Tom Langford is a commercial photographer, professional retoucher, and a
website designer. He teaches photography courses for beginners and
It’s not difficult to take a good
picture, even with a simple compact camera. Awareness is an important
factor to consider. Good photographers
have a highly developed sense of how shapes, colours, textures,
patterns, perspectives and light interact in a picture to form a
Awareness is one of the five basic steps
that all experienced photographers use.
photographers are often said to have “a good eye”, but this sounds like
a mysterious talent that they were born with. I prefer to say that they
are very experienced at taking the five BASIC steps mentioned above. It
becomes so ingrained that they take pictures intuitively, without
conscious thought.Visual awareness
was awakened to visual awareness many years ago when I first went to
Art college. It was in the days of Carousel projectors and Kodachrome
slides, and one of our tutors showed us beautiful pictures that he had
taken of sights that we normally don’t notice such as the rust on old
corrugated metal, a splatter of rain on glass, the curve of a car
bonnet, the pattern that roof tiles make, etc.
They were not
pictures of things, but of shapes and textures. He wanted us to become
aware and alert to all of the beauty that surrounds us – beauty that
goes unnoticed in the bustle of everyday life.
their sense of visual awareness to create compositions that draw our
attention into the picture and keep our eyes moving from one detail to
another.Visual awareness exercise
exercise is fun to do, costs nothing, and will dramatically improve the
quality of your photography. You can do it anytime, anywhere, and with
any camera. I often take visual awareness shots with my mobile phone's
camera whenever I have a few idle moments. It is the quickest way to
develop your photographers "eye". It’s challenging and it’s fun.
by leaving the camera in your bag or pocket. Take a couple of minutes
to look around and spot an interesting combination of shapes, textures,
patterns, objects, etc.
Do not look for an interesting thing or
subject to shoot. Instead, try to spot an interesting pattern you can
use to make a strong composition. .
Now take out your camera and
experiment with composing the shot. Try moving to the right or left,
front or back, holding the camera higher or lower, and try tilting the
camera too. Take your time. Only when you have got the most interesting
composition take a shot.
This simple, do-anywhere-anytime
exercise concentrates your attention on the essentials and helps you
develop the skills you will use later on to intuitively to take good
pictures. Photo critique
The first step
to taking a Good Picture is to be equally aware of the background and
the subject. In this shot the photographer has probably paid more
attention to the pelican than to the background.
is a small brightly lit bird coming out of the pelican's head, a tree
trunk sprouting from its body, and another brightly lit bird close to
its head behind the tree. These features distract attention away from
the pelican and do not add interest to the shot.
I prepared a
retouched version to show the how the picture could have looked after
two steps to the left and if the small white birds had flown. In real
life the position of the head would probably have moved, so I altered
this too. A few further steps could have brought the river into the
background, removed the small white birds, and may have added more
interest to the shot.
Next time you see a professional
photographer responding quickly to events, watch how they move into an
advantageous position before raising the camera. With discipline this
becomes second nature and they are probably not even aware that they are
Understanding how to take a Good Picture means that
you will be frequently frustrated! In this instance as you moved to the
better position other distractions could have popped into view. You will
have had the satisfaction that comes with knowledge, insight and
application, and be even more determined to succeed next time.Send me your picture
you are aspiring to take good pictures, and would like some
constructive feedback, send me a picture and I will publish one at the
end of my next article.
Please send one picture only, at a reduced size to [email protected]Details of Tom's photography courses and field trips can be found at http://www.langford.co.il/courses.
Below are some pictures that have taken with a cellphone that use different methods to create a sense of movement.
Shapes and perspective give a Wonderful play of light, shade,
sense of movement, helped by shape and color on the kitchen sink.
the tilt, and echoed by the feet.
The steps at Caesarea. Two organic Shapes, contrasting textures,
textures and perspective that gives and a sense of movement.
a sense of movement.