Seeing a Photograph - kimfyson

kim@kimfyson.com         tel. 07709 875326



SEEING A PHOTOGRAPH


First you need to be able to visualise your final photograph then know how to use the frame to get it. This is the art of "composition".

Some people can do this intuitively but for those not so lucky there are some rules and tips you can learn to help. The other "technical" aspects of the craft, understanding and mastering shutter speed, aperture and ISO, are straightforward and easy to master. 

The thing to remember about photography is that unlike the other visual arts, painting, drawing, sketching, etc. a photographer doesn't start with a blank canvas. Rather it is the opposite. A frame full of content (the real world!) needs to be simplified and reduced to nothing more than the essential elements that are needed to tell the story. Understanding this is the key to becoming a good photographer.


When the photograph above was taken the photographer probably only saw, in his mind, the windmill, fence and bike and didn't fully appreciate how dominant the green field would be in the frame. 


Our brain filters out irrelevant visual detail as we scan the world and we see only what we want to see. The camera can't do this for us.  


For a stronger, more pleasing composition, the shot has been cropped much closer to just include the windmill and bike and minimise the area of the green field.  The final rendering in black and white also helps to emphasise the shapes and lines of the content.  Colour adds nothing to this shot.


In the original framing, the light patch on the grass halfway down the left side and the patch of the lighter path just below and to the right of the rucksack are also distracting as they fall on the edge of the shot.


In the photo above, the left and right edges of the frame have been trimmed of distracting content and the light patch of grass has also been removed. These details were drawing the viewer's eye away from the main subject.  


Below, a tighter composition and a rendering in black and white improves this street scene. Converting to black and white eliminates distracting coloured detail which doesn't add to the story.

The head and hands on lower left edge of this picture might have been removed in a different situation but in this case they imply the hustle and bustle of the pavement carrying on outside the frame and so adding to the story.


In the picture below the light to the left and the stand on the right have been removed to clean up the composition.

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