Have you ever looked with admiration at one of those images that you can’t detach the look? Did you notice how desperately your eye was attracted on only one point of the image without being able to detach from it? Find out which elements of an image are the most eye-catching and how to direct the gaze of those who will stop on your images, but also what are the elements that can embarrass the reading of your image and hijack the subject’s eye.
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I think a strong photo is one in which the eye is guided to a place in the image, or “travels” through the image in the way the photographer intended. This is what is commonly called a well-composed image, and you already know some rules to improve the composition of your images: the rule of thirds, the golden ratio rule, perspective, simplicity, or other compositional tricks. But let’s take a closer look at how to catch the eye. Corollary: if something other than your subject has eye-catching characteristics, it’s pretty bad for the clarity and legibility of your image, unless your subject is really visually appealing (and I’m not just talking about a pretty girl 😉 ). The point I want to make is that every element I’m going to talk about can work both in your favour and against you.
1. Clear rather than blurred
It goes without saying, but it gets better when you say it: the eye is irresistibly attracted by what is net in the picture. Unless your entire image is in focus, the sharpness of your subject is therefore momentous. That’s why tips on how to properly focus or improve the sharpness of your images are important. And it is for the same reason that you need to focus on theeye of the subject (for a portrait or wildlife photo), or the point to which you want to draw attention.
But what’s also interesting to note is that we’re watching minus the parties fuzzy of the image. That’s why understanding depth of field is very important: by mastering it, you can easily highlight your subject in relation to its environment.
The two combined give for example this portrait on the left (don’t hesitate to click on the image to see 😉 ), for which I focused on the left eye (well the one on the right of the image what), and used a relatively reduced depth of field so that it becomes the main center of attention of the image 🙂.
2. Large rather than small
Generally speaking, the elements that take the more room in the image are more eye-catching. That’s why you have to fill in the gaps with his subject.
Be careful, this does not mean that a subject that does not take up much space in the frame will never catch the eye: this is only the case when it fits in the frame. competition with something else. For example, you’re doing a portrait of someone from quite a distance, and you can clearly see a big monument behind it. On the other hand, in a very simple (like the one on the left, which is rather a counter-example) where there is only your subject and an environment without eye-catching elements, we will only see than he…even if he is small. This is the strength of simplicity, which we will mention again at the end of the article 😉.
3. The Human
The Human with a capital H because I’m talking about everything related to it: whether it’s a detail (a hand, an eye), a whole person, a faint figure in the distance, or even just a index a human presence (an open umbrella seen from above, for example). The faces (and in particular the eyes, as mentioned above) are particularly attractive. And yes, we are social (well for most of us :P), and we are made so that any human element attracts us. irretrievably. Did you ever notice the force that human presence can give an image? In the landscape on the left, note how the human presence gives both an idea of thescale and the vastness of this landscape, guides the eye to the valley and at the same time tells a history (which is very important!).
4. 4. Bright areas rather than dark areas
This is a fairly obvious principle in black and white since brightness is the only element left to distinguish one pixel from another. But it is just as valid in colors: the luminous are eye-catching. Placing a well-lit subject on a darker background is a winner. every time ! And even if the subject is rather dimly lit, it always stands out very well from the background as long as it is very dark or even black. That’s what happens in my concert photo on the left: the background being totally blackyou can’t see that the subject. Simple, but effective!
Having a sufficiently illuminated subject is rather intuitive, but an element that is less often paid attention to is the presence of light elements in thebackground (or at least who are not the subject). These are elements that can be very disruptive to the reading of the image, and which distract very easily the eye. So pay attention to the go out of scope as much as possible, because even if they are blurred thanks to a reduced depth of field, they remain awkwardand I think it’s one of the worst things that can spoil your background !
5. Warm rather than cold colours
Have you ever wondered why a pair of pumps red on the street systematically make you look down? 😉 Well our eyes are headed naturally towards colours warm. Reds, oranges, yellows attract us, as opposed to more cold. It’s almost caricatural in the picture on the left, even if you also tend to look at oranges because they are more netthat the background is very simple and simply because they are the best element identifiable. But still 😉 You can use this very easily to draw attention to a particular element, but you should also be careful to avoid hot colored elements in the frame if your subject is predominantly blue, purple or green!
6. Saturated colors
To be clear on what I mean by “saturated”: this is a saturated greenthis is a low-saturated green. The second one isn’t any clearer, it’s just… less saturated. Here’s a lighter green (but as saturated as the first one). Same with saturated orangeof the less saturated orange.
More commonly known as colors. lively and pastel. Experiment with placing a subject with saturated colors in front of a pastel background: it will immediately be enhanced. However, be careful if your subject has rather pastel tones: any very saturated element in the frame will distract attention!
In the photo on the left, the cake with the colors rather lively detaches of the pastel plate, but the cup is a fairly saturated green behind, and hijack a bit of attention despite being out of focus.
7. Diagonal or even curved lines
We had already had the opportunity to discuss it with the perspectivebut in general the lines guide the look in the picture. That said, the straight lines (I mean the ones that are horizontal or verticals) serve instead as executives or from separations between different areas within the image. On the other hand, the lines diagonalss, whether subtle or very strong, tend to guide the eye. It’s here a little more subtle as before: if several diagonals point towards the same place, the gaze will indeed be fixed on it, but if there are only a few diagonals, it is not possible to see them all.one or more parallelsthe eye won’t really be focused on one point, but… will travel rather by following these lines of force. Ideally, therefore, you should place your subject.
Conversely, if your image has one or more strong diagonals that only guide not looking at your subject, your effect will be missed.
There are more subtle lines of force in your image: the curves. The curves simple (type S) are the most effective to guide the eye, bring a certain aesthetics in the image, or even tell a history. In the image on the left, these footprints are cleverly placed and one imagine easily two people walking side by side. Note also that these footprints humans also refer to point 3 😉
It is already very useful to know all these elements individually. Still, be careful not to be too sectarian 😉 Just because your topic doesn’t fill out all these conditions that the image is bad, of course! Having said that, you will notice that most of the images I have presented combine several of these principles. Besides, little game for the most motivated: for each picture, tell me in the comments what principles were used, and how ! 😉
As I mentioned in the last point, keeping an eye on only one point is not the only possibility, and it may be worthwhile to do so. travel between two elements of the image, which can help to give an meaning to the image. But don’t multiply the elements of interest too much.
Two good ways to make your job easier:
- the eye is preferentially directed towards the elements easily. identifiable. In other words, even if something is out of focus, the eye will move towards it if we can easily acknowledge it. Conversely, if you can make a potentially embarrassing element unrecognizable, it can help you.
- compose pictures simple in the background stripped makes your job a lot easier by automatically eliminating correct number distractions.
And finally, think that you can modify some of these elements by post-processing White balance, contrast, color saturation, and even retouching tools to remove small, distracting elements from the background. Think about it! 😉
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