Five fantastic photos you can't mess up
Some great photos are the product of impeccable timing. Other great pictures are the culmination of years of experience or pounds of expensive equipment. Then there's another type of great photo-also arresting, also surprising, but totally easy to make.
Here are five pictures that, despite their simplicity to achieve, will leave your friends and family mighty impressed.
The photo: A brightly colored and larger-than-life ad, a skewed camera angle, and a stooped man combine to create a strange and witty image. Shot by Lester Weiss, 53, of San Francisco (www.pbase.com/ojoblanco) this photo was the product of a lot of careful composition. He spotted the ad first, then twisted and turned his camera until he captured not only the ad but its reflection in the truck's window. Once he had a composition he liked, he waited. The incoming pedestrian was perfect-his bent posture contrasts with the youth of the towering models, and his evident effort fools your eye into thinking he's climbing a steep hill.
The trick: This kind of picture works because the scale is confusing. To shoot one like it, start by finding a huge billboard or poster, preferably one whose content clashes with its environment. Then, make your composition. Use your surroundings to frame an imaginary person, and wait for one to amble into the frame. You may have to be extremely patient, but, hey, so was Cartier-Bresson.
Tech specs: Olympus C8080 WZ. Exposure, 1/160 sec at f/7.1, ISO 100.
The photo: Pictures are everywhere, especially in places where you go to see other pictures. Thomas Hawk (www.thomashawk.com), 40, shot this photo, a close-up of an umbrella stand at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The high-contrast black-and-white is eye-catching, and the repeating pattern holds your attention as it disappears from the corner of the frame.
The trick: Patterns are always interesting-an affinity for repetition seems hardwired into our brain. To get a shot like this, look for a repeating pattern, then get in close. Angle your camera to emphasize a skewed perspective, and fill the frame. Look for patterns that offer a lot of contrast. After you shoot, use software to go b&w for extra effect.
Tech specs: Canon EOS 5D with 14mm f/2.8L Canon EF lens. Exposure, 1/25 sec at f/2.8, ISO 1600.
The photo: Greek shooter John D. Carnessiotis (www.flickr.com/photos/aster-oid) loves silhouettes, so when, on a ferry to Mykonos, he spotted two girls backlit by the reflective water and setting sun, he aimed his camera accordingly.
In his original shot, this girl's profile was perfectly sideways, but the other was slightly turned. Using Google's simple and free Picasa software, he cropped for the nicer profile, and added enough contrast to completely lose all highlight and shadow detail. The result? A highly graphic and sweet silhouette.
The trick: Though this shot was candid, a picture like this is easy to set up using natural light. Head outside when the sun is fading, and frame your subject against the sky with the sun behind her. Make sure no clouds intersect with her face, and shoot, exposing for the sky. Then do the rest in your image-editing software: Use the blunt force of the brightness/contrast slider to go high-contrast and high-brightness, and quickly zap out any remaining color by desaturating.
Tech specs: Nikon D80 with 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Sigma APO DG lens. Exposure, 1/500 sec at f/11, ISO 100.