simplify your world

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    this is a photo of a man walking towards a small lighthouse with water (from a water fountain) falling in the background.

    Duncan Rawlinson

    Hello there!

    My travel schedule has been nuts recently so I feel terrible about how slow I’m getting back to you on this one.

    It’s a nice image!

    The lesson goes like this:

    Lesson 6: Assignment
    Assignment Title: Simplify Your World

    For this assignment you are going to pay extra close attention to the process of simplification. We want you to be aware of your background and your foreground. We want you to be aware of the edges of your photograph as well as the composition of your photograph. Your main concern with this photograph will be including elements which add to the overall look and story of your picture and ensuring the removal of all distracting or unimportant elements.

    That being said, the image must be taken outdoors and can’t be a still life photograph. This would be an easy assignment if we told you to take a photograph of an apple against a white background. The purpose of this assignment isn’t for you to prove you know what simplification is. The purpose is for you to show that you can implement simplification into your pictures even in a cluttered and disorganized environment. It’s about organizing chaos.

    The KEY to this assignment is to really remove everything you can to simplify the frame to the nth degree.

    I’ve taken a few minutes and marked up this photograph for you here:


    1. Rule of Thirds / Golden Ratio
    Don’t forget about the rule of thirds! This was a huge part of this assignment…

    In a negative space photograph like this you’re breaking the rule of thirds to some extent which can be good. But don’t forget about the general idea of putting the critical and most interesting elements in the 1/3 areas of the frame.

    2: Distracting Element

    This building in the background is a distracting element and that is exactly what you don’t want in this assignment.

    3: Crooked

    Most non-photo nerds wont notice things that are slightly crooked like this but at some level they’ll know something is ‘a bit off’. You can see the little arrow I put that shows how you could level this off slightly for a cleaner frame. If you’re going to make things crooked then make them REALLY crooked to create the mood or effect you want. I hope this makes sense.

    4: Nothing is Nice

    If the whole top area of the frame was a white out like this (without #2) you’d have shot an image that is really simple and clean. Of course that being said it would be hard to make out that it’s actually water from a fountain.

    5: White Hot

    Be aware of blown out hot white areas of the frame especially on the focal point of the image.

    6: People Are Good

    I’m almost always a fan of putting people into images. Sometimes new photographers thing they shouldn’t include people in their landscapes and photographs of architecture etc but I try to encourage people to include people as much as they can. So I like that you have a person here if for no other reason than a sense of scale. I put an arrow to show that it might have been better to put this person. (into the lower right lower third)

    All of that said, I think you understand what the process of simplification means.

    Now, shoot simplified photographs if you they will enhance your images. And more often than not a simplified image WILL enhance your photography.

    The first thing I tell people who want to take better pictures is get closer, and the second thing I tell people is simplify your frame.

    So keep that in mind.

    Well done on this one!

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