I just finished watching a podcast, TWIT Photo with Leo Laporte, and Cathering Hall. In this episode they were interviewing a renowed landscape photographer, Michael Frye, who was discussing his photographs, mainly of Yosemite National Park.
Michael’s website can be found here.
During the interview Frye mentioned tha one of his principles in landscape photography is that “less is more”. In other words, we, as amateur photographers, especially with landscapes tend to include too much in our photographs. We overwhelm the viewer with information. Frye referred to it as the postcard shot. An overview of the location, so you get to see what it looks like, but not much emotion or impact to the shot. Because of this, I went back and looked at some of my images to see if I had done this as well, simply taken the postcard shot.
I found one shot in particular that, because of it’s location certainly lends itself to the postcard shot trap, Niagara Falls. When you look at this first image, it could be a postcard, and I don’t mean that in a good way. It shows we are at Niagara Falls, but there is no emotion, or drama of any sort to the photograph.
This was my original image. You know it is the Falls, but there is no drama in any way.I only had this one framing, but I wanted to test the theory of less is more, so I did some testing by cropping. I tried to different crop factors. This should have been done on site with a zoom lens, but you will get the idea from the cropped version.
Here is what would be a medium shot of the American Falls, a lot more dramatic than the wide angle, but it could be even better.
So, the medium crop certainly improved the photograph, but I wanted to go even further, and here is a drastically cropped version from the original image.
Now we’re getting somewhere. Finally you get a sense of the raw power and intensity of the Falls. This shot brings back my memories of the sound the Falls make, the mist drifting over my face. and even the wind generated by the huge amounts of water rushing over the rocks. When you click on the image, you will get a large screen version. and if you look closely, on the left hand side, about a third of the way down, what looks like a black spot on my lens is actually a bird flying, giving you a different perspective of just how big the waterfall really is. You obviously would never notice this from the wide aggle.
As you can see from the three samples eliminating extraneous information from your photographs will greatly improve your photography. So, because it is digital photography, and pixels are cheap, take the usual wide angle shot so everyone knows where you were, but then to visualize the true emotion of your visit, move in close for impact.
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