I used to shoot a lot of wildlife (mainly birds) up until 2009. Going through my library of images, I often come across some interesting images in my non-select folder. I never really labeled them rejects, so I never really got around to deleting them, so tried to find ways to utilize them and I think I have found the best solution. I will share with you what I think is an easy way to turn "rejects" or at least those undecided non-selects into fine art photographs, and this tip is not restricted to wildlife either!
Basically, it’s a very simple bit of advice. Find any old photo that you thought had potential but still resides in your non select folder. Crop to square and convert to B&W. Play a little with the contrast and clarity, and sure enough, you may end up with a piece of art. But lets analyze it a little bit in more depth.
The square format is a great way of improving images that have too much empty space. The square format seems to really help make shapes and lines more prominent, especially when we eliminate the distractions of color and convert the image to B&W.
So B&W, shapes and lines become more prominent without the distraction of color and the extra empty space of other formats. B&W seems to have the ability to change simple subjects into a stronger element of attraction.
Composition is about eliminating any superfluous elements in your chosen frame. It’s about simplifying and getting the viewer to concentrate on your main subject. Unlike the 3:2 format where the viewer’s eye moves from left to right or up and down, with the 1:1 square format the eye moves around in a circle. The square offers less wasted space around the subject and you can place it smack in the centre and it will in most cases be the best place for it. One big plus of the square format is that the rules of thirds don’t apply here LOL.Personally 99% of my square framed photos have the main subject placed in the center. And don’t think that your only choice for subject positioning is the center, you can always place them in the extreme corners or edges. Some really arty street photographers seem to have some great success at placing the main subject close to the edges or corners as though exiting the frame. Such a thing hardly works for the 3:2 formats. Another compositional choice is to actually fill the frame. This helps the subject to become more imposing helping the viewer’s eye to be more attracted to it. One compositional tip that you can use on the square format that works well with the 35mm format is the use of the S curve or diagonal lines and curves, such as rivers, streams, winding roads, pathways etc.
One of the strengths of the square format is that it’s easy to compose. And you don’t need to shoot for square, just open your favorite photo viewer (in my case Lightroom) and try fiddling with the crop tool at 1:1 on some of your non-selects or other images. I’m sure that this exercise will help you discover some real arty images in your own collection!
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