Saturday, December 19, 2015

Dealing With Those Nikon Reds - A Holiday Special

Here is a little quick tip for you this holiday season.   The bonus gift is that you'll get something that is useful all year long as well.

If you've ever shot with a Nikon camera before, you'll know that it is very easy to blow out the red channel in your images.  What that means is that the reds can tend to be over saturated and over luminated.  It gives you something like you'll see below:

Lovely image of this little boy telling Santa what he wants for Christmas, but you'll notice that Santa's suit is a little weird looking in the red parts.  Today, we are going to look at a quick way to rectify this in either Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW.  Other post processing software may also be able to adapt to this process as well.

Shoot in RAW if you can.  You'll have more latitude in processing.  If not, you may still be able to get this to work quite well with your JPG files.

Your RAW image should look something like this when you first begin:

The colors are very muted and the image is low contrast.  So the first thing you'll want to do is start bumping up the contrast, exposure if necessary (hopefully you got the flashes at the proper power to make this a non-issue), vibrance, sharpening, etc.

Problem is, if you use the TONE controls, they work on an image in an overall way, affecting everything.  So in order to get the boys shirt/jeans and the background to a proper level, you end up having the blown out reds like you see in the first image we posted.  So, here is where the fix comes in.

Scroll down to the section HSL/Color/B&W.  Select the word Color.  You'll see a box like the one below.

After I got all the other colors the way I wanted them, I can now use this to fix Santa's suit color.

Each one the colored boxes isolates the color properties in the image.  It no longer will affect every color in the image.  So, I clicked the far left box, which is the Red box.  I bumped the Saturation down to -10 and the Luminance down to -40.  The real game changer here is Luminance.  Once you start sliding that down, you'll see the reds immediately start to lose that blown out look, the detail will return.

That gives us our finished image, which I've provided below:

There are other methods of dealing with this, but I found this one to be one of the quicker ways to do it.

My setup was 2 strobes (Alien Bee B400) one to camera right and above the subjects, and a fill/hair light to camera left parallel the where Santa was sitting.  Power on main light was 1/4, fill light was 1/16 power.

Nikon D700 and Nikkor 24-70/2.8G lens was used.  Settings were 1/60 @ f/5.6 ISO 200 WB set to flash in camera.

Here are the other settings I used in Lightroom.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How I Got The Shot #39 - Dragging the Shutter at the Mother/Son Halloween Dance

This is a companion piece to the previous, How I Got The Shot #38.

In that article, we covered the technique of dragging the shutter and using flash.  If you are unfamiliar with this concept, you might want to read that first, then come back here to follow up on the new stuff.

So what is the new stuff?  Well, we added a small "twist" to the formula we used in the previous dance.

We still are going to use slow shutter speeds in conjunction with flash, but the "twist" is actually literal.

These images above are your "standard" shots.  Fill flash used, as you would have expected.

Since we had been in this venue before, we already knew how to get to a place like in article #38.  However, this felt like it needed something additional.  Being it is a Halloween dance, we wanted to give it a different look.

The shutter speed was lengthened more from the previous times, usually running around 1/5 to 1/15 of a second.  What we did was setup the camera in manual and shot ISO 800, 1/5-1/15s, f/4.  The SB-600 was used in manual and power was set to 1/4 or 1/8 power depending on where were were in the room.  The flash was bounced almost directly upward, and no more than 45 degrees.

You compose your shot, trip the shutter and then immediately after, you twist the camera 90 degrees on it's axis.  This makes the ambient lighting streak in a circular motion around the subject.  The flash freezes the subject, so they are relatively sharp in comparison.

This is the result!  The 2 images directly above as well as the opening image.

Gear used:
Nikon D300
Nikon 24mm f/2.8
Nikon SB-600

And as with all the events like this, there are some portraits taken.

Gear used:
Nikon D700
Nikon 28-85/3.5-4.5
Radio Popper JRx
AB400 x 2
Flash1 was to camera left at 1/4 power (key)
Flash2 was to camera right at 1/16 power (fill)
Background was not illuminated on its own

Camera settings 1/250, ISO 200, f/5.6

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Making The Best Of Some Short Downtime

Personal projects are very important.   Sometimes they can be pre-planned, other times they just appear when you least expect it.  Personal projects allow you to experiment in ways that you wouldn't normally.  They also give you full control over what you are doing.  A good refreshing for mind, body and soul.

