Shoot: Composition Rules


Digital Photography 101


Lesson Info

Shoot: Composition Rules

Okay, so we had talked about composition yesterday, and that was really where you can enhance your images just by paying attention to some rules of composition. Now these rules are only guidelines you don't have to follow them, but if you aren't aware of them yet, it might be kind of fun to incorporate those into your photo shoots and see what happens. It just gives you some extra extra creativity to work with as you work through some of the rules, maybe later you want to break the rules, but it's good to know what they are before you think about breaking them. So the first thing I think I'd like to start with is we're going to work with something called framing, and I'm going to just briefly talk about I'll say, three compositional rules that will cover today, and then we're going to invite our studio student audience up and they're going to take some photographs and we'll really play with it. It'll be fun. So those three compositional rules are we're talking about framing and then we...

're talking about the rule of thirds and line now their other rules that you can work with and those were yesterday in the course, but those air three that we can really play with here today and sometimes you can incorporate all three of them together, you just have to get creative so to get started let's see why don't we do this? I think let's go ahead and I think we'll stay in that chair for now and I'll leave the lights like they are and just as as an example and I'm we're going to keep we're going to use my camera for everyone but I'm gonna have um our studio audience come up so who would like to be first hot how about you okay so hans went to a halloween party last night and had lots of fun and he's ready to take some shots so the rules that we went over yesterday rule of thirds framing and line which one of those three really stood out for you more well I'm familiar with the rule of thirds okay like framing and I like how this is set up right now great okay well let's start with that then let's do rule of thirds and let's kind of play around with that so just to reiterate the rule of thirds is where you move something or someone a little bit off center in you're framing is you're composing the shot so I'll take a shot just to start with and then I'm going to help pons take his rule of thirds shot and show you how right now just one second I'm going to take I'm going to take the shot that's not the rule of thirds so we have something to compare it to so that's great eric just kind of hanging out right there on the chair and actually you know what this one just so we can use it for example just sit straight on the chair completely facing me and stood up to the very edge of the chair here you go this is another key whenever you're positioning someone in chairs especially if you sit back in the chair as opposed to sitting on a stool if you have them stood on the edge it's it's easier to position them and they have less of an opportunity to kind of sit back or slump which doesn't look good from this angle so although eric was doing some interesting you know poses there in the chair but right now I'm just gonna have him for an example purpose to sit right there in the middle and I'm just going to frame him right there in the middle and show you how that looks okay there he is now right behind him we have two pillows which are a little bit distracting and we've got the edge of the chair which is also a tad bit distracting in this particular pose but what I wanted to point out you mainly about this is symmetry right now he's plunk in the middle of the frame and everything is kind of the same on either side of him so if I really wanted to take a shot that was like perfectly symmetrical I might go around back there and maybe moved the throw out of the background. Just make everything look exactly the same on both sides of them that might, you know, make a statement. But oftentimes what looks better when you're taking pictures of anything is to use something called a compositional rule of thirds and that's where you visually divide your scene in two thirds, as if it's a tick tack toe board and you just kind of, you know, just guess it's some cameras actually have a grid like that, like a tick tack toe board on the back of the lcd. But in this case, you just kind of want to visually do it. And as opposed to putting him right in the middle, I'm gonna hand the camera to hans and we went over holding the camera everything the other day. But just to kind of go over that again, hans is just now naturally holding the camera perfectly. He's got one hand over here in his finger over the shutter button. And then he has his other hand underneath here, supporting the group's hit it, supporting the lens. So now he can also use at hand beneath to zoom in and out on the lens, so that's going to make it easy for him to use and also a safe way to support the camera and give more stability to the camera to and think about your body is being like a human tripod when you're taking photos you don't want to just stand with your feet together and take the shot it's a good idea for you place your feet a little bit farther apart and it doesn't to be like this but feet a little bit farther apart like shoulder length and sometimes one foot in front of the other works well so you can kind of bend your legs and also bring your elbows into your body to give yourself a little bit more so port you don't want to be like this you want to be more like this he's already doing it so just please get out okay, so let me know if I can put this together out of the way all right? So he's on a crouching down there he's got right cool and you could do that to you don't have to always be standing up you could be crouching down and taking a shot and we've just