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Lesson 12 from: FAST CLASS: Nature and Landscape Photography

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

12. Composition

Lesson Info


All right, folks. So we're on to the final section. We've been building up to this. We've gone through the technical, talked about light and subjects and now the final pieces, getting your picture composed in the best way possible. And there's a lot of ideas and concepts and rules when it comes to composition. So I would like to present you the ultimate rule of composition who sounds pretty serious. What is the ultimate rule of composition? Composition? Well, it is very simple. Do what looks best, whatever that IHS OK, that takes precedence over any other rule or suggestion that you happen to see. Now the goal of composition in many ways is to reduce the complexity in the scene. We're trying to find order within the chaos of the society and the environment around us. So those air kind of the mindsets that I have when I'm out looking for subjects and finding those subjects in trying to figure out how to render these three dimensional real world objects onto the two dimensional plane of ...

our sensor, and it could be rather challenging, and there's lots of little tools that we can use to kind of help figure out what works and what doesn't work. And to understand this, probably the best is to go in and look at how we look at the world are visual perception of what we see, what we think is important. What draws our attention, what distracts us, and the more understanding you have of this, the better. You'll have an understanding whether to put that in the frame or out of the frame. So let's take a look at our visual perception. This is the concept of what's going to draw our attention. What's going to make us look at a photograph or an object in nature movement is probably something more than anything else that you'll see. I was walking along Lake Louise and Bam, and I noticed this reflection, and I don't meditate, but this wanted this, made me want to just stop and meditate and look at this and zone out. It's a very mesmerising little scene, and it's very intriguing and it's I don't know. It's just it's just a fun little thing. I mean, I don't know if it's worth anything, but it's just a neat little thing. But when I took a picture of it. It just lost everything. He is not interesting at all. It is a terrible photograph, but it's something that draws our attention from the very beginning. We have always been drawn to things that move, whether it's a lion in the grass, a bear in the woods or a car coming down the street. If it's moving, we might want to pay attention to it for our personal safety reasons. But when it comes to still photographs, movement translates in a whole different way. And so just because it's moving, for instance, some wildflowers blowing, blowing in the wind that might look very entertaining to your eyes into your brain. But that doesn't translate into a still photograph. And so movement is something you kind of have to think outside of and kind of set aside next up size. The bigger something is, the more important it is in the frame. And so when a subject is close to the lands, it's very big. You know that it's the main subject in the frame. We also look for what is unique in a photograph. What is that one thing that is different, and for some reason I go back to our our Sesame Street program, where they show you the pictures in which one of these is different. What has something that stands out, and this is something that we're very drawn to looking at is what's that one element. That one tree on the horizon that stands out from everything else is because it's unusual. It's unique. Another area that we look at and I've mentioned this before is brightness. Those flowers in the lower left hand corner receive a little bit more attention because they have a little bit of sunlight coming in on them versus the flowers around them. And so we often look in a photograph at whatever is brightest, and so those areas can be distracting or they can draw our attention to the right area. We like shapes. We can see shapes very, very easily. We can see him in very small sizes. We talked about that with silhouettes is that when we see these shapes, we can quickly identify what they are, or we can kind of get a feel for what's going on extremely quickly, and so we do like shapes in there. Obviously, color attracts our attention when we see color. Who? What's going on over there? Something of interest. One of those reasons why we love those sunsets and those bright, vivid flowers using our depth of field to control what is in focus and what is out of focus by having something in focus were demanding attention. Be drawn to that. When it's out of focus, it's going to receive far less attention, objects that have distinctive contrast, a good amount of contrast. There could be too much contrast in some of the photographs, but having contrast in the photograph is good, and that's why we talked about the exposure section earlier on capturing a very low contrast scene. But expanding that contrast in Post is gonna help make that scene look a little bit more vibrant and interesting. In many cases, we look at what is unusual, what stands apart from everything else. So using focused to highlight that in this particular case, and we haven't talked about it a lot, but including people in the