On a recent trip to Dayton, OH there was some unexpected downtime between events, so the wife and I were able to take a bit of a rest.  We needed the break, weather being high humidity and in the mid to high 90F degrees.  Back at the house we were renting, I found some "target rich" still life.

Gear Used:
Olympus OMD EM5 Mk II
Olympus 25/1.8 prime lens
Ambient Light for "Zeke"
Olympus supplied external flash with the EM5 Mk II for some of the walnut shots.

Right inside the front door, we were greeted by "Zeke", the name my wife gave him.  :D

The property owners came up with creative ways to monitor the house, using "Zeke" to hold the camera as well as the microphone.

After Zeke gave me very little outside of his A/V look, I started wandering elsewhere.  This time in search of light.

Found a nice, big window with the setting sun illuminating the formal dining room.  I liked the size and quality of the light - now I just needed to find a suitable subject.   There were some flowers there, but I was not feeling them.  Wandering through the house, I found a bowl of walnuts and almonds.

Took an overall shot of the bowl.  Trying to use some things I'm learning about video production.   Here I am looking to set the scene with a wide shot.

Then we come in with a closeup.  A single subject, standing on it's own.  Side lighting.

Bringing in some extra subjects - and kicked the EM5 Mk II into hi res mode, which gives us a bit more tonal range as well as a 40mp jpg to work with.

So, now, I'm pulling in some extra shapes, with the almonds, and looking at a different angle.  Looks like I'm trying to create a nut Stonehenge or something.

Didn't want to continue on with adding more walnuts/almonds, so started looking at incorporating the nut cracker and picks.

Almost looks like a masonic symbol of some kind.

So what did we learn here in all this?

1)  If you really want to make an image, you can.  Don't let the location or circumstances inhibit your creativity.
2)  Doing this kind of project, regardless of how small, keeps the creative thoughts flowing.
3)  With minimal gear, you can create some great images just by working with the light you have.
4)  Use times like this to try and create a feeling or evoke emotion from something that doesn't usually get associated with it.

Technical growth goes only so far, and at the end of the day, the technical stuff is really all science.  The biggest place for growth in your personal photo journey is going to be in finding creative ways of expressing things that people see everyday.  It is also one of the most difficult.  That journey is often a very personal one, and means different things to different people.

That is also what makes it great, fun, and rewarding.

Monday, August 31, 2015

"Rules" To Shooting?

Rules in photography are nice, I guess.  They can help rein things in and keep them on target.  Given boundaries, you often get a relatively structured, predictable result.

Nothing wrong with that.  If you are doing work for people, they are often wanting something they know, have seen before or is predictable.  There are those that love to define things, and definitions are good for when you are trying to describe or explain a concept to someone.  We as humans love things in orderly fashion and like to know that things fit in somewhere.

I'd like to concentrate on what most people classify as "street" photography.  Can we really classify what the definition of street photography might be?

While this can make things quite easy as a conversation piece, they sometimes can give people the impression that only those things that fit into those strict definitions are "street".  What makes this even more of a complex issue is that no one can agree on what the definition of street photography might be.  Not only can we not agree on what the definition of street photography should be, there are those out there that try and use different terms for the same damn thing!  Rebranding and rebadging things for the blog clicks or trying to redefine something old as something new to get more followers.

I've seen that done many times in my IT career, where system development life cycle (SDLC) processes and internal process get renamed by consulting companies.  They sell the same thing with a different name and get big money for it.

My thoughts are this.  It is an age old practice for people to find photographers and their work that they like and try to emulate it.  They do their best to understand how to replicate a style.  This is good, it is a learning experience.  We should, though, once you have gotten sufficient skill in the one you are emulating, turn to finding ways of enhancing/improving on what you have learned.  It is the never ending journey of finding your own unique style.

Along with the emulation period, there are also all those rules out there that like composition rules, exposure rules.  If you've read one of my previous posts that deals with ways of improving your photography - I don't like "rules", I much prefer "guidelines".  Use the guidelines to help you, but they are not something that cannot be broken when the subject suits.  Just so you don't think that I'm being a hypocrite, I'm not saying we should rename rules to guidelines.  I'm saying to take the defined "rules" and use them as guidelines.  Throw them out when they do not work for what you are doing.  Don't confine yourself to that arbitrary box.

