This is the sixth in a series of articles discussing some of the photography techniques I’ve learned and employ when I’m out on a shoot.
I’m not good enough to look at a scene, decide what the best possible picture of it is, take the shot, go home, upload the photo somewhere and wait for the “Best Photo Ever Taken” award to turn up at my house. Instead I have to rely on the tried and tested technique of taking lots of pictures from lots of different angles, go home, look at them on the computer and see which, if any, I like.
Quite often I’ll see a picture that I’ve just taken on the camera and think “this is a great shot, I can’t wait to get home and look at it”. But when I do it turns out to be a nothing photo that I delete straight away. Sometimes I’ll take one, barely glance at it, get home and think “hey, that’s pretty good!”. So I’ve learned that there’s no point paying too much attention to the photos as you take them (other than to check the exposure – which I’ll talk about in the next article). You (well, I at least) can’t tell which ones will work and which ones won’t so take as many as you can and sort it all out when you get back. This is one of the wonders of digital photography, it doesn’t cost anything to take 20 shots of the same thing from different angles – so there are no excuses!
Here is an example of some of the different shots I took of the same scene along with what I was trying to do:
|I wanted the railings to act as the main leading line to the bridge – which is the focal point of the shot. The river acts as a secondary leading line. I attempted to line up the top horizontal railing with the bottom-right corner of the photo but couldn’t quite manage it without pushing the bridge too low in the shot.|
|For this one I used a slightly lower angle which has the effect of taking the river out of the equation (since it’s broken up by the railings it no longer acts as a leading line). I was trying to line up the middle horizontal railing with the bottom-right corner of the photo but I don’t think it came out as good as the first photo.|
|See the pattern? Now I’m lining up the top horizontal railing with the top-right corner of the photo. Again the railings act as a leading line, the river doesn’t, but I don’t think the shot works as the bridge is broken up completely by them. Looked good through the viewfinder but didn’t on the computer when I got home.|
|This is just the railings on their own. I was going for a vanishing point effect and again it looked better through the viewfinder than the end result. Although I rather like it, the shadows also lead you to the vanishing point. But the point is you don’t know until you get home and have a proper look.|
I took many more shots with wider angles, portraits and such like that day. Some of them worked, some of them didn’t. The key is to not be afraid to try different things and keep at it. I’ve often found myself wanting to pack up and go home because it’s too cold, too hot or I’m tired and / or hungry, but it’s often worth persisting a bit longer and experimenting as you might get the odd gem or two.
Next: Getting Your Exposure Right.