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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Lining things up

I'm a sucker for bright colours - especially blues and greens. So when I saw this pot plant sitting on a bright white balcony with aqua waters and a bright blue sky. Well who am I to deny my inner photographic yearnings?

Before you simply snap away there are a few things you have to think about when there are multiple elements in an image. Your aim is to have all the elements balance - and to do that you often have to wait a little bit or move around a bit.

What elements you say? There's just a pot plant, balcony and sky. What could be easier? But a closer inspection reveals a few things you need to be aware of.

The first thing that I noticed was the two wires going through the sky just above the plant. They're washing lines! Do you take them out or leave them in? Ethics aside (this isn't pure news photojournalism) I left them in because they say something about the situation.

Then there was the boat in the background. Do you wait until it's gone or take the photo while it's in there. Either which way would work but in this particular case I actually waited until the boat came into the viewfinder and didn't press the shutter until it was on the left hand side of the frame heading out. This is a diving destination (Moalboal on the island of Cebu in the Philippines) so having a dive boat in there added a bit of interest I felt.

The next thing is the people. Again you have a choice to put them in or leave them out. How do you do that you ask? Order them out of the water if you don't want them in the photo? :) Tempting but not quite. You hide them behind things. You move yourself up and down left and right until they're hidden behind the pillars of the balcony.

If you decide to keep them in, as I have here, then again you do the photographer's two-step. You move up and down, left and right until all three people are separated from the balcony and in their own little space. The worst thing you can do is have a half-and half. A person with half their body cut off by the balcony. You either want complete separation or completely hidden.

And that's the difference between a quick snap and a carefully thought out picture. Look at everything that's in your composition and decide if you want it in there or not. If you decide you don't then you either have to wait until the thing is gone (boat out of the frame or people out of the water) or hide them behind something.

If you decide to leave them in then you have to move left and right until there is a clear separation between them and any objects around them.

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