This blog post is the second in my Small Changes Series: articles in which I use before and afters to show you how one small compositional change can make an image stronger. If you missed the first one, you can read it here.
Earlier this week, my little in-house superhero was coming to my aid as he likes to do. This time, he was making my coffee. He was sitting up on the counter alone and even though I knew he was big enough to sit there without falling, when I shot the photo at first, I was in a rush because I wanted to make sure he was steady up there. So my first image wasn't very thought-through and this how it looked:
My thinking was that I would use the line of the stove to lead your eye to him. So instead of squaring up and shooting this from behind him (which would have also not shown what he was doing), I stood to the side and shot down the line of the stove shelf.
But the way I used this line was not nearly strong enough. I was only half-successful (which really means I didn't succeed at all!). If I would've gotten physically closer to the shelf and shot straight down it, I knew two things would be improved. First, the line would be emphasized and draw your eye more forcefully straight to him with less distractions. And second, the frame would be simplified and easier to read. See if you can spot those two results in my second attempt:
I shot it on a very low aperture (f/1.8) purposefully, because I wanted the silver backsplash to be devoid of details. I used the rule of thirds to determine his placement on the right, bottom of the frame. On the contrary, on the before image, he's on the right but not as low which I don't find quite as satisfying.
And after all the thinking that went into the second image.... I can't take responsibility for his reflection. It was a happy accident that I only noticed in post production. I love that about photography! We can learn and grow and plan and plan, but when it comes down to it, sometimes it's the most serendipitous details that makes a picture special!