Guide Your Viewer / by Marcos Macedo

Whenever you hold your camera and press the shutter button it's because there was something you saw that caught your eye and compelled you to take that photo, that something is your subject.

Maybe it was a shining car on a busy street or a particular person in the middle of a crowd but unless you are taking portraits in a studio and are able to totally control your setting, more often than not your photo will contain multiple potential points of interest, maybe beside your shining car there were some people walking by or a bicycle was chained to a street sign on the other side of the street.

These unintentional subjects that come into your photos sometimes "make your photo" giving it yet another dimension and making it more interesting, but other times they just become distractions that pull the attention from your intended subject, which in turn may end up ruining your shot, because an image should have a clear message, and when you introduce too many elements they just become "background noise" that stop your message from going through.

Post-processing can be a big help in these circumstances allowing you to bring your message forward by enhancing your subject and/or minimizing the unintended noise. In the images above you can see one of such cases, by using tools like the "post-crop vignette" or "radial filters" in Adobe Lightroom I was able to create "spotlights" within the photo and make the subject shine as I originally intended.

Other techniques commonly used for this effect involve the use of the "crop tool" to change the composition by cutting the distracting elements out of the image, or the use of "selective black and white" where most of the image is made black and white and the subject is left in color (or vice-versa), or even the use of "blur filters" where unwanted elements are made blurry and the subject is left sharp and in focus (which can also be accomplished in-camera by the use of small apertures, but since depth of field is it's own topic, there will be a post dedicated to it in the future).

To sum it up, uncluttering your images will not only allow you to fully express your creativity but will also help to guide your viewer so that he may see what you saw when you took the photo. If you want to create great images, nevermind the number of megapixels your camera has, an image is only as good as the quality of its message.