TALKING IMAGES 30 – TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS: SOME BASIC ADVICE

 

A month or so ago, I published this post, in which two very experienced photographers gave their ideas on when it is right to take photos.  One of them suggests waiting for promising photographic situations to appear and then photographs them intensely, which I can certainly understand, and especially so where professional photography is involved.  And the other photographer said that he’s now thinking more about the lighting conditions than the subject – something which I agree with 101%.

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And now, reading photographic magazines as I do, I’ve come upon two more quotes that I think vastly useful – and here they are.  One of the photographers making these quotes talks of simplicity of message – less is more; Minimalism – and so I’ve added some images with this in mind.  Clicking onto the images opens them in separate windows and enlarges them; clicking onto the title below each image takes you to the actual posts.

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Grass and floodwater
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So, the two quotes.

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First, in Amateur Photographer, a magazine that I subscribe to, there is an article on the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year.  And therein, Hein van Tonder, from South Africa, talks about photographing the pouring of caramel – well, what else?!  And in the course of his spiel, he comes out with this:

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Remember, when it comes to all photography, not just food photography, it’s light first and composition second.  It’s only through constantly working at your photography that you get to learn how to read light and how to manipulate it.  And once you have that covered, then go ahead and break the rules.

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The real cruncher for me here is light first and composition second – never were truer words said, at least as far as I see things.  For me, now, its very often a case of looking for light, and then thinking what to do with it.  And secondly, I’m really wary of all “rules”, I’m not sure they are that useful, I’m far more into taking notice of my own gut feelings and just seeing what emerges.
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Mooring
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The second photographer was writing in another British photo mag, Outdoor Photography, that I occasionally read.  This photographer is Tammy Marlar, and she photographs plants and flowers – boy, does she photograph plants and flowers!  Anyway, she lists 10 Steps to Photographic Success.  These points are really aimed at those photographing plants but, again, for me, the first three really stand out, really being applicable right across photography’s genres.  And here they are:

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  1. Less is more – simplicity of message.

  2. Look for the best light.

  3. Background is as important as the subject.

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Less is more has long been a basic creed of mine.  Because simple is beautiful – and its in the famous KISS command, which urges all of us photographers to “Keep it simple, Stupid!”.  The more there is to look at in a photo, the more confused the eyes become.  And picturesque subjects often have loads and loads of detail >>> look to creating images that only contain things relating to the image’s subject, don’t try to cram everything in!

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And then number 2, once again, look for the light.

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And, as always, the background.  Its especially important for Tammy of course as she’s photographing flowers, but it applies right through photography: an overly intrusive background can totally ruin any photo.  Thus, when taking photos, its standard practice to consider what effect the background is going to have on your subject – and before you press the shutter release, its always worthwhile running your eye around your image’s edges, to see if anything unwanted is lurking there – e.g. the classic thing, a telegraph pole sprouting out of your subject’s head!
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Orange, blue and white
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Man in a hotel room
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Flies
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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

10 Responses to TALKING IMAGES 30 – TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS: SOME BASIC ADVICE

  1. a brilliant article, my friend. I totally agree with your ideas and i’ve been trying to apply them to my photography. it’s certainly bettering my work.
    love the photos btw 🙂

    Like

  2. bluebrightly says:

    Well done – it’s like you applied the concepts to the whole post – writing and all. It’s very cleanly presented. All the images are terrific. I agree, of course, with less is more, but outdoors in nature, it’s often a struggle to find that simplicity. There’s a part of me that enjoys a really complex scene too, so – well, another rule to listen to but stray from once in a while. I like the idea of looking for light first – I tend to look at composition first. It would be a good practice for me to switch it up. I’ll try.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Yes, this looking for light thing has really grabbed me – as I say in the post (which was actually rather a revelation), looking for light and then thinking what to do with it. I’m glad you like the post. The clean presentation may reflect the final 20 years of my working life, when I was calculating statistics and then presenting them for management – the presentation was very important, it had to be professional. Thank you again.

      Like

  3. paula graham says:

    ha, ha…the time is always right, the light is always right, the framing is always right…there is no ‘wrong way’ in my opinion…Your shots are ALWAYS interesting.

    Like

  4. Rupali says:

    Thank you Adrian for this wornderful post and introducing Tammy Marlar. I visited her site and have no words to show my ‘awe’ expression.
    I have read about the light component at various sites but I am not sure how I am going to follow the rules as we do not always have sunny days.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Well, none of us always have sunny days but we have to make do with what we have – sad to say! There can still be light, reflections, etc on overcast days, especially those with a lighter sky – and of course there are dawn, sunrise, sunset and dusk. I suppose my message is that its always worth looking – composition becomes most important in the absence of good light, and black and white imagery can often enliven dull days – but if no worthwhile photos appear on a dull day, well, that’s how it is! Glad that Tammy Marlar gets to you! A 🙂

      Like

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