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Composition Basics

Lesson 4 of 6

Things to Consider

Khara Plicanic

Composition Basics

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

4. Things to Consider


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:03:44
2 Basic Principles Duration:22:33
3 Techniques Duration:11:52
4 Things to Consider Duration:08:40
5 People & Places Duration:08:40
6 Working the Scene Duration:05:22

Lesson Info

Things to Consider

Let's talk about things to consider when we are approaching our camera and whatever is in front of us. So we're gonna talk about format so deciding, you know, do you? Are you wanting to shoot this horizontally, vertically or or square? Uh, we'll talk about cropping briefly and then keeping in mind the potential output or youth of a photo so we'll start with format. So horizontal or vertical. How do you know? Well, I usually let my subjects be my guy. It So if we're looking here, this is a architectural, real estate type photo. It would make sense to shoot this horizontally. It's a horizontal theme, and it would be kind of weird if I shot this vertically. We'd have a lot of feelings or a lot of floor, and then that would look pretty weird. And I might feel compelled to crop it later, which would be silly. So why not just shoot it, shoot it the way we'd want to crop it leader so I would do that horizontally. Here is a scene with some interesting leading lines and some interesting repetit...

ion and patterns, and the lines themselves are horizontal. If I had shot this vertically. Ah, then we wouldn't be looking at a theories of repeating chairs. We'd be looking at a chair. So this this image really only works in the horizontal format. Here is a landscape image. Landscapes are generally horizontal, but not always. But in this case, trying to capture the vastness of this is a beach in Oregon and trying to capture the vastness of that space. And the big, huge rock really lent itself to a horizontal orientation. This is an example of a landscape type scene. We have this birdhouse in here, but I chose to composed this vertically because of the shape of the birdhouse, so just sort of repeating that line, actually with the frame of the photo. The birdhouses is a rectangle vertically, and, of course, that's got the vertical post that it's on. So I'm repeating that shape by taking a vertical image as well. So your actual frame for your photo can serve to repeat patterns as well, and makes an even stronger composition. Here's a canal in Venice, very vertical in nature, leading lines. Okay, and we have our gondola driver in the bottom right corner. This is the Ferris wheel in London. Very vertical, obviously bridal portrait. Now this one is vertical because of her shape. So that is nice. It was also vertical because this was like it was so crazy at this hotel, we had a whole bunch of girls shoved in, like the smallest room you've ever seen while the guys who there were far less of were in like a huge sweet. So it was kind of funny. So to get the shot, I chose vertical a vertical format for this anyway because of her shape And, um, just her overall, the lines in her arm and the dress and everything. But I also really had to go vertical because I didn't have room to get a horizontal shot that would feature all of her dress like that without including some brides maid that was standing in the corner or some random bags and a bunch of other things. So, in this case, by going vertical, I also was able to really cut out a lot of erroneous background information. And of course, um, you could shoot square formats before you know, if you shot film and medium format and everything. But these days I shoot a lot of squares on my phone. So either just some images that let themselves nicely. Two squares. We have leading lines again. Bun peacock. You have a lot of choices when it comes to format. Here is a portrait there my parents captured vertically. And when you're choosing your your format, horizontal or vertical or square, whatever, you really also have to think about potential crops. Sometimes people have have request. My clients will sometimes say, Can you take this vertical image and crop it horizontally for something? Um, and the answer is, maybe it depends. This particular image does not make a good horizontal crop. Here is an overlay that shows what that would look like. Um, I'd be pretty just because of the way I have imposed and that I have such a nice tight frame around the vertical shot, which is good. That makes for a powerful vertical shot. But then we have a bit of a problem if someone says, Oh, well, I actually need that to be on some. Maybe someone wants to use it and let's say an advertisement or something, but they need it to be horizontal in nature. This image just probably wouldn't work because now we see that it's cropped so tightly on my parents faces that it's pretty uncomfortable. I think toe look at so that would not that would not work. We'd have to say Sorry, Find another image. Here's an example. These are my husbands parents and I shot this image horizontally. But this image could, if absolutely necessary, this one could survive. Ah, crop Teoh A vertical format. So, um, you know, it really just depends which way you're going horizontal, the vertical or vertical, the horizontal or two square whatever. But it also really depends on the composition that you're working with. Another thing to keep in mind when you're composing the scene is, you know, even if you're keeping the same orientation. So in this case we have a horizontal image of my family. Not sure what's going on in this photo. It's a little bit crazy, but, um, it's a horizontal photo. And even if we are not trying to change that orientation, but let's say we want to make an eight by 10 of this, here's what the crop for an eight by 10 would look like. So it's still horizontal, were cropping it horizontally, but because I have framed it actually so tightly, it would be a really close crop. So my husband's being cropped pretty uncomfortably close on the left, my brothers being cropped uncomfortably close on the right. So in some cases it is a good idea to give a little bit of breathing room. So I think it's important to fill the frame. Yes, but you still want room to breathe around the edges, so this would be, ah better, um, composition. Just if we back up, you can see it's just a little bit bigger, not by much. But that allows room to crop for an eight by 10 for example, so you also have to know the form out of your camera. If I was shooting with a camera that had a cropped sensor, then I might not need quite as much room on the side for an eight by 10 crop. But this was captured with a full frame sensor with shoot at a two by three aspect ratio. So if I wanted to print a four by six, I wouldn't need to do any cropping but to crop to an eight by 10. There's going to be cropping, so just want to keep that in mind and composed with that in mind so you don't end up cutting people out. You also want to think about intended youth. So here is an image of my mom and me and my sister, and it's built into a little holiday design that I put together for a tri fold card. Now, not every image would work here, because you have to think about where the fold lines are gonna be. So in most cases you might have a design, and then you're choosing an image to go into it. But if you have a design already in mind and you're shooting images for that design, you have to shoot them very carefully with the design in mind so that you avoid things like putting someone's face across one of those fold lines. So those are all just things to keep in mind when you are taking pictures

Class Description

Understanding composition and framing is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get a shareable or printable shot. Knowing where to place your subject so that they are the focus of your images and complemented with the background can help you tell a story in each image. 

 This class will cover:

  • Understanding how to fill the frame and the basic rule of thirds
  • How to work with your subject to direct your composition
  • A variety of options to try when troubleshooting your framing  



Khara does a great job! She is thorough, has a great teaching style, uses fantastic examples of the "snapshot" version and the good version. She is enthusiastic, has wonderful explanations. I'm not a beginner and knew everything she said, but still found the way she put it together interesting. I referred several beginners to her courses. I hope she comes out with more advanced courses.

a Creativelive Student

Too often, I hear budding photographers lament, “My pictures aren’t that great because I don’t have a good camera.” Khara dispels this myth with clear examples taken with her cell phone! Of course, good gear helps; but it’s the skill behind the lens that separates a snapshot from a photograph–not the hardware. One caution, however, with Khara’s explanation of the rule of thirds. It is true that the intersection of the horizontal and vertical third is very powerful. Indeed, it is so powerful that it has a name–a bullseye; and you want to avoid it! Seldom will you see a point of interest on a bullseye in any major work. Near it–maybe; but not on it. When an area of interest, like the eye in a portrait, is on the intersection of the thirds, the viewer’s eye is drawn there and it locks into place. Without anywhere to go, the bored eye moves on to something else. Fledgling photographers (and seasoned professionals!) fall into this trap and it would have been prudent of Khara to warn of this danger. Khara does a great job describing tilt and her bird on a wire photograph is an excellent example of dynamic symmetry. While not exactly in the realm of basic composition, dynamic symmetry a powerful concept to explore once the principles outlined in this course are mastered.