How To Create From Ordinary To Extraordinary - A Case Study
If you just started out DSLR photography, getting a technically correct image seems to be the priority. But if you already photographed for a while, and still focus only on getting the “technically correct”, or think only better gears can help you improve, you are probably on the wrong path.
With the advance of technology these days, getting a technically correct image is becoming easier and easier. What truly sets you apart is how you translate what you see into not only a technically correct image, but also something unique. I have explained this in this video.
The following image was taken by the Northwestern University campus in Evanston right before sunset. There was a big football game coming up this weekend (between Wildcat and Buckeye) so the area to the right of this image was pretty messy, with all the construction and stadium spot lights. There's no way I could include the campus in my image. On the other hand, I really like Chicago's skyline at night, but it was too far away. So I couldn't focus on that either.
As the twilight was getting weaker, the only interesting things I found within walking distance were the graffiti rocks. Instead of photographing in landscape which will inevitably include the messy construction in the football field to the right, I did a vertical image. I also put Chicago evening skyline in the far background to give this image a sense of "belonging". Instead of putting the skyline in the middle or 1/3 position of the image, I left it far up because
there's little cloud color, including a large area of sky means the picture will look "imbalanced" with a big blank sky on top;
I want to focus on the rocks so no need to include other unnecessary subjects.
Is this image perfect? Absolutely not.
But this composition is what I created from the environment with the given place and the time. We encounter this every day, but we can still create beautiful images as long as we observe the little details around us. I'd like to call this creation process: "from the ordinary to extraordinary". The more you practice, the more the above process will become an instinct to you, and thus the more you can “feel” rather than “think” and “see”. (See Think And Feel Like An Artist, Look And See Like A Camera)
I hope the above story and tip can inspire you to find unique images in your own viewfinder next time. Enjoy photography, until then!
Here are a few other images that were taken in the middle of nowhere.
Somewhere along the freeway on our way to Rocky Mountain National Park