Make Simplicity a Habit
This article was originally published in September 2016.
Chip Away at the Distractions
Look carefully at the scene and keep out anything that doesn’t go well with the rest of the image. Fill the frame with the subject and avoid distracting elements in the background. Don’t hesitate to manually remove some objects like plastic wrappers.
One way to simplify a cluttered scene is to shoot in the early morning haze when the smaller details are not easily visible.
Pay Attention to the Edges
Keep the corners of the image clean and free of disturbance. Be very mindful of where you put the edges.
Sometimes, we get so excited by the subject that we forget to pay attention to the rest of the image. But remember that even an image with a strong subject can be ruined by badly composed edges.
To Zoom in or to Zoom Out
Zooming in or going closer is the easiest way to simplify your composition. But for certain landscapes, like a beach or a desert, zooming out and going ultra wide can flatten out the undulations and give you a less cluttered image.
Mind the Colours
A simple colour palette easily draws attention and is pleasing to the eye. Remember to keep the focal point of the image brighter in colour as the eye is first attracted to the brightest part of the image.
Look for contrasting colours such as yellow flowers against a deep blue sky. Use a polarising filter to make the colours pop and to reduce reflections from tree foliage and water bodies.
Practise Simplicity Even When Not Shooting
Develop the habit of noticing good compositions even when you don’t intend to make an image. Imagine the final picture and think of how you will go about shooting and processing it. This practice keeps your photographer’s eye sharp.