What makes an outstanding image? (part 1)

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Apples. Nikon D800E, Zeiss ZF.2 2/100 Makro-Planar

Of the 400 or so posts I’ve published up to this point, I recently realized that the one enormously gaping hole I haven’t yet covered deals with the one of the major fundamentals: how do you actually determine if an image ‘works’ or not? What makes it good? What makes it outstanding? I think it was both a discussion on composition in our reader pool forum on Flickr, as well as the strongly mixed reactions to this photoessay post that did it – context, even a mini-article, sometimes simply isn’t enough if you’re missing a cultural familiarity, or local view. This is obviously not a simple question to answer; despite an extensive search online, I haven’t been able to find any good articles that provided any sort of conclusion. (Clearly, I must be a bit of a masochist in deciding to write this article.) Perhaps it’s because it’s an extremely subjective question to begin with; or perhaps it’s because to come up with an answer that makes sense requires a thoroughly multidisciplinary approach: strong images resonate technical, compositional, cultural, psychological and personal chords. And the final two are of course highly observer-dependant.

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Two old men. Olympus OM-D, 75/1.8

In fact, it’s a wonder that we have any images at all that are globally recognized and appreciated. Rather than analyze specific images, I’m going to spend some time looking into some of the more abstract characteristics and their implications for one’s photography. I’d recommend finding a comfortable chair and grabbing a drink because this is a pretty heavy article. So heavy, in fact, I’ve decided to split it into two parts. It’s also turned out to be one of the most difficult articles to write, occupying a good couple of days thanks to the extremely vague and ill-defined nature of the subject matter. Finding the right photos to illustrate the article was just as tough; excuse me if there are some repeats of previously-posted images here.

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The diving board, Hong Kong. Leica M9-P, Zeiss ZM 2.8/28

One of the most important things for a photographer to know is specifically why one of their images works, and why another one doesn’t. I was going through my contacts’ uploads on Flickr the other day and noticing that there were three types of photographers:
a) upload everything, no QC or editing whatsoever, mostly poor images;
b) upload most things, has one or two really good images, mostly mediocre;
c) only uploads good stuff, and shows a consistent level of quality.

Type a almost certainly has no idea of what makes a good image, or perhaps they don’t really care; we must remember that social media is also used for indiscriminate sharing. Type b appears to be a more serious amateur, and wants to make good images, and probably knows a good image when they see one, but is unable to deconstruct their successful images into a series of things that they can replicate. The final type, c, knows what works, and either doesn’t bother shooting the rest, or hits the delete key pretty fast when something isn’t quite right. I want to get us all to type c.

*Note that this article contains a lot more links than anything before – it’s because I’ve previously explored a lot of these individual concepts in some depth, but never unified them in a single article – this one.

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Omega Speedmaster 9300. Nikon D800E, 85/2.8 PCE

Let’s begin.

1. Subject
There is simply no point to a photograph or image if there is no subject. An image is a representation of something: if there’s nothing to represent, or it isn’t clear what the representation is trying to be, then why bother at all? This doesn’t mean to say that abstract images don’t work; in such cases, the abstraction and entire frame are the subjects themselves. But in the broadest possible sense, if you look at an image and it isn’t fairly obvious what the image is about, then it fails. A photograph without a subject is like a meal with no main course, or a story without a plot – it can fill an immediate transient need, but it will not have any lasting consequence or memorability.

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The cloud. Sony RX100

The sole implication for the photographer is that you need to know what the subject of your image is going to be before you take the shot, and how the other elements in the frame relate to it and tell the story. Or maybe they don’t relate to it and create an inverse story of juxtaposition and contrast; it all depends on what you’re trying to say with the image. The subject also needs to stand out and be visually obvious, it should be the (metaphorical and optical) focal point of your image. We’ll deal with that in section three. Bottom line: you need to have a clear picture in your own mind about what the image is about; invariably not everything is executable, so this picture gets increasingly blurred as it comes closer to physical execution – hence ensuring that you start off with as strong an idea as possible is paramount.

