Finding Good Subjects

Left Image: Tokina 80-200mm f-2.8 ATX lens, Bogen tripod and ball head.
Spot meter,  f-5.6, 1/250 sec, on aperture priority and autofocus.






You don't have to travel the world to find good subjects. You can find good subjects any where if you spend the time looking for them. Time is the key in taking good photographs. When we go out to take pictures, we expect to see a grand landscape or a beautiful sunset waiting and posing for us, and we want to photograph it quickly so we can move on to another scene. You know that it doesn't work that way. If it did everybody owning a camera would be doing it, and photography wouldn't be considered an art. You simply should not expect to take out your camera and take great photographs of a subject just because it happens to be nice such as a waterfall or a sunset. That is called snap shots, not photography.

When you are out with your camera, you have to slow down and look more closely at everything around you. Take your time. As you walk you will see so many interesting subjects that you can spend a life time in just one spot and not be able to photograph them all. Don't look at a scene and shoot. Look a bit closer at details within a scene and you will discover something even more interesting. Recently I was out photographing a landscape. I started by taking a few shots using my 24mm wide angle to include the mountains in the background and the colorful flowers in the foreground. By looking a little closer and switching to my 80-200mm lens, I took several shots of just the flowers. I moved in closer and focused on a single flower and took some close-ups using my 100mm macro lens. Then I noticed dozens of insects on the flowers, so I attached an extension tube to my lens and moved in even closer. After taking several shots of the insects, I removed the extension tube and attached a 2X teleconverter to my macro lens and truly entered the world of insects. At this high magnification, I could see every detail on my tiny subjects. Colorful lines and dots invisible to the naked eye. I spent about five hours in that one spot and photographed a wide variety of subjects just by slowing down and looking a little closer.


Right Image: Tamron 70-210mm f-2.8, Kenko extension tubes, 1/8 sec at f-8







By slowing down and looking around you will develop an eye for photography. Your own unique vision that will separate you from snap shooters. Once you have picked a spot and found a good subject, look through the viewfinder without attaching your camera to your tripod. Once you find a good composition, set up your camera on your tripod and take the shot. Switch to a different lens and move around and look for a different view.

It is not what you photograph, but how you photograph it that makes a difference. By paying attention to the changing light, having patience, an eye for detail, and a little luck, you can produce great images. Go somewhere close to home where you know the area. I have my favorite spots close to where I live and have taken thousands of photographs in the same area and still look forward to going back for more.

Photography And The Art Of Seeing: A Visual Perception Workshop For Film And Digital Photography


Book Description
A practical and inspiring guide.

This Third Edition familiarizes readers with the traditional principles of composition and visual design. The jargon-free text provides practical techniques and innovative exercises for breaking with traditional concepts of design to enable the photographer to develop a keen awareness of subject matter and a personal direction.

Topics include: - Barriers to seeing - Learning to observe: rethinking the familiar - Learning to imagine: abstracting and selecting - Learning to express: Subject matter and the photographer - Elements and principles of visual design and more.

This edition of Photography and the Art of Seeing is updated to include technical guidelines adapted for both digital and film photographers and includes photographs from Freeman Patterson's personal collection. Extended captions include valuable technical information and personal commentary reflective of the superb craftsmanship and stunning photography from one of the most highly acclaimed and celebrated photographers worldwide.