Every photograph is a slice of the world, no matter how much we include, even with our widest lens’s and longest panoramas we must choose what’s included and excluded.
By including less we are leaving more to the imagination, the viewer becomes involved with the photograph in a different way. Instead of considering the subject as a whole, the subject now becomes becomes a study of light, textures, scale and proportion, it helps remove pre-conceived ideas and open up a new perspective. The subject can still be implied, but by taking away the whole and including only the part, we are moving from the literal towards the abstract, perhaps to a response more from the heart and less from the head. In the image below our focus is directed to a small area within the scene, the silo’s are implied, the sense of scale is warped and distractions are removed, a scene of the entire silo would bring us back to the every day and the common.
Other times we need to include more. The image below was taken recently alongside a road I travel frequently, so I see this scene under many different lighting conditions. I have a theory that we tend to focus more at ground level than above, after all we generally move along the ground and not through the air, so we’re naturally quite considerate of what’s happening down there.
On this day it was the cloud patterns moving over the fields that drew me in, but even so it’s the inclusion of the sky that I think helps the image along, so it was a case for inclusion rather than exclusion. I needed more in the photograph than I was focused on initially. As a result of including more the land is occupying only about one quarter of the image, the rest is dominated by the sky and the clouds within the sky. The clouds help link the sky and land, we see the clouds above, and their patterns below. The blue sky is almost opposite in colour to the warm tones of the sunlit land, so we also gain a colour comparison for the rich red earth, and we gain a scale relationship of the land to the enormity of the space above.
So there’s a case for more and a case for less, we are taken to different places where the context and spacial awareness is re-arranged. Consider how relationships are forming within the image and how our lens choice, position and the resulting context can effect our emotional response, rather than simply capturing the subject itself.