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Problem picture #11

Small objects important to a picture must stand out.


The axe that was just tossed is caught in mid-air by a fast shutter speed, but it doesn't really stand out sufficiently against the background.
The axe that was just tossed is caught in mid-air by a fast shutter speed, but it doesn't really stand out sufficiently against the background.

The picture above is of an axe-throwing contestant whose axe is on its way to the target. You can see the contestant; you can see the target. But, where is the axe? You have to search for it to find it, and that's not good.

The axe is there, in mid-air, but it's sort of concealed by the background. It just isn't obvious - not even when it is isolated by close-cropping.
The axe is there, in mid-air, but it's sort of concealed by the background. It just isn't obvious - not even when it is isolated by close-cropping.

When you are shooting an event like this, or any scene that has a small object that is integral to the story being told by the photograph, it's crucial that the object stand out so that it is clearly seen by the viewer. This means that, as a photographer, you must be aware of the background and its effect on your picture. For example, the photographer of the first image above could have lowered his or her camera angle so that the axe flying through the air would have been photographed against a sky backdrop, making it more clearly visible.

Here, the photographer first captured the axe in the thrower's hand and then again when it struck the target. Since the background is still fairly congested, the axe might have been
Here, the photographer first captured the axe in the thrower's hand and then again when it struck the target. Since the background is still fairly congested, the axe might have been "lost" if it had been photographed in the air.

The above pair of pictures is more descriptive of the axe-tossing event than the first one. The axe can be seen as the thrower is about to let it go, and the next shot shows it striking the target. There is no doubt about what is going on. It's all a matter of timing, and of being aware of the background.

It would have been nice to capture the axe in mid-air for a dramatic shot. But, if you can't change the camera angle for a better background to show the scene's critical element, then you have to figure out how to shoot it so the viewer's not in doubt about what's happening.

 
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