things to remember, plus one
in "the Tecnique Corner" nov/dic 06, Oasis n.167
There are no magical formulas in
photography. There are, however, a number of "milestones", concepts
which constantly refer to, which is not always easy even for a skilled
photographer. So it comes for this column too the fateful moment for the
"Decalogue", that narrative artifice with archaic origins which is
usually used by those presuming to know more than his readers, to convince them
that things are exactly in that way; or at least to be less boring than usual.
Here they are then the ten "commandments" (plus one) which in my
humble opinion should always be kept in mind. The schematic form actually
helps a lot to remember, so that to always have them at fingertips when
photographing. This is not just a tedious beginners homework, however: I myself
review this list before any phototrip, using it as food for thought and trying
to get it into my mind.
lights and conditions are often the most fascinating.
Focus on your own sensations and on what strikes you, and depending on
that decide what you want to express. Only then think about the most appropriate
technique to express it.
Make it simple, make it simple, make it simple. Concentrate to express a
single idea or a specific emotion through simple forms and clean compositions.
Always keep in mind that the final image will be two-dimensional: reason in
terms of masses and graphic forms. Try to forget "what" is what
you see in the viewfinder, and focus only on its shape, color and position.
Require yourself the shots rarefaction as an exercise: take less pictures,
and use all the time you can get for every single shot; this will allow you to
wait for moments that you would otherwise miss. Although in the digital world
shooting is free (so to speak, if you consider how much the gear costs), any
hurried photo increases the degree of disaffection to the quality, and decreases
the habit to reflect, thus lowering your level of awareness, as well as the
chance to capture peculiar events and consequently the quality of your images.
Do not be satisfied of the first shot; try to vary the point of view,
raising or lowering the camera or moving in the environment. Move back and
forth, trying to understand if the same scene can be better made with small
variations, or from alternative points of view. After taking a shot, be unhappy
of it and think about how it could be improved: being curious and demanding is a
mandatory way to produce good images.
able to wait let one catches the most significant moments.
Use deep compositions, in landscapes; split the subject from the
background, shooting portraits. Exploit the coded elements of composition:
perspective layers, selective focus, reiterations, symmetries, diagonal lines,
natural frames or backgrounds. Arrange the strong points of the image following
the rule of thirds and never divide a frame into two equal parts (unless you are
doing on purpose to enhance a particular effect of symmetry).
Look for situations with suggestive lights. Possibly take the pictures at
the beginning and the end of the day; also exploit special meteorological
events: extreme conditions are often the most expressive.
Eliminate all those more trivial technical flaws: avoid the blur, expose
accurately and keep the horizon... horizontal. Blatant mistakes take appeal away
even from the most valuable photos (and you will cut a poor figure). Learn to
mercilessly discard all those photos that do not match this criterion, no matter
what they show.
Be original, adopt a fresh and personal look. Each time you have chosen a
subject and a framing ask yourself if there is a less conventional way to
portray it. Consider, however, that originality must be well-grounded, reasoned:
being nonconformist at all costs, without a real expressive motivations, is only
a fruitless and pretentious effort.
Use a tripod whenever you can. Although at first glance it sounds like a
tough sacrifice, it will repay you with interest.
here it is the additional point, perhaps the most important: do not follow
the previous rules... or better, do not follow them everytime, and never in
a mechanical way. Transgression, in photography as in life, sets energies free
and sows new ideas. At the worst you have shown personality at least, and that
in itself would be a great result, nowadays.