photographs are eyes air drawn to people in the photographs we want to see. Do we know that person? Would we want to do what that person is doing? Can we put ourselves in that person's position. This is something that we want to be doing, and so including people in there is not a bad idea at all. And it's amazing at how just the subtle list movements can make the biggest difference. And I was I was really hoping to have a whole section on this, but and frankly, I'm sorry. I only have one example of this and I really want to do more of this in the field. And so maybe that will be a future class at some point. But I want to show how much just a little bit of movement can dio. So let's take a look at the first photo here and think about what this photo is of. And is there anything in here that bothers you? Do you like it? Do you not like it? And so we have some trees which have a nice graphical element to it, but there are some distracting things going on, so let me show you a short video of how I would move the camera to position it for a better shot. So let's start the video here, and what do we do? We got a tree on the right. We've got that kind of dark line on the bottom. When we got some power lines on the left, we just move it just inches, really to reposition the camera to get a much cleaner, better shot. And so now we do not have those distracting elements. And so when we did when I talked about Border Patrol before, look over here on the right hand side of this image on the left. We have those trees over there poking in off the side. That's that's not framing. That's Peca. Bill, We don't want to be doing that. This river down here, we're not seeing enough of that. This little stick in the ground, we don't like that. And these polls back here and the difference between those two shots is from here to about here, about a foot and 1/2. That's all I needed to do. A slight twist, getting down a little bit, moving to a slightly better position. And it could make a huge difference in a lot of photographs. That very subtle, precise framing of the shot. So some quick tips just on framing framing up your side, start with fill the frame. Most amateurs don't get close enough, and they're subject is too small in the photograph. If you show somebody a photograph and you have to say, See, look at what I was shooting over there. You didn't fill the frame enough. You are not clear enough about what you were shooting. It should be obvious to the shooter now in this or to the viewer of the image. In this particular case, I had very little leeway in where I could stand and how I could photograph this tree with pink flowers on it. And so there really wasn't much to do other than just simply fill the frame, used the longest lens I have and get it as close to the edges of the frame as felt comfortable in that particular photograph. Next step, add on Lee supporting elements, and so if we're gonna have a subject in there, you've only can carefully add one element at a time. Do I want to have in this this in there or not? So I'm carefully adding in some tree trunks, which I think go well in this mountainside hill shot of Mount Hood in Oregon, having your subject out of the middle. We'll talk more about this when we talk about the rule of thirds. But amateurs almost always put the subject directly in the center. That's because where the focusing points are, But getting that subject out of the frame is a very, very good, useful tip. And I will have to admit I have a hard time finding vertical photographs, vertical photographs. They tend to be a little bit more towards the middle of frame. The horizontal one gives me a little bit more freedom of where to put that subject more off to the side. Remember that we don't need to show everything in the photograph by not showing everything. We add a little element of mystery, and that is always a good thing to have. So show only the best part. Simplicity works really well in photographs. Very, very sensible. Simple items clean. Not a lot of clutter in the photograph is something that I personally very prize in the photographs. There's a bit of a visual puzzle going on out there, and my goal going out there is to make sense of this visual puzzle to find an element that makes sense and flows together, finding the order out of the chaos, chaotic world. I've said that many times and finding a little area that makes sense, and we can see that pattern and we love those patterns. God, trying to find them and eliminate all the other clutter is very, very challenging. But it will make for very good pictures. Let's talk about this from the perspective of point of view, which is where you are standing in order to get the shot. And as a kind of a working example, showing you through some of the bad shots to better shots is unexamined. All of Zion National Park. I was photographing down there for several days, and I'm taking a picture in this case of the Watchman, which is a quite called mountain. But it's it's a rock face. It's a it's a tall rock pinnacle, and a lot of people's instinct is to try to get as close to their subject as possible, because I just told them to fill the frame. Yes, that's the first thing you're supposed to dio, but in this case, the foreground is not all that interesting. So let's look for some other places to photograph. Now in Zion National Park, there is a well known bridge that a lot of photographers go. Teoh, you're likely to end up there with several