PHOTOGRAPHY 101 | Let’s Keep It Simple

Monday, August 27, 2012

I apologize for not being able to update this portion of my blog. I’m simply heaped with so much travel backlog that I don’t think I’ll be able to finish everything.

So before I launch into another long trip, I guess it’s time to post another one for this series.


One of the most basic things about photographic composition is subtraction. Remove everything non-essential to the subject at hand and let your subject be showered with all the attention from your viewer’s eye.

Easy enough to do especially when you’re shooting objects at home where you can control your environment.

Say you’re shooting a toy, a flower in a vase or anything at all. Before plunking your subject on a table, look around first. From your vantage, ask yourself these questions: Would the background be distracting? Are there elements or designs on the table surface that might divert from your subject? Are there things lying around that your frame might hit?

A simple perspective shift can easily solve a cluttered background; you can move your location or simply move your camera a bit to the left or to the right. Distracting designs on the table? Use a bond paper, fabric or some other material to place over it. Then make sure there are no other objects from view. I know you can clone these things out in Photoshop, but it’s simply easier to pick them up and remove them in real life.

If those things are just not possible, zoom in on your subject and simply fill your frame with it. You may use your lens zoom or if that’s not enough, your feet.

Doing this outdoors is harder though since you can only control your environment to some degree.

I remember shooting a landscape before and there were these plastic debris all over the beach. I removed each one before pressing the shutter; it’s just easier to do it before shooting than spending countless minutes trying to perfectly clone it off using the computer.

If you’re shooting a busy scene where lots of people are passing such as when you're taking Reykjavik walking tours, just wait it out. Make sure you already have your settings correct and your composition ready so once the scene clears up, you’ll just have to pick up your camera and press the shutter button.

Don’t compromise your photo with a pwede na yan (that’s good enough) mentality. The last thing you’d want on a stunning image is a person in the background making funny faces.

Another technique you can use in isolating your subject is by utilizing the depth of field (DOF) of your camera lenses. The lower the aperture of your lens, the shallower it’s DOF is. This means you can blur your background with only your subject sharp and in focus. Just dial the aperture at its lowest; f/1.2 to f/1.8 usually for prime lenses and f/3.5 for zoom lenses.

This might be harder to do for point and shoot and cellphone cameras however since unlike its DSLR counterparts, it’s DOF is so much deeper. I’ll discuss how to get a nice and shallow depth of field for these kinds of cameras in another article.

I have this habit of looking around the viewfinder for some seconds before clicking the shutter. I recommend everyone to try it. Just take a bit of time to look at the four corners of your viewfinder; let your eyes roam. Ask yourself if all the elements inside the frame are essential to the photograph. If you can still subtract something away, subtract it. Remove all unnecessary elements until all you got are the bare essentials.

The most effective photographs are the simplest ones. As they say, less is always more.

You Might Also Like


  1. I can honestly say that this is something that I very much still need to learn in my composition. Thanks for reminding us about this essential photography lesson :)

  2. wow na wow ...astig ka tlga sa pagkuha ng pictures idol!

  3. never ko nagagamit ang aperture pag may hawak akong DSLR. laging naka manual lang. para dun pala yun? hehe. sana matuloy ang tutorials! ^_^

  4. Brilliant! I've been meaning to learn manual photography, just can't find time to actually sit down and study.

  5. Very well said sir. Less is really more. :D

  6. You shoot really nice photos. And these reminders are very easy to remember even for non-enthusiasts. :)

  7. Well said..
    This was my problem when I was starting out, especially on outdoor shoots.
    I kept a mentality of pwede na yan, until I learned that its never enough.

  8. nice shot couz ang linis ng pag kaka kuha idol talaga kita sana matutunan ko rin kung pano mag shoot ng manual keep it up godbless

  9. Naku akong ako talaga lang. Yung pwede na yan hahaha. Sana maging kasing galing ko naman kaw haha

  10. ^^ At Chino, mega-relate. haha. Basta makapicture pwede na yan! hehe. Kudos to Ginoong Cristian for the tips, hehe.

  11. haynaku. salamat sa tip na itey. for shire, i'll be taking these points in mind.

  12. Nice tips, thanks for sharing! You are one of the best photo/travel bloggers I know so it's nice to hear an advice from the expert. Btw, ang cuuute nung aso!

  13. This is what i love about your blog, pictures, pictures, pictures and more pictures. You're such an inspiration to a newbie photographer like me. hihi An advice coming from an adroit really means so much. :-)

  14. bakit yung manner ng pag-advise mo sa 'ferry' shot parang yung picture and tenor ng tip eh buhay na buhay :)

  15. The Sunset Goddess
    Basta ang keyword is subtract substract substract :)

    Thank you :)

    Tuloy yan Doi! Basta book ka na ng flight :)

    Ryan Mach
    Later on I'll discuss the nitty gritty on shooting manually :)

    Indeed :)

    Thanks Dani, that's what I'm really meaning to do :)

    Francis Balgos
    Tama, patience lang :)

    Jerlin Sangoyo
    Haha kaya mo yan Jek, basahin mo lang yung manual booklet ng camera

    Juanderfulpinoy, Edmaration
    Basta kalimutan nyo na yung pwede na yan, you guys will definitely improve :)

    Lakbay Philippines
    No problem Edwin :)

    Marjorie Gavan
    Haha thanks, that's our dog Foxy :)

    No problem Brenna, and drop the master please :P

    That's what this is for, we were all once newbies :)

    Naks haha, salamat po :)