Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Stunning Photographs Do Not Depend Upon The Subject –They Depend Upon The Light

Must not feed the trollsEARLIER THIS MONTH I found myself sympathising with Scott Bourne as he explained to his Blog’s readers why he had taken the decision to remove EXIF data from the photographs he published. Like Scott, I too have received my share of comments from those expecting to reproduce my photographs by simply visiting the location and dialling-in the settings used for my own exposure in their cameras!

One thing that you quickly learn from setting-up your own Blog is that it will inevitably attract comments from trolls whom have such a low opinion of themselves that they redirect their anger and stupidity upon anyone challenging their preconceived ideas or self-image.

One of the best comments I received regarding my photographs was from an anonymous reader who, responding to an article I had written on the British Chronicle about testing a new body and lens on the Isle Of Wight, asked: ‘How on earth can you call yourself a professional photographer when your image’s EXIF data clearly shows it was taken on Auto!’

I will not begin to list the numerous abusive comments (mainly published) that I received from exposing local politics on the Canvey Beat

I find there are two types of images: those that simply record a subject, and those that go to extraordinary lengths to photograph the light. I will also go as far as to say that, in a stunning image, the subject matter is secondary.

If the lighting is right you just need to incorporate an extra ‘something’ to provide interest.

This image lacks that all important ‘something…’

Moonlight on water

Technically, the image is good and it accurately captures the blinding moonlight reflecting off the top of the clouds and the surface of the water; but, apart from the horizon, there is nothing in the middle distance to add interest to the scene.

The frame is empty; but it is shots like this that can form the basis of stunning compositions with a little help from Photoshop’s ability to introduce simple subjects – from other sources – that lack the appropriate setting to make them fully ‘work.’

This is a shot from the same location that I took the morning after…

Shanklin sunrise

Notice how the composition has been significantly improved by applying a little patience. The trawler, on the horizon and still showing its lights, was slowly moving into the scene – and it was pretty inevitable that I would be able to capture a passing seagull if I waited.

I particularly like photographing the seaside because of the way the light interacts with the water – producing different hues in different seasons and at different times of the day. And, when those blue, cloudless skies appear, killing any opportunity of producing a decent seascape, I turn my attention to the immediate surroundings and how the light plays upon the surface of the water and the rocks at the edge of the tide.

Concentrating on the light is all important to establishing the correct angle from which to take the shot. Don’t just walk along the seawall looking at various subjects as you approach them. Make the effort to turn around and see the light from the opposite angle.

Light and composition is what makes every good photograph stand out – no matter what the subject matter…

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