other photographers photographing the watchman tower. Now, from this location you have the river, the Virgin River down below and you have these cottonwood trees, which are quite nice. But this is shot no, mid to late morning. And it's not quite the right time a day. We've got a lot of bright sun and our main subject, the mountain in the background, is kind of in the shadows, not the right time of day. A little bit earlier in the day, we have this lighting a little bit lower in the sky. We've got some nice light kind of coming in on the watchman, but it's shadowed and broken up light coming in on the river. If you get there even earlier in the morning, the valley will be in the shadows, and now it's at least in very, very even lighting. And this is not a bad time to be there fairly early in the morning. But there's a lot of other areas where you could be framing up this peak and having other elements in the foreground looking for lines, looking for colors, looking for other things that are of interest that helped draw our attention here. Using some small cactus plants drawing are I upwards to the top of the mountain, finding some flowers to add to the color of it. I saw this picture earlier, working with the river and elements in the river Rock in the river, using that slow shutter speed. But the best time to go there is probably at night because you get this really nice sidelight hitting the side of the watchman. Very good lighting on that. I wish that little cloud off to the left was a little bit bigger and more prominent. We should have placed some more clouds in the sky. It would make it even better bouncing some light reflected down. But on the day that I had to shoot it, I would just shoot the best that I can and take it. I'm fairly happy with that result, but that's a heck of a lot better than just trying to get close to the mountain and just get a straight shot of the mountain with nothing else in it. And so we talked about this when we were talking about shooting the mountains, adding those foreground elements. So this is just a matter of working that composition, shooting that same subject over and over again, not just taking the first shot that you get. Another example of working with the composition and looking at the same subject from different angles of view is Ohh, Homo bridge. This is in. Let me get this right. Uh, Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah. And there is a stunningly beautiful paved road that takes your help, this park, and it takes you to three significant natural bridges. And at this particular parking lot, they got a little sign there that I photographed. And it's a very short walk to get out to the viewpoint. And if you're not willing to put out the time or the effort and you simply go to the viewpoint, here is the most wonderful picture that you can take in the middle of a bright, sunny day. Do you notice the bridge? Kind of hard to see. It's right there. It's not a very good look. It allows you to see the bridge, but It doesn't give you very good photographs. Let's go back to the map and take a look. Well, are you willing to put out some time? You're gonna spend 1/2 an hour? How about an hour? How about two hours exploring the area? Well, you know what? There's a trail that goes right down below the bridge, and if you're willing to walk down the trail, you're probably going to get better photographs. And so if you're gonna photograph a bridge, you're gonna have you want to get a little bit of blue sky below that bridge to actually show that that Landis separated and it has a cut underneath it Now, a bridge is a element of land that has been worn away by water, and it's would mourn away by water. That means there's probably a river nearby, and there's gonna be element elements of water, a great time for reflections. So I'm not looking for a big lake. I'm just looking for essentially a mud puddle so that I could get down really close to it. And if you get down really close, you can get a reflection. And in this particular case, there's water on either side of the bridge and in several different locations and that water ads for a nice reflection which adds a nice foreground element, which this area didn't have a lot of didn't have a lot of plants and wildflowers and meet looking rocks. And so I'm using a reflection to kind of add to the elements that I already have. I'm going to stick around until sunset to see what the light does to see what it looks like because I hadn't been there before. I was basically scouting and shooting the same time. I came back the next morning to shoot more photos with different lighting. I think this photo kind of embodies the concept of mystery. If this is the only photo that you saw of this, you'd be kind of Well, wait a minute. This doesn't look that No, this doesn't look right at all. And I kind of liked that aspect of it. Now, the final favorite shot was this one here, a little bit of reflection shows a little bit of the full Reg line, takes the subject a little bit off center, and if we come barren, compared that to the original shot from the parking lot, essentially or the viewpoint. I think you can see that the time and the effort pays off in getting a more interesting composition that tells a more interesting story for your subject.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Light Keynote
Focus Keynote
Equipment Keynote
Subject Keynote
Timing Keynote
Composition Keynote
Exposure Keynote