Picture of the Month Seven Geese a Quacking
Photo by NYIP Graduate Galina Vitols
Now that the euphoria of Christmas has passed (regrettably) and we are adrift in the January doldrums, I look back nostalgically at those happy days around the Christmas tree. The Yule Log was a-blazing, the spiked egg nog flowing freely, and our merry bunch gathered under the mistletoe. We kissed and sang the old carols, especially The Twelve Days of Christmas.
After the third egg nog I began to lose track of the counting, but I seemed to recall that there were seven geese a-quacking, or maybe four pink elephants dancing, or whatever. In any case, this month's picture choice — seven geese a-quacking — triggered my memory And that's no mean feat, considering my advanced years and the number of spiked egg nogs consumed.
NYIP Graduate Galina Vitols of Miami, Florida created this charming photograph. Not only do we see the quacking geese, but we also note that they are marching along in columns of two. And in the background the ever present drill sergeant (upper left) bellowing his “hup, two, three, four”, or whatever cadence counting geese use these days.
Now, lest we forget (thanks, Kipling), let's recount the three NYIP Guidelines here. Let's jump right in feet first (webbed, of course.)
First, strong subject matter. One goose would have been all right, sure, but marching in formation under the watchful eyes of a bellicose sergeant, six geese are near spectacular! Such precision! Such military bearing!
NYIP Guideline Two is a kind of catch-all expression: focus attention on the subject. Ideally, everything in a good composition focuses attention on the subject, of course. Note, for example, the three out- of-focus oval-shapped trees behind the goose in the upper left. A sergeant's three stripes suggested? Possibly. Frequent spiked egg nogs tend to blur the vision occasionally.
Here's another way of focusing attention on the subject. Look how Galina Vitols gave the majority of the picture's space to the marching geese and yet kept the pale trees and even paler sky confined to a much smaller area. All too often, I see student's work where unimportant areas are given undue emphasis in a photograph. Such practice, well meant but decidedly distracting, pulls attention away from the subject instead of focusing attention upon it.
And yet here's one more way of focusing attention on the subject. Look at the photographer's palette — the beautiful transition from dark to light to medium tone and then a repetition of this format.
Finally, our third NYIP Guideline — simplifying the picture, There seems to be nothing extraneous in the composition. Everything works and in harmony with other items in the photograph. So what does one do if there are too many geese in the picture beside the seven depicted ones. Shoo the extras, of course! Ars gratis artis.