Sunday, February 28, 2010

Details for a Great Postcard Photo. Part 1.

Truly great postcard photos don't come right out of the camera. They are built with the aid of the computer. Starting with a photograph that satisfies both The 10 Basic Elements of a Good Photograph and The 7 Elements of a Good Scenic Photograph, a great postcard photo leaves no elements to chance. This does not mean that in order to get a great postcard picture the scene needs to be staged, but at least the photographer must make the most out of given elements, and even import new ones if necessary later on. This is precisely what is presented in this next picture: one that is not intended to "wow" the viewer, but present a clean flawless representation of a scene that make it worthy of a postcard or similar reproduction.

Below is an image depicting a street scene in Old San Juan, focusing on the architectural idiosyncracy of the place. As you mouseover the image you will be able to see the original untouched image with its annotations for fixing. Included is a list of items to watch for in this and similar images, and how a little Photoshop saves the day.

(Mouse over image to see original capture)

1. Thorough clean-up. Depending on the subject, we may want to see spotless paint on buildings, clean whites. He, he... it sounds almost like a fabric detergent commercial, right? But that's just the kind of care a great postcard photo deserves. Also the scene is free of unappealing or non-contributing objects to the intent of the picture. In this picture a security alarm box had been removed, among other objects that do not contribute to the rather intended feel of the scene.

2. Things on the right place. This means no odd or accidental elements justified because that's the way the were in the scene. If the photographer did not fix it while composing, then better Photoshop it and put those elements in a more scene flattering place. On this scene the charming house number sign that was hardly visible previously has been "moved" to a more flattering location, creating also a more pleasant composition - a triangle for the eye to move around without leaving the frame.

3. Added elements. This is the glitter and pizzaz. The details that bring the image to another level:

- Cobblestones added. Sometimes it is hard to find the perfect combination of right light, right subject and right supporting elements on the same scene. We lacked cobblestones streets on the original scene, thus were added to complement the character of the place.

- Neatly lit lamposts. Though they not be lit during the day, it certainly makes for a nice detail.

- Flowery plants. Flowers always make a better scene.

4. Life - the human element. The right person or model, on the right place can make for an outstanding photograph. In this scene, the red-dressed lady was borrowed from a similar picture out of the many taken on the same place. Thus no model was really necessary, just a little patience, luck and careful eye from the photographer.

So here we had, the little things that make huge changes in the final appreciation of the scene. Next we should look at other examples that further illustrate this point.

©A.E.Amador. All Rights Reserved.
You may see my scenic photography of Puerto Rico and The Caribbean at

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