Monday, November 2, 2015

Breaking more of the rules

(I guess I was in a rebellious mood!)

Composition is ALWAYS key to building the foundation of a good image.  But sometimes, you have to ask yourself what the real subject of your image is, and how best to highlight it.  If you've followed my photography for more than a post or two, then you know that the interplay of aviation subjects with the environment around them is what I enjoy most.

Most of the time, we tell the photographers at our workshops to "fill the viewfinder" with the aircraft.  Sometimes we even get up close and fill the viewfinder with a specific detail or component of the aircraft.  While shooting at the Atlanta Warbird Weekend, I realized that the combination of the sunset and clouds made for a spectacular backdrop for "Red Nose", the P-51 of the +CAF Dixie Wing .

Red Nose at sunset
In this case, the best way to show the sunset experience in all of its glory was to make the subject smaller!  Of course I could have stepped closer and shot with a wider angle lens, but then I risked distorting the aircraft or covering part of the wonderful color gradient with the airframe of Red Nose itself.  See, the real subject wasn't just "Red Nose", the P-51, but rather "Red Nose at sunset", which meant that the sky, the clouds and the play of light across them was just as important as the airframe itself.

How did I decide just how far back to go?  My rule of thumb is in a case like this to take the subject from being 95% of the viewfinder, to being between 55% and 45%.  That allows you to still have detail and recognizable features in your subject while maximizing its interplay with the environment

So if you're having a hard time balancing your subject and the environment, just step (or zoom) back a bit and see if that helps you balance the two.

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