie Theater and Stone Arch Bridge along the Mississippi River near downtown Minneapolis. Then in the final class we critiqued everyone's best shots.

I have two clear observations from these classes: 

  • The group demonstrated great improvement in the quality of images from early on in the course.
  • It's amazing how plentiful and rich the photo ops are right here in our own backyard.

What did we cover over the first five weeks? Mainly the concepts I've discussed here in these Photo Tips newsletters, things like:

  • Determining why you're taking the picture and what your primary subject is before pushing the shutter button.
  • Learning how to "see" photographically, keeping your images simple, and filling the frame with your subject.
  • Learning basic composition techniques such as the "rule of thirds" and use of leading and diagonal lines.
  • Being aware of light and how different types of light dramatically change your pictures.
  • Learning how to control your camera rather than leaving that up to the manufacturers' engineers.

Participants who were serious about taking their hobby to the next level practiced these and other concepts, and as a result made big strides. I was gratified and will present a few examples below.

But I also want to emphasize that for anyone else who desires to improve his or her photos, there are so many venues around the Twin Cities where you can easily go and practice making artistic images. In that same riverfront area, for example, there are St. Anthony Falls, the new I-35W Memorial, Gold Medal Park, Water Power Park, the historic mills on both sides of the Mississippi, the various river bridges, the Guthrie and the Mill City Museum (both externally and internally), and the hubbub of activity along the river and Stone Arch Bridge at nearly any time. What a great place to learn to make better photographs!

So here are a handful of creative shots by class members (unedited by me except for some modest sharpening), followed by a couple I was able to capture after our shoot was about over.

Patience paid off here after many fruitless tries. The image tells a story, has action and is well-composed diagonally. The photographer saw the opportunity, got the needed permission from the mom, and executed well.

This view of the I-35W Memorial takes good advantage of the soft overcast light. The photographer clearly thought about the composition and the feeling she wanted to impart.

The abstract image on the left below was formed by reflections of nearby buildings on the Guthrie Theater's metal facade. I really like the close-in view, the balanced composition, the weird patterns and the vivid colors. 

We often see high up window washers and repair guys, but the photographer of the photo on the right above was able to move in close, use his zoom lens effectively and fill the frame with his subject. This allowed him to capture great facial expression and overall detail. 

There were many more interesting images made by the class that morning, which I regretfully can't include in this email. But I'm proud of their efforts and progress throughout the course and hope they will continue to work toward creating better pictures. Meanwhile here are a couple of photos I made toward the end of the shoot.

The steam from the Xcel Energy plant across the river from the Guthrie helped to create a bit of a surrealistic effect, which I thought was enhanced by converting the image to black and white.

This closeup of an apparent dent in the Guthrie facade reveals amazing reflections of the surrounding flour mills. Many creative interpretations are possible, which make it perhaps the favorite of all my abstract images.

There you have it for this month. If you want to improve your own pictures, just review my past Photo Tips newsletters (click HERE to do that), and then get out and take advantage of what you have in your own backyard.

All the best,




Other Stuff


You can view and purchase any of my photographs at my website (click HERE). Better yet, just email me (click HERE), or feel free to phone me at 612-374-2766.


If you haven't been to my website for a while, I urge you to visit. I recently posted a few of the photos I made in October around the Mississippi riverfront near the Guthrie Theater. Here's an interesting view from the 35W Memorial framing the Stone Arch Bridge and the Pillsbury A Mill. Framing your subject is always a good compositional technique.

To get to my website just click HERE.


If you're interested in learning how to enhance the quality of your photos AFTER you've taken them, you need a good computer editing program. One of the very best is Adobe Photoshop Elements. Until Nov. 27 the latest version (10.0) is available at Costco for just $50.00, well below what you'll pay elsewhere. You can purchase it on-line or at the stores. Click HERE to get to the website page.


Just in time for the holiday season, Consumer Reports has an analysis in its December issue of the latest digital cameras, ranging from basic point and shoot compacts to high end SLR's. These are well-researched and unbiased reviews. You can buy the magazine on the news stand or subscribe to the on-line (including mobile) service. Click HERE if you're interested. It's a modest price and well worth it.


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If you would like to look at past newsletter issues, click HERE and then on the PHOTO TIPS tab.




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Mike Rosen Photography
512 River St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401

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