Make Your Photos Pop…

Make your photographs pop…

A garden photo

Do you find all too often your photos are looking a little flat? Or perhaps there doesn’t seem to be anything that just grabs your attention. If you keep some of the rules of composition in mind, and properly expose your shots, you will have better results. It should be noted there are no set rules for photography. There are guide-lines however that are often referred to as rules.

In this article I’m using a small flower as my subject just because it was so handy, and I am going to focus on getting in close, selective focus, the rule of thirds, and to a small degree the use of depth of field. In addition to these rules being used, I’ve included a short tutorial in color correction. I’ve done this for the simple fact many of the inexpensive cameras out there just don’t do justice to the brightness and vibrancy our eyes capture and because there are so many people that just don’t understand the exposure controls. The use of photo manipulation programs and post production has gone viral since the digital camera came onto the stage. In one sense this makes me a little sad because the use and understanding of the equipment has become second over the use and understanding of the computer programs. For the color correction I’ve used “GIMP” manipulation program. I do have Adobe CS-5 as well, but GIMP is free and the very first manipulation program I used. If you’re just getting started this is a very good option.

So let’s go through these rules we’ll use

If you don’t get in close you’ll end up with a shot for the recycle bin. If your subject is so small you can’t make it out, the photo is a shot of ??? It’s simple. Fill the frame with your subject.

Selecting the focus area is very important. If you are trying to capture the blossom of a flower, as in this case, don’t focus on the leaves or the background. Focus on the blossom. With people, always focus on the eyes.

In order to give your photograph some eye appeal, or interest, use the rule of thirds. When it comes to composition, the first rule is the Rule of Thirds…

If you imagine the frame of your photo being divided into nine equal parts by two vertical and two horizontal lines, you have the “Rule of Thirds Grid”…

The rule of thirds states that the object of interest should intersect at the crossing points or be positioned within a third or along one of the horizontal or vertical lines. This adds interest to the shot by making it more pleasing to the eye and adds balance.

The depth of field can be described as the area that is in sharp focus verses the area that is out of focus. Because the photograph is a two-dimensional medium, it can be a challenge at times to bring out the depth that our eye will see and the depth that the camera will portray. One way is to use your Depth of Field to intentionally blur part of the foreground or background with a large aperture, or on the other end of your control, bring everything into focus with a smaller aperture. The control for this is the aperture size. The smaller the number, the greater area of focus. I’ll try to clarify. If the aperture is an f-stop of 22 (f22) you will have a very small opening through which the lens will allow light through. In turn this will give you a greater depth of field. On the other end of the scale, if you have an f-stop of 1.8 or 2.0 (f1.8 or f2.0) the resulting iris opening will be very large and your depth of field will be very shallow. Think of it as your pupil would react to light.

A very small flower with green follage
This is the original shot

Looking at this photo you can easily see it’s a little dull and really doesn’t have any eye appeal.

Showing the size of the original photo
I did say “Get In Close”

You can see by the use of the ruler how small this blossom is. I think it was about 6 mm or 1/4 inch across.

Showing the depth of field and the focus area.
Depth of Field & Selective Focus

The area of focus becomes more important as you have varying levels within the frame.

Showing the rule of thirds
Crop the photo and use the Rule of Thirds

This has been cropped and reset to accommodate the rule of thirds by putting the blossom in the cross hairs, so to speak. By putting it in the bottom portion of the frame balance has been added with the upper right hand corner.

Showing the color control
The color level control

This is the easiest way I know to correct the saturation and brilliance of color. These controls are found under “color” “levels” in the GIMP program. It should be noted there are a whole host of “color controls” in any of these programs.

Showing the color adjustments
Make the adjustments

If you learn to use the “Histogram” on your camera, these steps become mostly unnecessary. But there are times when they can save your day.

Showing contrast control
Very slight increase to the contrast

Again under “colors” and then “Brightness and Contrast” within GIMP.

Increasing the blue
Adjusting the blue

After correction of colors I noticed the blue was quite pale by comparison to the real blossom and felt it was necessary to correct it.

Showing the completed photograph
Finally…the finished product

This wasn’t meant to be an award winning photograph. It served the purpose of showing the correction of common mistakes that can be found all across the web.

Click on the photo for a larger view. If you look closely you can see the lower portion of the blossom barely made it into the focal area but the rain drop is very clear. You can also see clearly how the upper right hand corner of the photo is out of focus due to the depth of field. In reality these corrections from start to finish only took a few minutes. If you work with a program enough it becomes second nature. Using your camera often enough will have the same results. Don’t be afraid to take ten or fifteen shots of something using different settings in order to discover the correct settings for the conditions. With the use of digital equipment your costs are “ZERO” but if it was with film…




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