Tag Archives: simplicity

Simplicity equals Longevity

I am a firm believer in keeping it simple in just about every aspect of life and living. Simple solutions are my preferred choice and photographic composition is no exception. It’s what you leave out that makes the difference.

Shooting landscapes with a wide angle lens it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of a big sprawling beautiful landscape and attempt to include everything. I believe it is much better to leave almost everything out. Nature can be quite chaotic and messy and I find it makes for a much better photo if you can isolate just a few elements in a strong composition. You would be forgiven for thinking that simple isolated strong compositions are the easiest to shoot. They’re not. They demand an eye for simple composition, an eye you have to constantly train. It is much easier to point your wide angle lens at everything or shoot a stitched panorama with a huge viewing angle. Much harder to isolate and pick out the best composition from the chaos.

I will present 3 landscapes from my Australia 2007 trip as examples of keeping it simple. These are subtle and simple photos and I didn’t pay them much attention at first among the many thousands of RAW files from the trip. Obvious shots jump at you when sorting the RAW files but obvious quickly becomes boring. Simplicity has staying power. The magic revealed itself later and I now consider these among my very favourite and best shots. For me all 3 of them have a special quality that somehow defies definition.

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Uluru and tree in the desert
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

A few but key elements make up this composition. A dead tree in the hot dry arid red centre of Australia is the main subject, Uluru and a deep blue polarized sky serve as a powerful background and colourful contrast to the monochrome tree. Almost every element is placed on a “golden mean”, a “thirds” position. The sky and Uluru divide the photo and create a balance. Something about the photo feels otherworldly to the viewer.

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Pandanus Palm and Termite Mounds at Hawk Dreaming
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

A few Pandanus Palm trees and Termite Mounds are the subjects and are balanced by the view of wide open space at Hawk Dreaming. The soft light at dusk lends a tranquil quality to the emotional impact. Most people will also feel the exotic subjects of Pandanus and Termite mound creates an otherworldly alien feel.

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Hawk Dreaming Savannah View
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

The cleanest and simplest of compositions, only 3 elements. The sky, the trees, the foreground. To create the dramatic wide angle composition and have the trees line up on the horizontal dividing line, I simply lay down in the grass and almost had the camera on the ground. The clouds create a strong sense of movement balanced by the detailed motionless foreground.

Simplicity demands an effort

I have found that it takes practice and effort to shoot simple. It’s easy to slip and include too much meaning you loose having a simple single focus point in the picture. Next time you compose a photo think about every elements you choose to include. Do they add to the photo? Do they subtract? Study the scene in your viewfinder, try different compositions – and keep it simple!