23 December 2011

What Makes a Good Picture??

These days I find myself analysing more and more. There are so many excellent nature photos around these days - but why are some pictures more successful than others? There are many elements that make an image appealing: light, composition, colour; and then there's the subject itself. Established nature photographer Niall Benvie has an interesting take: he believes in 'the edge'. The concept is pretty simple really - the edge can represent the end of the season; the coast meeting the land; the edge of daylight, or perhaps the edge of life itself. I've always liked this idea, although for me I'd say that it is the 'transition' that can make the best images - as an example, imagine a plain green barley field in spring, or the same crop just before harvest; both are monotonous in tone and colour, but view the field during that brief period where 'the change' takes place and you'll see a wonderful tapestry of texture with colourful flicks of the new season creating more variety in the scene. That might work for fields of barley, but not for everything.
I've come to the conclusion that the best pictures are simply the ones that linger. Time and time again I find myself drawn to the same images (mine and others) and it's this lingering quality that keeps me coming back. Images where your eye continues to move around, and where you never seem to get bored - those are the most successful of all. So for next year I know what I will be trying to achieve: fresh wildlife images; and ones that truly - linger.

www.naturephotographycourses.co.uk   www.paulmiguel.co.uk


  1. I would add that eye contact with animals is essential... And being really related and close to the bird or whatever animal you are shooting. Your hare is one of the images that keeps lingering on my brain. If the photographs tells a story then it is in my view a good photograph. You don't have to worry about having good photographs, you have them. I want to be you when I grow up...

  2. Hi paul,

    for most people their images do linger - they know not what to do with them and then just host the lot and expect the viewer to make their own mind up. So, you end up trawling through a lot of trash to see a few gems. this is not a professional.

    The best photographs to me are those that the photographer most certainly DOES know what to do with and is selective with those images taken, even with their very best, to put a portfolio together or really distinction. Artistic vision is even before technical skill. without it you are lost. Something different is required than the thousands of photographs that just merely recording our world - the photographs need to tell a story, have some meaning...too name just a few important elements of overall content. when achieved, you then not only remember the photos, you remember the name of the photographer. It's exactly the same with art.

    OK there is a lot more to it than that - publicity mainly. Both go hand in hand but ultimately the most compelling shots are those that fill you with awe, wonderment and surprise.

    You only have to look at http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/
    The photographs say it all!

    Robert Dutton
    Merry Clickmas (Nikon user)

  3. Many thanks for those comments. Personally I agree it's important that the photos tell a story; this is far more interesting to me than a good record shot. As always, the best images are those that make the viewer think - and connect. I strongly believe that we all have a deep connection to nature, but it is all to often lost in today's world...