Perfecting your images takes work. Today almost everyone owns a camera. And, yes, the process of taking a picture has become so simple that even a child can do it. But it takes a truly special vision to capture the world in a graphically brilliant manner in 1/500 of a second. So over the years I have picked up many photographic exercises that I regularly practice, and that I teach my students to keep them in good visual shape and make them better photographers. When I teach a creative workshop we of course go to fantastic locations but the workshops concentrate on techniques to polish your images. We will also do daily critiques to help you further refine your techniques. Here are a few of my favorites:
Triangles in the Corners
When we are attracted to a subject we tend to look towards the center of the viewfinder and rarely pay attention to the periphery. It is in the periphery where we find the things that detract from the image. It may be the branch sticking in, or a pattern of color. As an exercise when you are framing an image take your eyes and glance to the periphery in the viewfinder. Look for triangles being formed, and if you see them it is a good indication that you need to move in tighter on your subject. If you have a triangle in the corner of one of your images and want to determine if it adds to the photograph or detracts from it, cover up everything except the triangle. If the triangle is important, keep it in. More than likely, though, the triangle will be an area of black or white or a branch and by itself is anything but a good image. In this case crop the image and remove the triangles. Space is defined and determined by shapes and forms. Positive space is where shapes and forms exist; negative space is the empty space around shapes and forms. For images to have a sense of balance use positive and negative space to counter balance each other.
Shadows and light create drama and far too many photographers think that shadows ruin an image. Try creating images using shadows and making the shadows darker or lighter than they appear to the eye by controlling the exposure. Doing so can help truly create dramatic images. Without shadows, a subject has no form, or texture and appears flat. Shadows don’t have to be dominant and harsh to achieve the effects of form, and texture. They can be soft, to show the most delicate light, shape and form. Generally, harsh, black shadows cause problems especially in reproduction because of loss of detail but from a compositional standpoint, black shadows can be very useful in balancing a scene and directing attention to the point of interest. Harsh shadows can also be excellent for emphasizing texture and form, for creating interesting patterns, and for directing attention.
We will study many creative exercises to enhance creativity. Learn more in one of our week long creative workshops: