Less is more... sometimes

01/03/2013 - 15:41


Sometimes the ‘less is more’ approach can work well in photography…


On a day in Padstow I was walking along the harbour edge and was really struck by the bands of reflections, in the silty pools at low tide, of a small trawler.


The harbour walls were warm in colour due to the evening’s ‘golden hour’ light and made a nice colour contrast to the earthy tones of the harbour’s sandy/ silty mud.


The silty floor of the harbour had interest in its form & graphic patterns and the striking red paint of the boat was a natural draw to the eye.



There were other boats nearby of a range of colours, shapes and sizes – yet it seemed that as this one called the ‘Gypsy King’ had caught my eye straight away that it deserved to be photographed on its own.  There were enough elements in framing it in ‘portrait format’ to make it appealing, I felt.


Having made that one photograph (okay it was three bracketed exposures for a high dynamic range image!), I put the camera away and walked away, pleased at the simplicity of it.


Sometimes we turn up at places that overwhelm us in detail and choices, so the idea of subtracting elements in our view can make us get a sense of what it is that really appeals to us about a place – can we simplify things and still let there be a narrative in our image? On the other hand there are moments such as the one described - where we are struck very quickly or even immediately by something in the landscape.


I believe that there is a great difference between ‘looking’ and ‘seeing’ – in the sudden moments that a visualisation of some excitable photographic composition arises, we are ‘seeing’ rather than just ‘looking’.


If one stood at the same view point with several observers (with or without cameras) in wide views or busily detailed vistas:


  • many would ‘see’ different elements of interest


  • some would just look and say to themselves it was “nice” (as a whole view) – they might even “take a snap” to sum up as much of the view in front of them as they could.


  • maybe none of them would ‘see’ what you saw at all as a composition (and even if they did see what you saw as points of interest, then chances are that if they made a photograph that their photograph would differ somewhat from yours in terms of framing)



“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”


Jonathan Swift



So I recommend listening to that quiet voice that whispers in your head saying “yes, what I see in front of me is enough for this view to work, I don’t need to add anything else”. Moments that strike a chord within us are emotive or visceral and if we can translate that into a good composition, in interesting light then the photographer’s emotional response is likely to be ingrained into the image itself.



(Boulder islands in the Upper Dart river - below the confluence of the East & West Dart Rivers)



“Making the simple complicated is commonplace;

making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity."


Charles Mingus






Andrew F
04/11/2015 - 09:38
Your pictures portray a lot of emotion & mixed with the words you have written one can understand the feeling/meanings in your captures

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