Photography creates an optical illusion. It captures what the person behind the lens wants you to see. With the right lighting and set up, your eyes can be manipulated quite easily. A photo can go from being a light, happy image to a creepy one by only changing the lighting. Images are powerful. They affect the way you feel. Creativity is important in making great work but there must be structure and principles to guide the work.
Rule of Thirds
This photo was featured on a blog called The Online Dark Room. The monochromatic color scheme reveals a lonely theme. The deserted bench, the barren trees, and the desolate background exhibits the overall theme of loneliness.
The focus of this photo, the bench, is easily identified and properly placed within the intersecting lines per the Rule of Thirds. Putting the bench off to the side allows for some white space. This is good because the white space highlights the subject, the lonely bench, and plays into the tone of the photo. The bench is there all alone, desolate, with nothing around but some bare trees. There is nothing else nearby. The lighting is dark. These dynamics play together nicely to give the photo a melancholy tone.
In my depiction of the Rule of Thirds I used the Tree as my focus. It is placed in the photo where the intersecting lines meet, just like the example I used above. The placement of the tree, along the lines in the photo shows the viewers where to focus their attention. The subject of my photograph stands out because it is placed along the correct lines required per the Rule of Thirds. I took this photo in the middle of the day. I also used a burlesque color setting to give it a desert, western type of look.
This scene was photographed by a professional photographer. This photo was taken right before the sun set in the sky. The horizon, with the sun and sky in the picture, gives it a nice feel of being outdoors.
The rows of flowers clearly outline the direction of the photograph. They guide the eyes along the picture and through the field. The vibrant color of the flowers and the dark texture of the mud is soothing to the eye. You feel as if you were in the picture and running through the field. This photo was taken during the golden hour as the colors are soft and there are no harsh shadows cast.
I took this photo in the late morning to capture dark shadows. I made the photo black and white to give it an isolated tone and a feel of the unknown. In this photo the lines along the house draw the eyes toward the door. It makes the viewers wonder what is behind the door. It prompts you to want to open it.
Depth of Field
This photograph was featured in a traveling website that focuses on Norway. They, very appropriately, placed the flag of Norway on their main page to highlight their subject.
This photo shows off its subject by focusing in on it and leaves the rest in the background. The Norway flag is boldly displayed, while the mountains in the background are not as clear but it gives the viewer a glimpse of the great land that the flag oversees below. This gives the viewer an immediate place to look to when they initially see the photo. They can tell right away what the photograph is about. All the colors are very vivid, especially that of the flag. It appears to be in motion, almost waving, to reflect country pride. The background still serves a purpose but requires a lesser amount of consideration than the flag. This photo appears to have been taken in the middle of the day because of the bright colors and dark shadows.
My photo has very similar elements to the example used above for this principle. Both display the outdoors and horizon type of scenery. I shot this photo from a window seat on an airplane. Just below me was the right wing. The wing starts out large on the bottom and then shrinks up to the horizon, drawing a leading line of direction. The background earth can be seen below the wing, showing how high the airplane is lifted off the ground. The ground below and body of water look small compared to the massive airplane wing. You can see depth with the difference in height from the airplane to the earth, similarly to the Norway flag and mountains picture.
It doesn’t take an expert to capture a good photograph, as long as the basic principles of photography are adhered to. Sometimes disregarding a principle is necessary for a phenomenal photo, however most of the time keeping these principles will provide successful results. These tools will provide structure for your creativity and allow you to be the designer behind the lens so you can create a masterpiece. You invent the illusion.