Making simple pictures

The word simple has many meanings, but the ones I have in mind here describe qualities such as clear, clean, uncluttered,  not complicated or consisting of  only essential things.
Striving for these qualities may well be the most important way to get better photos. Andreas Feininger put it this way: “The simpler and more direct, the clearer and stronger the statement”.
The problem is that many of us tend to include as much as possible in the picture, so that the viewer easily gets confused, because there is no clear message. When there are fewer elements competing for attention, your picture will usually be a lot stronger. The first thing you have to do is decide what the main point of interest in the scene is. Then you must find out if there are any competing ones. If this is the case you must determine whether the image would become weaker or stronger by including these.  You may be able to do this on the spot, but it often easier to take a couple of different shots and select the best ones later on.  If you take pictures of plants in the wild, at least some of them should include a fair bit of the environment too.

One way to get a better, less cluttered picture is often to get closer to the subject. As the famous war photographer Robert Capa used to say: “If your pictures aren’t good enough you aren’t close enough”.
By getting closer you simplify the picture, thereby focusing attention on the main subject and getting rid of distracting objects.
Often the picture can also be simplified by limiting the Depth of Field

This picture gives a good impression of the harsh surroundings  this species of Hessea has to cope with , but visually it is not very appealing

The second picture gives much more information about the flowers, while still showing the plant in its environment

The first of these 3 pictures gives a good impression of what this species of Aloe looks like, but it is a bit jumbled

For the second picture I cleaned up the plant a bit, by removing remains of old leaves. This gives us a better view of the spotted backs of the leaves, which are so typical for this group of plants. By moving in, we have also got a much stronger picture

The third image verges on the abstract, but it is still recognizable. Because of that, it is not just visually but also botanically interesting

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The individual flowers are quite beautiful, but the pictures does not show them to advantage

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By going nearer I managed to get rid of the unnecessary and disturbing elements