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Love from Austin Mural
Photography Tips for Beginners Travel

5 Simple Tips For Shooting for Large Wall Murals

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Wall murals are a colorful and elaborate form of street art that captures the character of any city. They can be a time capsule of current events or an iconic landmark. In a collaborative effort with my good friend Ashley at Swift Wellness, we are teaming up to show you the best murals in Austin, Texas and how to get great photos. Head over to Swift Wellness to discover the history and nearby attractions for 10 Must Visit Austin Murals and Street Art on South Congress, then come back and keep reading for tips on photographing Austin’s most popular graffiti art.

1. USE A WIDE ANGLE LENS

Vintage wide shot of Willie For President including neighboring window.
Photographer: Delaney | Camera: Canon 6D Mark 1 | Lens: Canon EF 17-40mm
Willie for President Wall mural on South Congress in Austin, Texas - Swift Wellness
Photographer: Ashley | Camera: Canon 6D Mark II | Lens: Canon 50mm
The best lens for photographing large murals is a wide-angle lens which fits more into a single frame than other lenses and is a must have for your camera bag. The extra field of view it provides gives you more flexibility in how you frame the shot, allowing you to include more surroundings and provide more detail. Some murals are so large that a wide-angle lens is necessary just to capture the full work of art in one photo!

Notice the difference in the above images; with a wider lens, I was able to include the neighboring wall and create a more vintage feel. Meanwhile, Ashley utilized tip #4 and used a unique angle to create a different vibe. Hopefully, Willie sees these awesome photos and asks us to manage his presidential marketing campaign. A girl can dream, can’t she?

2. Pose Strategically

Woman in a white shirt and a Canon camera posting in front of the Mr. Rogers wall mural on South Congress
Photographer: Delaney | Camera: Canon 6D Mark 1 | Lens: Canon EF 17-40mm
Woman in white shirt jumping in front of a large wall mural with a cat wearing a bandana
Photographer: Delaney | Camera: Canon 6D Mark 1 | Lens: Canon EF 17-40mm

Using the right pose in mural photography can give you more control over the unattractive elements in the photo such as trash and street signs. Hide distractions by standing in front of it, or interact with the surroundings to make it a fun addition to the photo instead of unsightly.

3. Get In CLose

"see the world" life goal on the before I die wall mural 
Photographer: Delaney | Camera: Canon 6D Mark 1 | Lens: Canon EF 17-40mm
See my friend succeed written in pink chalk on the Before I Die Wall Mural on South Congress In Austin, Texas
Photographer: Ashley | Camera: Canon 6D Mark 2 | Lens: Canon EF 50mm

You may be fighting a sea of people for an opportunity to take a picture of popular murals. One way to avoid crowds ruining your photos is to get in close; focus on a particular aspect that means something to you or is particularly interesting. The “Before I Die” wall is a great mural to focus on a small part without taking away from the overall appeal of the piece.

4. Try Different Angles

Love From Austin Unique Angle
Photographer: Delaney | Camera: Canon 6D Mark 1 | Lens: Canon EF 17-40mm
Love from Austin Mural
Photographer: Ashley | Camera: Canon 6D Mark II | Lens: Canon 50mm

While a perfectly centered shot has it’s place; using different angles gives a unique perspective that leads to one of a kind photos. Using different angles can also hide trash, get around people, circumvent a narrow focal length, and add creative flare.

5. Embrace the Moment

As mentioned in some of the previous tips, with any form of street photography you won’t be able to control the environment. There will always be people, trash, harsh shadows, chipped paint, and street signs. You name it, and it’ll be in the way. The trick to great street art photography is to look for ways to embrace it and make it part of the photo.

Using these techniques and applying our own personal shooting styles, Ashley and I photographed the same subjects but with very different results. So get out there, go shoot, and create something special.

