Bold Photos aren’t everything in Photography

By Ian Middleton

Disclosure:

This website and its articles contain links and adverts. The adverts and some links, but not all, are affiliate links. This means that if you click and buy something I will receive a small percentage of money, but at no extra cost to you. The price remains the same if you buy.

No Bold Photos this evening

One evening at Lake Bled, I was running a one to one workshop and we were setup photographing the sunset. It was not a particularly stunning sunset in any sense of the word, but there was a hint of colour in the sky nonetheless. There would be no bold colours in our photos this evening. There was no flaming sky, but rather some soft, subtle pastel colour amid some brooding clouds. As we were capturing it a woman passed by, camera tucked under her arm, and commented:

“You’ll have to do a lot of work in Lightroom to bring out the colour. Tomorrow is supposed to be better.”

It was clear that she had abandoned any idea of taking a photo that evening.

Have we become to obsessed with colour?

This got me thinking. In the world of Internet and Social Media have we become too obsessed with bold, striking photos? I often see images packed with colour that get thousands of likes and comments of “wow!” But when I look closely at the image it is actually quite bad, and were it to be printed large would likely look awful. The problem is of course that bold, striking images look great on screen and immediately jump out at us, whereas the beauty of an image with more subtle, soft light and colour doesn’t. This means that it is more likely to be dismissed when scrolling past on the screen.

It seems we have lost sight of the subtle nuances of photography. As a landscape photographer I often take inspiration from other great artists such as Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite and David Noton. In most cases their images are not striking because of their bold colours, but because of the light, composition and colour within. My most favourite images of theirs are usually ones with soft, pastel colours and muted tones.

Landscape painters and photographers

While I confess I am not an art expert, I do love looking at good landscape paintings. In many ways a landscape photographer is akin to a landscape painter, we just use a different medium. And I often find myself asking, “Would a landscape painter be so obsessed with bold colour?” The answer is likely, “no”

My father was an excellent painter. He only painted for his own pleasure, but I grew up watching him paint and our house was adorned with his paintings. My memory is not of bold, striking colourful images, but those of subtle colours that were easy on the eye.

Many of the photos I’ve admired from other landscape photographers were not because they jumped out at me with their striking colours, but more often than not because of the subtle beauty within. The Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year competition is regularly criticised for its winning image, yet I often find myself agreeing with the judges and the more I look at the winning photographs, the more I see the beauty in them.

What sells?

It might surprise you what sells. In fact, many of my photos that have sold as art prints were not packed with bold colours.

So here are some of my favourite, not so strikingly bold, photos. Hope you like them too.

Lake Bohinj at the first dawn of the new year, Triglav National Park, Slovenia. Taken New Year Day 2012.
Lake Bohinj at the first dawn of the new year, Triglav National Park, Slovenia. Taken New Year Day 2012.
Saint Mary's Lighthouse on Saint Mary's Island, situated north of Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, North East England. Seen at sunset from the beach beside the causeway that runs out to the island. Whitley Bay is situated just north of Newcastle.
Saint Mary's Lighthouse on Saint Mary's Island, situated north of Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, North East England. Seen at sunset from the beach beside the causeway that runs out to the island. Whitley Bay is situated just north of Newcastle.
The hanging gallows of Combe Gibbet, on Gallows Down near the village of Combe, West Berkshire / Hampshire border. Erected in 1676 for the purpose of displaying the bodies of George Broomham and Dorothy Newman after their execution for murdering his wife, but has only ever been used for them. The gibbet was placed in this prominent location as was meant as a warning, to others of what happens to criminals. I grew up near here and often visited this place, but only thought of photographing it now. This hill provides commanding views across Hampshire and West Berkshire.
The hanging gallows of Combe Gibbet, on Gallows Down near the village of Combe, West Berkshire / Hampshire border. Erected in 1676 for the purpose of displaying the bodies of George Broomham and Dorothy Newman after their execution for murdering his wife, but has only ever been used for them. The gibbet was placed in this prominent location as was meant as a warning, to others of what happens to criminals. I grew up near here and often visited this place, but only thought of photographing it now. This hill provides commanding views across Hampshire and West Berkshire.
Morning mist and cloud over Lake Bohinj and the Church of Saint John at sunrise, Triglav National Park, Slovenia
Morning mist and cloud over Lake Bohinj and the Church of Saint John at sunrise, Triglav National Park, Slovenia
View at sunrise in winter from Rantovše hill across to Sveti Tomaz nad Praprotnim (church of Saint Thomas) and the Kamnik Alps, Slovenia.
Mt Grintovec, the highest peak in the Kamnik Alps, Slovenia.
Early sunrise at Lake Bled. View across Lake Bled to the island church and clifftop castle from Ojstrica, Slovenia.

A practical guide to photography by Ian Middleton.

A Practical guide to Photography

For a more comprehensive look at photography, check out my book, available to buy at Amazon.

Shedding light on all the photography basics in one book.

Want to know how to take better photos? Well, first you need to master the basic techniques. Whether you are a complete beginner or an intermediate looking to improve your photography, this book is packed with photography techniques, tips and advice for beginners and intermediates. All the camera functions and their effects explained.

[tg_button href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0954077970/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=0954077970&linkCode=as2&tag=ianmidd-21&linkId=b7edca1500949fb04ec7f7d2e96d44bf" color="" bg_color="#f5f0f5" text_color="#0d0c0d"]Buy my book[/tg_button]

close
SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER AND GET
25% OFF MY PRINTS & A FREE EBOOK

Subscribe and receive my regular newsletter to get the latest information about my workshops, new tutorials, videos, new photos and more.

All new subscribers get an exclusive 25% discount code off prints of my photos from my online shop plus a free download of my ebook: A Practical Guide to Photography. Code and download link will be emailed to you upon successful signup

I don’t spam! Read my privacy policy for more info.

Disclosure:

This website and its articles contain links and adverts. The adverts and some links, but not all, are affiliate links. This means that if you click and buy something I will receive a small percentage of money, but at no extra cost to you. The price remains the same if you buy.

“As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases”

A practical guide to photography by Ian Middleton.
Buy my book

Shedding light on all the photography basics in one book.

Buy fine art photography prints: canvas, metal, framed, acrylic, wood and more.



Smugmug - 15% discount
15% discount off all new Smugmug accounts

Save 15% off any new SmugMug account when you click this banner. No coupon needed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.