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A Guest Post by Eva Polak
Just like athletes, a photographer’s skill comes from hours of training, accompanied by dedicated experimentation.
By its nature, creative exploration means going beyond the easy and familiar. Trying new tools or techniques, after initial frustration, can lead to great discoveries and open new ways of self-expression.
The goal is to come up with your own interpretation of the subject. This takes time, patience, and the discipline of using your eye to try to see beyond what is in front of you.
Below I listed 5 tools which, with practice, will help you to create strong sense of visual excitement in your images and ultimately to allow you to express the feelings that prompted you to take photographs in the first place.
Light is the most important aspect of photography. Understanding light will enable you to take advantage of any lighting situation. You can do that by studying your most successful photographs.
Look for the light and what it’s doing in each of your images. Is it hard or soft, defuse or directional?
Look at the shadows, identify where the light is coming from. Become aware of light and its magic. On the field, use this knowledge to your advantage. Make the most of what is available.
Colour has an enormous impact on us. It can influence your mood and express your feelings. Learn some basic principles of colour theory. Familiarize yourself with the 4 basic dimensions of colour: hue, value, intensity and temperature. Discover the secret language of colour and its meaning. Using colour concisely will help you to create interesting compositions.
Everything you photograph is composed of shapes. You cannot photograph a tree, you can only photograph a form and colour that conveys the visual information of a tree.
Therefore, it is important for you as a photographer to be able to see subjects as shapes. Train yourself to break down the scene in front of you into areas of simple shapes and colour. It will help you to create simple composition with a clear message.
The elements of design are the building blocks used to create a work of art. The most basic element in any photograph is lines. Being conscious of the subtle feelings associated with lines will allow you to manipulate a photograph’s emotional impact. For example a horizontal line suggests calmness and tranquility, a vertical line gives a feeling of balance, oblique suggests movement.
To create more effective photographs, actively look for lines and arrange them within your viewfinder to evoke specific feelings.
Techniques are important to the success of any photograph(s). You should practice to the point that they become second nature. Then you will have the freedom to create. But remember, techniques should not detract from what you are trying to communicate. They are there to help you make that message clearer. It can become a pointless exercise where there is too much reliance on technique.
There you have it: 5 simple steps to better photography. Now, go and create, experiment and most of all have fun. And don’t be afraid of making mistakes. As Garry Marshall once said “It’s always helpful to learn from your mistakes because then your mistakes seem worthwhile. “
Eva Polak is fine art photographer based in Auckland who specializes in impressionist photography. Author of two books “At the beach” and “Impressionist Photography Techniques” – visit her site at www.evapolak.com.
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