off topic

Better than a Broken Blackberry

GUEST POST BY BREN MACDONALD

Instagram: @BDMacDonaldPhoto

Your regularly scheduled program has been temporarily interrupted (Nathan is currently busy and I’m taking the spot. I’m not giving him an option.). My name, as the byline above indicates, is Bren MacDonald. I’m a professional photographer. When I was younger and had my head stuffed so much further up my ass than I do now, I took the cover photo for Dark Ages 2.0.

66195136_647464022399678_7886961523543769088_n(Post-apocalyptic tale of survival or cell phone repair guide, YOU DECIDE!)

Some of the blame for poor book sales belong to me.

It’s not enough to be a photo that qualifies as proficient. Good lighting, composition, and the compelling subject will all fall flat if it tells the wrong message.

So let us look at a better photo.

66503953_2848727705169059_754688035227959296_n

I want you to take it in. Is this photo compelling? What do you see first? Where is your eye guided? Where does your eye linger?

Okay now I want you to scroll down

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Did you see the woman?

Be honest.

If you did, congratulations! If you didn’t, scroll back up and take another look.

If you still can’t find her, look in the lower right corner. Cool, eh?

Now even if you saw the hidden lady the first time you looked at the picture, chances are you didn’t see her right away. Fairly obvious, but that’s by design. I’d like to talk about how I hid the most interesting part of the picture in plain sight.

PLANNING:

I was brought on late to this project. The concept was the make up artist’s, and she’d already scouted the location. I’ve loved camouflage concepts for years, and I was excited to do one myself.

We drove to the location and then discovered a bit of a flaw in the plan. The scouting was done mid-week when the park was empty, but the shoot was scheduled for a holiday when the park was very, very busy.

This is a body paint concept. So…

PLAN B:

I suggested another location which would be less traffic’d. Upside, a wooded location with the required degree of privacy. The downside, we’re going into a new location blind with two hours of our day gone. The pressure was on me to commit to the framing for a shot that I wouldn’t be taking for FOUR HOURS.

The biggest challenge was predicting what the light was going to look when the photo was taken, knowing full well that if the light shined directly on the model the illusion would fall apart. No pressure or anything, heh.

COMPOSITION AND LIGHTING:

In any composition, your eye is drawn to the brightest part of the frame. From there, the visual lines guide where your eyes are most likely to travel. Let’s take another look at the photo.

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The trees flow to the light on the forest floor which flows to the log and right on past the area I don’t want you to see right away. My ego wishes I could take credit for the lines being created by the light, but that was serendipity.

As an added bonus, the midground has enough detail that even knowing there’s something more in the picture most people are going to be looking there instead of the foreground.

CONCLUSION:

At the end of the day, it’s a decent enough photo that people glance at it and appreciate it as a nice looking forest landscape, but it’s not electrifying. Ironically, this is probably a big reason it works as well as it does; it’s good enough to not make a casual observer think there’s something else going on, but not so much that the average audience is drawn in to look into every corner right away.

And I would say, it is a damn sight more successful at what it’s trying to do than a cracked phone on a dark blue background.

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