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Monday, October 21, 2013

No Merging Allowed

While out on the road, I often see yellow caution signs

Click Images To Enlarge This Article Features Photo Zoom

While out on the road, I often see yellow caution signs—"Lanes Merge—Drive with Care." I love to ski and do so cautiously, so I take care when I see a sign that says, "Trails Merge—Slow Down." I've heard boaters talk about how careful they need to be when they go through a narrow channel where different waterways Merge. As photographers, we need to heed the same warning when it comes time to create a composition. As a matter of fact, I'd like to market a little yellow warning sign that gets placed on the back of a camera to remind photographers to lookout for MERGERS before they press the shutter.

A merger occurs when important elements in the photo overlap, touch the edge of the frame, or blend in tonality that prevents separation, all in awkward ways. The quintessential example is the tree that appears to be growing out of Aunt Sally's head. In that the tree merges with her, it gives the appearance that the trunk or branches are part of her being. You'd think it would be obvious and very easy to avoid. The fact of the matter is the photographer is usually so zeroed in on the main subject, that the rest of the image area is overlooked. I encourage you to study the entire viewfinder for any and all mergers before you press the shutter. This takes practice, but it will net you better images in the end.

If you have control over the subject, change its position so what's behind it has a clean background. Have the subject move forward, backward, to the left, right, higher or lower. Use a longer lens with a wide-open aperture to help throw the background out of focus. Pair this up with moving your subject away from the background and the background may turn into a beautiful wash of color.

In the accompanying images, I obviously had no control over the subject matter. A change in my camera position wouldn't help in that the action was too quick. The only control I had was to wait and to be patient. The image without the mergers was actually one of the last in the flight sequence of the snow geese at dawn. As the number of birds dwindled, there were fewer to merge with each other or touch the edge of the frame to create an edge merger. The bottom line is, do whatever it takes to prevent the MERGE.

Visit www.russburdenphotography.com


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