It’s elementary.

The difference  between a snapshot and a good picture? Often enough it is simplicity. Simplicity does not necessarily mean taking things out of the picture. But it means taking things out of the picture that do not belong there.

Take this iPad snap, just now, of my new kitty Clio:

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Not bad. But what if we took out that unnecessary space, and especially that little black thing on the right.

Then maybe add a frame. And now we get:

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Can you see how much better that is than the original? Everything you remove that is not essential to the story makes the picture better. And you can remove it by cropping, blurring, recomposing: any way you like.

On Tuan the Celtics you pretty said “perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”. Or “less is more”.

And “On Tuan the Celtics you pretty” is Antoine de Saint-Exupery, World War Two fighter pilot and author of “Le Petit Prince”, that book about the little prince who lives on a tiny planet. The fact that Siri butchers his name shows how uncultured she is.  Back to hand-typing.

 

St James Cathedral, Toronto

I did a “Composition In The Field” tutorial walk in Toronto today for Digital Photo Academy. We mainly stayed in, or in the direct vicinity, of St James’ Cathedral.

Because it was cold. But also because there’s plenty to see in a given environment, once you open your eyes. And once you see it, you can apply compositional rules that are just about standard (and that I teach at gathering like this) . And then you can break them when you have good reason to. In the end, you end up with some good pictures.

Like this:

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A church, by the way, also has interesting insights into a world that is no more.

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Try to put yourself in M. Keating’s position: one moment he has a pregnant wife; then suddenly he has only a son; then a week later he has nothing. From happy and “everything is going our way” to two funerals in two weeks, and then Christmas. What a world that was, in 1832.

Back to here and now. Composition rules and camera use: If you want to learn the same, please contact me.

Meanwhile: why are you reading this, instead of going out to take some pictures of whatever is outside or inside?

 

Photographer, or…?

…or illustrator?

I am a big fan of being a photographer–meaning you do the work in the camera. But sometimes even I do some post-production work. Like here in this edited flash picture:

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That makes an OK picture a good picture, mainly because it dramatically simplifies it. See an earlier post for the “recipe” for this Andy Warhol-like effect – but I suggest you make your own. Much more fun. Simple (I used Lightroom) and quick.

 

Intermezzo, and, join me Sunday?

A bit slow this week as I have been in bed with flu-like symptoms. Meanwhile, here’s some depth – remember, to make your images “real looking”, use a close by subject against a farther background (“close-far”):

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Now – flash. A long workshop, all hands-on, this Sunday. The last two sold out. But PLENTY of space for this one. Think about it: you’d find this VERY useful. Hands on, so you do your own pictures, build the sets, connect the Pocketwizards, etc – and it’s a LONG one.

Lovely Photo

I am prompted to write, today, about the Internet and how you must not always believe it.

You may have noticed the following phenomenon: someone posts something horrible on the Internet and their friends all say “lovely photo”, “great work”, and so on.

Praise, on the Internet, means nothing.

I just saw a photo:

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I have made names and the subjects (one of whom is a friend, and a lovely lady) unrecognizable, but there is still enough to see that, with respect, this is not in fact a “lovely” photo:

The light comes from straight above them, so their eyes are completely dark. This is something you cannot see. The composition is terrible. The heads should be higher. There is stuff in the picture that distracts, like the lights dimmer on the very left. The stuff behind the ladies interferes with their heads. The photo is ever so slightly tilted anticlockwise. Why cut off that one hand? The list goes on.

My point is not to rain on these ladies’ parade. My point is that when someone says “GREAT WORK” on Facebook, that does NOT make you a museum-ready pro. The photo is nice as a memento of three friends getting together. But it is not great as a photo. Keep that in mind, and before you go full time pro, have your work critiqued independently, and fill the knowledge gaps everyone has.