Monday, July 23, 2012

Today's Guest Blogger: Lee Varis

Sometimes a great shot is at your feet.
Today's guest blogger is Lee Varis. Lee's passion for photograph comes through in everything he does, including this post.

Take it away, Lee!

I recently returned from a trip to Italy—I was in Rome, Florence, Sienna and numerous mediaeval hill towns in Tuscany—it was glorious and filled with amazing picture taking opportunities! I have been sorting through the thousands of photos captured during this magical two-week trip. There are lots of shots of historical sites, museums, churches, picturesque villages and countryside – epic imagery! However, I now find myself appreciating the little “detail” photos—small discoveries that popped up at unexpected moments—it reminds me that we have to be ready and open to discovery, even when confronted with the obvious photo opportunities!

Inside the Basilica di Santa Croce, a small pull-cord tassle begs for attention.
These small gems are perhaps more valuable! The easy shots are always present, in your face, demanding to be captured and necessarily so, as part of the record of your passing through. I’m not suggesting that you ignore the obvious shot, just remember to slow down and smell the roses (or oranges), as it were…

This scene presented itself while strolling through Florence.
I am fascinated with textures. I spent a lot of time photographing Italian walls; they seemed to speak of ancient memories that still linger in corners and other forgotten places…

Detail from Pompeii came alive with contrast enhancing moves in Lightroom.
Sometimes these “discoveries” don’t make themselves known until after you skipped over them many times. Quick tweaks in your image editing software can sometimes reveal the “diamond in the rough” and bring it to life. I find that Lightroom is excellent for quickly reviewing and tweaking images just to know if something is there or not!

This artistic graffiti came alive after contrast enhancement in Lightroom.
The trick is to be visually curious—keep your camera at hand and be ready to slow down and even stop when something catches your eye. Think of it as a meditation on visual wonder. There is something marvelous waiting to be discovered around every corner if you are open to it.

It's all about the light!
The quality of light is a huge component in the little detail discoveries. Sensitivity to light is crucial to capturing a truly magical moment. The most mundane subjects take on an aura of the supernatural when the light is right…

Who knows how long this sign has been here?
Again, light is king!

Early morning at the bathroom window.
Sometimes its a particular color that catches our eye! I know, I’ve often said that the lights and darks are the most important thing in photography, but color can and does lure us… no need to resist! You must, of course, control the luminance to maximize the effect!

Color can grab us...
Of course the ultimate details can be very small and require a little effort to find… This last image of a little bug in the garden of the villa reminds me that Pinocchio had an important little friend!

I followed this little bug fora while until he posed on these leaves.

I encourage all of you to keep your eyes open to the details, little scenes, and intimate moments. These small gems are often overlooked when confronted with a wealth of visual splendor. Resist the urge to hurry to the next photo opportunity, slow down and savor the details underfoot or off in the corner. Stay loose and HAVE FUN with the process of capturing pictures.

I’ve posted a gallery of more normal vacation photos here:

Be sure and check out my blog at:  and sign up for my email list. I have tons of photography and Photoshop tips and tutorials with more coming every week!


Lee Varis

President of the LADIG

Photographer & Author of
Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally, Lighting, Photographing
and Retouching Faces and Bodies - 2nd edition
ISBN-10: 0470592125
ISBN-13: 978-0470592120
Paperback, 368 pages, Aug 2010
Mastering Exposure and the Zone System for Digital Photographers
ISBN-13: 978-1-59863-987-2
ISBN-10: 1-59863-987-0
Paperback, 257 pages, 2010


the DVD series: "Beyond Skin"

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