Tag Archives: Detail

Looking for the natural detail

Looking for natural detail :: It is all too easy to miss the finer details in nature.

• Looking for the natural detail •
Casual observation often misses the natural detail in a scene. Most of us are guilty of walking past the fascinating detail and seeing only the bigger picture.

Getting closer to the riches.

“I’m sure we’ve all walked along a beach, enjoying the moment. A time to kick off shoes, socks and the shackles of daily life. To relax in one’s own world, exploring new surroundings. But do we soak up all we see around us or do we merely pass by, with little more than a cursory glance? To stop and look closely, could be considered a luxury – but then why not? Enjoy all the riches a beach has to share, it fuels our memories all through the winter time. Is it real, or just a dream?”

These are the opening words to a sequence from the second presentation in my Hebridean Trilogy, entitled “The Island Dream”. And how true they are. I am sure we have all been guilty of overlooking the finer natural detail, spread out as it is, all around us.

Natural detail :: Patterns left by the falling tide as the sea, sand and peat mingle

• Water patterns in the sand •
Patterns left by the falling tide, as the sea, sand and peat mingle on a Hebridean Island.

Natural detail – the wonders up close

I am often on my knees, on a beach, photographing the wonders to be seen up close. Whether they be patterns left by the falling tide, as the sea and the sand and the peat mingle together, or broken shells who have ended thier life by being smashed in the endless surf.

You don’t need specialist equipment or Macro lenses to capture this natural detail. Most cameras have a close up feature incorporated which adjusts the camera’s settings accordingly. With your feet and legs set firm in the sand, and holding the camera tightly, you can almost replicate a tripod. This ensures images are sharp and in focus where they have to be.

Natural detail :: Shells which ended their life smashed in the endless surf.

• Broken shells •
Shells which ended their life smashed in the endless surf.


You may also need to consider lighting. We photographers often keep the sun behind us. When crouched on the beach your subject could be in deep shade. This is tasking the camera too far. Perhaps a bright but overcast day would be better, avoiding strong directional light which may cause camera sensors to work overtime.

A quiet, wondrous place

A quiet beach in the right light can be a wondrous place. Try mooching along the sand, being careful not to leave footprints where you may later wish to photograph. No need to rush either, enjoy the rare moment.

Natural detail :: You can almost replicate a tripod

• Detail in the sand •
With feet and legs set firm in the sand you can almost replicate a tripod for your natural detail shot.


I recall a visit to Harris, in the Outer Hebrides. One beach offered me countless opportunities to photograph the finer points of natural detail. I must have spent several hours, in glorious warm sunshine, ambling along the shore line. I can’t recall now how many images I got. It must have been several dozen. With digital, if the shot doesn’t work for you, at least you can delete it later. In the days of colour transparencies, you couldn’t delete them and each shot had a cost attached. Even then you couldn’t see how it had come out!

Work the scene

So my advice is to find a suitable beach and “work it” hard, but in a relaxed fashion. Enjoy both the atmosphere and the images you find.

Natural detail :: On a beach there's fine detail is all around.

• Fine detail everywhere •
Find a suitable beach and “work it” hard. The natural detail is all around.


Photography should be fun and not a chore. I used to be most concerned if, after 3 or 4 weeks shooting in the Hebrides, I came home with very few images. Nowadays it doesn’t bother me so much, as I have revelled in the hidden beauty of the wonderful Hebridean Islands.

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Ruari Cumming ARPS (contributing author)

Words and images by: © Ruari Cumming ARPS/Hebridean-Island-Images.com
Ruari has been photographing the Hebridean Islands for many years. He is a distinguished photographer holding the “ARPS  External link - opens new tab/page” award. He continues to take stunning pictures of the landscapes, beaches and people of the Islands. He also regularly gives talks on his work. More… Hebridean Island Images Hebridean Island Images | External link - opens new tab/page

Warning: you could delete your best image…

• The Chase Is On •

• The Chase Is On •
Click image to view large
• The Chase Is On by Netkonnexion on FlickrExternal link - opens new tab/page

Watch out for great images you missed.

It’s easy to do. People will tell you to delete your no-go images in-camera. But you will miss essential details that will fool you. Your best images can be lost that way.

Lack of detail

Your image in the camera screen does not show the whole story. The picture is resized to fit the camera screen. During resizing the picture loses a lot of detail. The camera preserves only the essentials for quick checks.

Consider the panning shot above which looked very poor on the camera screen. Lack of detail merged the heads into the background. Blur masked the image. Little or no detail was visible throughout. On my camera this shot was a no-hoper. Fortunately, experience tells me I need to keep shots to view them in full detail. Good thing I kept this shot. It scored high enough for a placement in a competition.

Two lessons…

Inexperience can mislead photographers. The back-screen on the the camera is no guide to a successful picture.

The blurring in this shot shows great movement. The important parts, the faces and heads, remain sharp. You could not see that clearly enough in-camera. The expression on the lead runner shows perfectly the emotion and duress of the getaway. His face tells a great story – the break-away with an anxious back glance. The sharpness and story did not show on the camera screen. Had I deleted in-camera a promising shot would have been lost.

More after this…

Second, the screen display on the camera lost an essential detail. The main light was coming in from the side away from me. The heads had a wonderful light-rim around them. It differentiated them from the background. That did not show on camera. The aesthetics, story and sharpness are greatly improved by this detail.

The moral

It is easy to miss important details on the camera screen. Little things that make the picture so detailed are often lost. If you delete on-camera before seeing images in full detail on your computer you could deprive yourself of great images.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

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Use detail to say so much more

"English Summer Garden Party" - you don't need to show everything to convey meaning

“English Summer Garden Party” – you don’t need to show everything to convey meaning.
Sometimes a few details are enough.

The meaning is often already in the mind of the observer.

Your photograph does not need to show everything. The mind is a fertile environment for filling in the rest. What you need to do is convey a sense of what is going on.

What we want to do…

…is capture the scene. We have an overwhelming need to show people what is going on. The new photographer will want to show the scene – everything the eye can see. After all you want people to know what you have seen and experienced when you were there. The meaning of the scene is in the experience of its fullness. Or so we want to think.

The mind is a filter

No one truly sees what you see – even if you do show the whole scene and make a great job of it. Everyone wears special glasses, called a perceptual filter. It creates a unique world for each of us. We all see a world around us coloured by our previous experiences, disappointments, loves, wants, hates, wishes, actions, history – everything. From our inner selves we impart meaning into everything we see.

For the artist and photographer

We can take advantage of this perceptual filter. A good picture will communicate meaning to the viewer. It will tap into that perceptual filter and set free something in the mind of the observer that stimulates them. Your picture will be all the more compelling if you stimulate that inner meaning. The detail of something may do that more effectively than the whole scene. It is often the tiniest things that set us off down memory lane.