All about Composition and your Camera
Try to Simplify
Try to Simplify
Once you have visualised your subject and agreed on the proper distance, set out to find the best side and the best sight of it. This amounts to putting it in the right perspective and the right light.
Again, it is easy enough once you have made up your mind what your subject is to be. Of course, if you just said "a few sheep," this would leave too many possibilities open. But you said "a few sheep casting long shadows over a meadow," and that is better. You obviously want those shadows to come out as clearly as possible : the drama and the pattern of them.
You will circle around your subject and look out for the side which shows both the sheep and the shadows at their best. You will try to get rid of all obtrusive detail interfering with the theme : the white sheep and their black shadows. You will not like patches of light in the foreground. You will not like patches of shadow in the sheep coats either. You definitely will not like any converging lines drawing the eye towards some far background. You have to eliminate all this detail. Search for the right viewpoint. Go round and round, hold your camera higher and then lower it again. This is the way to get down to your theme. You are now on your way to simplification.
The choice of the right distance has cut out matters inessential to your subject. the choice of the right viewpoint will suppress all detail confusing its message.
Again, just as the warning, "get close," does not imply that only close-ups can make good pictures, but merely says do not allow anything to creep into the frame of your camera's view which does not form an essential part of the subject you mean to show - so this advice to simplify does not demand either the stripping of every subject bare of all detail, but of all the irrelevant and distracting detail only.
Now whether some detail is irrelevant or important, whether it distracts from the subject matter or underlines it, does not depend only on what you want to show, but also on how you want to show it. It is a question of style. You can show the same man's face as a pleasantly-shaped surface, or a tragic map of folds, wrinkles and shadows.You have to decide on the message of your subject, just as you have decided on the choice of your subject.
Know what you want to emphasise before you start the sentence. The man who emphasises every word easily becomes unintelligible and unbearable in any case.