Equipment Used

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Wall Mural Pin
A River Runs Through It - Patagonia Chile
Photography Tips for Beginners

7 Types of Leading Lines to Enhance Your Photography

Leading Lines is a photography composition technique that uses lines to draw the viewer’s attention to the subject, provide depth and perspective, and creates a visual journey for the viewer. You typically see roads, railroads, and buildings used as examples of leading lines in photography; but you can also use nature such as shores, rivers, light, cliffs, and trees. Railroad tracks disappearing off into the horizon is one of the most prominent examples, but there are many different types of leading lines that can help frame a beautiful photograph.

European Starlings rest on a Horizonal Wire

Horizontal Lines

Horizontal lines create a sense of permanence and stability. To maximize this effect, make sure to frame or edit the photo so that the lines are as perfectly horizontal.

In this example, the telephone wire is straight and rigid and gives the feeling of stability for the resting birds.

Vertical Lines

Vertical lines are often used with tall trees or buildings to convey a sense of scale or strength.

Here, the trees in Sequoia National Park are some of the largest in the world. The eyes are naturally drawn from the bottom to the top of the photo which emphasizes how grandiose these trees are.

Perspective
Diagonal Lines of man hiking the Grand Canyon

Diagonal Lines

Diagonal lines take the viewer on a journey through the image as the eye follows the line from the foreground to the background, or the reverse.

The slope of the mountain leads the eye up from the left side of the image while the trail gives a sense of motion and direction as it leads back down the mountain. The trail is also a leading path which I will discuss later in this post.a

Curved Lines

While straight lines add a sense of rigidity, curved lines help create a more relaxed and tranquil atmosphere. They are especially effective in creating a natural feeling in landscape photography.

The curves and bends in this photograph emphasizes the feeling of a winding river, creating a relaxed and free-flowing mood.

A River Runs Through It - Patagonia Chile
Sunset At the Gold Butte Lookout Tower - Detroit, Oregon

Converging Lines

Converging lines meet at the subject leading the viewer directly to the image’s focal point rather than the journey found in diagonal and curved lines.

This photo has subtle converging lines from the trail, the clouds, and the horizon that all point towards and place emphasis on the focal point of the image, the Gold Butte Lookout Tower.

Implied Lines

Implied Lines are ones that do not actually exist in the image but that can be inferred such as following a person’s gaze or lights and shadows that guide a viewer’s eyes to follow a particular direction.

There aren’t any lines directing the viewer to the sheep in this image, but the viewer will be inclined to follow the gaze of the rancher who is watching over the sheep.

Sheep Dog
Leading Path Example of Bench in a forest

Leading Path

Leading lines typically direct the viewer to the subject in the frame; a path leads you to a vanishing point outside the frame providing a sense of wonder or mystery.

The trail disappearing behind the trees adds a sense of location in a calm peaceful forest. If this were a photo of just the bench, the image would feel a bit flat and lack perspective

I’ll be honest, this is not a technique I spend a lot of time thinking about, but I wish I did. Creating leading lines in art takes a conscious effort to think about framing a photograph that takes advantage of lines in a scene. When done well, leading lines creates a mood and changes the viewer’s experience by giving the image depth and making things feel more dynamic as they move through the lines.

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Black and White Leading lines in museum hallway of large image of woman smoking
Pinterest Pin - Leading lines path and tall trees at Muir Woods National Park
View of Williamette National Forest From Gold Butte Lookout
Photography Tips for Beginners

6 Amazing Types Of Frame Within A Frame

Frame within a frame is when the photographer shoots through natural elements in the scene to form a frame around the subject. This technique separates the eye from distraction, creates depth, a sense of location, and draws the viewer’s eye towards the subject. From the obvious to the not so obvious, there are a variety of ways to create a frame around your subject.

1. Man-Made Objects

Starting with the obvious, doors windows, and archways are perfectly shaped and surround all sides which can create a sense of isolation. 

Frame With in a Frame Using light


Photo by Sasha Freemind

Located in a dark abyss, a faceless subject is framed by the window as he looks into nothingness. He is framed by the darkness and the light giving a sense of isolation and loneliness.

View From Gold Butte Lookout

Windows give a sense of location and perspective. Here the photos feels as if the viewer was standing inside Gold Butte Lookout, looking through the window themselves.

