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Graphical Photography Tips

The name says it all. Anything that’s got geometry in it is a graphical photograph. Then again, it’s a bit more. It’s also about curves, horizontal and vertical lines, shape and color as much as it is about making a photography look like a sketch drawn by hand. Here are a few easy ways to make your photography go right up this alley.

Keep an eye out for lines of all kinds. It could be a long, winding road or a curved bridge or a rising mountain. All these showcase geometry in the great outdoors, not to mention towering highrises and architectural delights. The next challenge is to compose it in the right frame and in the best natural lighting condition – and that is easy, too. Try to shoot between 3pm and 5pm to get the right kind of contrast and shadow. However, if the skies are overcast, anytime is a good time because the cloud cover acts as the best natural white balance and reflector.

CC image courtesy of Veronik@GR

Get color-conscious
Just the way lines and curves bring out the contrast and colors of a graphical photograph, it works in reverse as well. The colors can accentuate the lines and curves of the landscape you are shooting. For example, it could be the blue sky against a winding black road. In this picture, it’s street photography at its best: The road filth against a yellow wall.

CC image courtesy of Jonathan Cohen

Go retro
Sometimes, discarding the color for plain old black and white images can lead to some arresting graphical photography. Take this picture of the Oslo harbour filled with old ships being resurrected as museums and restaurants or used for fjord trips. Taking this picture in black and white makes the image so much more blissful by giving time a break. If colors make pictures dynamic, black and white freezes the moment for posterity. And this picture is a good example of that.

CC image courtesy of Nickgraphic

Subject oriented
Sometimes your subject lends itself to graphical photography. Like this photograph of a singer wearing a polka dotted dress. By giving it a sepia tint, the image’s light and shadow highlights get more accentuated. This is Stackridge at the Bull Theatre in London.

CC image courtesy of Veronik@GR

And sometimes, it’s all about how you compose an image. Take this picture of a blind. What you see is the alternate play of light and shadow. The right composition makes the effect that much more surreal. Here is where composition helps. Taking what you want inside the frame and leaving out the rest.

CC image courtesy of Nashih

Following these simple steps, and adding some of your own on the job, should you lead you to many memorable graphical photographs. Good luck.

~Zahid H Javali