Picture Doctor

How to dissect a picture, diagnose and reshape a scene, and otherwise treat your photo ills.

Picture-Doctor

Picture-Doctor

Why It Works

Fundamentals: distinct framing, off-center placement
• Framing Element: The archway (A) creates a pleasing frame, repeating the circular shapes of the basilica domes (B) and the angular edges of the tower (C).
• Exposure: Lets the archway and globe lamp (D) go completely black for a true silhouette, which also keeps the background highlights from blowing out. Depth of field is sufficient to keep both archway and building sharp. nTiming: Uses straightforward front lighting-while on the bland side, it holds detail in the tower and basilica and maintains a bright blue sky.
• Rule of Thirds: Very strong. The tower in the right-hand vertical third and the basilica in the lower horizontal third produce an asymmetry within the symmetry. The globe lamp in the upper horizontal third breaks up the sky and creates visual tension with the tower.

Prescriptions for better photos5 Ways to Work the Image

Sometimes you stumble upon a composition that stops you in your tracks. You take the photo and you're done. But more often you come upon a location rife with photographic possibilities, and your first shot is like a first draft.

1 Distracting elements. Move the camera to eliminate them.

2 Camera location. Walk around your subject, move closer and farther away, or side to side for a better vantage.

3 Focal length. Would a wider or more telescopic view be more appropriate?

4 Camera orientation. Consider both vertical and horizontal compositions.

5 Camera height. Try taking both a worm's-eye and bird's-eye point of view

(A) I liked the graceful curve of the stream and the crossed tree trunks at center. But the image is unbalanced-the right side is empty of interest.

(B) Going horizontal brings in trees on the right to balance the image. But it lacks three-dimensionality, and the stream leads the viewer's eye out of the corner of the frame.

(C) Finally, I moved to the right to include another trunk, to anchor the right side and stop the stream from leading out of the frame. I also took out a distracting branch in the lower right corner.

Problem solver

No batteries required: You say that the 237-zone multimode multipattern meter in your megabuck digital SLR can't give you the right exposure for the moon? Have we got the accessory for you. The Black Cat Extended Range Exposure Guide ($20, street) will give you the right settings for full, half, quarter, and crescent moons. Plus, it works for fireworks, candlelit close-ups, ice shows, floodlit monuments, neon signs, stained glass, and star trails. It works with film or digital cameras, all formats, all focal lengths, and across all time zones-with conventional lenses or pinhole cameras. If that isn't enough, there's a gray card on the back. (www.blackcatphotoproducts.com)

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