Simplicity is all about presenting simple images – uncluttered, plain and downright, well, basic – lines, colors, shapes. Because as we’ve learned and presented in over 300 posts in this blog, photography is the art of simplification, elimination, cropping and focusing on the subject. It is all about presenting the point of interest in the most lucid and spot-on manner. Granted that the photographer sometimes use artistic license in his work, it shouldn’t however deprive him of presenting his pictures in the most understandable way – clear, precise and clarified. It should never be the photographer’s intention to present to viewers something they could hardly grasp or comprehend. Unless its abstract or a mish-mash of incomprehensible obscurity. Then maybe its art, not photography. In our photographic milieu we try to present things as clearly and plainly as possible even with some tinge of artistic license. We are allowed that. Anyway its always the photographer’s vision. One photographic technique we have learned is that we may not necessarily present our subject as a whole. We can use creative and selective focus, or crop out edges or recompose, always keeping in mind the art of simplicity and the technique of giving emphasis on our subject.
Article Excerpt: “When we look at a landscape, our eyes travel over it and selectively focus on the elements that we find appealing. Our field of vision encompasses a great deal of the scene, but our eyes and brains have the ability to ignore all except the most alluring details. Lenses and sensors or film cannot do this by themselves. They need help…Time is the most important investment you can make in getting good landscape pictures. When you arrive in a place you’ve never visited before, spend time scouting—driving or hiking to different locations, finding different vantage points.”~Robert Caputo from his article Landscape Photography Tips
The height advantage doesn’t only apply in basketball, it is also much sought after in photography. We call it the vantage point. It is the perspective of altitude giving you a sweeping, broad field of vision. Street level shots are, well, ordinary because that’s the person’s normal perspective. That is why you see photographers hold their cameras above their head to get an alternative shot. The difference may just be a matter of inches but that will drastically change the point of view, and the framing of the subject. We have taken shots of sunrises and sunsets as part of a landscape, and usually without vantage point since the sun is over the horizon almost at street level. Unless you’re watching the sunset from atop of a building or mountain then that’s quite a another view. Now imagine a sunrise over the clouds at 30,000 feet. No don’t imagine it, its in the photo I took from an airplane’s window on an early morning flight to the province. The scene is almost surreal and magical with the textured, cotton-like bed of clouds in the foreground and the sun peering through in the background complete with the morning atmospheric haze. We don’t often take pictures like this which makes it special. Vantage point from mere inches to thousands of feet will change the view of an image. Let’s put it this way – be a soaring eagle and look out into the world around you. Because the outlook is different from a regular person’s eye-level view, an image taken from an elevated position will come out fresh, unique and interesting. So whenever possible, take advantage of height or altitude. In other words, just get high for that shot. Now going low or under is another viewpoint. And that’s for another post.
Understanding grows as you allow the landscape to come into you. Passivity, not acquisition, is the key to this. A good photograph is a received photograph, an exchange between you and the landscape, in which – however unlikely this may seem – there is a dialogue between the two of you. It is simply courtesy to allow the landscape to speak.~Charlie Waite
Article Excerpt: “Like planning an expedition or using a camera, patience can be learned. In the past decade there has been something of a revolution around what it means to acquire skill. Neuroscientists figured out that when we repeat an action, the neurons involved become wrapped with myelin, a neural insulator. The result is that those neurons become neural superhighways. Signals on well wrapped neurons travel up to 400 times faster and stronger than unwrapped neurons. Who doesn’t want to be 400 times better? And it’s not just physical activity that gets better with practice. Thinking skills are also myelin based. Skill and habit are made of myelin. This is handy because it means that practicing patience yields a habit of patience.”~Bors Vesterby from his article Dynamic Patience: The Essential Photographic Skill
That’s right. We pick up colors in various varieties and shades. What may be red to me can be amaranth, scarlet, crimson, ruby, flame, burgundy, cardinal, rose, terra cota and rust to another. And those are just a sampling of red varieties. That’s just one color. There are many other shades in other colors. How we see and receive color is unique to each individual. And how we interpret such color is different from person to person. Generally, the color red is active and dynamic, but others may perceive it as romantic, sensual and even playful. Others will see it as the personification of evil, blood, lust, greed, domination, among others. What am I getting at? In color photography, color defines an image. How we perceive colors in an image is how we understand the message of that image, or what it is trying to convey. Red as rust or age may describe a subject that has gone through the passage of time, such as the picture of the old house above. In his article Color Perception And How It Might Apply To Photography, Spencer Seastrom presents two unique ways of how we see the world. First is that the world is unique from the perception of others and, second, we can’t explain our own perception to others. He relates this to color and as I’ve made examples earlier on, we see colors differently. This is compounded by the fact that colors evoke emotions, and when emotions are involved we feel it in extreme sensations. Saying “I love you” is best with red roses, passionate and heartfelt, but it can also be with white roses, pure and meaningful. In other words, color photography is not mainly how the photographer sees it. It is as much as how others will see it, feel it and be moved by it. Parallel to satisfying the photographer with his capture is ensuring the contentment of the viewer.
Great images often:
– are eye catching.
– are strongly composed.
– have relatively few picture elements.
– have no elements surplus to requirements.
– use lighting and or surface reflections to achieve the best possible tonality.
– contain a limited colour palette which either contrasts or complements each other
– have a message, even if that message is only, “gee, isn’t this beautiful (ugly, old, scary etc.)”
– leave you wondering, while at the same time satisfying you that the image is complete – tricky, huh?
– inform by showing the unusual, the unnoticed or interesting juxtapositions.
– tell a story or trigger memories
– give you reasons to come back to the image again and again
– have some extra magical thing about them