I say to hell with all those people that tell you that the best lens to shoot street photography are either a 35mm or 50mm lens/field of view.  Why, because HCB did it that way?  Who gives a hoot what they shot with, especially if that focal length doesn't suit your aesthetic or your vision for the final image you see.
There is no best camera, only the one that works for you.   There is no best lens, only the one that works for you.  Some people will be all about telling you that the best street camera is the smallest one that no one knows you are using, others will tell you that a DSLR is the best, or a Leica.  I think you get the point.  What one person considers a favorite, someone else might find it unusable.

I hear photographers all the time complaining that they are tired of seeing the same old shots in B&W and it's too contrasty...yet these are the same people that put these "rules" on what street photography should be.  Talk about sending out mixed signals!

If you want street photography, or any genre for that matter to expand to more/different/better than its current state, the rules or barriers must be expanded/broken down.

At the end of the day, you just need to make sure that you are shooting to the end game of what you are wanting.  Sometimes the gamble pays off, sometimes it doesn't....but you have to decide if you want to be an innovator or just someone who takes pictures.  Either way, have fun doing what you love.  Not everyone has to be an innovator, while others can't stand to be just another person in the crowd.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II - Gear Review

It's always good to have a supportive spouse when you are a nerd photographer gear junkie!  lol
Seriously, though - I recently was the proud recipient of a brand spanking new silver Olympus OMD EM5 Mk II.
© Olympus America

Got the green light to get it as a birthday present.

Enough with the backstory, lets get to what you are here for, which is the gear review!!

As always, I shoot to the real world and to what I prefer and not to MTF charts, or spec tests.  None of that means anything to me if the overall experience of the camera doesn't work for me.

Olympus 25/1.8
1/60, f/1.8, ISO 400
First thing I noticed was the build quality.  Again, as with all the other OMD bodies, it is top notch.  Feels very solid and has a nice weight too it without feeling too heavy.  The grip on the right hand side is a bit more prominent than the previous EM5.  The texture of the outer casing feels more grippy as well.  It's almost like a leatherette instead of the textured metal like on the original EM5.

Olympus 12-40/2.8 PRO
1/80, f/5, ISO 800 @ 40mm
The extra buttons and the placement of the buttons is on the body are pleasing for me as well.  The jury is still out on the fully articulating screen.  I'm kind of liking the ability to spin it completely around and protect it - it just takes a little bit to get used to in comparison to the tilt only of the previous OMD offerings.
If you just need to tilt it, it can get a bit fiddly, but having the ability to articulate the screen is better than not at all.

Overall, I'm really liking the feel and workings of the camera.
Olympus 40-150/4-5.6R
1/200, f/5.2, ISO 800 @ 111mm
The front and rear dials are a lot thicker, which makes turning them much easier and the shutter release feels more "old school" to me than the other OMD cameras.  It just reminds me of the old film cameras like the Yashica Electro.

Olympus 12-40/2.8 PRO
1/200, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 40mm
Image Quality
Not a whole lot to report here that you don't already know.  The sensor has not really changed much from the other iterations of hte OMD, so if you liked what you saw from the previous OMD cameras, you'll be getting that here again.  The IBIS works great and is very smooth in operation.  I'm not one to shoot test images.  I just know that it works when I need it to and it works well.
Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 II
1/2000, f/5.7, ISO 250 @156mm
I've taken to running the JPG engine with a -1 sharpness and putting the noise reduction on low.  I found even the basic settings are a little too aggressive for me, which could cause higher base ISO noise and artifacting.  Adding a little extra sharpening and noise reduction in post works wonders on the files.

AF Speed
Still using the same contrast detect AF, which works fast and sure in most situations.  Not your best option for tracking moving subjects.  If you want that kind of performance, you'll want to look at the EM1/GH4(no phase detect, but uses Depth From Defocus - DFD technology) with phase detect AF or a DSLR.

With that being said, action is possible with a little planning and using the S-AF mode, as seen below with this surfing image.
Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 II
1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 500 @ 300mm
Hi Res Mode
As you've probably already read in other places - you need to use this mode on a tripod and with a scene that has no movement in it to prevent artifacting.  You do get the ability to pull a 64MP RAW or 40MP jpg file with enhanced resolution, truer color rendering.  There are plenty of other places that have done extensive head to head images of a standard 16MP capture versus the hi res mode equivalent.

Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 II
1/2000, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 124mm
I can see this being of use to product and still life photographers as well as urban exploration or cityscape captures.

Olympus 12-40/2.8 PRO
Hi-Res Mode
1/400, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 40mm
Video Recording
You have a lot more options here than you did in the past.  I'm not a heavy video user, and am actually just getting into it.  For me, right now, the options are adequate.

Below, you'll find some test videos at some of the different modes.

Other Misc. Items Of Note
With the EM5, your top shutter speed was 1/4000.  The Mark II gives you 1/8000 and it also has silent shutter mode which is electronic first/second curtain shutter.  Not only do you get the silent operation, but you also get 1/16000 of a second shutter speed.  Some limitations can be artifacts present themselves in fast moving subjects as well as issues with fluorescent lights or monitor refresh rates.  You also lose the ability to use flash with the electronic shutter.

Shutter shock mode is available as an option in the drive mode, so no menu diving to activate it.
Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7
1/1000, f/7.1, ISO 800 @ 300mm
The mechanical shutter is noticeably more quiet than the EM5 or the EM1.  Not that those shutters were loud, but the Mark II is a definite improvement.  As with everything, we need context. The shutters on my Nikon D300/D700 sound like pistol fire in comparison, especially when shooting a wedding in a quiet church.

The EVF is the same as what you'll find on the EM1, so definitely some visual goodness.  Also present is the built in Wifi that can be used with the OI Share app.

Same as the previous EM5, you get the weather sealing, the touch screen.

The supplied, detachable flash unit is another surprise.  Unlike the flashes that came with the original EM5 and EM1, this flag has a fully articulating head. It can be turned, angled for bounce.  Yes, it only has a guide number of 9, but if you need/want that little pop for inside during a party, this could do the trick.  Much more versatility than the older style included flash.

Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 II
1/2000, f/5.7, ISO 250 @ 156mm
Now, the big it worth the upgrade.  I like the extras that the Mark II brings to the table, and I'm still experimenting with the viability of the hi res mode.  I appreciate all the improvements that the new body offers and I'm having as much fun shooting it as I did the original EM5.
I'd say if you are pressed for cash or on the fence, stay with the original EM5.  Otherwise, feel free to take the plunge and pick up a Mark II.

Another thing that this camera reminds me of is the feeling I get when I shoot with the Nikon Df.  The feel, the look, the responsiveness - especially when shooting with prime lenses just makes me want to keep shooting with it.   While the Df still is the supreme stills shooter for me, the EM5 Mk II has solidified itself to the #2 spot.

Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7 II
1/2000, f/6.5, ISO 400 @ 258mm
The EM1, while a fantastic camera, feels more like a professional tool I would and do use for paying jobs.  It is in the same position as the Nikon D300/D700 are for me.  They are tools with a purpose for making money, while the Df and EM5 Mk II feel like tools I can use to create art and express myself.  It might sound dumb, but it is just the way I think and feel about the whole thing.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Update To An Old Post - Setting Up The Olympus OMD Cameras

About this time last your I put out a post on how I setup my Olympus OMD cameras.  I've learned a lot since then and have updated the older post with some new information - how to get the best out of the JPG and RAW files.

Check out the update!!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Primes vs Zooms and Why I Use Both

As with most things on the internet, there is a cyclical buzz that runs round and round about prime lenses vs zoom lenses.   Everyone seems to want to discuss which one is better.  If you know me at all you know that I do not subscribe to which one is better overall, but to which one is the best tool for the current job at hand.

I do realize that not everyone has the luxury of being able to own full compliments of both types of lenses.  You may need to make a choice between the 2 or have a combination of both types.

Let’s look at the characteristics of each lens and why you may find one type an advantage over the other. These are not meant to be all inclusive or an end all be all. The examples are used to make a point and not be comprehensive.


With few exceptions, primes have the benefit of having fast apertures.  The potential benefit to you is that you have a larger degree of subject isolation from the background as well as the ability to get faster shutter speeds or use lower ISO values.  This is good news if you are shooting in poor light and need to keep your shutter speeds high for hand holding or capturing fast moving action.  These apertures commonly run between f/0.85 and f/2.8.

