Wednesday, July 2, 2014

5 Lessons From 2 Photographs

Clouds Over Cummings Mountain - Stallion Springs, California
Clouds And Cummings Mountain - Stallion Springs, California
You may have been following my "5 Lessons" series. I didn't intend to make this a series, it has just worked out that way. This post is a little different than the others in the series because there are two photographs instead of one.

Each photograph that is captured offers lessons to be learned. Below are five lessons from the two images above.

Lesson #1 - Photograph Wherever You Are

I captured these two photographs a few days ago. The top image was taken while standing in my back yard. The bottom image was not far from my home in my neighborhood (right across the street from where I captured some other photographs).

Wherever it is that you find yourself, there are photographic opportunities. If it is at your home, in your neighborhood, in your town--there are always opportunities if you look for them. So be sure to actively look for opportunities to create photographs where you are right now.

Lesson #2 - Less Is More

In a way, photography is like sculpting. A sculpture removes everything that is not needed until the artwork is complete. With photography, the photographer must remove everything out of the composition that is not needed until the strongest possible image remains.

What you cannot see in the photographs above are houses, telephone poles and wires, and nearby tree tops. Those things are there, but I adjusted the composition until all of those things were not visible in the frames. If I had included those things in the frames, the photographs would not have been nearly as strong. Less is more.

Lesson #3 - Monochrome If Color Isn't Essential

If color is not essential to a photograph, then it should be converted to black-and-white. Monochrome images tend to be more dramatic and have more of a fine-art quality than color photographs.

Both of the images at the top of this post look better as black-and-white. The sky, especially, benefited from the monochrome conversion. Color was unimportant to the outcome of the photographs, so I used shades of grey instead.

Lesson #4 - Clouds Make Landscapes Better

Landscape photographs are often improved by a partly cloudy sky. The two photographs at the top would be quite boring if not for the clouds.

"For me, the most memorable landscape photos almost always have a sky that is full of interest, and most often, that interest comes from clouds," photographer Darwin Wiggett said. "Give me a weather forecast of mixed sun and cloud, and I am in photographic heaven."

Lesson #5 - Things Change Quickly

When something strikes you as a photographic opportunity, don't delay! Things change quickly. Notice that the clouds look much different between the two photographs, yet they were captured not all that many minutes apart.

It's not just the weather that changes--everything changes eventually. Almost nothing looks the same today as it did 50 or especially 100 years ago. Many things change much quicker than that. If you don't take action to capture it, the opportunity may pass you by forever. 

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