Behind the Lens: Great pics don’t always take great gear

photo by: Mike Yoder

The interesting cafe ceiling display of antlers caught my eye first. But rather than photograph just the ceiling, I put my camera at a low angle to include my cycling friend Tom Mersmann in the foreground. The photo now has a greater sense of depth and a viewers eye moves between two visually interesting subjects.

A photographer went to a dinner party, where he showed his photographs. The lady of the house said, “Those are nice pictures; you must have a great camera.” He said nothing, but when leaving, he offered the following compliment to the woman: “The meal was very nice; you must have great pots and pans.”

To believe that great equipment will make you a better photographer is not true. Some equipment can make taking photographs easier, but an expensive camera will not create more interesting images. Any camera is capable of taking good photographs, within the limits of its mechanical features and the creativity of the photographer. Visual creativity leads to better photography.

On a recent bicycle trip, I carried a point-and-shoot camera. Using simple visual techniques, I still documented my trip with interesting images. If you’re limited to a P&S or phone camera, try a few simple techniques for more memorable images:

• Self-timer. Overlooked in the age of the selfie, a self-timer provides the opportunity to creatively consider your shot, include more of an environment and still include yourself. I purchased a $10 mini-tripod that stays mounted on my P&S, always ready to use for self-timer shots and long exposures.

• Foreground and background. Having a dominant foreground subject in a photo with a contributing background of visual information provides depth. Seek camera positions and subjects that offer interesting visuals on two planes for more impact.

• Framing and perspective. Look for ways to frame subjects using natural elements in the environment. Or change your position in relationship to your subject to provide unique perspectives.

— Journal-World Chief Photographer Mike Yoder can be reached at 832-7141. Follow him on Twitter at @mikeyoderljw.

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