As I mentioned in my last article, great photos incorporate one or more artistic elements or ingredients.
In this lesson we are going to explore the use of form, moment and light to help create more interesting, memorable and artistic photos.
Form is made up of lines, shapes, patterns and textures. Notice how the lines, shapes and patterns in the covered-bridge photo lead your eye to explore the overall form and direct your view into the center of the photo. Looking at the photo of Meredith Bay, notice how the photo is more interesting because you are looking through a round gate, to shape the image of the lake and mountains. Other examples of form: boats in a harbor, an old church, modern office building, unique architecture, etc.
Moment depicts a scene where the photographer is in the right place at the right time. The essence of “moment” is that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to recreate the same picture again, which adds more value to the photograph. An example of this is the photo of Meredith Bay, taken from the gate at the Inn at Bay Point. The pink and yellow colors at sunrise only lasted a few minutes, which was a moment in time. Other photos that depict moment include news event photos, photos of people, sports photos, etc.
Photographer Miroslav Tichy is credited with saying “Photography is painting with light.” Light is without a doubt one of the most important elements that helps determine the impact and success of your photos. When used properly, light can express moodiness, romance (candlelight), mystery, define form, define character and help create emotion for the viewer. Your lighting options typically include artificial light (electronic flash or light bulbs) or natural light. Electronic flash will help to light a scene indoors, but this type of lighting is not very flattering for pictures of people (unless done in a controlled studio setting). Where possible, try to use the available light indoors without using a flash.
Shooting in natural light outdoors offers many opportunities and challenges, depending on what you are photographing. Outdoor light ranges from twilight (prior to sunrise or just after sunset), sunrise or sunset, overcast light on cloudy days, sunny days with various forms of lighting (overhead, side, front and back) or even night scenes depicting outdoor lighting, fireworks, or the evening sky. Although you can’t control outdoor light, you can plan your photo shoot based on the weather, time of day, or which direction you’re shooting into. The best light for people photos outdoors is on an overcast day, or in shade on a sunny day.
For landscape photos, try taking photos early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the light is less harsh and warmer in color. If you enjoy sunrise photos, then plan on being at your favorite spot about 30 minutes prior to sunrise, which will allow you to capture the changing colors in the sky. The most challenging light is at noon on a sunny day, when the light is directly overhead. The key is to experiment taking photos in all types of light.
Stay tuned for my next lesson, when I will discuss perspective and composition.