By now you will have chosen your spot, travelled there, scouted around and then identified the photo that is going to make you famous, and finally, decided what (if any) filters you will use. Before snapping the image. STOP. Look around. Check the entire frame to see what you have missed. AGAIN, STRAIGHTEN YOUR HORIZON!!! Look for the distractions in the frame. Think about how these can be eliminated. Can you eliminate them by zooming in, or by changing position slightly? If not, can you at least make them easier to remove in Photoshop by moving or zooming?
What is the subject of your image. In this shot, we were focusing on the tree as the subject. What is in the background? In this shot, we deliberately chose to shoot at sunset to provide an interesting backdrop to a shot that many photographers have taken before. What is in the foreground? In this shot we chose to leave a small section of shoreline in the corner to add perspective to the shot. Are there leading lines? in this shot the reflection of the tree in the water gives us a lead in to the subject. Is the horizon straight? After banging on about it, it had better be straight! Is the subject central or to the side. In part because of the setting sun, we put the subject off to one side. We tried to apply the rule of thirds. What is the rule of thirds? We will explain in the next instalment. Think perspective. This area is very popular with photographers. When this shot was taken, there were ten other cameras set up for the same shot. We all had tripods. We all wanted the same shot. Everyone else had their tripod at or near it’s maximum height, meaning that the photographer did not have to bend down to frame the shot. My tripod was about 8 inches high meaning that I was lying flat on my stomach to frame it. The result? With a lower perspective, a significantly higher percentage of the tree is above the level of the background hills. Does this make it a better shot? I think it does. Interestingly, as I left, the other photographers who had been watching me had all lowered their tripods to see what I was seeing, but the sun had set and they missed the shot. Is this shot perfect? It most certainly is not, but it is part of a series that has sold very well for me.
You will notice that throughout this series I have not mentioned the type of camera or lenses that I used. I have seen some amazing photos shot on an iPhone, and some terrible shots taken on a Hasselblad. It is not the hardware that makes the shot – it is the creativity of the photographer that maker the work of art. You will rarely hear me mention the hardware that I use. FYI I shoot Nikon cameras and use loads of lenses.
In the final instalment, we finally explain the rule of thirds, and touch on the thorny subject of image editing and enhancement.