I’ve been watching Ben Willmore on creativeLIVE. He did a live workshop on “thinking like a photographer” (available to buy if you are interested). It was targeted at new photographers but I find it useful to sometimes start at the beginning again to pick up some new tricks and refreshing the mind.
In two days he obviously covered a lot of things. One tip that I found really useful is the idea of evaluating a scene and working out what is the positive, negative and neutral in order to compose the best picture. The positive is generally the subject that first attracted your eye to want to take a photo although there might also be some additional things in the scene that could also be included. Negative can be something ‘ugly’ or unpleasant – litter, some busy ‘activity’, etc – or simply distracting. The neutral is a plain space like a dull sky, road in front of a building, etc. The goal is then to eliminate as much as possible the negative, minimise the neutral and optimise the positive. Obviously one trend that would not totally follow this advice would be the concept of negative space (something that I am particularly fond of for landscape images.
I thought this was a good example of this in practice (although in no way the best or most exciting photo I’ve ever taken – I occasionally like to think I am a wildlife photographer).
The picture above was taken as I approached the bird which was standing on a wall on a hill-top. There is a lot of neutral going on – the blown out negative space which doesn’t work to create the calmness you get from a good use of negative space. I had already moved closer to remove the “negative” which was a light pole.
By changing my angle and zooming in further I got a picture which had better exposure and by framing the bird in the top triangle which is light (but not overpoweringly so), your attention is hopefully drawn there. As I said not the most inspiring images but you can even learn from dull images!
I think this is great advice and I am going to try to be more aware of it when taking photographs.
What do you think? Will this tip be helpful for you in composing a better image?