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More On Easy Ways To Get Better Images

The subject of today’s image was at the same Renaissance Faire as the person in my last post.  If you check them both out there’s something you may notice that makes them similar.  There’s not a whole lot to look at other than the subject.  That’s today’s key to getting better “starting points” to having a successful image.  There’s a fairly prolific photographer/writer out in the wild by the name of Rick Sammon.  I’ve seen him speak a couple times and have come to the conclusion that Rick’s biggest fan is — Rick.  There is, however, one phrase he uses that goes along with the way I’ve shot most of my career.  His saying is “the name of the game is fill the frame”.  He’s not the first guy (or the last) to espouse that philosophy.  There’s a guy out on YouTube who goes by the handle Fro Knows Foto.  According to him, he doesn’t crop.  Says he shoots the frame he wants in the camera.  Cropping is apparently against some bizarre cult rule he’s set up for himself.  My guess would be that he must not frame and hang a whole lot of prints.  It almost impossible to find frames that fit the standard format of a camera’s sensor.  Today’s image is 100% of what the camera saw when I clicked the shutter.  To find out way that’s both a good thing and a bad thing, hit the “Read More”.

It’s probably easier to start with why it would be a good thing to be able to use the full frame.  You get the maximum number of pixels to play with.  If you happen to have one of the new cameras that have fifty megapixel resolution you could probably produce a print that will fill your wall.  I mean top to bottom, side to side.  Doris used to make 16 x 20 prints from a four megapixel camera.  If you read what “the experts” say, you can’t make an print that big from a file that small.  Actually, yes you can and have a perfectly acceptable print.  The trick would be that the only cropping you can do in that case is to get to the 16 x 20 format.  With today’s high megapixel camera you can do quite a bit of cropping.  

The downside of “filling the frame” as you shoot is that you don’t have any “wiggle room”.  In today’s image I can’t really take anything off the top.  The woman’s bright red hair is sort of central to the image.  Without the top of the dress at the bottom of the image you’d loose the context of the image.  Any cropping from the sides would make the image a vertical panel.  A somewhat weird format for a “people shot”. 

I shoot tight.  I always have.  One of the “problems” with shooting tight is that you often blow the shot.  Being off by just the smallest amount means something important to the image was lost.  Listen to the top sports shooters.  They advocate shooting loose.  Leaving room around the subject of the shot to insure getting the optimum action in the frame.  Tight but loose.  Cropping to get the drama of the shot is not a problem to a sports photographer.

The same thing goes for photojournalists.  Bill Eppridge followed Bobby Kennedy around for two years.  He took the famous shot of the busboy/waiter (whoever he was) cradling Kennedy’s head while he was bleeding out on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.  If you look at the image that was used in newspapers around the world you’d see that it’s not a 35mm format.  It was cropped.  Bill had shot loose and the editors cropped to dramatic effect.   

Back to today’s image.  Doris has a shot of the same woman.  Her shot is full length.  Behind the woman you see a building, some trash cans, people wandering through the frame.  Not one of her better shots.  Why?  She didn’t “fill the frame” with “enough” of the subject to make an interesting shot.  I was shooting with an 18 – 300mm lens.  She was shooting with an 18 – 135mm lens.  We were both racked out as far as the lens would go.  The solution, for Doris, would be to “zoom with your feet”.  Walk up closer to your subject.  Doris will practically climb inside a flower to get a powerful image, but couldn’t get herself to walk up to a stranger to get as powerful an image of the woman.

Sammon and Fro are “kind of” right, but you also need to emulate the sports and photojournalist’s in giving yourself some “wiggle room”.  To improve your images, get as close as you think you need to be.  Then take two steps closer.  You’ll see how much improved your images get.  The big deal is to get out and shoot.

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