Keep it sim­ple!

NPhoto - - Special Feature -

What ’s the Big Idea?

When pho­tograph­ing a land­scape, it is very easy to slap on a wide-an­gle lens to take in as much as pos­si­ble. This is ex­actly what I try to avoid. In­clud­ing too many el­e­ments in one im­age is con­fus­ing to the viewer and will re­sult in a shot that lacks over­all im­pact. I like sim­ple, graphic com­po­si­tions, and am a firm be­liever that less is more. Have you heard of the KISS method? It’s an acro­nym for ‘Keep It Sim­ple Stupid’, coined by head engi­neer Kelly John­son at Lock­heed Martin’s ‘Skunk Works’, which de­signed the U-2 and SR-71 spy planes. John­son wanted his engi­neers to “keep a de­sign sim­ple and stupid”. If you look at all of the im­ages in this fea­ture, they all have one thing in com­mon: un­clut­tered com­po­si­tion.

What ’s the Key?

When you look at a scene, de­ter­mine what the main sub­ject is. If this isn’t ev­i­dent, then you should think again why you are tak­ing the photo. Now look around the sub­ject and re­move any­thing that isn’t im­por­tant, or that doesn’t re­in­force the com­po­si­tion. You may have to change your an­gle or lens to do this. I of­ten use a 70-200mm lens to crop in on just the el­e­ments that I want to in­clude within the frame. When I sim­plify the scene down to the main el­e­ments, I find that I can cre­ate sev­eral im­ages by vary­ing the com­po­si­tion. I can place the hori­zon low or high, make the im­age hor­i­zon­tal or ver­ti­cal or place the sub­ject on dif­fer­ent in­ter­sect­ing points us­ing the Rule of Thirds. This is a good ex­er­cise in com­po­si­tion.

When you’re keep­ing things sim­ple, make sure your hori­zons are straight!

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