The Problem with Wide Shots / by Julian Alexander

I’ve always struggled to define myself as a “photographer”. For a long time I have clung to the term “enthusiast” to describe myself because while some of my photos were decent, I felt the vast majority missed the mark. It’s one thing to own a camera, and it’s entirely different when you actually know how to use that camera. The same can be said for editing software.

Since coming on with the Red & Black, I’ve been on a steep learning curve. I had never tried my hand at editing on Lightroom, and while I understand the basics, I certainly don’t know the finer points. Everyday I am constantly challenging myself to learn how to take better photos in camera and edit them in Lightroom with precision.

One of the biggest problems I’ve had recently is with detail shots. I have been reluctant to get sharp details while covering action packed events, and I have been even more reluctant to crop down shots to get sharper detail. One of the beautiful things about the camera I have, a Nikon D610, is that I have the ability to crop without sacrificing clarity. As long as I get my subject in focus, I can crop down and still have stunning clarity.

Yesterday, October 20, 2018, I tried my hand at photographing the University of Georgia equestrian team in action. I took this assignment as a shadow assignment; I did not want to be responsible for failing to get key shots since I had never covered an equestrian event. Lots of my shots for this event were far too wide. A lot of the frame was filled with empty space that needed to be cut down. A good example of this are the screenshots I've included of my workshop in Lightroom. In the first shot I have the photo I actually submitted to my editor at the Red&Black, and the other is the cropped photo after I talked with my editor about detailed shots.

An important point to notice in these two shots is the difference in where your eye focuses. In a wide shot we are able to take in a lot of the scene, but it is unclear where we should direct our attention. There often is so much in the frame that the main subject can actually become muddled. The tighter shot allows you to focus in on a specific subject. It is easier to read their expression and interpret what is going on as a result.

In my upcoming assignments I hope to capture some tight detail shots. I also plan to crop down to avoid unnecessary wide angles. While it is important to include a variety of shots for each assignment, I need more detail. Perhaps soon I will feel more comfortable defining myself as a “photographer”.