Artistic nuances can make exceptional photos |

Artistic nuances can make exceptional photos


This is the third in a four-part series about taking extraordinary photographs. The series will continue through January.

Want to share one of your exceptional photos? Visit for information on how to do so.

Regardless of style and subject, photographic purists traditionally include or eliminate subtle nuances to enhance the quality of their artistic expression. Let’s examine how you can do the same to improve your photographs. It takes only a moment.

To consistently take sharp, in-focus photographs, it is essential to eliminate camera shake. Start by depressing the shutter release with a soft touch, instead of a hard push, until it fires. Use this approach whether you are holding it or it’s on a tripod. When hand holding, always quiet your body by taking a deep breath. Take the photograph when you aren’t moving, or brace yourself against a fixed object like a wall or lie down. Set your camera, tablet or phone on a tripod, or brace it with a fixed object. In the field you can set your device up so it’s in balance, and then use the self-timer mode so you don’t have to worry about shaking the camera.

Eliminate clutter and lines of distraction from your photographs. Instead of trying to include every detail of a scene, which can clutter the field of the frame, focus on the subject. Pay close attention to lines of distraction, which can be created by wires, shadows, color bands, movement or edges of objects or walls that cut through any part of the subject. It only takes a moment to eliminate them when you are composing the photograph. Change your angle of approach to the subject by moving above it, dropping low, moving to the side, stepping back or moving closer.

Use anchors at the base, top or sides of the frame as a foundation for the subject to stand out and away from. Anchors can be a solid object, color, shadow or highlight discretely positioned to accentuate and isolate the subject. Practice and get creative with your use of anchors. Anchors can run diagonally through the frame of the composition, as well. There are no rules as to where to best position them. But once you see how they are placed, they will forever influence how you position your subject in relation to them.

Position your subject in the fore, middle or background to develop a sense of depth or flattening of the image. By compressing all three, using a long focal length lens or zooming in with a wide-angle lens close to a subject, you can flatten the depth of field creating a collage of form and color or none at all. Then again, working to position the subject in one of the three can isolate the viewer’s perspective on the subject or maximize the expansive magnitude.

Robert Castellino is the author of the photo book “Colorado: Life and Light on the Land.” It’s available locally at Book Train, in Aspen at Explorer Booksellers and at The Bookworm of Edwards. Learn more at

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