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Hommage a Claude Monet. Nikon D800E, Zeiss ZF.2 2/100 Makro-Planar

2. Execution and technicalities
Next comes the simplest of the ‘secondary’ criteria. Even this is relative, however. Generally speaking, a good image is properly exposed for the subject, is in focus, and doesn’t take processing to the extremes. The executional characteristics of the image should not be the first thing you notice when you look at the photograph: you can overdo it**. They should support the compositions, but not detract or outweigh it. This is one of the things I don’t like about overdone HDR, Instagram and other photo apps – the processing is so overdone to the point that fundamental compositional structure is overshadowed, and any flaws hidden. You only see the processing, and not the subject.

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Seeing the wood from the trees. Leica M9-P, 21/3.4 ASPH

However, there are always exceptions to every rule. And in the case of the technical qualities of an image, if you have an exceedingly strong subject or composition, then no matter how poor your execution, the subject is what you’re going to see first. Nobody remembers Robert Capa’s iconic Normandy landing shots for their technical perfection, but rather the subject matter and how he managed to convey the chaotic, haunting, gritty sensation of actually being there.

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Service – with just the right amount of motion blur. Sony RX100

I include processing under technical execution. The biggest fundamental choice you have here is whether to work in color or black and white; some subjects are particularly suited to one or the other; some could go either way. Whether you should use one or the other depends mostly on whether your subject is best isolated by luminance/ brightness or by contrast in color. (This topic is subject to an entirely separate article here.)

**I cover processing workflow in general here, and here for B&W.

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After work. Olympus OM-D, 45/1.8

3. Composition
In its simplest definition, composition is how the various elements of an image are located relative to one another, and how this spatial relationship tells the story of the main subject or conveys the desired message. However, there are some restrictions – firstly, we are representing a three-dimensional space in two dimensions, and secondly, there are perspectives imposed by the field of view we choose to employ. The reduction to two dimensions has both strengths and weaknesses: you cannot rely on depth perception to create perspective; instead, we have to artificially impose it through our choice of focal length. However, its removal also means that we can do things that aren’t possible via native human vision, such as have everything in the frame simultaneously in focus. Mastery of composition is knowing when to use the right tool to enhance the presentation of the subject.

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Dessert, before and after being enjoyed. Nikon D700, 60/2.8G

That said, for any given subject and situation, there is no one perfect composition – rather, there are probably any number of compositions that can work. However, the big difference is that they will not all tell the same story. Again, there is no right or wrong here: the best story for a given situation will depend very much on what the end objective is for the image.

This article and this article both enter into more detail on compositional theory.

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Vanishing point. Leica M8, 21/1.4 ASPH

3.1 Isolation/ separation/ focus
This concept lacks a single defining word – I suppose ‘focus’ would be closest, but the problem is that tends to induce confusion between the subject distance and the concentration around the idea or subject of the image. The ideal qualitative effect is that the eye of the viewer must go straight to the primary subject of the photograph, and then only on to the context that surrounds it, in the order that the photographer desires. This can be accomplished through the use of a number of different tools – leading lines, natural frames, negative space, bokeh etc. The subject itself must stand out from the background or surroundings; in that sense, some sort of natural frame is always required to provide the necessary isolation – it could be a doorway, or a plain color background of a different color to the subject, or a contrast in texture. The sole exception is a whole-frame abstract, where the entire image is the subject. Note that lighting is the other major source of subject separation. (And yes, there is such a thing as too much bokeh.)

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Before the take. Nikon D700, Zeiss ZF 1.4/85

3.2 Perspective
There is no right or wrong perspective for any given subject. The sole aim of perspective is to either emphasize or de-emphasize the foreground relative to the background. Does the subject need to be larger than life, or minimized? Does the image require context to understand properly, and how prominent should these contextual elements be relative to the primary focus of the image?

