The Tip Off
Essence, Too Much Of A Good Thing

Photos © 2000, Tony Sweet, All Rights Reserved

It's an old antique store--okay, you can call it a junk shop--by the side of the road in Delaware, and photographer Tony Sweet drives by a lot on his way to the coast from his home in Baltimore. And it's a great place to take pictures simply because it offers so many pictures.

Maybe too many. If ever there was a place that tests a photographer's editing skills, this is it.

Another roadside attraction: Let's see...where do we start?

"In general, people tend to want to photograph too much," Sweet says. "It takes thought to isolate, to hone things down. Pros work that way all the time--they get the whole scene, then start to look at smaller portions, and then a portion of that portion. They keep refining it down."

Each of the three pictures shown here is valid, though very different. The first (above left) is a clear indication of the nature of the place, and it's valuable because it demonstrates what attracts a photographer, what would make you take your foot off the gas and say, "Whoa, hold it. Gotta stop here." But what attracts also makes the job unwieldy, and so you start to pare down. The second image (above right) uses a part of the overall jumble as background, keeping the details of the clutter; but there's no doubt of the subject of the photo, and the subject is notable not only for its color but for its simplicity against the confusion of the background. In the third image (below), color, shape, and texture are the subjects.

Sweet says, "My thought process was, this is a great scene, but what's going on that I can really use?" To capture what was going on, he used two different lenses: a 20-35mm zoom for the first two, an 80-200mm for the close-up of the wheel.

"There are so many possibilities here that I've spent a lot of time at this place," Sweet says. Indeed. When you see a spot like this, you don't take your foot off the gas unless you've got some serious time to spend.
--Barry Tanenbaum