How Can I Simplify an Image?


Simplifying an image can be difficult, but it starts with choosing a simple subject. Look for subjects that draw the eye and stands out from its surroundings. Don’t try to include the whole scene in the finished image – instead, choose a very simple composition that showcases just one area or object. Once you’ve identified your subject, look for distractions. It’s ok to have a secondary element in your shot… but avoid clutter.

Blinded by the Light - Varina Patel

I use lots of other techniques to simplify my images as well. If clashing colors are distracting – try converting to black and white. If dark shadows or bright highlights draw your attention away from the subject, use a diffuser to soften the light. Look for colors that are similar for a simplified color palette.

Trillium - Varina Patel

I like to use a long shutter speed to smooth the surface of a lake or pond to remove ripples on the surface. And sometimes I use a wide aperture to create a narrow depth of field that softens a distracting background.

The Quiet - Varina Patel

What techniques do you use to simplify a composition? Feel free to share examples and ideas in the comments!


About Author Varina Patel

There is nothing more remarkable to me than the power of nature. It is both cataclysmic and subtle. Slow and continuous erosion by water and wind can create landscapes every bit as astonishing as those shaped by catastrophic events – and minuscule details can be as breathtaking as grand vistas that stretch from one horizon to the other. Nature is incredibly diverse. Burning desert sands and mossy riverbanks… Brilliant sunbeams and fading alpenglow… Silent snowfall and raging summer storms… Each offers a unique opportunity. I am irresistibly drawn to the challenge of finding my next photograph, and mastering the skills required to capture it effectively.

2 replies
  1. Allen
    Allen says:

    Simple pictures are always best for lots of reasons: 1)viewers many times don’t give the image enough time to discover its “layers” of sublity
    2) A great image is pretty damn good at first glance
    3) Complexity is fine but it takes time to visually ferret out the details. Time is certainly a plus and should add to its value but only the very astute appreciate this marvelous asset.


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