Come on Guys, Keep It Clean {for photographers}

This one is pretty simple, and that’s kind of the whole point here. While doing a recent engagement session I walked by this tree with a brick wall behind it. (See original photo below). The first thing that struck me were all those openings between the branches. Easy framing device right there. I also noticed a clean uncluttered brick wall behind the tree as well, and a ledge for my clients to stand on too. So, here’s a quick run down on how I brought all the focus onto my subjects in a scene that was actually both clean (only two elements, the tree branches and the brick wall) yet potentially chaotic. Although I only had two elements to deal with, if handled incorrectly, it could have become a hot mess! The 2 main factors in taming all those lines of the branches and brick wall were due to aperture selection, and tight cropping to eliminate those windows in the background on either side of them. Also notice the use of contrast in the final image, her face is just about the brightest thing in the whole photo. The eye will naturally go to the area of most contrast, and I used this to my advantage. Scroll down to see my complete thought process on this shot.

My thoughts:
1.) Dark spindly branches to use as a natural framing device. This helps create a “frame” around my subjects which helps bring focus to them.
2.) Notice how in this part of the scene it is naturally a little brighter. I use this to my full advantage in the final shot as this brighter part is where I have put Gabby’s face, again another way of bringing attention to your subject through contrast of dark and light.
3.) A critical element to the success of this photo is aperture selection. By using a shallow depth of field I was able to decrease the focus on both the tree branches and the brick wall. This softens up all those hard lines and is another way of bringing attention to my subjects. Imagine if both the branches and the brick wall were in perfect focus too? Yuck! Shot settings : ISO 800, Lens: 70-200mm (shot at 140mm) f/2.8 1/400 sec.
4.) This was another very important decision in making this photograph. I had some shots with a little bit of these windows showing and it was an eye sore. The main reason is because they are painted white and therefore created a lot of contrast. In this case, it was undesirable contrast. So I had to make sure I cropped in tighter to eliminate them from the photo.
5.) The ledge. Without the ledge I’m not sure they would have had enough height on their own to be seen in that branch opening.

And here is the final image:

So, hopefully that was somewhat helpful to you photographers out there. Don’t be shy now, chime in with comments or questions. Also, if you think this might be useful for someone else you know, please send them a link to it:

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