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Trees. Ricoh GRDIII

In general, wide-angle perspectives need a clear subject placed in the foreground. This need for a defined foreground decreases as the focal length increases, to a point where it could really go either way at roughly 50mm and above (35 equivalent). Above that, the foreground and background are of similar prominence, and subject separation is no longer achieved through perspective, insofar as depth of field is a consequence of a particular focal length and perspective. Images shot with a wide lens that lack a clear foreground can work, but only under specific circumstances which almost always involve leading lines, or large amounts of context and unusually good subject separation. Similarly, one must also take care with the use of telephotos – you can focus on the subject to the point of exclusion of all context, which can actually weaken an image.

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Mt. Yotei. Nikon D700, Zeiss ZF.2 2/100 Makro-Planar

3.3 Balance
I’ve always found this to be one of the more difficult things to define. Instinctively, you know whether something is balanced or not on looking at it – but what it is specifically that creates, or destroys, that sense of balance is much more difficult to quantify. The eye of the viewer needs to linger for about the same amount of time in every portion of the frame; if you have half of the frame that takes a split second to understand but produces no context, against the complex opposite half of the frame where there’s a lot going on and a few moments of deciphering are required, then you generally might as well not bother with the quicker part.

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Breguet Tradition. Balanced, but not perfectly symmetric. Nikon D700, 60/2.8G

Doesn’t make sense? Boil it down to opposites. Balance is like symmetry, but not quite; the mirror images do not have to be identical, nor do they have to be symmetric around the dead center of the frame. If the left half of your frame has something in it, then the right half must too, of roughly the same size and level of detail. This is independent of the subject. Now quarters: you can do opposite top-left and bottom-right and leave the other two corners empty, but if you do three corners and omit one, the eye is going to go straight to the empty corner because it’s the odd one out. You might actually want to do that, but make sure it’s a conscious choice. You can keep subdividing your frame and finding opposing points around the middle to balance out, but generally once something gets to be say less than 10% of the frame size in any linear dimension (1% area) then it’s usually inconsequential enough to ignore – so long as it doesn’t intrude into your subject.

This of course also applies to your subject too: don’t make it too small, otherwise no matter how balanced your frame, it won’t stand out!

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There are always exceptions to every rule. Nikon D800E, Zeiss ZF.2 2/100 Makro-Planar

3.4 Lighting
I just completed a whole series on lighting here – intro to equipment, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and tips and tricks.

With no light, there can be no photography. The direct meaning of ‘photography’ is ‘writing with light’. Light identifies and isolates your subject; the softness or hardness or uniformity of it determines the amount of definition and contrast, as well as the tonality; the color and hue determine the feeling of the scene. And the absolute amount of it has an impact on the technical quality of the image, too. It’s inescapable that every good image must have good light – you can make an ordinary subject into an arresting photograph if it’s properly lit, but no amount of photoshop or the most unusual object is going to surmount flat or uninteresting light.

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Prague. This would not be interesting on a flat, gray day at noon. Olympus E-PM1 Pen Mini, 45/1.8

Photographers must therefore either be able to recognize when the light is right, and seek out subjects to be illuminated by it – or go one step further and learn to control it. In fact, you have to do the former before you can do the latter – understanding the origin of a particular look makes it much, much easier to reverse engineer and replicate. Distilling things further, we’re arrive at the inescapable conclusion that successful lighting hinges on directionality, nothing more and nothing less. The right directionality creates the right kinds of shadows and highlights, which in turn creates contrast, texture and subject definition. And the less common the direction (light), the better – why do you think psychologically, we don’t find images shot in noon sunlight or under common indoor artificial light to be particularly arresting? It’s because that’s what we are conditioned to seeing most of the time. However, golden hours or special lighting effects are much less common. But I’m starting to digress into psychology, which I’ll leave for section 5.

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion in part two.

____________

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Comments

  1. For me, I think that what always differentiates an outstanding image from a mediocre one is that there are no distracting elements in the outstanding one.

    It’s not the outstanding one does something exceptionally well in one area (composition, story, colour). It’s that the outstanding one does practically everything right and very, very little wrong. You can stare at an outstanding image all day long. It’s like there is nothing that could potentially be done any better.

