Beauty comes from Simplicity…

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We, Photographers are striving for Simplification. We always need to further simplify what is in front of the camera in order to achieve clarity. There are, three main aspects of simplification :

1 – Remove unwanted clutter from the frame : This is a fairly straightforward process : running your eye around the edge of the frame, for instance, to make sure that nothing unwanted breaks the frame and leads the viewer’s eye away from the subject. Do not draw a road for the viewer to escape your message.  Contrariwise, design your image to convey viewer’s eye as in a funnel.

2 – Simplify to make the space more clearly understood, simply to avoid the situation of not being able to see the wood for the trees. Never try to capture two messages in one frame. Select the one you want to express and eliminate all the elements that do not participate in this expression.

3 – Simplify to help concentrate the viewer’s attention on the subject. Hans Hofmann, the painter wrote : » The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak ». Frequently, I see  the potential strength of an image diluted because the photographer lacked the courage to get in closer to his or her subject. Do not hesitate to what seems to impoverish your subject matter. This will result in a stronger image . Strip away all extraneous detail, remove any unnecessary embellishments or adornments. Go to the core subject and erase everything else.

Eliminating unwanted elements can be done by moving the camera from its initial position, framing the subject differently, zooming in, and acting on depth of Field or a mix of all of these. After making your image, always consider another point of view. Never think you have the ultimate capture. Reconsidering the way you’ve composed your image is an excellent exercise and a powerful mean to improve one’s Creativity.

« Confidence like Art, never comes from having all the answers, it comes from being open to all the questions« 

Diogenes Laertius.

Simplicity….

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For many photographers, no aspect of photography is more difficult than composition. Perhaps, for that reason,  people have tried to create rules for composing photographs. But the landscape Masters of the past were unanimous in their disdain for such formulas.

« To consult the rules of Composition before making a Photograph is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk » said Weston. While rules ( maybe guidelines would be a better word… ) can be helpful in some situations, design is too complex for any rule to apply in all situations. The only one I know that always apply is Simplicity.

Frisking the Viewfinder…

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As a Photographer, You must examine your image carefully through the viewfinder in order to preview what the camera will record. You must be sensitive to any elements that will not be recorded as the eye perceives them. Then you can consider wether or not they need to be corrected and, if they do, how to go about doing it !

It’s impossible to overemphasize the importance of careful previewing, even with digital cameras, if you are concerned about good design in your Photographs. Keep in mind you see subjectively but the lens is objective. it doesn’t  pick and choose what is important, but shows everything in its field of view. Getting things right before you press the shutter release usually makes far more sense than trying to correct them later. I really insist on the fact you should read your viewfinder as a page and evaluating, weighing each element in the frame.

Sometimes, by moving one or two steps aside, you’ll change the global balance of your image. This is what we call « Composition ». Identifying what to keep and what to reject, where to place the components. As I observed this butte far away,  I experienced a great surge of emotional response that stimulates me creatively.

Colour and Composition…

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A Photographer controls color by both selection and technique. For example, you can add, change or eliminate colors by altering your camera position, by varying the time of the day, by extending or reducing the duration of exposure, and by using filters or computer or darkroom manipulation. You can diffuse, mix, or soften colors by throwing them out of focus and/or by using a shallow depth of field. You can also control color by where you locate it in the picture and how you vary the size of the hue areas.

First, ask yourself, « Why am I making this Picture ? », when you have identified the reason, let’s say, the strength of Spring in Nature,  you will be able to make sensible judgments about colour. So, you try to choose Subject Matter that expresses the theme by its colour ! Now, you must ask yourself questions about the placement and size of these colours. « Where do I place this blooming tree within the picture space ? » –  » How large or small should it be in relation to the others components in the frame ? ». The answers will not be based solely on colour relationships. The shape of this precise tree  and the tones of its leaves must also be considered. The colour pattern will express your theme that Spring’s strength is unstoppable.

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Beware of the « Grand Vista Syndrome »…

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When we encounter a wild scene with obvious visual appeal, the first decision to make is what stays and what goes ! Compositional choices might be limited by features such as fence lines or utility poles, but in the absence of these, main question is :  » What is relevant to  the story and what is not ? » I find that in these situations, it helps to start off by thinking small. Begin by identifying one of those elements that caught your attention in the first place. In this Photograph, I was caught by this line of red trees against the deep green of the meadows.

Then, Can those elements be linked to other elements that are relevant to the picture’s theme ? One at a time, these components are incorporated into the composition, until the inclusion of anything else threatens to reduce the impact of the core topics. Though these compositions may not be on the Grand Scale of the « Yosemite Vista » you certainly have in mind,  they can be just as valuable as records of Wildness.

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50 Shades of… Green…

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When I composed this Image, I set it up as a Challenge : Do More with Less ! I had this only declination of Greens and Blues and a lonesome tree in the far… The game was this one : You’ll not leave until you’ll get the Image ! I spent some time working on « The Connection », I mean, watching Light color, waiting for it to fit the mood of that precise idea I had in my head,  placing lines and forms without immediately trying to capture the scenery. I moved a lot, trying to find the right spot… I tried to valorize the tracks in the field in the foreground, while waiting for a sunbeam to give sharpness to the abutment in the middle of the frame. My goal was, not to get a record of this landscape, not a capture, not even an art-form but a visual exaltation of the things I saw. And that was a real challenge because of the meekness of the area… I had to play with all the levers I had to distillate a significant Image.

As always, you can click on the image to enlarge it…

Get It Down To Just The Basics…

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All is about balance ! The image manipulation often happens by subtraction, just getting rid of as much information as possible : focus on the core meaning of the Subject Matter. Manipulation is not so much to trick you into thinking this is something that it’s not, but manipulation to get at the very basic structure of the scene. It goes to the very simple heart of it !

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