1. Class Introduction
Another Look, an image with you. This is a really exciting time to be a photographer. This image, which I made just last year in the deserts of Botswana, I could not have made even 10 years ago. The cameras are so much better, the lenses are better, and the software is really remarkable. What has not changed in the last 10 years or even in the last 50 years, is the criteria by which I judge images. Let me give you a quick recap. I talked with you about this in more detail in a previous course, The Art Of Seeing, but in my opinion, of course everything is subjective in photography, what do you need to make an image compelling? Well you have to have a real subject, no matter whether it is a big subject like an elephant, or a small subject like a butterfly, and this seems really simple, but too many photographers make the mistake of trying to combine things that are really better treated separately. So, think of one subject, and then take a step beyond your subject and try to establish a ...
perspective or, as I call it, try to come up with a point of view, and that's especially important if you're dealing with subjects that have been photographed many times before. Zebras, wonderful animals, but this looks like many other images that you've seen of zebras before, so I try to get beyond the obvious. (audience laughs) This is a rear-end view of zebras and I see your reactions, it elicits a response and that is what I'm aiming for. An image can be compelling if you add a really interesting composition to it, and in The Art Of Seeing I go into more detail about that, you know there's different principles of composition. This is a really simple one, repeating patterns, fish eggs in a laboratory. This is a bit more complicated, a subject as a point in the landscape and then a counterpoint of all the lines converging on the subject. Of course, light is a fundamental quality that can enhance an image, and here are two examples, two unusual examples. The reflected light that shines back from an evening sky and then bathes the whole Pacific Ocean in this ethereal glow. And here, another dramatic example of spot light coming down into a slot canyon in Arizona. When it comes to wildlife photography, or portrait photography if you're trying to focus on people, it often is about the moment. You know, the gesture that is revealed by somebody's facial expression, or the body position, and that is what I try to capture here in this scene where an emperor penguin, looking at a crush of tiny little chicks to try and find her particular chick. And that same kind of moment is expressed here in a herd of impalas that are subtly looking up because they perceive some danger in the tall grass in the savannas of East Africa. Ultimately, the hardest thing to capture in an image is meaning. All these previous aspects are good and we're going to see quite a few interesting examples of that, but meaning is what enables you to transcend the specifics of a situation and to start communicating with your photography to create a bridge to other people. Let me explain to you what I mean by that. We're in the midst of a social media campaign about bonobos, you know they're relatives of chimps, but they're quite different inside and on the outside. This is an image I made of a bonobo, a female, who is playing with an infant, making it twirl around on her legs, and of course any human parent will recognize this, you know, we do this at home. So, when we post these images it has an enormous response from people all over the world, I create a connection between the bonobos and us. Here's a detail of the female who you saw in the previous image, you know she's a lost a lot of her hair and that makes her even more human-like, so both of these images are meant to create connections, to use photography as a way to communicate, not just to create beauty within the frame, but to use images as words that you can pull together as sentences to say something to other people. So, from the sublime to the profane, this is how we're gonna be looking at images today. My mission today is to enhance your vision. You know, as Chris mentioned, we've seen a lot of amazing submissions, we've had to make a painful call, right Chris, otherwise we'd be here for another 24 hours, right? So we've made a selection to show you a variety of landscape images, macro images and wildlife images, and I'm gonna be working together with Ross. Ross works with us in our studio, he makes my images look a lot better than the way they come back from the field, so we're gonna be using Adobe Lightroom to analyze the images and to make them look better. Before we do that, here's a couple of the main tools that we use in Lightroom, how many of you here in the studio are using Lightroom yourselves? Everybody does, it's become the universal tool that photographers around the world use for that purpose. In that previous portrait of Lana, the bonobo, we made some adjustments, and here are the adjustments that Ross and I apply very commonly. We reduce the highlights, kind of which avoids the overblown parts of an image, we pull out the shadow details, we improve the whites and that creates a better tonality, and then we pull down into the blacks as well, and that creates crisper whites and darker blacks, you can also mask the noise that sometimes is apparent in the darker areas of your image. Here's how it starts. The sliders are in a neutral position, and here are a couple of the other tools we're gonna be using, we're gonna be cropping images, we're not gonna be worried too much today about spot removal, that gets tedious, we're not gonna deal with the red-eye reduction because we're not looking at images made of people using direct, head-on flash. This grad filter we're gonna be using a lot, and then there's the brush which enables us to make selective adjustments in just portions of the images.
Ratings and Reviews
Lisa C. Alvarez
This is a terrific class for photographers seeking a straightforward explanation of what makes a photo stand out from the pack. Despite all the amazing technological innovations in recent years to the way we take photos, the elements of what makes a powerful photo remains the same. Every year it gets easier to get it right technically, but what about aesthetically? If this is your concern, this is the class for you. Frans explains the elements of a exceptional photo in a clear, easy-to-understand manner. Then he applies these principles to photos submitted for review by Creative Live viewers. His use of the submitted photos as illustrations strengthens the understanding of these principles. Finally, another quality I like about Frans as a teacher is the genuine respect and appreciation he has for the photographer's vision. He takes great pains to propose edits that preserve the original style and message but relate back to the basic elements which must be present for a photo to be truly outstanding.
This review is more about the teacher than the material. As for the material, it is thorough, complete and covers 95% of everything that makes you curious and all without suffering the pain of having your own work critiqued and making you feel like a noob. However, greater than 50% of photography teachers have egos the size of Alaska, perhaps 100% and may even include Frans, however, most of them have no problem in letting you know how good they are, how much you have to learn and how their view and not yours is important. Spend these few hours with Frans and you will find none of that. He starts his critiques asking the photographer what they were trying to achieve, then he explains how much they did and didn't do that, and then he demonstrates by showing one or more ways you could have improved on that vision. He also talks to the fact that based on their vision, he may have shot the photo differently. Then he ends by asking the audience what they think of his changes and what they would have done differently and finally, incorporates their changes also. Incredibly enlightening, respectful, and of course, he is incredibly visionary and you can almost always see how his ideas are better, how beautiful is his ability to envision and create and his mastery of creating the vision he forms in his mind. Don't miss a chance to watch any and all of the classes by Frans Lanting, he will change your way of planning and executing photography and improve your post processing skills to best present your vision.
Really enjoyed the class, thanks Frans! Also grateful for the replay as I'm located in Dubai so the live class is too late for us (midnight!). Love the opening comments about Subject, Composition, Light, Moment and Meaning.. a good reminder to apply when taking photos. Really enjoyed the critique.. very insightful and amazing to see how a different crop can bring out the image more. Ha ha.. just disappointed I did not get an image critiqued. However, thanks for helping us photogs out there!