Sometimes It Is the Details That Tell the Story—Or “Make the Shot”
Stephen A. Dantzig, Psy.D.
I think that there is a tendency to shoot wide, almost panoramic photographs in travel or landscape photography. There is a good reason for this: it sets the scene and tells a global story about the location. In fact, there are some scenes that truly need a wider perspective.
This photograph of the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge needed to be a wide shot. In fact, I cropped out part of the water and sky to create a “wider” look on one hand while also drawing the eye to the critical elements of the scene. One look and you know where you are.
This image was also created in Sydney. Again, one look and you know that you are entering Chinatown, or in this case, a famous alley in Chinatown that features a food festival every Friday (look for the shrimp dumplings!).
However, the story of the statue lies in the details: people place coins in the lion’s mouth for good luck! The close-up also shows us that this statue has been there for a long time.
There is an old, dilapidated sugar mill still standing in Koloa on the Hawai’ian Island of Kauai. The sugar and pineapple industries were as iconic to the history of Hawai’i as the Bridge and Opera House are to Sydney. This scene shows an old beat-up truck that I can imagine was used to work the plantation and silo standing beside it.
However, the close image of the rusted lug nut paints the picture of the time gone by since these relics were used and represents, to me at least, how this charming former sugar town has changed over the years. Was the change a good thing? I suppose that depends on your…perspective.
There are many reasons to shoot “wide” in Waikiki in Honolulu, Hawai’i. The pond that fronts the old bandstand in Kapi’olani Park is one of the lesser known spots—at least for tourists (OK, the truth is that I “found” this pond after living here for about 18 years!) It is beautiful and Diamondhead in the background certainly sets the location and the scene.
However, there are the details that so many of us miss that also make Waikiki a truly interesting place to visit—and live.
The City and County of Honolulu recently completed the construction of a new park in Waikiki. It is a nice refuge in what is sometimes thought of as a “concrete jungle.” A graffiti “artist” found the fence surrounding the park before its completion. Love it or hate it, graffiti finds its home in every city.
Water fountains are also found in every city, but how often do we truly look at them and notice the details?
Examine the details of your scene the next time you are out with your camera—for that matter, a better exercise might be to focus on the details—sounds, sights, textures, smells, and tastes that make our lives so special!