    I have seen a lot of what you are talking about on flickr (type a, b and c photographers). An otherwise good image could be helped by even the tiniest amount of cropping [I don't normally crop]. Or the colour balance could be better. Or the picture is slightly blurry when it shouldn’t be. Or the exposure doesn’t look quite right. Or the subject is just plain boring. People have seen everything by now and it takes a lot to impress.

    Lately I have just been asking my 88 year old father “what is wrong with this image of mine?”. He’s seen a lot in his life and he just seems to know. Just tonight I showed him the first 50 or so images of Thomas Leuthard’s work as a slideshow and I felt like making him his own youtube channel. He was transfixed, made positive and negative commentary. Not once did he just say ‘nice image’. So then, if I want to go to the extreme, totally brutal feedback, I just ask my mum (who is a lot younger). Super perfectionist, always has been. I asked her to go through my flickr photostream and favourite at least 20 to 30 images out of about 150. “You know what? Just make it 24. Pick 24″, I said. She favourited 12. Ouch! That’s when I started deleting…

  2. Wonderful article and just what I needed. Thank you so much.

  3. These images was very good. But one of the pics made me hungry!

  4. Reblogged this on saturn1ascends.

  5. Ming love your perspective on life and implicit light. I would buy your book on “Micro Photography & Lighting, Food & Watches” in a heart beat. Make it a pdf or a book book a la McNally or Zack Arias. You got the wording figured ou and :)

  6. You don’t think your over complicating things, I mean the biggest influence on what supposedly makes a good image is what it means to the person viewing it. Take this example 2 fathers watching their sons play football the first is taking shots with his Leica M and Summilux the other Canon 5d and zoom. At the end of the game the first is trying to convince his son how good the rendering, bokeh, lighting, highlights and pop is on his 20 shots he tried to focus on his rangefinder the second is showing his son 200 shots poorer quality but capturing all the highlights, goals and magic moments, he was able to take using his AF. They both upload to Flickr do you think the first son when he shows his friends cares less about subject or quality. Get ten different people not photographers to name their best 10 images on your site I think you will get varied opinions. It’s all about the viewer not the photographer, it can’t be that complicated to take a pleasing image. Rules of photography I think we’re only trying to convince ourselves.

    • Yes, but if you a) don’t know how to use your camera, and b) get the timing right but cut off the action or face, then that’s no good either…what you say is true assuming the fundamentals are in place.

  7. Interesting article, Ming. Can I refer to another article that I found good reading? It can be found on Luminous Landscape and is called Balmoral Mist Deconstructed (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/balmoral.shtml)

  8. Hello!
    I am enjoying your images and your commentary, but I do wonder how much of the final image appearance is due to post processing. I agree with your point that a boring light is not going to be cured in Photoshop, but often even good light does not give distribution of shadows and highlights and colors that we see in our mind’s eye.

    For example, the Prague shot: I would expect that the out-of-camera shot would have a lot less saturated colors in the shadows (roof tiles and unlit walls). I used to find it extremely discouraging to see a lot of advice on light and composition, and never achieving results similar to given examples, until I started seeking examples that would show both unmodified image and the processed final one. Do you use your camera adjustment capabilities and get it right off the bat, or do you adjust the tonality of your images?

    Thank you-
    Vladimir

    • I adjust, but not that much – it’s more like refinement vs. enormous global changes. A better example of what my work looks like out of camera is probably given by the film work I’m doing now, which has almost zero image-specific adjustment (i.e. all the negatives are ‘scanned’ and processed with the same batch settings apart from dust cloning). Short answer: it’s pretty close.

  9. Curious on your thoughts regarding portfolio presentations online? I have a dedicated site and a Flickr account. As you mentioned type a,b,c photographers on Flickr I realized I was somewhere in the mix. I use Flickr to dump images from trips for others to view with very little qc or post processing. Never considered the fact that it might reflect on my more serious (better) images mixed in. I like to have a fairly static web site to use as a refence but Flickr and other online services are great to engage the community. Any pointers on how to balance some of this? Perhaps two Flickr sites?

    • Flickr isn’t ideal for portfolios because it simply doesn’t look that professional (to me). A dedicated site/ gallery is probably best; I haven’t bothered looking for one because I just code my own. Sorry!

