Monday, June 14, 2010

Adding graphic power to your photographs

I enjoy using visual communications in my photography. I like to think It’s not what you photograph, but how you photograph the subject.  Some photographs have that talented eye to notice and add that little bit of extra graphic ingredients to a photograph that makes your eye look longer. This type of visual smack is what makes some photography stand out from the ordinary.

Crop for impact: If you want add graphic power, you must crop in on those story-telling elements. Study everything in your viewfinder, the entire frame, not just the center.  You can get rid all the distracting elements in the sides, corners or background by changing camera angle, shooting distance, or zoom settings.  I try add a better graphic impact by moving in and singling out specific features using a zoom lens or a macro lens to photograph small details.

When taking long or medium shots, I’m always on the lookout for pictures within the picture. Seeing interesting details inside the overall frame, I sometimes make separate pictures of them.  By closing in on the light striking a maidenhair fern, I was able to bring out the graphic patterns on the fronds.

Look for reflections:  Reflections can help you create striking compositions. They can be found them anywhere:  car door  windows, even, in water puddles after a rainstorm and in the calm surface of a lake as such as the boater’s reflection in the marina as he washes off his sailboat.

Silhouettes: Look for eye-catching graphic shapes that can be silhouetted against a bright background, such as a sunrise or sunset. For a good silhouette effect, shoot against the light and expose for the bright area, so that the foreground goes dark such as I did of the Salmon fishermen at dusk and able to capture the light reflecting off the fishing lines.

Use of lines: Use lines to make your compositions more graphic to express the mood you want as they curve and lead your eye right into the subject.  But using a micro lens to capture the dewdrops as they transform the graceful curves of a spider web into a deadly looking diamond necklace.

Subject placement: Where you position your subject or center of interest within the camera’s viewfinder can also add to graphic impact. According to years of advice that you should never center the subject in the middle of the picture, that’s just plain crazy. It does sometimes create a static composition, but also can produce a powerful bull’s eye effect that pulls the viewer’s eye right into the center ring such as this portrait of an Azorean girl before she went to her first Communication.

Using shapes, patterns and colors: Colors also produce a life of their own.  I like to use contrasting bold colors to work with one another, as the contrast of the white daisy against the color of the purple lavender.

The repeated line and patterns of repeated lines, shapes, tones and colors within a scene adds that extra bit of graphic power to your photographs.  Sometimes those visual lines may be orderly as the outlines of hills at Hurricane Ridge that create a step ladder leading up to Mount Olympus.