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    Taking a Different Perspective
    Improving Your Composition

    Today, most conversations about photography involve the words ’capture’ or’compose’ which suggest ’holding in’ or ’bringing together’ within the frame of a camera. This is an important part of photographic thinking but the initial response, or what we initially ’bring together’ sometimes lends itself to refinement.

    These images briefly look at how simple inclusion and, almost more importantly, exclusion, can make more of a visual statement about the subject. Take time to ’see’ and ’connect’ to what you are presented with.

    1. Sand Patterns

    Different Perspectives Sand Patterns

    It’s all about where you put your camera and being aware that its not the wide or narrow angle of the lens, its not how much you zoom in, but what lies within the frame of your image.

    Try not to look ’through’ the viewfinder but look at the edges which is just as important as this will be your finished frame. In the sand patterns above, I was drawn to the patterns in the sand and made that the main aspect at the foreground of the frame and made the image (left hand image).

    When I stood back and considered the light I realised that the ice patterns could quite easily share the space with the sand patterns which were beautifully sculptured by the low sun (right hand image). The adjustment was literally only a few feet.

    2. Rocks

    Different Perspectives Rocks

    When we work in the landscape it is all to easy when surrounded by its beauty, to try to photograph it all at once. This can be a mistake. I was drawn to the stunning sun-lit distant mountains and the fascinating rock formations in the wet sand as the tide receded. My first image was a result of this visualisation (left hand image).

    With a little more time and consideration I decided that the horizon and the distant mountains, although wonderful bathed in evening sunlight, did not add any gravitas to the rocks. They were both sharing an environment but overall they became different subjects to me.

    I decided to move closer with my camera and remove the horizon and mountains but leave a little of the seawater in the top of the frame. The composition had now changed from an open landscape image to one that dwelled on the wet shining rocks, the colours reflected in the sand. Lastly I used a neutral density filter the slow down the exposure and soften the waves so the top in the image simply became lighter suggesting open water without the distraction of detail drawing the eye away (right hand image).

    In short, less can be more and organising the chaos and complexity by photographing less often pays big dividends.

    3. Seaweed

    Different Perspectives Seaweed

    As already mentioned, the human eye is different to a camera in the way in which it responds to different light levels.

    When something catches our eye we all too often assume during that moment of enlightenment that that is the picture and make an image of what we saw. This is a good time to slow down and go beyond looking and ’see’ what else is there. What else can the subject tell us?

    In this image my first visualisation was of the long tail of the kelp finishing at the foot of the frame on a portrait format (left hand image).

    After that moment had passed I noticed that I had not taken used the shadows and the gentle slope of the sand. The solution was simple. I turned the cameras position from portrait to landscape format and lowered my position closer to the ground. This, although including all of the original subject matter, made subtle differences that count. The image shows more of the smooth sand and the seaweed in its environment and the full and the long shadows accentuate the light on the day (right hand image).

    Explore and ’see’!

    4. Siloch

    Different Perspectives Siloch

    As already mentioned, the human eye is different to a camera in the way in which it responds to different light levels.

    There is no doubt that when I arrived on the banks of Loch Marree looking at Slioch in a soft sunlight I simply had to get into the water! By doing this the image would be one of two halves. Water and mountain with the colour of blue prevailing. That was all I wanted but I was posed with one problem. The was a cloud on the sky ,that was reflected in the lower left of the frame and this only served as a further distraction (left hand image). If I waited for the clouds to pass I may have lost the perfect light.

    The composition was perfect for what I wanted and so I had to think. My solution; create ripples! I simply made a series of images after stomping up and down in my wellington boots. I wanted ripples, but not too many and not too severe so that the foreground of the image was distracting. It needed to be serene. It worked and I got what I had visualised (right hand image)

    The points noted here are as follows; I did not look through the frame and become transfixed but the moment only to be disappointed later by the cloud reflection. Secondly sometimes the simplest of ideas can work so try them out. Itís cheaper than going back!

    © Paul Gallagher

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