|White Hillside, Pomfret, Vermont|
Last week I discussed a few compositional techniques to help draw the eye to the key elements(s) of your photographs. Strong compositions typically provide a comfortable visual path to the subject. It is an essential part of an image's ability to tell a coherent story and story telling is what photography, at it's best, should be about.
Drawing the eye is effective, but avoiding distraction from the main
|Damn Wires, Harrisville, NH|
|Worth the effort|
In the Camera
Avoiding distractions starts in the camera. As I approach the critical moment of shutter release I always try to pause for a quick scan of the composition for competing elements. The problems may be obvious, but often it takes discipline to shift the eye from the magnetic attraction of the subject to the surroundings. I first check the background and foreground for distractions. With portraits, it is usually the tree growing out of someone 's head, but phone wires, signs, or splashes of spectral light are just a few of the common problems. My final step is to scan the edges of the image for intrusions. Often subtle changes in framing can illuminate most problems, but sometimes the best composition unavoidably includes distractions. Thank goodness for the cloning tool. But before you become outraged about post-processing solutions, please indulge
my standard sermon.
|Greening, Spring Hillside, Dummerston, Vt|
|Just a simple post|
The Sermon, When in Doubt, Run to Ansel
There are those who will cheer efforts to frame images in the camera to eliminate distractions, but will protest their removal in post-processing as a dishonest manipulation of the reality of the scene. To me these questions of photographic purity are always a matter of individual artistic expression. My view is that photography is much more than a slavish regurgitation of the data recorded by the sensor. At its best a photographic image has the capacity to preserve not only what the eye sees, but also what the brain perceives and our memory retains. When I behold a beautiful landscape, I see the beauty and not the scars and it is that untarnished beauty that lasts in my memory. At home, when I see the RAW images, I am often surprised by what I didn't "see" while on site. I don't remember those cigarette packages on the ground or those hideous telephone wires and I don't feel any responsibility to preserve them to prove that I am a photographic purist. Angel Adams was once criticized for touching up a negative to remove graffiti that had been painted on rocks in one of his timeless images of Mt Whitney and the Alabama Hills. In response he said, " I have been criticized by some for doing this, but am not enough of a purist to perpetuate the scar and thereby destroy – for me at least – the extraordinary beauty and perfection of the scene" (from The 40 Images). But I digress, as usual.
|But Become Clear Once Removed|
|Often the Distractions are Small ....|
Thank God and Ansel for the Cloning Tool
The first step in post-processing is to identify the issues. Cropping
|Die Annoying Bipeds!|
|Peggy's Cove Light, Nova Scotia|
One quick tip is to do the cloning early in your processing and especially before the image is re-sized. You don't want to be forced to re-clone every time a different size is required. Proper cloning can be a painstaking and time consuming job, but the results are usual well worth the effort. Besides, there is a perverse God-like pleasure in erasing those annoying humans from your beautiful image.
|Distracting White Label|
|Dummerston Vt, Hot House Flower|
I promised this would be quick. Beyond the preaching, my point is really quite simple. Deciding on the path through your image you want your viewers to follow , arranging the elements to draw the eye along that path, and avoiding intrusions that may distract from the journey, are essential steps to a strong composition which tells your story.
Now back to the gimp.