BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE
WHAT DO YOU SEE THROUGH YOUR CAMERA LENS?
THE PHOTODOCTOR (aka Mr. Wizard)
What do you see when you look through your camera lens?
There are two rules of thumb. Some people are scene-seers. Others truncate, able to break scenes into parts.
Scene-seers, who concentrate on vistas, consistently return home with enlargements worthy of any gallery. Those who truncate concentrate on smaller scenes, which when enlarged look better viewed in groups.
The Photodoctor’s prescription for success today is to get both of these groups to blend, into one “Thinking Photographer’s Shot.”
Both types of photographers can only enhances their abilities by researching their subjects before stepping foot on the site. I’m not talking about viewing photo sites—I’m talking about researching travel sites. The advertised scene of any vacation site is plastered over many different mediums.
What makes up a great photograph? Each one is made up of a foreground, middle ground, and background. Associating items from these “grounds” can turn a good photo into a great photo.
Thus, my first tip is to forget about centering your subject. Middle subject placement and associating the foreground and background is my rule of thumb. Start by enhancing your subject by looking at associative foregrounds and backgrounds. Always remember: if the foreground or background doesn’t enhance the subject, the delete it. Deleting items should be as easy as moving yourself to the right or left to eliminate and item or two. If your choice is to eliminate unwanted items, and to place the flowerbed or family signpost in the foreground of your Victorian home, an old tree or a mountain view in the background will enhance your photo. It just takes is a little extra time to concentrate on this layering effect. The easiest way to concentrate on the layering effect is to look at the subject first, and then forget about it while you examine the foreground and background.
Now let’s think about concentrating on those simpler shots within the scene. Look at your Victorian home. What draws your eyes too it? Once you learn to truncate a scene it becomes easy to pick out those interesting items. What about that fancy front door or that fancy doorknob? Or the fancy woodwork around the corners of the porch—or even the carved detail in the woodwork?
I find it easier to do scene work in a horizontal format, but when you truncate it, it is easier to shot them in the vertical format. I also find it easier to shoot horizontal shots at maximum depth, but to shoot truncated shots at limited depth. Why limited depth? It helps you to concentrate on a simplified subject by blurring the background. Scenes shot in the truncated format need a bit of thought. Straight on centered shots are not always correct. Even it you are working close, you can angle from one side to the other to get a different and usually more interesting effect.
Now let’s blend both types of shooting. Instead of enlarging that one scene or that group of truncated photos for above the family room couch, let’s do both. Isn’t this a better idea: instead of that super large and expensive photo, lets do a slightly large shot and place two or three truncated photos on each side. Doesn’t that tell more of the story? This works with a dramatic scene, or an interesting home , but it could also work for a flower bed or a classic car. Take a full-scene shot of the flowerbed or car. Then look and find the interesting parts of it, photographs to arrange around the outside of the flowerbed or car. No matter how you look at it, a flowerbed, a car, an old home, or a wonderful scene will continue to work. Yet, how much more interesting the photograph will look if you have a group of associated photographs, which your friends can view and comment on.
Do you need a camera bag full of lens to accomplish these goals? Let me divert back to what lenses I feel are photographically perfect (as written in the post: WHAT ARE THOSE NUMBERS IN MY CAMERA VIEWFINDER?). Any lens with a straight f2.8 maximum aperture, either a wide angle zoom or telephoto zoom, is wonderful. I’ve had a 28-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8 in my camera case or camera vest from the beginning of my photographic career. But for overall shooting, I’ve always had a slower extreme wide angle to extreme telephoto lens. The “hot lens” in today’s market is Tokina’s 18-250 zoom. For twenty some years I’ve carried 35-200 to 28-200, and I now carry 24-200 lenses, which I’ve used for every aspect of my photographic life. Why so many? Well……I used them as every day lenses or vacation lenses, and they got bumped around a bit. But with this style lens you can take that wide shot, and then pick the interesting aspects out of it. My dear digital friends shoot a lot because it costs nothing to experiment.
I hope this article has helped you think a bit, because the slower the path between the original thought and the photograph you take, the better the photograph is going too be.
This article is about composition. Later I will post an article on more intense composition. For now, if you can’t find your way “up the yellow brick road,” if you have any ideas for articles, or if you have specific photographic questions, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Check the comments on The Photodoctor’s previous article, WHAT ARE THOSE NUMBERS IN MY CAMERA VIEWFINDER?)