Snap chat. Horizons

Watching the Sydney-Hobart boat race

As I was editing my Sydney sun & beach photos, I realised that there’s something quite basic worth reminding about. Horizons. Keep them level.

I know that when you’re in a hurry, one can take a wonky picture. I’ve done it heaps of times. Or sometimes, it’s just difficult to judge whether the skyline is horizontal. These days, though, there’s no excuse. All photo editing software gives you a chance to straighten your image.

So, get with it. There is nothing more exasperating than a good photo made distracting because it’s leaning.

~ Spotted Cow

Snap chat. Frames

Indian arches

One of the things I really like doing in photography is finding a frame to wrap around my image. Framing an object within a photograph is a good way of bringing the eye in to what you want people to look at. It’s a handy technique when you’re in a place that has architectural features like arches, windows, and porticos, especially ones that make an attractive outline. And you don’t have to stop there. You can use any framing pattern that your eye sees – trees, overhanging branches, curved fishing rods, telegraph posts & wires, and so on. It can make something ordinary look quite alluring. Let your imagination work for you.

~ Spotted Cow

Dubrovnik, from a hole in the wall In front of the Tate Modern Cologne railway stationMoorish arch, Trujillo

Snap chat. Why are sunsets notoriously difficult?

Sunset, India.

I find sunset photos very difficult to photograph. As the sun falls toward the horizon and the light fades, all the foreground details disappear. You have this beautiful flare of light across the sky, which takes your breath away. But if you just take a snap of that broad wash of colour, it is almost certain that it doesn’t translate when you look at your pictures later.

You still need a point of interest. A silhouette is usually the easiest. Use the rule of thirds and put the horizon in the top third or the bottom third.

Ironically, if you want the sky to be the point of interest in the picture, you’d prefer a cloudy day so that the clouds produce interesting striations or dispersions of colour.

I’d welcome other handy hints. In spite of the pearls of wisdom I’ve spelt out above, I have less than a handful of decent sunset images … and that’s a whole lot less than the number of times I’ve been sipping a margarita and watching the sun go down.

~ Spotted Cow

Sunset, HawaiiSunset, Brighton

Snap Chat. Landscape or Portrait ?

Surfer. Landscape.

I’m going to start posting a regular discussion about photography, and call it Snap Chat.  However, unlike it’s better-known namesake, the posts aren’t going to disappear after a matter of seconds.

I will talk about handy photography tips, stuff I’ve worked out on my own, or something I’m finding challenging.  As I don’t have a lot of time to spend on post-production, I try and take the photograph correctly in the frame without relying on cleaning it up afterward. Of course, it’s not always possible. But I think it’s a good habit.

If you are a frequent reader of our posts, you’ll know that I like taking pictures of people or animals “doing their thing”. One of the bits of constructive criticism I was told recently, is that I take too many pictures in portrait format when I should do it in landscape. I need to give the person space to move within the composition and I need to give them context. The space also provides a story.

Portrait format is more suitable if you only want to capture the object and nothing else.

You can see the difference in the space between the two Hawaiian surfer images. When I was sitting on the beach, the thing that caught my eye was the surfboard pattern. That was what I wanted, and the sea provided the context. The portrait picture includes the horizon and the sky, but doesn’t give a lot of space to the surfboard even though it dominates the composition. What do you think?

One last thing. It is, of course, a rule of thumb. And rules can be broken when you know how to. Besides, it’s in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes there just isn’t a right answer.

Any thoughts on landscape vs portrait?

~ Spotted Cow

Surfer. Portrait.