Learning by description

It’s entirely possible that this lesson in the Find Your Eye photography course is one that is having the greatest impact on me.  Learning to describe what is going on in a photo that I really like , whether it is mine or not, is like learning the basics of photography all over again.  A greatly needed refresher course…

In light of all that, I have two examples from my archives, photos taken in the same setting almost a year ago, that I think demonstrate what I have learned in this lesson. 

trees in the park

Here is my first example. A view of some trees, not yet fully leafed out, on a lovely evening at the park. 

Where does your eye go when you look at this? Does it find something to focus on, or just kind of wander from the tree shadow to that building on the far right behind some other trees?  And then there is the light pole over there, too.

It’s not that this is an unpleasant image, because there are beautiful greens, and some yellow dandelions.  Nothing is really in sharp focus, but the overall scene is peaceful.  

Don’t get me wrong, I love trees, as many of you do, too. Yet…this is just a photo of a group of trees.  Nothing really stands out.  

This image has no story to tell. 

During this same evening, exploring the beautiful signs of spring, the little ponds here and there, and just taking in the view, I took several other photos.  This one below is my favorite.  After doing the work of this exercise I now understand more about why I like it so much. 

Riding through the park

The format is horizontal rather than vertical which suits this view much better.  The light, the colors, the soft shadows from the trees are similar to those in the first.  

The main difference that I see is that there is a subject now. There are people in the park; a girl in pink on the little bridge, and a man on a bike.  The path they are on becomes the line that your eye follows through the image.  

This image has dynamic balance.  The main subject is not dead center, but slightly below the mid line and off to the right a bit.  You get the sense of the movement of the girl and the man, and that, in my mind, leads you to follow that path they are on, wondering where it goes.  

There is a story here.  It’s a spring evening in a lovely park in a residential area, and there are people walking and riding there, enjoying the beauty.   

Though I have not touched on all the technical aspects of these two images, I think you get the idea.  

If you have a photo or two that are your favorites, take a good look at those, then compare them to photos you have that just kind of leave you “blah”.   What is the difference?  

Now, how can you take what you have learned and apply it to your next time out with your camera?   

Have fun!

7 Replies to “Learning by description”

  1. I agree, great example, and a great description of the differences between the two images. This is a lesson worth doing over and over, and I'm going to! I need it.

  2. I really like how you included the people in the second image. It does create a story of where you are and what's going on around you. I like that! I learned a great deal from this lesson also, and hope to repeat it often.

  3. Great example! I love seeing the two images side by side..along with your description, I've learned so much! What a good discipline to bring to every image…Thanks!!

  4. The photos I enjoy most are windows that allow me to see something new or see something in a new way. I like the winding path in your photo. In landscape design it is the element that takes your eye and moves it across the area of intereest. If you use the path more effectively it will help you build the story you have to tell.

  5. I love this exercise – even though this type of thought process and analysis of my own images is difficult for me. I think you have done a great job here with your image examples, honing in on what makes the second image more effective. And if we can study our work and the work of others with these things in mind, we can take that knowledge with us as we shoot and create better images. Thank you for sharing.

  6. You've helped me realize why some of my photos SEEM great but don't do much for me. They don't tell a story the way you describe here. I'm so glad you posted this!

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