Elements of a successful photo




Issues where I discuss images have been very positively received lately, so I had this one to deliver today and thought it would be a good example to discuss. And instead of talking about just one thing, we're going to look at many elements to see how a strong image is one that is made up of several aspects working in harmony. I put the first image up 'unmarked' so you could see it well and then scribbled a few notes to point out different aspects.

Technical details first. Nikon D200 camera, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 lens, ISO 200, cloudy white balance, hand held (standing on higher rock), natural light (big surprise!), 40mm, 1/100th @f/5. High quality JPEG file.



Wow! See why I put it in first without all this stuff all over it! Yes, there are people in there!

So let's start looking at things. We'll look at light first. It's pretty flat and even, which I have no problem with in this situation. The light on them is coming from the bright open sky behind me with the setting sun down just enough to not be directly on them. If I had a lower camera angle, you'd see direct sun on higher parts of the image. The light behind them is about the same intensity so I get detail throughout the image. Notice density in the water behind them, helped by a little burning. All subjects have light in their eyes.

Let's look at posing now. The father is in a strong "c" curve and the wife settled comfortably with him around her. The son is pretty square to the camera, and the daughter is in a feminine 'S" curve. Note how all heads are at different heights and one not directly over another.

On to other things. All have great expression with no head swaps. I sometimes do them if needed but usually just take enough images so I know I have one. I also act like an idiot (not a stretch) so expression is not usually a problem.

Clothing is also totally appropriate. Jeans with shirts totally fits with the beach and I really like doing bare feet even though some people think their feet are shaped like turnips. Plus everybody has them without going to the mall! The blue and white also maintain color harmony with the blue water and white beach sand.

Exposure is determined by hand held meter for perfect density and whites that are really white with detail. I will occasionally check my histogram to be sure all my values fall where they're suppose to. A successful image is the sum of many parts. LustreColor made a beautiful 20x24 from my JPEG file.


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