Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

November 10, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Keflavic in Iceland is near the international airport and sometimes it's easier to stay in one if its hotels, rather than driving another 45 minutes into Reykjavic, the capital. Christian Fletcher, Tony Hewitt and I arrived the day before our workshop to pick up the vans - Antony Spencer would arrive later that night.

So, Tony and I found ourselves with an hour of free time and couldn't help but wander around the town. If you're Icelandic, there's probably not much to look at, just a small town like many others. But for me, I loved the different architecture, how neat and trimmed everything was, and the sense of space that's missing in larger towns and cities.

What attracted me to this scene was the curve of the roads contrasting with the right-angles of the buildings, combined with a strong splash of fire-truck red right in the middle.

Below is the original file before post-production in Photoshop, but after raw file processing in Capture One.

You can see it was a dreary afternoon and the light was very flat. I used a 10X ND filter to give me a 30 second exposure, blurring the clouds. I ummed and ahhed about the camera placement for 10 minutes and this was, to my eye, the best compromise.

The main post-production steps were to lift the contrast and brightness values, so the image was more lively. I also darkened down the foreground and the sky so the eye naturally moved to the centre of the frame where my main subject sits.

Even so, there were a few distractions in the background and in front of the building - you can see these below. When you refer back to the image at the top, you'll see that I have taken out some of the street lights and a couple of signs to simplify the image down. Some might prefer the complexity of the different lights and signs, but personally, I think the image has a more surreal feeling to it without them.

And the more you can simplify an image, the more likely it is to attract a viewer's attention. 

If you're interested in my approach to landscape photography in more detail, I have a MasterClass available on the website, along with some free sample lessons. Take a look here!


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