Handheld, no image stabilization
ISO 800, 1/50, f/2
Image Quality
Historically, primes have had an image quality advantage.  This is because they tend to be less complex to build.  Also, compromises don’t need to be made for the glass elements to cover a range of focal lengths - they just need to be good at one focal length.

sharp, clean for portraits and shallow depth of field
ISO 200, 1/125, f/2.8
Physical Size
Without the complexity of zoom rings and additional glass elements to cover multiple focal lengths, the size of the lenses can be downright small.  All this is really dependent on the max aperture size and the size of the sensor that needs to be covered.  Even with that, primes still have the potential to be small and light.

The big negative to primes, in my opinion - and it is not THAT big, is the fact that if you need another focal lengths, you need to change lenses.  This can provides a bigger risk of introducing dirt on the sensor and the possibility of a missed shot while changing lenses.

It can also be a struggle for those not used to using them to remember to “zoom with their feet” and not rely on the zoom ring of a zoom lens.

Prices can range from bargain basement sub $100 to $10,000 for some prime lenses, depending on focal length and maker.  The more common focal lengths tend to be less expensive, while the more exotic or specialized focal lengths go to the expensive side.  The big thing to remember here is that since the prime lenses can be less expensive and very sharp, which you don’t always find in a bargain prices zoom lens.


The majority of fast zoom lenses run with a fixed aperture in the f/2.8 range.  There are some that have variable apertures like f/2.8-4.  There are some zoom lenses that have faster aperture ranges, but those are not common.  For most people’s shooting needs, they could comfortably use an f/2.8 lens and get the exposure and isolation that they need.  The only times that a faster aperture would be more beneficial is extreme low light and when you need a faster shutter speed to freeze action and f/2.8 isn’t going to cut it with an acceptable ISO value.

Image Quality
Long gone are the days when primes were far superior to zoom lenses.  Technology and experience have shown that many professionals have entrusted their businesses to zoom lenses.  Unless you are looking at 100% crops, pixel peeping you are not really going to see a difference.
Image quality also tends to suffer somewhat on zooms teh wider range of focal lengths it has - again, more compromises to cover the various focal ranges can cause compromised IQ.  It can come in the form of overall sharpness, edge sharpness pincushion or barrel distortion.

Physical Size
Zooms can tend to be quite bigger, and depending on their construction, may increase in length as they are zoomed out to longer focal lengths.  The front element needs to be big enough to cover the widest and longest lengths - and the faster the aperture, the bigger the glass needs to be.
This image below shows the difference in lenses. The one to the left is a variable aperture f/4-5.6 and the one to the right is a constant f/2.8.

Here is the real benefit of a zoom.  Have a 24-70mm and need 24mm, you got it.  Need to get to 50mm, just twist the zoom ring and you are there.  Have to shoot in dusty or wet conditions?  Danger to dirt or water getting to the sensor is greatly reduced because you don’t need to swap out lenses.

The convenience of the zoom takes us from the image immediately below and then to the second one after that with the twist of the wrist. Could have missed shot 2 if I had to swap from a wide to telephoto prime.

ISO 200, 1/200, F/2.8 @ 86mm

ISO 200, 1/320, f/2.8 @ 200mm
Just like primes, the prices can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for all the same reasons.

From Left To Right
12mm f/1.8, 45mm f/1.8, 12-40mm f/2.8

2 primes and a pancake zoom(not extended)

My Bottom Line

Repeating my statement from the beginning of the article, use the right tool for the job.  Sometimes zooms are best, other times primes are….or perhaps there is a need for both.  The more experience you have shooting, cultivating a style and determining what you like to shoot and how you like to shoot it will help you get the to the right decision of which choice in lens is right for you.

I use both primes and zooms because I shoot a wide variety of subjects and need the versatility of both types of lenses.  It is really that plain and simple.  Nothing fancy or philosophical about the whole thing.

No magic bullet, review from another person should make the decision for you.  Reviews are helpful in giving you information about the things you might care about like focus speed, focus ring throw, and image rendering before a purchase is made.  The rest is up to your personal requirements.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Composition and You! A Guide For Giving Your Photos More

While understanding exposure and depth of field are all valuable pieces of knowledge, where do you go once you have gotten down the basics?  You might be thinking, why are my images not “popping”?  Maybe you also are wondering why you might like one image of a similar subject over another.

One of the things that you might not be considering is your composition.

“If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.”
--Jim Richardson

Before we get into compositional rules, think about the quote above.  If you want your images to be interesting, the subject has got to have some interest as well.  We all want to take better photographs of our family and one way of doing that is to go out and learn about other types of photography.  I’ve been able to make my portrait and wedding photography better by shooting street photography. Put them in front of interesting things!