      • Agree, I guess my point was – is it important to separate casual shots from higher end work? Leverage own site for personal and higher quality work then something like Flickr for stuff family ands friends might care for such as trips, pets, whatever.

  10. Dennis Miller says:

    Great article, as always. Ming. I would love to see the exposure info for your shots – would that be a pain to add? Even if occasionally…
    Otherwise, will be back for part II.
    Dennis

  11. Unfortunetely, Ming, I don’t have the time to read every one of your articles. But every one I do read is quite refreshing, and this one is no exception. Thank you so much for sharing your photos, your excellent writing (though there is an occasional typo) and your wisdom with us.

    Just for the heck of it, I wanted to point out another exception to one of the “rules” of photography. Generally, early morning and late evening are the best times for shooting outdoors. However, when photographing in cemeteries, late morning and early afternoon are more preferable. Here in southern New England in the United States, we have many cemeteries with gravestones dating back as far as the 17th century. The best light to make the lettering stand out is high and an angle of about 40 to 60 degrees (rough guesstimate). Also, low light creates shadows on the other stones, which ruins the “look” of the image, whether or not you want to read the inscriptions.

    Another time when midday works for me is in the woods, with sunlight filtering through the leaves. It often creates a diffused light, or focuses light on one particular spot, both of which can work.

    Just my two cents worth. Thanks for listening.

    • Haha, I’ll have to stop writing for a while then so you can catch up :)

      Can’t say I’ve shot a lot of cemeteries, but what you say makes sense – same kind of lighting I used on engraved watches to bring out surface textures.

      Direct sunlight one one particular spot is going to leave you with enormous tonal/ dynamic range challenges, though…unless you have some light cloud cover to diffuse things a bit.

      • Nice thing about the Web is that your blog will be accessible for quite some time (well, so long as you keep paying the bill. :) )

        With a direct sunlight situation, the dynamic range is certainly limited, but I like it that way…makes things more mysterious to my eye.

  12. thank ..Ming Thein.

  13. Reblogged this on Photos close to home and commented:
    If you are serious about photography, you need to follow this blog.

  14. Dear Ming.
    Your blog is hands-down one if not the best photography sites on the net.
    Always insightful, always witty – please just keep it coming. There is a growing number of Ming loyalists here in Munich for whom ur site has become absolute essential reading, day in and day out.
    While at it – two questions: (1) is there any chance of some articles covering ur detailed processing steps and thought process for selected images (I thoroughly enjoyed ur sole YouTube video on the b&w image post processing) or is that reserved for ur DVD offerings now? (2) u recently asked what gear to take for an upcoming workshop – do u prefer zeiss glass on ur leica m9-p over the Leica offerings? If so – why?
    Thanks a lot in advance.
    All the best from the Oktoberfest ;)

    • Thanks for your compliments, Nico. To your questions:
      1. It doesn’t work as text, because there are some things that are best shown and not described. I decided to go the DVD route because online video compression is simply too high to fully capture the subtle nuances of some steps in postprocessing.
      2. I haven’t really been happy with any of the 28mm offerings I’ve tried to date, something I find rather frustrating. The 50 planar I bought because it was the second best option – I couldn’t find a 50 summilux ASPH when I needed it, and I’ve not replaced it since. I can’t justify spending any more on lenses for that system simply because I don’t use it much, and it isn’t suitable for my professional work.

  15. Love that Speedmaster pic.

  16. You are such an amazing photographer – absolutely fantastic photos and very well written article. I always enjoy reading your site – it is always comprehensive and in depth. Thank you.

  17. I’ll be back for Part two. it’s so refreshing to read something beyond pixel peeping and gear fanaticism. Please keep it up.

  18. One the most comprehensive and profound articles I’ve read on photography.

  19. Excellent article. Thanks for putting this together! I have to echo what Jack said about learning so much from your work and your writing. I also find it a breath of fresh air. You have a rare gift for the technical and artistic and I really enjoy all of your work, and appreciate all that you do to share, help and educate others.

