Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Getting In Close

Scott Kelby had Tyler Stableford as a quest blogger on his "Photoshop Insider" blog today. Tyler is putting his money where his mouth is and his eye where his art is. He's trying to do something for the Wide Horizons For Children program in Ethiopia. The gist of his post was that we, as photographers, can do more with our cameras than we could ever do with our wallets. We're in November now. In the U.S. it's the time when we have a holiday called Thanksgiving. It's based on being a time to have a feast to celebrate the harvest. The crops are in and this would be the time of the year when the larders were their fullest. Life was good and the settlers could kickback a little and get ready for the onslaught of winter. Stableford's message is that there is no such time in a country like Ethiopia. There are very few pantries that are stocked at any time of the year. It doesn't matter if you have a $6,000.00 D3s or a Canon 7D or a hundred dollar point and shoot. There are things that you can do with a camera pressed to your eye that can help the less fortunate. You also don't have to travel to find a noble cause. Don't get me wrong, I highly admire what Stableford has done. All I'm saying is that you can look anywhere and find a way to help. Money's good, deeds are better. What's this got to do with today's image? Only that Stableford said one of the key points someone told him was that people won't donate to sweeping landscapes. You have to get in close and show the character of someone in need. That's where the money comes from. To learn a little bit about today's image, hit the "read more".

The primary objective of an image like today's is to get you to stop. To take a moment to say "what is it I'm seeing here". It's pretty obvious that there's a zebra in there, but what's less apparent is what the second zebra is doing. It looks like one in the back is attacking the one in the foreground. It's not! It's showing someone some love. It's a nuzzle, not a bite. The shot that came out of the camera was slightly larger than the final image. That's sort of typical because we typically crop to a 16 x 20 format. It could have gone either way. Coming in from the right might have cut into the ear. Cropping from the left eliminated the head of the forward animal. The decision to come in from the left was selected only to make the image more abstract. Your first glance throws you off a little and you have to take a closer look to determine what it is you're seeing. It's not really tricky, just enough to make you pause.

Knowing what the final image is going to look like before going to the camera is very helpful. When I was in my late teens my parents decided to have a family portrait done. At the appointed hour I showed up all decked out. Shirt, tie, jacket and a pair of cutoff shorts. My mother almost fainted. She thought I had surely messed up the shot. I explained that I, being the tallest in the family, would certainly be in the back row (there was seven of us, so I knew it would be multi-tiered). The photographer assured her everything was find and stood me dead center in the back row. You can see my jacket, tie and shirt, but not the cutoffs. Previsualization of what you're trying to capture reduces the amount of time you have to have your subject stand around while you get the shot ready. Get in close and make the experience a good one for the client. You'll end up with more smiles and less back biting.