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“The best way out is always through.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Trust Your First Impressions

One of the things that I wrestle with a lot in photography is designing the image: where to put everything in the frame so that the image is as powerful as it can be. And I go through that decision-making process whether the subject is very simple (like the train station here) or a more complex subject. The question that I battle with from shot to shot is just this: Is this the best composition I can come up for this particular subject?

Often I'll spend a considerable amount of time walking around the subject and trying to find just the vantage point, or experiment from several vantage points with a few different lenses. But other times, as with this shot, I really wasn't looking for a prize-winning photo, just a good shot to remember this building. (I was actually there on a scouting trip, making plans for a future shoot.) Also, the late-afternoon light was fading fast, so I didn't have time to ponder the situation for very long--and that's a situation you'll run into a lot, especially when you're traveling and only in a place for a short time.

In this case, I went with the very first impression I had of the building: I took a straightforward shot from almost the first spot where I decided I wanted a shot of it. And while I might normally avoid such an obviously symmetrical design, I kind of like the way the building dominates the shot and divides the frame in half both vertically and horizontally. Also, if you look to the sides, you'll see a building on the left and a train on the right that fade into the distance with almost identical vanishing lines (lines that would lead to a vanishing point if you were able to follow them further). In fact, it was the symmetry of the shot that caught my eye. I did help the symmetry a bit in Photoshop by cropping tighter and rotating the shot a tiny amount to level the base of the building to the bottom line of the frame.

Sometimes going with your first impression is the very best choice. After all, something about that vantage point is what caught your eye. Of course, if I had more control over the situation, I'd prefer that the cigarette butt thing on the left and the a/c unit next to it weren't there, but like I said, this was a very informal shot. Trust me, if they were paying me to shoot this, I would have moved a big pot of flowers in front of that a/c unit!

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