This is the second post in a series in which I pick some really cool photos and break down the technical elements about them that I like best. They’re designed to help you (and I) improve your photography. You can check out the first post here.
In my first post in this photo review series, I took a look at an HDR photo of a beautiful boat. (If you don’t know what HDR is, you can read more about that in another post I wrote.) In today’s post, I’m changing it up. This time, we’re going macro, getting up close and personal with a drop of water.
It sounds boring as I type it, but look at that photo! There’s more going on than first meets the eye. Here’s what I think makes it great.
Great use of Colour
Whereas the last picture I featured had muted colours designed to draw attention to the boat, this photo uses vibrant colours that really pop against the solid-black background. That contrast makes things interesting to the eye.
The contrast isn’t limited to the colour against the background though; the purple and green contrast really well with each other, too. Purple and green are almost opposites on the colour wheel, which means that they really pop when put together!
Deliberate Choice of Background
That background wasn’t accidental, ohhh no. The creator, a guy going by the name of Josch13, purposefully blacked out the background using a black card, piece of construction paper, or whatever else he had.
In my personal opinion, macro photography often benefits from this kind of treatment. When you’re up close and personal with a subject, it can often get lost against the background, if there’s too much going on. What a card or sheet of paper does is simplify things and really let your subject steal the spotlight in the photo. Less is usually more when it comes to macro!
Perfect Use of Bokeh (Blur)
Bokeh is just a fancy way of saying “background blur.” Notice how the flower in the background, and even much of the stem in the foreground are completely blurred? That’s bokeh. You get it by using a wide-open aperture (more on that in this post), and it’s great for teaching the viewer of the photo what exactly you want them to focus on.
In this case, it’s the water droplet. Specifically, it’s the water droplet on the left. See how it’s the only thing in focus? It’s obvious that it’s the main subject of this shot – again, completely deliberate on the part of the photographer.
Interesting Shooting Angle
One of the things most casual/beginner photographers have in common is that they tend to shoot from the same angle all the time: standing up, holding the camera up to their eye.
Sorry, it just is. It’s fine for capturing memories, but if you want to go beyond that, you want to get creative with your angles. It’s not that you should never shoot at eye level; what I’m saying is that the angle you choose should be the one that captures your subject in the most flattering way possible.
Take this photo for example.
The photographer purposely put that flower in the background, and it wasn’t just for the pop of colour. See how the flower is reflected in the water droplet? In fact, it’s reflected in both. It takes a certain angle to get that effect, and it makes the water drops more interesting to look at as a result. If they reflected nothing but black, there’d be a certain emptiness to this shot that would keep it from being all that it could be. Good thing the guy thought to shoot at an interesting angle!
Wrapping it Up
For this post, I deliberately chose a photo that was very different from the one we walked through last time. I’ll try to continue to do that as we go along, because it’s important for me to convey that what works to make one photo great doesn’t apply across the board. Different types of shots (macro, landscape, HDR, and so on) demand different techniques, and that’s what makes photography an art! Stay tuned for the next post in this series, where I’ll walk through a wide-angle landscape photo.
Did you see something I didn’t in the photo? Share it with us in the comments! I’m learning just like everyone else. Got a photo you’d like me to feature? Contact me and let’s talk about it!