Tag Archives: Simplicity

Going with the basics – a simple way to see subjects

Stones And Shell by Netkonnexion, on Flickr

• Stones And Shell • (based on rule of thirds)
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Stones And Shell by Netkonnexion, on FlickrExternal link - opens new tab/page

Simple composition leads to great images.

We have all photo-walked with idol intent and fired off a few shots. I find this unproductive. How about a photo-walk with a composition principle in mind? That helps concentrate the mind wonderfully.

Walk with intent…

No, not criminal intent – photographic intent! If you want to go out for a photo-walk then sit down for two minutes first. Think of a random, generic subject. Try something like “squares”, or “wheels”. Even something more challenging like “Feet” or “Glass” would be good. Your idea can be tailored to where you are going to be walking. In the park you might go for “holes”, or “Rocks” or even “puddles”. In other words, give yourself something to focus on, to look out for and to challenge your view of an ordinary scene. The aim is to capture as many different types of your chosen subject as you can and picture them in as many interesting ways as possible.

I have played this game with myself many times. It’s fun and you get home with a memory card filled with lots of pictures with a common theme. This is great, especially for making a diptych, triptych or other sort of photomontage (not a collage – that’s not a photographic term).

A new idea

Today, I came across the video below. It is a great video explaining three simple principles of composition. Back to basics is always a good idea – even for the experienced photographer. It helps re-ground us in a little simplicity from time to time. The new idea I spotted was to undertake a photo-walk with a compositional principle as your photographic theme. In the video Mark Wallace explains about “pattern”, “unusual point of view” and “rule of thirds“. Then in the second part of the video he goes on a photo-walk in the park where he is looking for these three composition elements.

Digital Photography 1 on 1: Episode 32

This idea of a shoot with a compositional theme produces pictures where the content does not necessarily have a common theme. Instead this game is great for helping you to practice putting composition into your pictures. It is a way to renew your enthusiasm for simple composition at the same time as having fun and improving your photography. You can do it for any of the compositional elements. However, keep it simple, this is an exercise in learning about or getting back to basics.

Have fun!

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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 photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
See also: Profile on Google+.

Keep it simple… thats it!

There is no better way to improve your images.

If you can keep it simple the power in the photography comes out. If you can cut out all the clutter the image comes alive with the main subject in it. If your subject is all you have to show, it is the meaning and the message in the photograph.

Here are some quick ideas about simplicity in photography… Enjoy!

The basic idea (1min 24secs)
National Geographic Photography Tip: Keep it Simple

National Geographic Photography Tip: Keep it Simple
Uploaded by National Geographic Channel  External link - opens new tab/page to YouTube

 

David Bailey (30secs)

David Bailey is a famous UK contemporary photographer who was pretty prominent in the 1960s and continued to create photo-masterpieces right up to the present day. Here is his page on Wikipedia: David Bailey  External link - opens new tab/page

David Bailey on simplicity in 30 seconds

Uploaded by: softlad telly visual  External link - opens new tab/page

 
Hmmm! Did he actually say anything useful? Why not leave a comment about that? The next video is very useful!
 

Dominance and simplicity (2mins 21secs)
Outdoor Photo Tips with Jerry Monkman – Week 4: Composition – Dominance and Simplicity

Uploaded by: Jerry Monkman  External link - opens new tab/page

How to tell a story with your picture

Photo storytelling :: Spoken With Humour My Lady

“Spoken with humour my Lady”
Photo storytelling with your picture will capture the imagination of your viewer and draw them into the image.

What is photo storytelling?

Help your viewer to be involved in your picture. Get them thinking. Then they will look hard at it. So, tell a story with it. To get viewers thinking draw out the threads of a story with a time line. Aim to help them see how the story came about. Show clues for what might happen next. Photo storytelling is about making your image clear on what is happening.

The best photo story-tellers are photo-journalists. They capture an event or activity. They try to show the progress of a story. Things you see in the shot tell you what’s happened, what is happening now, and what is possible. In short, it is a time-line.

