Shooting images containing flags is a thankless task; a dozen good compositions may all be rejected because the flag is not in a photogenic pose. Shooting flags by themselves presents other challenges: everyone knows what the subject matter is, and finding a unique way of framing it is important. Macros of just a portion of a flag will produce interesting images with all the needed content, without all the usual real estate. Adding further elements such as motion blur and selective focus can function to abstract the image, while still leaving the colors and forms clearly visible. One such example is shown below, offering a more poetic, less literal flag image, which would be a good seller for stock image use.
Colors can add power and meaning to images. Color relationships are part of these effects. When an entire image is of one object, the color coordination was taken care of by the designer of that object. But when various elements in the real world form unintended color relationships, its a great chance for the photographer to step in, and manipulate color.
In the image below, the red, white, and blue motif of the trolley is a given. But the coincidence of it stopping at a traffic light behind the red and blue scooters was an opportunity not to be missed. The only question was whether there was enough time to pull out an iPhone, open the Photo app, and compose an image before the light changed. Once that was accomplished, a bit of color coordinating in Photoshop, to enhance the relationship between the various reds and blues in the image, completed the process.
The shot below is a workmanlike architectural image of a beautiful set of doors. Distracting elements surrounding the doorway have been cropped out, the perspective has been corrected within reason, and the exposure and shadow detail set to tell the whole story as clearly as possible.
But is this the most interesting, and salable, image of this subject matter? Lets start with a decision to avoid the paper sign duct taped to the door. And to try to get a sense of the imposing scale of these doors, sized for a deity, not mere humans. Setting the exposure, color, and white balance to a moodier, less literal options could also add impact. And leaving the image as a part, not the whole, of the doorway creates a sense of mystery. The image below is based on these, and other, decisions. It is far more likely to sell, especially as stock, then the more straightforward image above. C. David Tobie
Layering is a powerful tool to add interest and dimension to images. When shots fall flat, it is useful to scout for interesting foreground elements that can be added to the composition. Foreground images which can be silhouetted can be particularly powerful in framing the shot.
The elegant hotel in this image had been shot in previous sessions, but without producing a sufficiently interesting result, even using the fountain as a foreground element. The old man sitting on the bench offered the perfect opportunity to layer a more interesting and dynamic image. And silhouetting eliminated issues with recognizable faces and image usage restrictions. C. David Tobie
It is easy to miss the photographic potential of pleasing decay. Until framed and displayed as art, it has the habit of just looking messy. Keeping an eye out for locations where a shot can depict aging, and perhaps the layers of paint, masonry, or stucco applied over time can be rewarding.
In the shot below, an arch top window long ago infilled with bricks and stones of differing sizes and colors, then plastered and painted over at various times provides an interesting story, once isolated and focused on. It would have been all to easy to pass by the alley where this deteriorating wall was located, in a town full of architectural beauty.C. David Tobie
One of the more amusing types of photography is found symbols; objects that have, at least from one angle, a resemblance to some other object or symbol. Hearts are the most common example, including heart shaped rocks, heart shaped leaves, and even heart shaped wine spills. The most practical use for such images is as stock photos for graphic and web design.
The example below is amusing because of the contrast between the utilitarian object being photographed (an asphalt road), and the romantic symbol accidentally formed (a heart). The fact that the heart is not quite perfect gives credence to it being an actual tar spot, not an intentionally formed heart. If the designer desires a more perfect heart, a bit of Photoshop work can provide that. For some design projects just such a contrast between object and symbol would be perfect. Keywording is important for images of this type, so that they can be found by appropriate searches in the stock photo library where they are placed. Keywords for this image could include: #BlackHeart, #HardHearted, #LoveTheHighway, #AsphaltHeart, and #HeartOfStone.
When, and how, should a photographer sacrifice detail and focus to color? Its important to determine which element of an image is key, and decide how to strengthen it, even if that means sacrificing other elements that we usually consider important to an image. Here we are looking at a shot that would be all about the classic car, if it was a full focus image. To make it more about form, and especially color, the choice was made to use a LensBaby lens to create a selective focus image. This way the user has little choice but to view the overall forms, and especially the colors, of the image, as there is little else in the frame to distract from them.