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Common Traps and How to Avoid Them

Lesson 12 from: FAST CLASS: Minimalist Photography

Curtis Jones

Common Traps and How to Avoid Them

Lesson 12 from: FAST CLASS: Minimalist Photography

Curtis Jones

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Lesson Info

12. Common Traps and How to Avoid Them

Lesson Info

Common Traps and How to Avoid Them

we've talked a lot about creating minimal photos and stripping things down to the bare essentials and the essence of an image. I want to talk a little bit now about when maybe you can go a little too far and some of the common traps to avoid. When we're taking this journey towards cleaner, more simple images. Just because we can strip a photo back to its most essential and Bear doesn't necessarily make it the most interesting version of that photo. Sometimes we're shooting for something so simple that it becomes dull, it lacks depth or shape. It's just kind of an interesting and boring. There's going to be a fine line sometimes between what someone considers boring and what someone considers meaningful and that's up to you to figure out what you want to shoot and where that line is for you, it's going to be different for every creator. But if you personally find that your images are falling a little flat. Here are some tips that can help you build a little bit more interest and depth b...

ack in your scene while still remaining quite clean and still powerful, minimal concepts. Let's start with this little gentoo penguin in Antarctica here. It's a pretty clean, simple, minimalist image. You've got your gentoo little guy here in the middle. Lots of negative space. Not a lot of contrast. It's not really, it's not really popping. So to me it feels a bit flat and maybe I could fix some of that in post, but I don't know, there's there's just something missing kind of from from this image compare that to our second image here of a little chin strap and he's riding high on this iceberg of life. There's like some beautiful negative space up top. Lots of lovely negative soft negative space here in the front. And that's a function of that telephoto that I was mentioning before. You're kind of shooting past with wide aperture so you can soften that foreground, it's not distracting. You've got the mid ground here, another layer of depth that's got your sharp focus, you got your little chinstrap taking most of the attention. There is a little bit detail here in the middle, but that's okay. It helps tell the story of the environment and then this peak in the back to kind of balance out the weight, the visual weight of the penguin over here, but not so much and focus that it really draws our attention and then like I said, all this lovely clean negative space up here. So, this is an example. I think a good example of shooting a penguin in its environment. Still holding onto and retaining some of that minimalism and that clean composition that we were talking about using the tips and techniques and tricks that doesn't feel flat. It feels like there's depth, there are layers, it's more engaging, just a stronger image overall than the simple, albeit more minimal photo. Another thing you're gonna want to avoid. I'm going to show you this example from that town walk again, it's a slightly different version where the bird had flown off the light here. But something when you take all the color and you have a very basic composition that's relying heavily on shape and line and pattern and stuff like that and form. It's gonna be easier to notice when those things are out of whack. So you want to be very, very careful about things like straight lines for example. So you can see here that there's not a whole lot of information in this photograph. Other than these polls, these lines in this bird and to me, I can see that these lines, these polls are tilting. Uh and that's a function of they may have been a little bit off access just the way they were on the ground. But mostly it's because I was pointing my camera up and there's that weird distortion happening with the lens, but you can see if I draw straight lines down how far off these polls are. And even though it doesn't seem like that big a deal, it's just enough of a big deal for me to notice and it's going to take viewers out of their, they're gonna look at it and be going, there's something off. I don't know exactly what it is, but it's not, it's not as calming and soothing and pleasant to look at as it should be. And I have one final thing that I want to go over with you guys. This is my friend Sandy. I shot this just on location a little while ago in nunavut as an example, a demonstration of how you can with like just like the penguin shot, how you can take a minimalist image that looks flat and kind of dull and just lacks that depth and dimension. So you can start out one place and work the scene, work the subject and the location to create depth and hopefully still end up with a minimalist image with a little more expression and a little more depth. Welcome to the beautiful frozen sea ice outside of a Callaway here in nunavut, up on baffin island. I'm out here with my friend Sandy Fin and we're going to try to do three images tonight that demonstrate three different styles to shoot a similar subject, going from basically the most cluttered or visually distracting to super stripped down and minimal. Getting rid of all the clutter anything that's not essential to tell our story. And then from that were the third image. Try to build a little more depth back into our frame. Just keeping the most important stuff and adding to it just in any way that we can to sort of strengthen that image and make it a little less one dimensional, a little less flat. You both look great right now. So here we are with this first image of Sandy and I wanted this first shot to be just a typical nice shot of Sandy and perhaps charlie on the ice. Not really paying attention at this point to getting things nice and clean basically a standard shot that I might take or And if you guys might take if you were out just having a nice night with friends, as you can see, there's still quite a bit of clutter in the background with all that miss shape and ice that's kind of pushed up and it's sort of cutting into sandy here in the middle. There's also quite a lot of distraction in the footprints in the snow where we were out there, sort of just looking for an angle and the dog was walking about. So I want to try to clean all that up with the second shot for the second attempt. I knew I wanted to get Sandy a little higher. I also knew that I was going to need to get lower myself. I wanted to shoot her against a nice clean sky. I worked a couple of different variations and angles, some with the dogs, some without. But the idea was to get my subject up high and against a clean backdrop with very little distraction in the foreground and certainly not having any of that ice cutting into her form. You can see here we have a very clean sky. The ice shelf isn't cutting into the subject anymore. And Sandy is a strong anchor in the middle. So it's a cleaner image, but perhaps not an interesting image. The plan with this final image was to use some of the shapes in the ice itself as foreground and framing with this wide aperture. I knew I could get that ice close to the lens and it would photograph soft, keeping Sandy up against the sky like this and having her sort of stay on that piece of ice made sure that we still had a clean backdrop. And then it was just a matter of moving inches left and right until sandy and now charlie came into my frame. Mm hmm. This last image feels more interesting to me. It still has loads of negative space, still very clean and simple, just a little more crafted. And we've introduced some depth back into this shot.

Ratings and Reviews

Brittany Riggs
 

Lovely and information. The information was relevant and ended up helping a good bit.

Vincent Zuck
 

Very interesting class, in a very unusual location (Arctic), which blended together to give a top notch class. I learned a lot about Minimalism as applied to photography, and Minimalism as applied to post-processing. Curtis is engaging while teaching and demonstrating on site, or back in his "office". I really enjoyed this class. Thank you Curtis.

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