|Worth a Thousand Words, Issue #005 — Interview with Tony Sweet
September 15, 2010
|This month’s issue is packed with goodies! It’s got a pointer to my podcast interview with fine art nature photographer Tony Sweet, in which he discusses all aspects of photographic creativity with me. It offers you a cool link to some amazing images created with X-rays (have you ever seen an X-ray of an airplane?). It includes a feature article about what to include in your photograph (and what NOT to include). And it has your creativity exercise and photo tip of the month. What more could you ask for? Enjoy!
Less Is More
One of the biggest mistakes I see novice photographers make is trying to fit too much into one photograph. Sometimes, I think we come across a scene that inspires us, and in our desire to share it, we cram everything into our picture so that our viewer can experience what we did. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, and all we end up with is a busy picture that overwhelms our viewer.
Really, when we see a scene, we may take in the overall vista, but our brains are subconsciously filtering out the clutter for us in the heat of the moment. After that, we actually process details one at a time; our attention flits from one thing to the next. When we are present at the scene, we don’t realize how quickly our attention is shifting, and it feels like we’re seeing it “all at once.”
When we boil the scene down to a 4×6 photograph, any clutter and distractions become immediately apparent. By trying to include everything into a single image, the feeling we had when viewing the real scene gets lost in translation.
Photography is about story-telling. Instead of trying to fit everything into one composition, look for details. Take a few pictures, where each one expresses a coherent and self-contained mini-story about the place. In each picture, include only those elements that contribute to that story. Remember, anything that you include in your image that doesn’t strengthen it, actually weakens it by diluting attention from your main subject. Your collection of details will add up to much more than a single image that’s a jumbled mess.
Looking for inspiration to get the creative juices flowing? Try taking a different perspective. All too often as photographers, we shoot things from our own eye level. It can by much more interesting to take a photograph from a different point of view. Climb a ladder, stand on a chair, shoot out of a window, lie on your stomach, lie on your back, crouch down, … The trick is to photograph your subject at an angle from which it’s not usually seen. This presents the viewer of your image with a fresh take on your subject, and makes them want to look twice. The best news is that “a different perspective” is this month’s photo challenge topic! Do some experiments, and then enter your best image here:
Something Every Photographer Needs to Know: Tip of the Month
Use Your Histogram
Most digital cameras have an option where you can view the histogram of each image as an overlay on the image itself. Check your manual to find out how to turn this option on. What is a histogram? It’s quite simple, and gives you very useful information, so don’t let it intimidate you. An image histogram is simply a bar graph in which the bars show where all the brightness levels contained in the image are found, from the darkest to the brightest. It can tell you if parts of your image have “blown out” (i.e., gone completely white) or “blocked up” (i.e., gone completely black). In both of those cases, you will have lost detail. When your histogram gives you this feedback, you can correct your exposure by changing aperture or shutter speed.
Too Cool Not to Share!
It’s not always about the camera! Last month I gave you a pointer to images being created using scanners. This month, it’s X-rays. Nick Veasey’s work is incredible. He takes X-rays of all kinds of objects – flowers, bugs, bicycles, teddy bears, and even airplanes! The work is fascinating! Be inspired.
What’s New this Month at Ultimate Photo Tips
Listen to a podcast interview with renowned fine art nature photographer Tony Sweet, as he talks to us about his ideas on creativity in photography. Tony tells us not to listen to anyone else! We each need to forge our own path. Get out there and try new things! Tony gives us his definition of creativity, and how it differs from imagination. He emphasizes the importance of keeping an open mind, and not labeling objects when we want to be creative. He encourages us to see the design elements of the object instead, and focus on its lines, shapes and colors.
All of us struggle to improve our creativity. Our special guest writer Barbara Bender, a professional freelance photographer and writer, brings us some welcome encouragement to help us fight our fears, and take some creative risks. Enjoy her article, titled “Do It Anyway!”