November Theme Challenge – “Minimalism”

For this month, November 2019, the theme challenge is “Minimalism”. The intention is to create an image that will draw the viewer to who or what is the subject immediately typically accomplished by using light, negative space, and minimizing the other elements within the image to allow the subject to stand out.


“I walk the line” – f/11, 1/400, @500mm, ISO 200

Painters choose what gets added to the canvas. With photography, the photographer decides what to exclude from the image by using composition techniques. Using negative space to exclude elements as much as possible will help the subject stand out in the image. However, negative space is not the only technique, it can also be used in combination with colour, lines, shapes, patterns, symmetry, geometry, and repeating shapes to create an image that allows the subject to be easily identified.

Remember the key is less elements and that the composition is the most important consideration. Changing the composition can be accomplished by changing your camera position or angle, getting further away, or getting closer, or even further cropping an image to remove any or as much as possible distracting elements.

For camera settings you can start in Aperture Priority mode (Av for Canon or A for Nikon). Depending on your subject and focal length the aperture can be pretty much any thing just decide on how much depth of field you need for your subject and the overall image you are trying to create so an aperture anywhere between f/4 and f/11 and keep your  ISO low say 100 or 200, remember this is just a starting point.

Keep an eye on what the camera chooses for a shutter speed especially if you are taking your images handheld. If the shutter speed is slow say 1/50 then raise your ISO to obtain a faster shutter speed of at least 1/100. If you are using a tripod it’s ok and actually may be desirable to use slow shutter speeds depending on the image you want to create.

If you are shooting a vast landscape, you may want to use a wider angle lens somewhere around 18 to 30 mm, as an example, or if you need to isolate the composition you may want a longer focal length say between 100 to 200mm. Remember this genre of photography is not confined to only landscapes it can apply to environmental portraits, street, and nature genres to name a few.

Students are encouraged to develop their ability to tell a story or invoke an emotion, as well as how to plan and troubleshoot while creating their images. As such it’s important to not only create the image but to also include a “title”, and write a short paragraph about; how they came up with the idea, any interesting back ground that compelled them to make the image, and describe any techniques on how they overcame any obstacles.

As always with our monthly theme challenges we try to seek out an instructional resource, below are a number of YouTube video links to help with some hints and ideas.

Minimalism Photography instructional aids:
Minimalist Photography Tutorial (Using Negative Space): by Mango Street (6min 29sec)
Minimalist Landscape Photography in Iceland, Strandarkirkja: by Mads Peter Iversen (10min 58sec)
6 Minimal Landscape Photography Tips I Learned from Michael Kenna: by Photo Tom (10min 5sec)
Landscape Photography | Minimalist Photos: Want to win photo contests?: by Tim Shields (20min 22sec)

An important part of improving your photography is practice, which is one aspect of the monthly theme challenge, in addition you have an opportunity to learn about different genres, techniques and tips.

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