  20. Hi Ming. I must say that I have not learned as much about photography from the entire web than from your site…. (perhaps I have not been to other ‘proper’ photography sites but yours is certainly a breath of fresh air in a web full of ‘other’ so called ‘photography’ blogs.)

    There is one thing I need to ask though…. your image ‘Prague’…. which I have seen in your other post before. There is a couple by the river and there appears to be a wake leaving a line that bisects their heads. Was that intentional? It certainly draws the eye to that area but seems to ‘bother’ me by disrupting and standing out from the rest of the photo. Your insight would be most appreciated.

    Thanks!

    • Thanks Jack. I found most sites lacking, so I decided to create my own.

      No, the wake line wasn’t intentional. I decided not to retouch it out because I didn’t find it that distracting.

  21. Great article! Thanks for putting it together!

Trackbacks

  1. […] On the topic of style, we add another set of variables to the mix – you’ve got subjects, the typical presentations that are ‘traditionally’ expected – photojournalism in high contrast monochrome with wide angles, for instance – and then you’ve got the option for the cross-application of styles across different subjects and genres. Photojournalism in a cinematic style, for instance; or architecture in high contrast monochrome. They don’t always work of course, but you need to try it to know that – and in order to try it, you need to be familiar enough with the typical scenario that you can apply the hallmarks of that style to what might potentially be a very different environment. It all comes back to uniqueness again – or specifically, the end objective of making an outstanding image. […]

  2. […] that’s been distilled down from twelve years of shooting, a solid year of thought into a quantified definition of the properties of such images – and then translated into an order of priority, and broken down into easily digestible […]

  3. […] are a lot of elements involved in creating an outstanding image. I havea very detailed analysis on my site, but the basics are fairly simple, and something I always begin with in my workshops. […]

  4. […] are a lot of elements involved in creating an outstanding image. I havea very detailed analysis on my site, but the basics are fairly simple, and something I always begin with in my workshops. […]

  5. […] are a lot of elements involved in creating an outstanding image. I have a very detailed analysis on my site, but the basics are fairly simple, and something I always begin with in my workshops. […]

  6. […] ensure that the images you get are unique and strong? Though it sounds a lot like the question of what makes an outstanding image, it’s really got a bit more of a travel bent to it. Though the macrolinear and causal nature […]

  7. […] image. (I’ve deliberately left out the fundamentals of every photograph covered in the outstanding images articles.) The only really unique property to consider is the first one: as photographers, we have no […]

  8. […] and compositional process is itself not simple; I spent some time figuring out and decomposing what makes an outstanding image to try and quantify this. Of course, what it doesn’t cover is the emotional response in the […]

  9. […] spent a few minutes a day shooting; you do of course have to learn the ropes in other ways, such as what makes a good image, the technical requirements of how to create the images you want, and figuring out what it is you […]

  10. […] banyak browse artikel beliau di blognya, dan artikelnya tentang ‘What Makes An Outstanding Image’ benar-benar telah mencerahkan pemahaman saya tentang fotografi. Saya klik semua link yang ada […]

  11. […] to the audience on an emotional or personal level? From a photographic standpoint, my articles on what makes an outstanding image should be on your reading list. As for the rest of the considerations, we’ll go into a bit […]

  12. […] a good primer to the science and art of making outstanding images – the full-blown article is here. […]

  13. […] that the average quality of my photographs goes up. I recently read Ming Thein’s post about what makes an outstanding photograph, and a few paragraphs down the page, he describes three types of […]

  14. […] are a lot of elements involved in creating an outstanding image. I have a very detailed analysis on my site, but the basics are fairly simple, and something I always begin with in my workshops. […]

  15. […] were shot, without the need for a caption. (And of course the subject-independent fundamentals of what makes an outstanding image still apply, too.) This has changed a bit in the last 20 or so years as mass travel has become more […]

  16. [...] The format will be similar to my previous 3-day workshops in Hong Kong and Tokyo but instead chasing a particular topic, we’ll be focusing on improving photographic fundamentals – seeing the scene, finding light, timing, composition, balance, perspective, style etc. – all of the tools that  can apply to any shooting situation, against the background of travel and street photography with specific forays into related technique. The first two days will be hands-on photography, with the third day focused on review, critique and post processing. It will put into practice the content of the ‘What Makes an Outstanding Image?’ essay. [...]

