Isola te your sub­ject

NPhoto - - Special Feature -

What ’s the Big Idea?

As pho­tog­ra­phers, it our job to de­fine the sub­ject in our com­po­si­tions. This may sound easy, but when a scene is clut­tered with many con­flict­ing el­e­ments, it’s easy to con­fuse the viewer.

An ef­fec­tive method for cre­at­ing a strong com­po­si­tion is to iso­late your sub­ject. I of­ten use this tech­nique for travel im­ages, throw­ing the back­ground out of fo­cus so it doesn’t dis­tract from the sub­ject, but is recog­nis­able enough to give a sense of place. Some­times there’s so much go­ing on in a scene that in or­der to make the sub­ject stand out you have to iso­late it us­ing one of the tech­niques de­scribed be­low.

What ’s the Key?

There are sev­eral ways to iso­late your sub­ject so it stands out from the rest of the scene. Try plac­ing the sub­ject in the cen­tre of the frame to call at­ten­tion to it. Make sure there are no com­pet­ing el­e­ments around it so the viewer’s eye isn’t pulled in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions. This is what I did with laven­der field and lone tree in the pic­ture above. I pur­posely put the tree right in the cen­tre of the frame, care­fully plac­ing the lines of laven­der so they en­ter from the corners. This draws the viewer’s eye straight to the tree.

Se­lec­tive fo­cus is another tech­nique that is very easy to ex­e­cute. All you have to do is get close to the sub­ject and use a wide aper­ture such as f/2.8 or wider. This is one rea­son why por­trait and sports pho­tog­ra­phers use fast lenses with max­i­mum aper­tures of f/2 or even f/1.4. It en­ables them to throw the back­ground com­pletely out of fo­cus, so all of the at­ten­tion falls on the sub­ject.

The per­spec­tive can have also a ma­jor ef­fect on iso­lat­ing the sub­ject. Choose a high an­gle to place the sub­ject against a plain back­ground, or a low an­gle to use a plain sky as a clean, clut­ter-free back­ground as I did in this im­age.

You can use also se­lec­tive light­ing in low light con­di­tions by paint­ing your sub­ject with light so it stands out from the dark tones of the scene. You can get re­ally cre­ative by us­ing var­i­ous coloured gels over your light source to cre­ate a strong colour con­trast.

Fi­nally, get close to the sub­ject or zoom in to fill the frame with the sub­ject so it dom­i­nates the frame. This cre­ates a graphic, bold com­po­si­tion, and by def­i­ni­tion elim­i­nates any dis­trac­tions.

Lines of crops and plants are per­fect for di­rect­ing the viewer’s eye

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