Photo storytelling :: Keep it simple

Don’t obscure the story. The more interesting you can make the shot, the more viewers will want to look at it. Your story should portray the fullness of events.

Try to make the shot as simple as possible. If there is too much going on it distracts the viewer. Too much clutter does the same. If you do distract the viewer it will confuse or obscure the story.

Have a plan

Ensure clarity in your story. Have a complete plan of what you want to convey. You should:

  • Know what you want to say.
  • Have a clear idea of the main subject.
  • Know the story line (as simple as possible).
  • Know how to express the storyline.
  • Know the composition you will use.
  • Be aware of light, mood, time.
  • Know what to exclude (de-clutter).
  • Know how you are going to work the scene.
  • Have technical settings worked out.
Behind the subject

It is easy to confuse the viewer with the background. Ensure it is consistent with the story. The little romantic exchange in my picture above fits with its background. If this were an urban scene the knights would be out of their expected context. That throws the story off.

How people and things relate to each other

As the story unfolds show the relations between people. That is juicy eye-candy for viewers. The relationship between people and things, in the scene helps too. Working with one photograph, your photo storytelling is going to have to show these links.

There are three relationships in the photo storytelling above. The horse is engaging with the viewer. It stares back at us. The knights are engaging in light-hearted flirting. The peasant is clearly amused by the whole scene. The story tells the viewer where the people are, but also about the feeling between them. Looks, and the direction of gaze, are important. Facial expressions speak volumes. The position of things and people show how they relate to each other.

You must be careful to pick up these traces of relationships. Without them you don’t have the sense of interaction. Then you don’t see photo storytelling in progress.

Time

Time in photo storytelling usually comes from action, expression or movement. In this picture the horse shows boredom. The knights show an on-going and flirtatious conversation. The peasant clearly enjoys the moment. These things show the story is not static. And, it has a future because the knights are clearly enjoying the exchange.

In another type of photo storytelling you might see strong movement. A race is a story. The action shows the progress of time. The race positions tell of the competition. The place where the race is sets the scene.

Clearly there are many ways to express progress through the story. The important thing is that you do actually make sure that it is obvious to the viewer.

The fresh, candid look

Clearly, if the story is staged and forced, the fresh look will be lost. Capture it as if it was unscripted. Captured on the spur of the moment makes it look fresh. Even better if it was a complete candid shot. Nothing beats an honest, true expression. The best scenes are spontaneous. The whole discipline of street photography is based on that concept. However, make sure that the elements of a story still hold true. It will look false if they are not.

If doing candid street shots your post-production work can help. In your editing look to find the shots with the elements above. Then crop or work your post processing to bring it out. Don’t try staging them through a plan. Urban scenes make poor acting scenes for photography.

Patience

Photo storytelling takes patience. So does trying to spot a story in progress. To shoot a scene like the one above takes a few moments. It may only involve a few quick few shots. But the right result may not happen the first time. Take your time and work on the elements needed for your Photo storytelling. As you get better at the things mentioned here you will bring out the story easier.

Photo storytelling :: In Post-production

A story is almost always completed in post-production. Often the composition has to be done quickly in order to capture the right moment. As a result you may need to think about the framing and the crop later. Also think about cloning out clutter and distractions. When Photo storytelling, that is especially true for candid shots.

Photo storytelling is helped by a title

If my image above was called “knights on horses”, there’d be less interest. The title sets the scene. It shows the viewer the link between the knights. A good human relationship or a juicy gossip-phrase gets attention. Photo storytelling is all about those human things. Bring them out in a title.

The actual story

Most important is the actual Photo storytelling itself. To get that right you have to check you have a story at all. That means finding the shot that expresses the story. That is an editorial task. Be ruthless when you try to tell a story with a picture. Show only the shots which actually tell one. Otherwise you will have a fudged concept. There is nothing worse.

