Photography is Subtraction Not Addition

May 10, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Ya'll ! Hope you've had a great week! Me? Pretty good! This week I want to talk about a subject that will improve your photography by leaps and bounds. We as photographers are always trying to find the magic cure or recipe to great photography. We try new gear or special editing techniques. We download all sorts of presets hoping some other photographer has found the magic combination of settings in Lightroom. But there really isn't any secret sauce! The key is to keep it simple. Make your photo's simple. How do we make a photograph that will catch someone's eye? It's by taking out everything that is not needed in the photo .  Taking away all of the distractions for the viewer to see what was so special in the photo you took. By Subtracting! Why do we want large megapixel camera's? So we can crop and still have good resolution. Why do we crop? To get rid of unwanted things in our scene. We Subtract. To me that's the main reason to Raven's Roost Va.Raven's Roost Va. have a high megapixel photo. So we can crop or subtract. Thats why cropping works! 

It's not what you leave in but what you leave out that will make your photographs good. People use longer focal lengths for that exact reason when shooting street photography or wildlife or landscapes. To isolate what is important in a shot and to take away everything that is not. One of the great sayings in photography is " If your not getting good photo's move closer your not close enough" The saying is true because when you move closer you take away all of the surrounding stuff that doesn't matter to your photo.  Your Subtracting the junk to make your photo better. When you edit one of the final steps in editing is to do a boarder check. Checking the boarder for unwanted things that are poking in your photo. Subtracting the junk that isn't needed or wanted for the good photo. Distractions! Less is More!

Cades Cove TreeCades Cove Tree Someone long time ago asked Michelangelo the famous Renaissance sculptor and painter. " How did you make the "David" statue out of a single peace of Marble. He said " I took away everything that wasn't David". He Subtracted! So as we can see this system ins't new it has been going on for centuries ! Now I'm not saying that using this method that you will become the Michelangelo of photography but it should make your photographs more appealing and simple. Without all of the distractions you can show the people what you liked about the photograph to begin with.

So how do we do this in practice? It's all good to say that we need to subtract the distractions in our photo to make them Light House StairsLight House Stairs better but how? I think we should slow down. Get back to basics. We've become button pushers and don't take enough time setting up the camera , composing( framing) or waiting for just the right moment. We want to click , click, click and move on to the next thing. I am very much guilty of this process. As a matter of fact until I started shooting film again I was very much the "Clicker of Photos" My expensive camera just became an expensive point and shoot.  So I think that slowing down getting the correct aperture , composition and waiting for the correct moment to push the shutter is how we eliminate (Subtract) distractions. 

So that's it for this week. Subtract distractions for better photo's. So until next week Get out and Shoot!


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