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Summer Vacation

I’m back after a week’s hiatus from the blog. It’s summer, and time for a (short) vacation.

The family photos didn’t occur as planned (to much gnashing of teeth afterwards), but I’m not in charge. I did manage to get some shots of some of the activities.

A lot of the principles that I have been talking about related to photographing dance events apply to summer snaps as well. Actually, most photography involves some simple repeating themes, namely:

  • fill the frame (If your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough – Frank Cappa)
  • compose – rule of thirds, etc
  • tell a story

In these shots of wakeboarding, filling the frame, coming in tight, and using the water help to tell the story. In fact, using the water as the primary element in the picture with the wakeboarder in the background can be very effective:

Focus on the Water
The story is as much about the water (and what the subject is doing) as it is about the subject. It also adds some variety to what I would consider more straight-forward shots like this:

Wakeboarding Lake Marion II
I want you to notice something else. Notice how I compose the images. In both, I am using a rule-of-thirds composition to place the subject off-center. Composing like this does a few things for you. For one, it forces the viewer’s eye to move across the frame. Many times in life we value more what we have to work to get. Response to art is the same: what we have to work to see we tend to value as more aesthetically pleasing. Secondly, it adds tension or a sense of drama, making the image more vibrant. Third, it elevates the import of the subject in the frame by ironically allowing more of the environment to show (even if it is just negative space), providing a keener sense of context.

Also watch how your subject interacts with the environment.

In the first image, camera placement was such to eliminate everything except the water as background. Simplify the background.

In the second image, notice how the top of her head is not crossed by the horizon – it is above it. I also changed the color palette in post processing such that the background and the foreground are all roughly the same (and cool), helping the subject (warmer) stand out.

Paying attention to details like this will greatly improve your vacation photos – even snapshots. You’ll like the results and you will enjoy  your photographic experience even more.

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