After all the technical challenges, it seems refreshing to focus more on the art of photography. In many ways creating a photograph is similar to the principles followed in painting or drawing. You first have to decide on the subject of your photograph, otherwise, you may end up with an image that looks like this:
So busy that it draws the viewer’s eye away from it rather than into it. Isn’t this a little easier on the eye? At least it’s clear what the subject of the picture is.
Secondly, you need to decide on how to best compose the shot.
What is composition?
Composition refers to the aesthetic placement of elements or objects in a picture. It refers to techniques used to draw the viewer’s eye into your image and linger there, and if you’re really clever, perhaps to draw their eye back out again, as if they’ve travelled a journey through witnessing your work of art.
These techniques are often referred to as rules, and for non-conformists like me, the term isn’t productive, it makes me want to instinctively break them. I prefer to see them as free tools. You go out, get all that expensive photography equipment, but your photos still look amateurish at best. However, with some careful application of your free tools, you can produce a masterpiece.
I’m going to dedicate the next few weeks to these free tools as these are how some people manage pro shots with point-and-shoot cameras and their smart phones, without all the bells and whistles of a DSLR.
Keep it simple
Have you ever taken a photo where a lamppost appears to grow out of someone’s head? Have you looked at a shot after it was taken, and thought, ‘I didn’t see that when I was taking the shot’? Have you ever taken an image and the world looks slanted? Have you ever looked at an image and questioned what you were really taking a photo of?
Yup, so have I.
So let’s start by not doing any of those things any more!
The beauty of our free tools is that you don’t need an expensive camera to use them. This challenge is for everyone who takes snapshots of their darling loved ones and includes those who have grand designs to make a living out of photography. For me, I just want to take some photos that I’d be proud to have printed and hung on my wall.
The challenge is to LEARN TO LOOK.
Make the best possible use of your viewfinder and/or digital screen. Take your time composing your shot. When you look through the viewfinder, or at the screen, check not just the focus point of your shot, but all around the subject. Go right out to the edges. Are you including something you shouldn’t? Is there a stray foot? Have you chopped off a head? Did you really want that poo in the shot? And is that horizon line really straight?
You might need to reposition yourself to get rid of all that busy noise that’s invading the shot. Perhaps moving a little closer to the subject, choose a different angle from which to take the shot and you may find that you’ll avoid all that clutter.
It feels like you are taking an age before you press that button, but do it! I know I never took a good shot quickly.
My challenge was to get a shot of one of the sculptures at a park without including distracting people, parked cars, signs or losing the visual impact of the sculpture in the background or foreground elements, like in the first one above. I wanted to get a good picture of this:
Due to the publicity surrounding the sculpture – Poppy Wave, this isn’t an easy task. It’s drawn a crowd.
I try moving closer so that it’s clear that the poppies are the subject of the photo.
A little better, but gah, it’s an image of the spectacle rather than the beauty of piece. So how about really close?
Oops a head.
The other side of the wave perhaps?
Less distraction, but the river is drawing the eye away from the wave rather than into it.
I go back to the other side where the light is a little better.
I’m happier with this, I like how the poppies are reflected in the water. I like the red and green contrast and feel that the greens in the background and foreground balance the image. What do you think?
Let us know how you get on with the challenge. Ping backs appreciated! Have fun 🙂