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It’s photography, not Philosophy

Constant new discoveries in chemistry and optics are widening considerably our field of action. It is up to us to apply them to our technique, to improve ourselves, but there is a whole group of fetishes which have developed on the subject of technique. Technique is important only insofar as you must master it in order to communicate what you see… The camera for us is a tool, not a pretty mechanical toy. In the precise functioning of the mechanical object perhaps there is an unconscious compensation for the anxieties and uncertainties of daily endeavor. In any case, people think far too much about techniques and not enough about seeing.
—Henri Cartier-Bresson

Recently I got into the habit of reading articles on photography and honestly I was disappointed by a majority of them. Most of these articles make photography appear way too difficult for everyone to take up and if I was a beginner I would have given up the hope of becoming a good photographer someday. They make it sound like philosophy, like an unconquerable art (unless you subscribe to the courses offered by the authors of these articles) Well, I am here to tell you otherwise and thus decided to write this article. You don’t need to be as talented and gifted as Da Vinci or Michelangelo.

Photography is simple and anyone can take good pictures. Understanding the basics of composition, aperture, shutter speed and ISO is more than enough and you can easily learn these over the internet or through an introductory course. The problem is that most of the people spend way too much time reading and worrying about technicalities instead of noticing the world around them. A wide aperture and high ISO handling ability definitely help but they just can’t substitute creativity and a well trained eye. Following are few examples of how even simple techniques can help you take good photographs, irrespective of the camera you own.

I took the following picture with a Panasonic Lumix FS-28, one of the most basic compact cameras available in the market. Google a bit about tips on composition of portraits and you will see that placing the eye’s in the upper 1/3rd of the frame and filling the frame are the most widely recommended tips. I did the same. Since I lacked a good zoom, I went closer to my subject and filled up the frame to come up with this shot.

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Here are a few other examples:

1. In the following picture, Andrzej Witek ( Barcelona Photo Project) used the concept of leading lines to come up with a distinctive picture of the Arc De Triomf in Barcelona.

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2. Henri Cartier-Bresson (considered to be the father of modern photojournalism) expertly applied the concept of leading lines to come up with these masterworks

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Andrzej applied the rule of thirds to perfection to come up with the following picture.

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As you can see, photography is not at all that hard. If there is one golden piece of advice I can give you its “Shoot a lot and start noticing the world around you” Like all things, photography demands practice. The more you shoot, the more you’ll start noticing the world around you. Challenge yourself to shoot within the limitations of your technical knowledge and equipment and you will become a better photographer. As they say “Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder” I rest my case.

Upinder Singh, Barcelona Photo Project

 

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