What Guards Your City?

I haven’t had a chance to get out and shoot much recently, so I went digging in the vault again.  This is one of my favorite pictures – not so much because I did anything wonderful, but because I was in the right place and just didn’t mess it up.

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This could have easily been a crappy shot – if you care to here more, click the link and I’ll lay it out.The first thing to note is this was taken with a Point and Shoot in JPG mode way back in the day.  If you have a steady hand, a still subject, and most importantly good strong daylight, you can take a good shot with almost any camera.  Really.

The second tip is all about the framing, and this is why I like this shot.  I wanted the Gargoyle in the shot, but really this is about seeing Paris from the top of Notre Dame.  I had to lean WAY out to get the Eiffel Tower in the corner and the Seine in the foreground but it really wouldn’t have been the same otherwise.  Think about framing – it really matters.  Also notice that the horizon is about 2/3 of the way up the frame.  I know I’ve talked about the rule of thirds before, but usually just in the few instances where you can break the rule.  95% of the time, it truly is key and is one of the things that is the easiest to change to improve any picture.  I could have set the horizon on the bottom 1/3 of the frame for the same effect, but I would have lost the composition.

The next thing is something that I always try and do when I’m shooting a landscape or anything in the distance.  Get something in the foreground.  The corner is fine, a whole edge is better.  It doesn’t matter if the foreground or the background is what you focus on, but you get WAY more depth and dimension to have things at various depths in the picture, and I think it is much more interesting when some elements in the frame are in focus and some are out of focus.

The last one you get for free.  No matter what your depth of field is, it is unlikely you’ll be able to focus on something close and something far.  GOOD! You don’t want it, even if you could.  Even with an old camera, focusing on the Gargoyle that was close to me means I get a smooth, out of focus background.  With the Eiffel Tower back there it is still instantly recognizable.

I keep coming back to this one.  It wasn’t a mistake, but it also wasn’t a plan – when I saw it, I knew what to do.  Follow a few simple tips and all your shots will be a little better.

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