PHOTO TIP : Thinking about the subject

I know, not another discussion about subjects. What can be more beaten to death than talking about how to handle subjects when making quality images? Please indulge me. Just for a minute.

 It’s very typical, when photographing the landscape to forget about creativity and to not think about what we can do with a subject in a certain environment. In my workshops, I constantly stress defining the subject (if there isn’t one, or a well defined one… why make the photograph?). I also stress Depth of Field.

 Most photographers I see in my workshops strive to get everything in the image in focus all of the time. This is perfectly fine in most cases. Buy why not let a background be somewhat not as focused at times, especially when you have a strong subject in the foreground. Such is the case in this image.

A few years ago I did a private workshop in Death Valley NP with a customer; Marty S. from Maryland. He already had a good sense of what he was doing with his equipment so we worked on the creative side of photography. He came away with some really wonderful images, like the one below.

 What’s the subject? Is it the person or Manly Point? To me, and obviously to Marty, it’s the photographer, (lucky for Marty that he was wearing a red jacket!). Usually we are so taken with the mountains looking out at Zabriskie point, because of how impressive they are, that we always tend to want them in focus, sharp along with everything else. Marty didn’t worry about that and made sure the subject was sharp. He used the photographer to give scale to the image. We really can feel the scale of the environment in this image.

 Below are Marty’s comments from his email to me…………….Congratulations Marty, not only for your award, but for thinking!

 Marty’s notes:

 Hi Jack — Just wanted to drop a note to let you know that one of the photos I took with you in Death Valley won Honorable Mention in the weekly photo competition, the 188th Show & Tell, in the Theme: “We are Tiny!”

 As I recall, I had another version where the mountain was sharp and the photographer was fuzzy, kind of a prop for a picture of the mountain. But I was kind of seeing the mountain as more of a “shape” or background element here, that calibrated the “scale”; the photographer – and the contrast with the mountain (“We are tiny!”) – was really the subject for me.



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