To me, details are very important in a photograph. Pretty much everything that a viewer ever is going to take away about your image lies within the four corners of the frame. Therefore, it’s critically important that every element in the frame be identified, considered, and vetted before presenting it to the viewer. At a minimum, no element should distract from the message intended to be imparted by the photograph, and ideally all elements should work to support that message.
To me, the image in this post is all about the solidity and stability of the three silos contrasted against the gauzy expanse of the cloud-filled sky. Much of this impression is achieved by the somewhat darker form of the silos against the background and the hard outline defined by their edges. In my opinion, it’s critical that the eye be able to follow these edges in an uninterrupted way to pick out the form of the silos.
In an earlier version of this image, there was a relatively dark portion of cloud set just about right up against the lower right edge of the silos at the bottom of the frame:
Can you see it? It’s a small detail, and perhaps easy to dismiss. Unless you’re me. To me, this detail is incredibly distracting. It draws my eye away from following the edges of the silos, and creates an interruption in their otherwise clean outline. So, I lightened it up in order to make it blend more with the other clouds in the sky. I remember, because it took several tries and several test prints to get it just right. Much better, in my opinion.
By way of contrast, note the relatively dark cloud at the lower right corner of the frame. This presents another detail worth mentioning. It too draws the eye, at least for me. However, here I think it works. It does not compete with the form and outline of the silos because it is removed from them by a fair amount of distance. Instead, it simply draws the eye away from the silos and toward the lower right corner of the frame. As a result, my eye tends to bounce back and forth between the silos and that little cloud. For this image, I think that’s a good thing, because it creates a little desirable tension in what otherwise could be a very static composition.
Yes, it has occurred to me that thinking in this way simply may be a case of me being a bit too OCD about my photographs. But I really don’t think so. The details are important, they can make or break an image.