Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Everything that I know about photography I learned from post cards

OK, maybe not, but racks full of postcards draw me like a magnet when I'm out traveling. When my wife notices that I'm no longer walking with her through a store, she knows the first place to look for me. Postcards are a good reference source to see how different photographers approach subjects that have been photographed a million times already.

So, here are some of the things I've learned from postcards about photographing landmarks:

1. Photograph at a time of day when the fewest people are likely to photograph. This is usually around sunrise. Your photo will have a look that relatively few other photos will have.

2. Show the landmark in its surroundings.

3. Isolate the landmark from its surroundings.

4. Photograph the landmark at a time of year when relatively few other people will photograph it. Early spring, peak color in autumn and mid-winter are good choices.

5. If the sky is doing something dramatic ... bonus!

6. Stick to the rules of composition. Or not.

The above photograph of the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse in Door County, Wisconsin is a bit too typical of a "postcard" shot, but it was begging to be taken. Mid-morning on a fall day when the colors had reached their peak. Sun illuminating the lighthouse through a clearing in the surrounding trees. Blue sky creating a contrast of color to the gold and orange leaves. A spot of sunlight hitting the juncture of the split rail fence. I was there with a camera. What else could I do?

Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

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