Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Composition – “You are there.”

A camera is really an excuse to explore into a place than we otherwise would. Looking for a good shot forces us to seek out the unique features and scenic beauty of a location, and to interact with our surroundings. When you press the shutter release, you're making a personal connection to the place and its people. Photographs preserve the memories of our trip. We can show others the exciting places we've been, the wonderful scenery, and the great people we met. Our minds are triggered by images and reviewing our photographs helps everyone on the trip relive its adventures and misadventures. Taking pictures is also a very accessible art form. With a little thought and effort you can create captivating images of your own creation and interpretation. To improve your art skills, find photos you like and study them, asking yourself: 'Why exactly do I like this picture?' When you take a photograph, identify what the subject is. Answering 'a person' or 'a building' is not good enough. You need to go deeper and specify 'the curves of the body' or 'the crumbling stonework' -- something that activates your senses that you can touch, feel, smell, or taste. This process is the most overlooked step in photography. Composition is the key to an interesting photograph. Despite all the technical jargon, photography is essentially an art form, and its most important aspect is composition. This process is the most overlooked step in photography. Although it may be tempting to simply snap your photos and rush on, Take time to visually explore the subject and see what appeals to you. Ask yourself: 'What is the purpose of this photograph?' and 'What is the reaction I want a viewer to have?' Next find a 'context' -- a simple backdrop, which adds relevance, contrast, and/or location to the 'subject.' You can add depth by finding a 'context' in a different spatial plane than the 'subject.' For example, if the subject is a building in the background, make the context a flower or person in the foreground. Now combine the two in a simple way. A good photograph is a subject, a context, and nothing else. The placement of your subject in the frame denotes its relevance to the context. The centre of the frame is the weakest place -- its static, dull, and gives no value to the context. The more you move the subject away from the centre, the more relevance you give to the context; so juggle until you get the right balance. Each item has a 'weight' and, like a waiter filling up a tray, you need to balance the weights within the frame. Create impact by using real or inferred lines that lead the viewer's eye into and around the picture. Railway tracks, rivers, and fences are obvious choices, but there are also inferred lines from the subject to the context. Lines have subtle effects. Horizontal lines are peaceful; diagonals are dynamic or tense; and curves are active and sensuous. You can also connect lines in a path or shape, such as a triangle. A picture is a playground for the eyes to explore, so provide a path of movement, and some space for the eye to rest.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Using slow shutter speed and blur to advantage

Although blur is to be avoided in most cases, it can sometimes be an effective creative tool. A slow shutter speed will capture the feeling of motion because the part moving will be blurred, yet the subject itself will be sharp. Panning is another way to get the feeling of action. We’ve probably heard this term before in relation to motion picture-taking. Basically it refers to following the subject’s movement by moving the camera. When we do this with an SLR camera, the background becomes a flow of movement and as long our focusing is good and we have stayed with the subject, it will be reasonably sharp. And even if it’s not so what? Maybe a totally blurred image of, for example a motorcyclist would be better effect than a sharper one. Anyway, a slight turn of either TV for Canon camera or S for Nikon is all you need for shutter priority mode where we set the shutter required the camera will set the aperture. The only thing we have to be careful of is not to choose the speed so slow that no one can tell what we are attempting to shoot.

Panning involves nothing more complex than following the lateral movement of the subject with the camera. Although the background is blurred by the camera movement, the subject is, if pan is successful, totally sharp. Smoothness is the most important quality of successful panning, and over a moderate angle of view, it is usually best to pan by swivelling at the wrist rather than just twisting head and arms. How much panning can reduce the shutter speed needed for a sharply frozen image depends on smoothness of the pan and whether the subject itself contains any movement in other direction.