  17. [...] to be confused with the previous article on workflow, or what makes an outstanding image, this essay is a collection of more detailed thoughts on what goes on outside the technical portion [...]

  18. [...] of the quality of ambient light in order to improve both my available light photography (remember, light, subject, composition, idea) and of course the quality of my constructed light. This exercise has taken me down two paths: [...]

  19. [...] of writing. Of course, it’s taken me much longer than expected to complete it because like what makes a good image, it’s proven to be one of the more difficult questions to [...]

  20. [...] The format will be similar to my previous 3-day workshops in Hong Kong and Tokyo but instead chasing a particular topic, we’ll be focusing on improving photographic fundamentals – seeing the scene, finding light, timing, composition, balance, perspective, style etc. – all of the tools that  can apply to any shooting situation, against the background of travel and street photography with specific forays into related technique. The first two days will be hands-on photography, with the third day focused on review, critique and post processing. It will put into practice the content of the ‘What Makes an Outstanding Image?’ essay. [...]

  21. [...] mas raramente respondeu a questão de o que faz uma boa fotografia, raramente, ou nunca, perguntou se “o que faz um bom fotógrafo? ’ Em primeiro lugar, [...]

  22. [...] asked, but rarely answered is the question of what makes a good photograph; rarely, if ever, asked is ‘what makes a good photographer?‘ In the first place, does [...]

  23. [...] Since for most of you photography is a hobby rather than a profession, you need to be happy with your own output. Be honest with yourself: do you like the new direction the experiments are taking? Why? Why not? What specifically is different to your old style of shooting, and how can you incorporate these elements into future compositions? Of course, you need some sort of framework to assess relative merit in the first place – I recommend starting with this article on what makes an outstanding image. [...]

  24. [...] of winning if they meet most or all of the important factors; you can find a lengthy discourse here… 8. You must own the rights to the image you submit. 9. The competition will run until the end of [...]

  25. [...] conscious of what works for you and what doesn’t is of course a very, very important part of making strong images, and moreover, ensuring those images are in a style that’s consistent and reflective of the [...]

  26. [...] The format will be similar to my previous 3-day workshops in Hong Kong and Tokyo but instead chasing a particular topic, we’ll be focusing on improving photographic fundamentals – seeing the scene, finding light, timing, composition, balance, perspective, style etc. – all of the tools that  can apply to any shooting situation, against the background of travel and street photography with specific forays into related technique. The first two days will be hands-on photography, with the third day focused on review, critique and post processing. It will put into practice the content of the ‘What Makes an Outstanding Image?’ essay. [...]

  27. [...] of winning if they meet most or all of the important factors; you can find a lengthy discourse here… 8. You must own the rights to the image you submit. 9. The competition will run until the end of [...]

  28. [...] to be exceptional. The image has to tell a story – but that’s another topic I covered here and [...]

  29. [...] that difference is obtained by turning something up to 11, rather than nailing the fundamentals of what makes an outstanding image. Commonly seen ‘techniques’ include: oversaturation, HDR, fake [...]

  30. [...] matters when you’re making an image? (I recently dealt with this too in a two-part article here, and here on what makes an outstanding image.) What is it that you audience sees when they look at [...]

  31. [...] The format will be similar to my previous 3-day workshops in Hong Kong and Tokyo but instead chasing a particular topic, we’ll be focusing on improving photographic fundamentals – seeing the scene, finding light, timing, composition, balance, perspective, style etc. – all of the tools that  can apply to any shooting situation, against the background of travel and street photography with specific forays into related technique. The first two days will be hands-on photography, with the third day focused on review, critique and post processing. It will put into practice the content of the ‘What Makes an Outstanding Image?’ essay. [...]

