Simply simple.

I had lunch with a student today – this student is bright, and is doing a private one-week full time crash course with me, something I recommend for anyone wanting to do real photography (tomorrow, we do a studio shoot).

Over lunch, we brought our cameras. Of course.

And I made this shot of my Miso soup:

A few questions. Like: “what was I using”? And “What makes this shot effective”?

I was using a full frae camer with a 50mm prime lens. My student, a crop camera with a 35mm lens. Equivalent, therefore. The prime lens allows those nice blurry background, and it allows fast shutter speeds at low-ish ISO values: I shot this at 1/80th second at f/2.8, at 400 ISO. With a non-prime lens I would have had to use slower shutter speed (motion blur) or higher ISO (grain), and I would not have obtained the nice blur.

What makes this image work, though?

  • The simplicity. The original shot was just a little wider but had some “stuff” in it. A pro shot is good is if has no “stuff” in it that should not be there – and generally, “stuff” should not be there!
  • The blur. Only part (around the chopsticks) is sharp.
  • The contrast – the dark table really helps.
  • The 45 degree angle.
  • And finally that wonderful sunlight reflection in the soup. Yes, that was deliberate: I angled the shot until I got the reflection.

My student did well, too: here’s his shot:

Well done, Jeff. Here, again selective sharpness, combined with the backlight, makes this an effective shot. In this shot, too, we cropped to get rid of distractions.

So the lesson today?

Keep. It. Simple.

That is so often the secret to one of those “wow, that one worked!” shots. Everything that is in a photo should be in that photo because it should be in that photo, or else it should not be in that photo.



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