We live in a chaotic world. Natural or man-made, there is a constant whirl of colour, shape and decoration around us that can be exhausting in its complexity. Amidst the chaos I am drawn to simplify, reducing the visual cacophony to find a calm centre in the storm. Such minimal images can offer a moment of peaceful reflection in the midst of the frenzy that is everyday life.
My favourite way to achieve this is working in monochrome. Simplifying colours to tones and shapes helps me make sense of what is before me. My other go-to technique, is to get up close and personal. Working at close range helps me to see the simplicity within the complex design. Sometimes indeed it reveals a whole new microcosm of beauty that would have otherwise been ignored.
Sometimes the weather offers a solution. A blanket of snow is perfect for obliterating unwanted details and reducing a scene to its basic elements. Fog or mist can have a similar effect, removing distant eyesores and creating a sometimes eerie glow to a scene. Both of these also help to simplify the colours in a scene by creating a muted, peaceful palette of hues.
Whilst the weather can offer a seasonal solution, in Birmingham we are generally blessed with a mild and benign climate that limits its uses. And so for the final solution; shallow depth of field. Working with an aperture of f/4 wider, depending on the subject, can reduce the background to an attractive blur that directs the viewer’s attention to our intended subject. I have used this technique to successfully eliminate all manner of undesirable objects from otherwise attractive scenes by turning them instead into blurry colour swatches that emphasise my focal point. It might not be quite what I actually saw, but it certainly ensures the viewer sees what drew my attention.