Enjoy your Photo storytelling. It’s fun and a challenge. Your skill as a photographer and as an editor of your own work will improve.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer 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+.

10 ways to bring out the point of interest

"Drag bike" Selective colouring is a great way to bring out your point of interest in the shot

“Drag bike” – Selective colouring is a great way to bring out your point of interest.
Click image to view large

Focus the attention of your viewer using these great techniques.

The most important thing about your image is the part that you want your viewer to see. A great image needs to concentrate their attention and hold it in the shot.

Next time you are ready to take a photograph – pause for a second. Think about composing your picture so you direct the viewer at the most important part of your image. The ‘point of interest’, ‘focus of attention’ or a ‘focal point’ is where the viewer finds satisfaction from looking at the image. It makes sense that you use one or two techniques to point the viewers eye right at the reason you are taking the shot.

10 Techniques directing the eye to the point of interest
  • Crop: The cropped shape of the picture is an important way to help the viewers eye find the ‘point of interest’. Letterbox shaped crops help the viewers eye to run across the width of the picture; square crops help direct the reader to the centre of the shot; landscape views are so common that they help the reader be unaware of the crop; Portrait views alert the reader to the vertical things of interest. A crop is a great way to help the readers eye, especially when used with other techniques below.
  • Position: Where you place your point of interest in the shot can affect how prominent it is or how the eye is drawn to it. A good introduction to positioning is to look up the Rule of Thirds. That is a basic rule of composition that gives the eye a dynamic reason to look at the point of interest.
  • Size: A large subject or point of interest is a great way to make people look at it. Big and bold and your viewer will hardly miss it!
  • Focus: The use of depth of field is really effective. The human eye naturally sees what we directly look at in focus. So we tend to concentrate our viewing in the area of sharpness in a picture.
  • Movement blur: Capturing movement creates blur. In my picture above the bike is travelling very fast. To capture it like that I have panned my camera. The background is out of focus. The sharpness and blur create a contrast that draws the eye to the sharpness. Alternatively, you can photograph something moving that you want to become blurred as the focus of attention. Classic movement blur is often created at the fair in the evening. Fast movement with brightly coloured lights wonderfully blurs the merry-go-round in a longer exposure. The strangeness and strong colours draws the eye to the patterns.
  • Colour: Using colour is a great way to draw the eye. Strong primary colours (red, green, blue etc.) are especially good at catching the eye. One bright colour against other lesser colours also directs the eye. Contrasting colours can be a good way of highlighting a particular point of interest too. Colours are best used to make the point of interest stand out from the background.
  • Selective colour: The absence of colour in part of a picture and the selection of one colour or an object in colour is a great contrast in the picture. That difference – greyscale to colour – will strongly make the point of interest stand out. An example is the picture above.
  • Shape: The use of shape is a way to draw the eye too. Again you can use a contrast. One round object in a group of square objects really captures the attention. A strong geometric shape in a picture where there is no other strong, well defined shapes pulls the eye.
  • Pattern: Where there is pattern there is focus. Our eyes are good at picking out patterns. Sudden, clear formation of pattern in a picture where there is no otherwise clear pattern focusses the attention on the pattern. The opposite is true too. Where there is a breakdown in a pattern the eye is drawn to the difference and questions why the change or break in the pattern.
  • Lines: The eye naturally follows lines in a picture. So, you can use lines both as the actual point of interest, and as a way of pointing at the focus of attention. Implied lines can be useful in the same way. A line that strongly points to something else is another way to capture the attention.

It is important too, you are careful not to make the picture too complicated or cluttered. To much to catch the attention will have the eyes whizzing around the picture and not able to settle on your point of interest. Likewise, it is best to use just one or two of the above techniques. Too many and the eye is confused with what direction they should follow. Composing your picture is about subtle messages and directions to help the eye. The last thing you want to do is to confuse or misdirect your viewer.

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 photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
See also: Profile on Google+.

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