Learning to visualize and appreciate our visual surroundings is an important first step in becoming a better photographer.  But visualization is only a part (though an extremely important part) of the photographic process.  In order to make the most effective use of the photographic process to create a final image we need to learn how to both see and express our vision photographically.  Learning how to successfully compose what we see, via camera and lens, is one of the greatest challenges of photography.

You have probably already heard the litany that says that a photographer best expresses a theme by using good composition (or visual design if you will) to support the subject matter.  Knowledge is power. Understanding the “rules” of composition doesn’t obligate you to use them all the time. Knowing them well can tell you when it is safe to ignore them. Should you try to codify the principles of design and composition and strictly adhere to them, you will inhibit your creativity.  The photographer who becomes familiar with the principles of visual design, AND who puts expression before technique, will develop an intuition for good design by sensing and responding to the expressive qualities of the chosen subject.

Arctic Tern 1138.jpg

Brown Bear 6041C.jpg 

Above Left:  Arctic Tern.                                                                    Above Right:  Brown Bear on River Bank.

Sometimes it pays to follows the “rules” as in the tern image placement and shutter speed choices influenced the composition and essence of the image.

Sometimes you just have to follow your own creative instincts as with the brown bear image. Placing the subject in an extreme corner of the frame gave me the sense of height and space that I was trying to achieve.

Learning to express starts with “visualizing”.

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