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Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad But Three Into Two Is Better

Lesson 18 from: Mastering the Art of Photography

Chris Weston

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad But Three Into Two Is Better

Lesson 18 from: Mastering the Art of Photography

Chris Weston

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Lesson Info

18. Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad But Three Into Two Is Better

Chris considers the limitations of cameras in recording the world we see and reveals compositional techniques that can be used to recreate the three-dimensional world on a flat piece of paper (or digital screen).


Class Trailer

Class Introduction - Three Steps To Creative Photography


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 1: The Camera Points Both Ways


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 2: Letting Go Of Judgement


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 3: Detaching From Outcomes


Practicing Mindfulness In Photography


Finding The Visual Narrative


Behind-the-scenes: Naples


Seeing Beneath The Surface Of Things


Lesson Info

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad But Three Into Two Is Better

a fundamental difference between a camera and a photographer is that photographers have two eyes and cameras have only one kind of obvious when you think about it, and it has a huge impact on the art of creating a photograph. One of the main advantages of binocular vision is the ability to see the world in three dimensions. Our two eyes enable us to perceive height, length, depth and distance between objects with its single I. A camera cannot do that, and that means the image your camera records won't necessarily and by itself capture the visual aspects of the scene that drew you to take the picture in the first place. That leaves us with the fundamental challenge of creating the illusion of depth, scale and distance in a two dimensional photographic print. Now this has some solutions, and where the camera falls, short design and composition fill in. As we all know, lighthouses are by and large, tall cylindrical towers. We know this because our binocular vision tells us so. However, yo...

u'd never have guessed it from this image, because here the tower looks totally flat. Look at this image with one eye closed and you'll get an even better sense of its two dimensionality. That flatness comes because there are no shadows. Shadows, which are a product of light, give us a visual clue of form and, in a two dimensional image, create a sense of a three dimensional world, which is what we're aiming for. The lighting for this image was front on and front lighting removed shadows. Shadows are created by side lighting, and as we can see in this image, the addition of shadows makes the tower look three dimensional even in our two dimensional image. So shadows give us form. But what about depth in this image? Although we have form, there is no sense of depth. Again, the image is relatively flat, so we need to add some visual clues. There are several compositional tools that help you create a sense of depth, and one of the simplest is the leading line. Leading lines do what they say on the tin. They lead the I from the foreground to the point of interest. The subject and that visual journey tells us there is space distance between the bottom of the image and the subject. Further up the frame, this sense of space can be exaggerated by a wide angle lens, which will create the optical illusion of making objects appear further apart. So this image has both form and depth. But there is a third element to the physical world we perceive with our eyes. One of the most visually stunning aspects of Antarctica is the sheer scale of the place, wide open spaces that stretch forever and icebergs the size of tall buildings. This is a photograph. I talk on my most recent visit, but it leaves no impression of the scale again. I need to add some visual clues. First of all, I want to get low down. So rather than shoot from the deck of the ship, I headed out in a zodiac, which put me pretty much at sea level. Then I waited for a bird to fly into shot. Birds are recognizable forms. Our brain is able to calculate the size of the iceberg based on the known factor of the bird. A sense of scale, form, depth and scale are the three key visual elements that transform a two dimensional image into a closer representation of the physical world. We see with our own eyes use the tools available to you either in camera technique or compositional structure to help your viewers see what you saw when you were in the moment taking the photograph.

Ratings and Reviews

Gary Hook

Wow, what a wonderful journey. I love the concept of telling a story with one's photos and as I go through past images, I'm seeing them in a much different perspective. That's the good news, The bad? The lost opportunities I never 'saw' before; however that is a good thing. There is so much to internalize with the material so that it can get out of the head and into the 'heart'. I also found the concept really helps me with composition, both in camera and post. Biggest take away, as Chris underscored in his closing, is to slooooow down, take the time and feel it. Don't be so quick to leave one scene as there remain other aspects, yet to be discovered. A great experience that I truly enjoyed Thank you


I loved this course - in particular the latter part of it in which he demonstrated how post processing lets you really tell the story of the image. Another fabulous course. Thanks Chris & thanks Creative Live.

Abdullah Alahmari

Thanks a lot to mr. Chris Weston This course is great and It is a 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 course for me. Beside the other course ( mastering photographic composition and visual storytelling) both courses are Complementing to each other and highly recommended.

Student Work