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Friday, August 22, 2008

Better Photo Tips - Great Photo Recipe

How many of you know someone (possibly yourself) who collects cookbooks? Now then, how many of you know someone who uses a cookbook, but never follows the recipe the same way twice? Cookbooks offer a wealth of information and possibilities. The individual recipe is not set in stone; it is a guideline to help get your creative juices going. Some recipes have a lot more flexibility than others. Sweet and sour pork for example; could just as easily become sweet and sour chicken, or sweet and sour beef. It's all just a matter of knowing what ingredients to put in, leave out, or substitute. Great photography is likewise a matter of knowing what to put in, leave out, or substitute.

Just for a visual example; let's say your main ingredients are: little girl, tricycle, sidewalk. If you include all these ingredients and you shoot your photo in one direction, you also see the street, the car, and the neighbors' house. So you decide to shoot from the opposite direction and you have a nice grassy yard with a sprinkler in the background. The background is much simpler, and it is a whole lot easier to move your sprinkler than the neighbor's house.Now it's a judgment call; and every great photo is, but from this angle the sidewalk doesn't really add anything to the image. The leading lines in this case, lead your eyes out of the image. So now you have two choices: A) leave out the distraction or B) substitute a different angle. You can leave it out simply by cropping tighter. You can substitute a different angle by getting in front of the little girl to have the leading lines work for you. If you choose "B" you may also want to play with selective focus to avoid some of the distractions you had in the first place.

Obviously some ingredients are unique to cooking; but when it comes to making a great photo, most have several ingredients in common.

A) Balance - - - This includes formal and informal balance, but also embraces concepts like the rule of thirds and leading lines. Basically put, where you place the subject, is at least as important as the subject itself.

B) Emotion - - - A photograph that does not evoke an emotion from the viewer has robbed the viewer. Your job is to tell a story, to keep the viewer interested. The easiest way to accomplish that is making photos with emotional impact.

C) Exposure - - - Exposure not only covers light and shadows, but the details within both. Reflective light, diffused light, and bounced light are only part of the options you want to consider here. Your choice of how you expose an image also affects other key elements like depth of field.

D) Dominance - - - In music there is a dominant beat or rhythm. In drama there is a dominant character. In photography if you do not have a dominant subject you only confuse the viewer. By far the easiest way to make anything dominant is to take out every thing else. Always look for ways to simplify your subject.

These ingredients combined with other artistic spices like framing, repetition, negative space, and texture, allow you to create a mouth watering feast of images for your viewer to eat right up. It's not quite as simple as adding a cup of this or a teaspoon of that; like most great cooks, you may have to experiment a little. Now that you know what you have to work with, you too can decide what to put in, what to leave out, or what to substitute.

Award winning writer / photographer Tedric Garrison has 30 years experience in photography. As a Graphic Art Major, he has a unique perspective on the Elements of Design and how they relate to photography. His photo eBook; Finding Your Creative Edge in Photography, proves creativity CAN be taught. Tedric shares his wealth of knowledge with the world, at: Better Photo

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