(click on the image to see a larger version)
Photographers often include too much in their images. We see the Grand Canyon and try to capture its grandeur on a digital sensor that measures less then 2 inches across. It rarely works. The world is visually complex and that creates problems for us as photographers. Photography is an art form that is based around the idea of capturing emotions and messages. Stripped down, a good photograph is about the passage of a message between the photographer and the viewer. The message might be a concept (strength, power, leadership), an emotion (courage, fear, love), or an object (a stunning waterfall, a beautiful sunset). The question you need to ask yourself is what are you trying to say and does the image express that idea clearly? Stated another way, why are you taking the picture and what do you want viewers to walk away with?
I believe it was John Shaw who suggested that we try to verbally express what a picture is about. The more words it take, the less impact the image has. The best images have clear messages and are ruthless in eliminating anything that does not push that message forward. They can be described with only one or two words. To accomplish this, remember the KISS principle. Keep it simple stupid (KISS) is a great motto for photographers, because it reminds of what we have to do. Identify a message and capture it in the clearest possible way.
The above image was created in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania using a Canon 1D mark 4, 500mm IS lens with 1.4 teleconverter, at 400 ISO. The image was shot from a vehicle with the lens resting on a beanbag for support. We were in the middle of a troop of over 100 baboons and I was looking to capture a image that clearly stated “Baboon.” It wasn’t until this male decided to climb a nearby tree that I had the opportunity I was looking for. The blue tint was created by setting the camera’s white balance to Tungsten (for further information about this effect, read my earlier post about The Color of Light).