How do we do justice to the great subjects we have in front of us?  Use and on occasion, break the guidelines you’ll see here.  I’ve heard it said before that in order to know how and when to break the guidelines, you need to know what the guidelines are in the first place.

Through out this post, I will not use the term “rules” unless it is to relate of simplify a premise.  I consider photography art and as such one should be able to express it without boundaries.  I consider what we will discuss together in the information below just another technique in the toolbox and not a requirement.

Compositional Framing Guidelines
These guidelines are to help you place the subject of your image into a pleasing location, which is 99% of the time not directly in the middle.

Guideline of Thirds

Also known as the “rule of thirds”, this is a basic grid that breaks up the viewfinder into three equal parts both vertically and horizontally.  You can place the focal point of the image at one of the intersecting sets of lines.  

Golden Triangle
This is a good guideline to help when you have diagonal elements in your composition.
Imagine drawing a diagonal line from one corner of your frame to the other, then draw another perpendicular line from the opposite corner of your long line into the longer line.  The perpendicular would be 90 degrees to the longer line.  This can provide for a more dynamic composition.

Fibonacci Spiral

If you want to be numbed by a lot of math, feel free to look up the history the Fibonacci Spiral, but for our purposes just know that it has been used in art for hundreds of years.  It is also known as the golden mean or golden ratio.  
You would, as a basic use, put the smallest part of the spiral over the main subject of interest and then align the other aspects of the composition flow out from the spiral.  For example, if doing a full face portrait, you’d want one eye in the middle of the spiral and then allow the rest of the face fall into the outward spiral.

Some people consider the guideline of thirds and the golden triangle to be a more simplistic versions of the Fibonacci Spiral.

Things To Try
Now that we have discussed some guidelines that will help you situate your subjects into the frame, let’s look at some other things you can try.  Some are offshoots or benefits you’ll start seeing from the use of the guidelines above.  Others are just ways of being more pleasing to the people viewing them.

You can get into a bad habit of standing straight up and shooting everything from that perspective.  While this might work for some subjects, or for portraits of adults it is something that doesn’t “pop” because it is something we see all the time.
When shooting a portrait of a child, get down to their level and shoot that way instead of always shooting down on them.
When shooting everyday subjects, adding a different angle makes people see ordinary things in a different way, and by doing that it gives them a renewed interest.  For example, if shooting street photography, almost everyone shoots from street level.  What about shooting from a second floor or from an even higher elevated position!

Leave Space
If someone or something is looking in a specific direction or a vehicle is moving in a direction, you would not want to crop the frame off right in front of the subject.  By giving space, we see where the object is moving.  We lose the claustrophobic feel of a portrait and wonder what they are looking at and not worry that they are boxed in.

Fill The Frame
Jay Maisel once said that if the subject is there, you are responsible to make sure that the edges of the frame don’t detract from the image.  That is paraphrased, but essentially, if you have a great portrait but the edges of the frame are filled with items that don’t make sense to the person move in tighter.

Odd/Even Numbers
People tend to like odd numbers of items in their images.  If you have the choice of shooting some animals, and their are 2 or 3, pick the one with the 3.

Putting subjects in an imaginary triangle gives the viewer something other than a straight line gives more interest and looks less common.

Simplify The Scene
This could be used hand in hand with the fill the frame.  If you find yourself looking at a scene and there just seems to be too much going on, find a way to simplify the subject matter that is there.  Sometimes that means there are too many people to make for a harmonious composition, but not enough to create a pattern that might be pleasing to look at.  This is the “less is more” concept.

Leading Lines
Viewers tend to follow lines in photographs, so if there is a chance use parts of the image to lead the viewers eyes to the subject, you should use that to your advantage.

Framing Subjects
Placing a frame around a subject may give it some additional pop.

Sense of Place/Relevance
While getting a portrait done of someone as a cowboy might be exciting, doing the portrait in a studio setting may not give the image the kind of relevance you had hoped for.  Now take that same person with the same cowboy theme and place them in an outdoor setting with horses or on a farm and the portrait goes to a whole new level.
Taking a still life image of a sea shell in studio can be quite nice, how much more would you love it if it had a sense of place and you took the shot on the beach with the sand and the water.