Simplifying and diagonals

In a photo:

  • Simplifying is good. Often very good.
  • Diagonals can also be very good.
  • The Rule of Thirds is also often very good.
  • Tilting the camera is a way to simplify.
  • Tilting is also a way to create diagonals.
  • And to help you get to the Rule of Thirds.

So it stands to reason that if you tilt and simplify a the same time, you may end up with some reasonable images.

A few examples from the other day – taken with the Fuji X100, which is still a great toy. As you learn more about it it gets better.

Because this camera has a fixed lens (35mm, full frame equivalent) you end up tilting instead of zooming in and out – and this makes your pictures better.

Here’s me, the other day – and look at the texture and converging diagonals:

Michael Willems (Photo: Melony McBride)

Here’s a salad, served with colour and texture – and with a blurred background that “tells a story by making the viewer put it all together”:

Salad (Photo: Michael Willems)

And a few more food and drink snaps:

Bruschetta (Photo: Michael Willems)

Cheers (Photo: Michael Willems)

Acqua Minerale (Photo: Michael Willems)

And a non-food snap: the best calculator series ever made (you do not need an “=” button!)

HP11C (Photo: Michael Willems)

Can you see a pattern emerge?

Here’s your homework. Go shoot some pictures:

  • With a 35mm lens length (real 35, i.e. use 24mm on a crop camera).
  • Tilt to simplify or to get diagonals or to be able to compose with the Rule of Thirds.
  • Shoot at wide open aperture (low “f-number”).
  • Get close.
  • Use high enough ISO to get non-blurry images.
  • Use available light.

And have fun!


Shake it up.

In photography, like in many endeavours, it is easy to get caught up into a routine. “Always the same lens”. Or “always the same mode”. Or “always the same creative shots”. Or “always the same composition”.

So let’s shake it up. Starting with composition. Next time you shoot, use unusual viewpoints or angles:

One way to do this is to tilt your camera. As I have mentioned here before, you do this to get things in, or to introduce a sense of dynamic energy, motion:

Another way is to shoot from unusual viewpoints. When I shoot for a newspaper, I will try to get up or down.

Here, my friend, international fashion photographer Kristof is doing it:

Ever noticed photographers always carry ladders? That’s why.

And an army building looks interesting when tilted:

As does a model in a provocative pose:

And a photographer shooting:

So next week, turn and tilt your camera, get on the floor, or get on a ladder.