2. Natural Elements

Frame the subject with nature from the environment.  This is one of my favorite ways to use frame within a frame because it adds depth, texture, and something unique to popular travel photos.

3. Color Contrast

photo by Dakota Corbin

The photographer used the stark contrast in colors on the wall to frame the mother and child in the lighter blue. It adds layers and color to an otherwise flat wall. In this case, less is more. There aren’t a lot of distractions to take away from the subject.

4. Bokeh

Perhaps the least obvious of all is Bokeh – better known as background/foreground blur which is achieved with an open aperture. Remove distractions in the environment by blurring them out; frame the subject by making it the only thing in focus. This is especially useful when the setting contains clutter such as power lines or people.

Rain Drops on a Sprenger's Tulip
Red tulip in a garden during a spring rain.
Frame within a frame using bokeh

5. Light and Shadows

Photo by Evan Leith

The lighthouse is well lit while the rest of the photo is in the shadows. Using light to frame your subject can be accomplished with sun glares, flash, or light peeking through trees. Depending on its usage, light can create a sense of peace and serenity as seen here, or darkness and moodiness as in the photo by Sasha Freemind above.

I love this photo because it combines several of the methods discussed in this post,  can you name those methods?

Answer

Bokeh, color contrast, and natural elements.

Frame within a frame practice example

6. Half Frames

A frame does not have to enclose all four sides of the photo, nor does it need to be left to right, or top to bottom. In the examples below, notice how The Louvre on the left is framed by the pillars on the side as well as the buildings as they move towards the background. This is also a great example of leading lines. On the right, the dock frames the boat from front to back and gives a sense of depth to the image.

The Louvre - Paris, France
Small Wooden Row Boat Floating in a Dock
Wooden rowboat from the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle’s Lake Union Park.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of how to achieve Frame within a Frame. Take some time to practice this method and see what other examples you can come up with.  If you have a cool suggestion, post it in the comments below!


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Frame Within a Fram Pin
Rule of Thirds Practice
Photography Tips for Beginners

Rule of Thirds Techniques for New Photographers

The Rule of Thirds is probably the most popular composition rule and was the first rule I learned when I started learning photography. Composition refers to how the elements in a photo are arranged in relation to each other. Rules are made to be broken, but composition rules help even novice photographers create great photos!

Rule of thirds is so common that digital and cell phone cameras include a setting to display the 3×3 grid while taking a photo to help frame the shot. The concept is that subjects are more visually appealing when you offset the negative space from the focal point. 

Majestic Lion
King of the jungle staring right a the camera
Rule of Thirds

Imagine a 3×3 grid on each photo where each line draws attention to the subject. Align vertical and horizontal subjects such as a tree or a horizon along the lines.

There is not a rule dictating if the horizon should be located at the top third or bottom third – just never in the middle! Choosing the bottom third or the top third comes down to what is more aesthetically pleasing; if the sky is plain blue and cloudless, you’ll probably opt for placing the horizon on the top third of the photo.

I encourage you to try both with the same scene and see which one you like better. 

Eyes of a Barred Owl

When you first look at the above photo, are you immediately drawn to the eye? To draw the viewer to a specific focal point, such as an eye, center it on intersecting lines which emphasizes an important part of the photo.  

The beak is also located at an intersection, so the viewer is drawn to the two most important elements of the photo. We tend to view photos the same way we read – left to right, top to bottom, which makes the eye the most dominating feature in this photo.

Rule of Thirds

One photo can have multiple objects adhering to the Rule of Thirds and subjects don’t have to be centered on the lines intersecting points, just positioned closed the line.

Rule of Thirds

Leave room for motion by placing the subject with room to move in the direction of the negative space. The same is true for subjects looking in a specific direction.

Rule of thirds Motion - Icelandic Horse

You Try!

Can you identify the elements of this photo adhering to the Rule of Thirds?

Answer:

Answer

Just about everything. 

  • The tree is located in the left third
  • The tree leaves are located in the top third
  • The bench and the edge of the ground are located along the bottom third line
  • The rock is centered on the right third line
  • The negative space is located in the middle

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Rule of thirds pin
Rule of Thirds Pin