It’s all in the detail


One of the challenges that people learning photography often face is to ‘see the shot’ to take. How often have you gone out with your camera, ready and enthusiastic to take lots of pictures and then you think “now what do I take pictures of?”. It’s happened to me lots of times so I’m sure it happens to lots of photographers.

So, this article is about looking for detail and by detail I mean looking for small areas of the scene to make a picture. Recently I was at a show where they had a selection of classic cars which I love. There were lots of photographers wandering around getting pictures like this:


At first glance you may think that this is a half decent photo. I did when I took it. However, on closer inspection and ignoring the car itself, what do you see? Well, I see lots of distractions in the background which ruin the shot for me. At car shows, or anywhere there is a gathering of people, background distractions are very hard to avoid and as I don’t want to spend days in Adobe Photoshop removing them, I need to find a better idea for my photos.

One of the great things about classic cars is all the shiny chrome and features on the cars that you don’t get on boring modern cars. So why not try and create photos from those features. You can frame the shot to get nice compositions and you can make sure that the image has no distractions in it.

One great subject for photos on classic cars on the badges, bonnets and grills. Even on the shot above you can start to see areas of the car that could make a good shot, the yellow badge on the grill, the patterns on the chrome grill (just don’t get a reflection of yourself in it) or even the lines of the polished body work.

So on wandering round the selection of cars, I picked out a few details to try and make a photo from them.

Austin Grill

This shot above, when I saw it before I took the shot, was an instant candidate for black and white. I liked the simple logo on the pattern of the grill. The position and shape of the logo also lent itself very well to a nice simple composition too.

Bonnet Art

This shot above is all about the simple composition, however, if I’d used a small aperture and not blurred out the background the photo may not have worked as the blurred background keeps the eye on the area of the photo I want.

Thunderbirds are go

Finally the classic and iconic Thunderbird logo on a simple red background. When I saw this, which is actually a headlight cover, I liked the way the it was self framing and the bold colours too. The light was working well too and the horizontal line caused by the shape of the panel helped too.

You can see from the above, whether you think they are good photos or not, that you can make a shot out of small details. The other important thing to remember when you are out with your camera is that small details are around you everywhere. You don’t always need that spectacular scene, there are photo opportunities around you everywhere.

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