I look at a lot of photos via social media and magazines everyday. One major problem with photographs I see over and over is the splotch of distraction that doesn’t go with the subject. For example if the subject is a beautiful, yellow flower that takes up 3/4 of the photograph, the splotch of distraction would be a crap brown, out of focus, god only knows what the hell it is taking up 1/4 of the photograph. My eyes don’t even look at the beautiful, yellow flower. They immediately go to the crap brown, splotch of distraction.
How does a photographer get rid of the crap brown splotch of distraction? Take two steps closer to the subject. If that doesn’t work, take two steps closer and so on. Super easy to solve, but unfortunately not accomplished often enough.
Let’s take a look at the photo below for an example.
This photograph is of the steps leading up to the Newport Bridge in Oregon. What really caught my eye about this scene is the amazing lines formed by the concrete structure. On either side of this scene is graffiti some enterprising, artistic youth was kind of enough to share in a hideous, neon pink color. If I would have included the graffiti the entire scene would have been ruined and not have showcased the amazing lines of this concrete architecture. Instead all the viewer would be able to focus on is the hideous, neon pink graffiti.
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So lets take this getting closer concept up one notch. One of the main reasons a photographer gets a crap brown, splotch of distraction in their photograph is because they plop their tripod down and then try to make the shot work. This is a major tripod usage foul! A better technique is to walk around until you have the scene where you want it, then plop the tripod down.
Let’s look at the photograph below for an example.
This photograph is a night shot of a pier in Cairns, Australia. What I am trying to capture is the line of the hand railing in conjunction with the line of lights. A bonus feature is the red clothing of the fisherman providing contrast. Funny thing is there was a massive sign right behind me clearly stating that there was no fishing off the pier past this point, but that didn’t phase Mr. Red Outfit. Fishing violations aside to make this shot work I had to line the hand railing and line of lights up just right. This took a bit of moving around to get it right. Once I got the shot where I wanted it, plop goes the tripod and let the long exposure fun begin!
Another way to avoid the crap brown, splotch of distraction is to take a look all around the viewfinder before snapping the pic. If there is a crap brown, splotch of distraction then make the adjustment before hitting the click button.
95% of the time getting closer to the subject would make a better photograph. However, 5% of the time getting too close can be the problem. Those 5% choppers of essential subject matter leave the viewer wanting more. There often times is a delicate balance of being too far away and being too close. This balance is a fun, challenging aspect of photography that has to be thought out for every photograph.