Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Get in Close

The other day, I asked if anyone would be interested in any photography “How To” related posts. I didn’t get a lot of suggestions for topics. However, Laurel did ask if there was anything that I could suggest for those without any fancy camera’s and lenses. I am going to attempt to answer that challenge. I think there are a few simple things that can improve all photographs. I might post a few other ideas over the next few weeks.

Today, I am going to focus on just one simple improvement most anyone can make in their photography—Get in close. Actually, closer than that. Now just a liiitttttttle closer. Okay, that’s about right! Getting in close simplifies your photo allowing your subject to shine. Simplifying your photos will give a photo more impact and draw more attention to your subject. The easiest way to simplify is to get in as close as you can. Getting in close eliminates clutter in the background that may detract from your subject. Maybe this seems obvious to you, but I think it is the number one characteristic that separates a typical snapshot from a great photo. Most photography books call this “filling the frame.”

To simplify effectively, you must first decide on the focus of the photo you are taking. Once you decide what/who your photo is about, FILL the viewfinder with what you are trying to capture. Sometimes that may be a just a face or one person. Other times it may be a beautiful landscape or a whole group of people.

Here are a few examples:
If I wanted to capture a picture of the beautiful flowers my husband brought for me the other day, which would be more interesting. . .

(this is okay but does it really allow the flowers to shine? Have you seen this picture before? Does it stand out from the last bouquet you saw photographed?)
or these:

If I wanted to capture the beautiful red leaves on the bush outside my door, would you rather see this:

or these:

A couple of things to remember. First, most rules in photography have been beautifully broken. I am sure this one has, too. Second, if your subject is a person, you have to be a little more specific about what you are trying to capture of that person--their beautiful expression, their interaction with a sibling, how much they have grown, or this person in the beautiful surroundings they are in. Each one of those scenerios would require a photographer to frame the photo differently.

Try this out for yourself. Take a few pictures this weekend for fun and see if it makes a difference in the photos you take. It is a pretty simple trick that can make a big difference. I'd love to see your results.


Tara said...

I find myself always leaving the comment "WOW" on your blog. You are TALENTED!!!
Jason and I want a new camera. Any suggestions? We're not pros and don't need anything too fancy. I just want one that snaps the shot when I push the button (not 5 seconds later and the kids have moved on by then). We also don't want to spend more than about 300 bucks. Help?

Mom and Camera said...

Tara--I agree with you about the "shutter lag" issue of point and shoots. It is the biggest draw back of a point and shoot IMO. It is the reason I own one but never use it--and I mean NEVER. My kids can't use it successfully either (the main reason we bought it) because they push the button and think the picture is taken. I don't have that problem with my DSLR. However, I think there are point and shoot cameras that are getting better with this issue. My friend just bought a Canon and said hers does a good job of reacting fast. She is a photographer, too, and would notice any shutter lag. I'll find out which one she has.

Laurel C. said...

This is perfect! I love simple advice like this that I can use. Odds are that we'll never own a DSLR camera, so these kinds of tips are great! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I am one of your followers who check your blog almost daily! I love your work!! I love that you are sharing your talent. My camera is a simple Canon point and shoot, so I have to do alot of the work to get my pics to turn out the way I envisioned! So thank you for all of your advice. I have 1 question which is technically not a photography question, but... How do you get your pics to appear so BIG on your blog? When I take a good shot I am proud of I want it to say "look at me"!! But they always show up small when I put them on a post??? Thanks for your help Stacey

Mom and Camera said...

To get my photos bigger I had to find a web crop size that fit my blog. I crop my photos to 825 px x 590 px. 825 px is about the widest my blog layout allows. You can find that by going into the layout section of your blog, and then opening "edit html". In all that coding (that I don't understand at ALL) I found some pixel numbers. One was for the full width of my blog (blog wrapper--or something like that). That told me the widest anything on my blog could be. Now, obviously there are margins. I played around a little to find a width that worked. I use that number for my widest side and then played around to get the other number for the crop ratio I like (5x7). It was a lot of experimentation (I am sure that is obvious). Then I upload my photos to Photobucket. You can create an account for free. Each photo you upload is given a "direct link". Instead of attaching it like normal in blogger, I type all the text I want in "compose" and then go over to "Edit HTML". I insert my photos in the text where I want my moving the cursor to that place and typing img src=" " / with a < before the img and a > after the / (sorry I can't just type it right--when I did blogger wouldn't let me post it because it thinks it is an "tag" that isn't allowed). I copy and paste the direct link that Photobucket gives my between the quotation marks. I know this is long, but I hope it helps and isn't too technical. I really don't know that much about blogger. I did know that when I started a blog, I wanted to post my pictures big and researched a little to do it. This is what I came up with.

Anonymous said...

Your truly amazing!!! I feel horrible I put you to so much work!! Thank you very much, for your help. Now we'll have to see if I'm smart enough to follow the directions!! Thank you, thank you again, and I look forward to more inspiring pictures and posts!!

Carson Heslop said...

Hi I am a friend of Brookes. I would like to ask you questions so I would like your email if that is ok. I need desperate help on my blog! But I enjoi your macro a lot.

Carson Heslop said...

By the way My email is