Big offset against little, color offset against monochrome, straight offset against curved, slow offset against fast, cheerful offset against sad: All of these and more show extremes in contrast and can be depicted in images. When opposites are combined in a single photograph, subject contrast is created. When subject contrast is created, photographic impact is the result. Pictures with impact grab a viewer’s attention. What this all leads up to is encouraging you to incorporate the technique of using opposites so viewers of your photos provide a myriad of compliments! In other words, use complements to receive compliments!
Look for ways to juxtapose contrasting subjects in your compositions. Look for ways to show scale, extremes in color, emotion, differences in light, age, etc. As an experiment, thumb through the nearest magazine you can find. Notice how pictures that depict these characteristics tend to pop off the page. Hopefully, this encourages you to heed the ideas in this week’s tip to apply the principles into your own image-making.
Large subjects contrasted with small ones hold a viewer’s interest. The relationship compels him or her to study the comparison of items within the photograph. Try to keep the image simple so the message is easily identifiable. Avoid clutter in the background. Use easily identifiable compositional elements to draw the viewer into your picture. Make sure the light emphasizes the main elements so the eye is drawn to them. If not, darken the secondary parts of the composition in Photoshop so the viewer’s eye isn’t distracted from the primary subjects.
In the image of the Namib sand dunes, I chose a horizontal format even though this photo is famously made as a vertical showing just the single tree and dune. For me, the horizontal reveals three examples of opposites: size, color and light. The size component is obvious, the tree on the left is lit although it’s offset against the shadowed side of the dune and the deep green offset against the deep orange dune creates contrast.
In the other images that accompany this week’s tip, the opposite features attract the eye to very specific locations within each photo. Opposites and contrast appear everywhere. To photograph them, it’s simply a matter of looking beyond the obvious and letting your “photo eyes” go beyond the cliché. Sometimes it takes patience to let what’s not obvious develop. Sometimes it means using a lens creatively. Sometimes it takes practice seeing the world differently. Whatever the reason, the next time you’re out in the field, do the opposite!
Visit www.russburdenphotography.com for information about his nature photography tours and safari to Tanzania.