Tom Langford is an event and commercial photographer, professional retoucher, and a website designer.
are pleasant to give and receive but won’t help you to develop as a
photographer. To progress you need to understand exactly what is
impressive about a shot. It’s important to assess its strengths and
imagine how its weaknesses could have been avoided. Most importantly,
you have to be able to state your observations simply and clearly. The
art of articulate and precise criticism will help in shooting
articulately and precisely.
Here’s a wonderful picture taken by
Laura Spizzichino from Rome. It was a pleasure to receive such a fine
shot. She took it in Porto Ercole, Monte Argentario, Tuscany, at the
beginning of August using a Nikon P510.
An exercise in improvement
is this a great shot? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Could it
be improved? Take a moment to form your own answers: If you are alone,
try speaking out loud in simple, clear sentences. This is a really
effective photographic exercise, so give it as much attention as you
would pay to carefully composing a shot.
The girl, almost in
silhouette, forms a very strong primary focal point that draws the eye
downwards and into the picture. The eye is then forced to sweep upwards
to the secondary focal point, the boats. A strong sense of movement is
created that reinforces the playful skip of the girl. The dark passage
frames and concentrates the action. A story is effectively told of an
innocent moment of childhood – a carefree girl, a summer’s day, the
bobbing boats, and sun on the gentle waves. The picture evokes memories
and has an atmosphere that is easy to relate to.
Laura must have
reacted speedily to capture this shot. The Nikon P510 is a “bridge”
camera: Although it looks like an SLR it has a fixed lens that focuses
more slowly. She turned the camera on its side and must have sensed the
story before shooting. Top marks for speed and visualization.Room for improvement
right and left halves of the composition are symmetrical. Symmetry
suggests order and stability rather than movement – this is the only
feature that could be improved. Placing the girl off-center to the left
and tilting the camera slightly would add to the sense of movement. It
would strengthen the impression that she is about to disappear round the
corner at any moment. The retouched version shows this effect but it is
preferable to frame it accurately before shooting.
area around the girl was lightened to increase the feeling of light and
shade. Pictures straight out of the camera are rarely good enough to
show immediately and deserve some attention and refinement.
time you see an effective composition such as this one, file it away in
the back of your mind for future use. The next time you spot primary
and secondary focal points at opposite ends of the frame you will then
be prepared to capture a story as captivating as this one. Try to use
off-center placements and slight tilts to increase the sense of motion.
is more about vision, understanding and experience than it is about
cameras. With enough practice you will start to react instinctively and
capture great shots without conscious thought. The articulate
photographer has a head start over everyone else. Constructive Feedback:
If you are aspiring to develop your photography skills, send me a
picture and I may use in one in my articles with some constructive
feedback. Send one picture only, at a small size to suitable for emails
to email@example.comIf you don’t know how to send a photo by email at a small size please look at my Brief Guide to Picasa: www.langford.co.il/courses/PicasaGuide.html Tom
Langford is an Event and Commercial photographer, website designer, and
professional retoucher. He teaches photography courses for beginners
and improvers. Details at: http://www.langford.co.il/courses and http://weddingseventsisrael.com.