  32. [...] Makes An Outstanding Image, I highly recommend you do so first and then come back here afterwards. Part one is here, and part two is here. (Both open as links in new [...]

  33. [...] my workshops is ideal Together with the basic principles of balance, perspective, composition and what makes a good image – these techniques may be used singly or in combination to generate strong street images. In [...]

  34. [...] image before capture; to minimize the amount of postprocessing I have to do by ensuring that the critically important elements of a strong image are already in place before I press the shutter; and moreover something that forces me to think [...]

  35. [...] Of the 400 or so posts I’ve published up to this point, I recently realized that the one enormously gaping hole I haven’t yet covered deals with the one of the major fundamentals: how do you actually determine if an image ‘works’ or not? What makes it good? What makes it outstanding? I think it was both a discussion on composition in our reader pool forum on Flickr, as well as the strongly mixed reactions to this photoessay post that did it – context, even a mini-article, sometimes simply isn’t enough if you’re missing a cultural familiarity, or local view.  [...]

  36. [...] turned out to be so long that it had to be spit up in two different sections, which can be found here and here. Generally I like reading bits and pieces of his blog since he is not too shy to share [...]

  37. [...] Of the 400 or so posts I’ve published up to this point, I recently realized that the one enormously gaping hole I haven’t yet covered deals with the one of the major fundamentals: how do you actually determine if an image ‘works’ or not? What makes it good? What makes it outstanding? I think it was both a discussion on composition in our reader pool forum on Flickr, as well as the strongly mixed reactions to this photoessay post that did it – context, even a mini-article, sometimes simply isn’t enough if you’re missing a cultural familiarity, or local view. This is obviously not a simple question to answer; despite an extensive search online, I haven’t been able to find any good articles that provided any sort of conclusion. (Clearly, I must be a bit of a masochist in deciding to write this article.) Perhaps it’s because it’s an extremely subjective question to begin with; or perhaps it’s because to come up with an answer that makes sense requires a thoroughly multidisciplinary approach: strong images resonate technical, compositional, cultural, psychological and personal chords. And the final two are of course highly observer-dependant.  [...]

  38. [...] Rauzier attempts to create the most detailed images in the world 40 Crazy Awesome Autumn Pictures What makes an outstanding image? (part 1) 48 Eerily Intriguing [...]

  39. [...] Of the 400 or so posts I’ve published up to this point, I recently realized that the one enormously gaping hole I haven’t yet covered deals with the one of the major fundamentals: how do you actually determine if an image ‘works’ or not? What makes it good? What makes it outstanding? I think it was both a discussion on composition in our reader pool forum on Flickr, as well as the strongly mixed reactions to this photoessay post that did it – context, even a mini-article, sometimes simply isn’t enough if you’re missing a cultural familiarity, or local view. This is obviously not a simple question to answer; despite an extensive search online, I haven’t been able to find any good articles that provided any sort of conclusion. (Clearly, I must be a bit of a masochist in deciding to write this article.) Perhaps it’s because it’s an extremely subjective question to begin with; or perhaps it’s because to come up with an answer that makes sense requires a thoroughly multidisciplinary approach: strong images resonate technical, compositional, cultural, psychological and personal chords. And the final two are of course highly observer-dependant. In fact, it’s a wonder that we have any images at all that are globally recognized and appreciated. Rather than analyze specific images, I’m going to spend some time looking into some of the more abstract characteristics and their implications for one’s photography. I’d recommend finding a comfortable chair and grabbing a drink because this is a pretty heavy article. So heavy, in fact, I’ve decided to split it into two parts. It’s also turned out to be one of the most difficult articles to write, occupying a good couple of days thanks to the extremely vague and ill-defined nature of the subject matter. Finding the right photos to illustrate the article was just as tough; excuse me if there are some repeats of previously-posted images here.  [...]

  40. [...] Of the 400 or so posts I’ve published up to this point, I recently realized that the one enormously gaping hole I haven’t yet covered deals with the one of the major fundamentals: how do you actually determine if an image ‘works’ or not? What makes it good? What makes it outstanding?  [...]

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