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Turn an ordinary scene into an extraordinary photograph

What does ‘ordinary’ mean to you? It’s the question that can be quite complex, not least because it’s a double-edged sword. ‘Ordinary’ can be a polite way of saying ‘boring. But ordinary doesn’t have to mean boring; it can also mean the simple things, the things that you do every day.

Bleak can be beautiful There is no doubt that when there’s snow on the ground photographers head out in droves, but few would choose an industrial subject such as this aqueduct to create a striking shot. However, it provides a stark contrast to the surrounding nature. The composition follows the rule of thirds, and to give it some more impact I used a long exposure. The cloud was blowing quickly across the sky, so a 25-second exposure created a dreamy, otherworldly feel.
Bleak can be beautiful
There is no doubt that when there’s snow on the ground photographers head out in droves, but few would choose an industrial subject such as this aqueduct to create a striking shot. However, it provides a stark contrast to the surrounding nature. The composition follows the rule of thirds, and to give it some more impact I used a long exposure. The cloud was blowing quickly across the sky, so a 25-second exposure created a dreamy, otherworldly feel.

If you met someone who told you they had a 9–5 job and went to work five days a week, for example, you would probably think they had a pretty ordinary life. But if that person worked as a stunt man, you might find yourself thinking differently about that 9-5 job: exciting, or extraordinary. A slight change can make a dramatic difference to how interesting we think something is. It is the same with photography, in that a slight change of angle can often be all that it takes to transform an ordinary scene into an extraordinary picture.
Feeding time The lady in this picture probably feeds these chickens several times a day. Her life is possibly quite hard, and as soon as she has fed these chickens she is off to do another task—this is an ordinary piece of street life, but also a decisive moment. The decaying wall in the background compliments the subject well.
Feeding time
The lady in this picture probably feeds these chickens several times a day. Her life is possibly quite hard, and as soon as she has fed these chickens she is off to do another task—this is an ordinary piece of street life, but also a decisive moment. The decaying wall in the background compliments the subject well.

It’s easy for life to seem ordinary. Your hometown might be filled with cookie-cutter houses or apartments that have the same design, but look again. Do you see great repetition, lines, and texture in their construction? All of these things are photographic gold. The humble life of a Buddhist monk might seem rigid and repetitive and generally ordinary. To a foreigner, however, the monk’s lifestyle is exotic because it contrasts so markedly with her or his own. The ordinary then becomes extraordinary.
Ritual This monk is performing a ritual that he has probably carried out many times before. However, while this may be an ordinary event for the monk, it is exotic and extraordinary to a tourist.
Ritual
This monk is performing a ritual that he has probably carried out many times before. However, while this may be an ordinary event for the monk, it is exotic and extraordinary to a tourist.

Sometimes all you have to do is view your own neighbourhood as a ‘foreigner’ seeing it for the first time, and this can provide you with an interesting idea or angle for a photo.
This Traveler I find the modern lines and sense of movement in a subway station very exciting. To make this self-portrait exceptional I decided to change the angle of attack a little. using a tripod, I put on a 10-second self-timer and chose a 6-second exposure to create a blurred effect. I also chose to shoot low-down to record a different point of view, and tilted the photo to allow the lines to splay out in a striking way.
This Traveler
I find the modern lines and sense of movement in a subway station very exciting. To make this self-portrait exceptional I decided to change the angle of attack a little. using a tripod, I put on a 10-second self-timer and chose a 6-second exposure to create a blurred effect. I also chose to shoot low-down to record a different point of view, and tilted the photo to allow the lines to splay out in a striking way.

In Simple Scene Sensational Shot, Simon Bond shows you how to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. From altering your angles to trying out HDR and making the most of bad weather, any situation can be turned into a superb shooting opportunity.
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Simple Scene Sensational Shot, Simon BondSimple Scene Sensational Shot, by Simon Bond
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