Photo Anatomy: the secrets behind one photographer’s perfect composition

Photo Anatomy: the secrets behind one photographer's perfect composition

In our Photo Anatomy series on Digital Camera World we select pictures by famous photographers and explain point by point what makes them work.

In our latest instalment, we dissect Alisdair Miller’s striking image of a stranded lifeboat in Dubai.

Photo Anatomy: the secrets behind one photographer's perfect composition

Well composed
Who says the rule of thirds is a cliché? Used creatively, it makes this shot. The horizon runs bang through the middle of the frame, but the boat’s well located on the first third.

Good choice of kit
Alisdair hasn’t skimped on kit. This image was taken on a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L lens. The stunning results speak for themselves.

Minimal colour palette
Alisdair’s been clever with the colour balance. The shot’s muted colour palette is restricted by the scene, but it’s further enhanced by his skilful white balance selection.

Taken slow
Alisdair took this image with a slow exposure (20 secs at f/6.3). A tripod was essential to keep everything sharp while capturing pleasing movement in both the clouds and water.

Superb lighting
Rather than risking an ‘unreal’ flash effect, Alisdair chose to use ambient lighting instead. He wisely kept his DSLR’s ISO (light sensitivity) set to 100, which ensured minimum noise.

We say
“To get a similar effect in your own shots, set your camera to Evaluative metering, then use a Neutral Density 0.6 graduated filter to drop the sky exposure by two stops. This will draw out the cloud detail and increase the intensity of colours in the sky.”
Chris Rutter, technique  editor

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