Jay Sousa: Photography

May 19, 2012

Jay Sousa: Unique images take time, effort

Something catches our eye visually and we stop to take a look ... "Is there an image here?"

Well, maybe. Just remember that our eyes see three dimensions much better than our cameras, which is why we are disappointed with a lot of our images after we get home and check them out on the computer.

The trick is to analyze a scene to figure out the best angle to use to make the most compositionally interesting photo that we can. A lot of the time we are just so excited with what is in front of us that we just shoot away without looking carefully at other options for photographing the scene.

Remember, we should strive to show our viewers something unique, something that they have not seen before or at least from a vantage point that is different. This is called working a scene.

One thing that I notice time after time with my photography students at Merced College is that they will take one, two or maybe three images of one scene and then move on to the next thing that caught their eye. In a lot of these instances they are close to having made a great photo but are just a little off.

Explore several different ways to photograph whatever it was that caught your eye in the first place, this might mean making 10 or 20 different images of a particular scene. Concentrate on making one great image each time you go out as opposed to taking several mediocre images.

The trick is to slow down and take the time to look carefully at each scene that we are attracted to even if it means forgoing another shot.

One of the most important items in your camera bag should be a $1.99 notebook. When you are shooting and see something else that is interesting write it down with the time of day that you made the observation. This way you can finish shooting the subject at hand and if you run out of time, you can come again and shoot what's described in your notebook.

Most beginners make the mistake of trying to get too much into their images.

Try to keep your images as simple as possible so there is no mistake as to the intent of the photo. Use basic elements of composition such as framing, leading lines and rule of thirds to direct the viewer's eyes to where you want them to go.

Learn to see the picture within the picture, meaning that in many cases there is something much more interesting if you look closer into your compositions.

One trick to find the picture within the picture is to use your zoom and scroll feature on your camera. As you are looking at your monitor after you have made a photograph, zoom in and scroll around. You will be amazed at what you will see. When you see something interesting, then that should become your image -- just move in closer and shoot.

You can't force a great image where one does not exist. Don't blindly fire away thinking that I can make this good in photoshop. You must have a good picture to start with.

A mediocre image that is over photoshoped is, well, just another mediocre image that is over photoshoped.

The Internet and Facebook pages around the world are full of these images. Strive to make it as perfect as you can in the camera. This means making good exposures and composing in the camera. Train your eyes to look in a 360-degree circle every few minutes as you are walking.

The light from a different direction will have a huge impact on how an object might look. Also, don't forget to look down, and don't get tunnel vision with just one idea in your head, because you may miss something else.

Just remember that some days it just may be not working. The light may not be right or you may not be right. Whatever the case, if it is not working don't, force it. Enjoy being out, just plan on coming back another day.

Contact Jay Sousa at jay.sousa@sbcglobal.net.

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