Picture Doctor: Prescriptions for Better Photos

Hone your vision, show off your curves, lose a few pounds, and other prescriptions for better photography.



• Fundamentals: The long C-curve and careful placement in the frame add dynamism to a very simple scenic.

• The curve: It's important that diagonals or curves not exit the frame in the very corner -- that leads your eye out, rather than into, the frame. Here it just avoids the corner, and manages to extend through two-thirds of the frame.

• Multiple textures and tones: The foreground dried mud, the green slopes, the mottled water bottom all combine to add visual interest.

• Clouds: The ray-like clouds break up the bland blue of the sky.

• Rule of Thirds: A classic example. The horizon is placed two-thirds of the way up and the longest sweep of the shore occupies mostly the left one-third of the frame.

5 Ways to Go Abstract

Looking for new excitement in your photography? Try shooting abstract images -- pictures that play with elements of pure pattern, line, shape, color, texture, and tonal value. They offer perception-stretching ways of experiencing the world, and require no special equipment except for an open mind. Here are tips for finding your inner minimalist.

1. Stop thinking! Drop your preconceptions -- don't see objects for what you know them to be. See a chair, and you'll photograph a chair. If, instead, you view the chair only as a collection of visual ingredients, it can lead you to innovative compositions.

2. Pick out just a few key details with a long focal length or moving in close.

3. Use close-up techniques to extract small details such bark, peeling paint, a bent nail.

4. Crop out unwanted parts if your gear won't let you fill the frame with your composition.

5. Try b&w. A black-and-white image is one step removed from the colored reality we see, so it's already on the road to abstraction.
-- Timothy Edberg

Lose Weight Fast!

If you insist on lugging a computer for storing and viewing image files (and checking e-mail), but want to go way smaller than the typical laptop, the ASUS Eee (should be called Wee) PC weighs less than 2 pounds and is less than an inch thick -- it's about the size of a paperback novel (6.3x8.8 inches). The rechargeable battery will keep things humming for about 3.5 hours, and a built-in SD card slot makes for quick file transfer. The screen is tiny (7 inches), but so is the price: $300, street, for the version with 512MB RAM and a 2GB solid-state storage drive; $350, street, for the 4GB version. It has a Linux operating system, more than 40 pre-installed applications for business and entertainment, Wi-Fi, even a built-in webcam. For info, go to eeepc.asus.com/us.
-- Jon Sienkiewicz