Friday, January 24, 2014

Q: How to Give Life to Still Photographs of Still Things

One of the challenges of photography is imparting life and motion to a still record of a scene. In some cases this is quite simple. One frame of an eagle's swoop looks just as exciting as a video of the entire event. Indeed, still photographs of animals in action can intensify the drama, as the viewer begins to anticipate what will happen next, what occurred after the photo.
This is not true of plants. Plants don't swoop, or dive, or flash brilliant and bizarre mating feathers. Plants are the connoisseurs of slow. They grow, they mate, they fight, at a creeping, deliberate pace, too gradual for us to detect.
So how can one lend the same interest and excitement to plant photography as is characteristic of animal photography?

1. Develop an appreciation for color and shape.
Brilliant, saturated colors steep many flowers. However, the key to developing interest and excitement in flower photography is variety of both color and form. An endless field of red flowers may make for a striking landscape, but then become overpowering for a macro shot. To avoid visual oversaturation, try to mix different species of plant in the same frame, if possible. This is often quite easy to do if you are shooting in a botanical garden, where different flowers are arranged for you in ways that are already visually pleasing.

If you are shooting a single type of flower, try to incorporate different parts of the plant (ie stalks or leaves) to add variety. Alternatively, a shallow depth of field can be used to your advantage to paint areas of blurriness and sharpness and avoid monotony.

2. Use Visual Cues to Suggest Motion
In a photograph of a tiger leaping, the brain picks up on visual cues that allow you to interpret the picture as "action" - the stance of the tiger, the position of his paws, or perhaps the fact that he is no longer touching the ground. Similarly, compositional cues in still photos can be used to suggest motion and "trick" the brain.

In this picture, for example, the seed pod has been photographed at a lower angle, making it appear to be emerging from the flowers. This view is much more dynamic than if the pod had been photographed "head-on".
Here's another, more subtle, example.

In this image, the strong vertical lines suggest an upward motion of the flower, which is open to the sun. This composition works to create the feeling that the flower is "reaching" upwards, when, in reality, we know it is (relatively) static.

What sorts of tricks do you use to add interest to your flower photography?

No comments:

Post a Comment