got we've got the camera setting was already going on and he is hans is now going to take a shot where he is moving eric a little bit off center using the rule of thirds we'll see how that turns out that feel it was my first time holding ok said this is a first time holding a dslr. No, I forgot when we did the, um shooting examples thie other day with all the studio audience, hans was the only one that didn't get to shoot because we kind of ran out of time. And now he's getting to shoot. But I guess he paid so much attention. We were talking about how to hold the camera. That he's just doing it naturally, so ok, hans. And your photo it's. Great. He moved erica little. You moved him off center, and that actually looks pretty cool. That takes advantage of what's going on in the background, and now the background makes a little bit more since, but let me just kind of give you a little running critique of what's good. And what is what we might improve in this photograph so what's great about it is you did move them off a little bit to the side using the rule of thirds, and I'd say what you could work on. Maybe is pay attention to your framing so what's going on on top of his head, we have a lot of extra space called head room and there's just nothing really going on in there, and we want it, we want to pay more attention to him so think about you know kind of either zooming in her out to sort of fill the frame or move back just a little bit my idea had been to keep his head's in that cross section and that right and then have the flowers and the other one actually ok so that's a good point so hans was just saying that he his intent was to try and keep eric's head and I was talking about those intersections of the rule of thirds and that's that's a really good point and actually you did in court his eyes could have been up a little bit higher but you kind of want to play with that too when you're taking a portrait of someone and think about you don't want their head all the way at the top maybe just cut down a little bit on that head rooms they don't have to be exactly in that intersection but just somewhere off to this off to the side a little bit so let's try it again and also let's pay attention to toe so what's happening with his arms his hands so he's got his hands folded in front of him but all we're seeing are the tops of his thumbs so what you may want to do is just step back just a little bit more and just kind of recompose itjust a tablet let's try that again but you're moving in the right direction work so ok, that's not gonna work. So what did you see that you didn't well don't think I wanted to go vertically, but he just he's in the middle of the entire thing. Ok, so that's a good point, hahn said, okay, this isn't gonna work. He wanted to shoot it vertically, but it wasn't working for the rule of thirds. Well, you know what? The rule of thirds also works, and if you get in close to someone and just fill the frame with their face and make sure their eyes air in the upper third of the image so you could try that too what's another another way to kind of mix it up to one thing at a time. Yeah, so let's just let's keep to the horizontal, but that was a good point, so you moved him off to the side a little bit and that's good. Okay, that's, that's great as faras positioning, eric so we've got we don't have too much head room on top of his head and we might just move. You would move back a little bit, maybe incorporate just the last finger he had there because sometimes that's something you don't really think about when you're composing your shot, you're looking more of their face, you're thinking about all these other things but you want to really pay attention to what's going on on the edges of your photograph and also just to help out if we're going to continue to do this and shoot it, I would probably come back here and move these two pillows and maybe even move this throw just to create less distraction back there if we had thank you. If we had, like, um, a lens that had the opportunity of using a wider aperture, we'd be able to kind of blowout that brat background a little bit more meaning create more of a shallow depth of field, and if the couch for a little bit farther away, we could also possibly blur that out a little bit. So we're just going to work with the best that we have right now. Oh, and someone left a water bottle back here. I'll get this, too. Okay, you never know what might show like, so decide we'll try that. And hans is now kind of coming in from a lower angle, but he's moved himself farther away. So because he's not really totally shooting up, although his angle is his point of view is a little bit down because he's kneeling and that looks great, okay, look, so you're using the rule of thirds you've positioned him over on the side you have his hands are all in there, there's not too much headroom looks good, and we've got kind of a little story going on back here behind him with the flowers and it's set up. So it could be, you know, the man in his living room or it's a kind of starts to tell a story. There's, um, some visual interest happening here, as opposed to the shot that we took in the beginning of the shot I took where he was just, like, plunk in the middle, and there wasn't much there wasn't much story going on around him, and he just visually this this gives your eye kind of a place to go in the frame. There's some negative space there, which we talked about is being a positive thing. So gives you eyes kind of a place to go and breathe in the photographs. I think you did it. You did a good job and one, eight hundred ass in the chat room. Is it cheating to compose the rule of thirds with postproduction cropping, no eyes, it cheating to do post production cropping. So the after the fact to cross that's the rule of thirds? No, I do that all the time, maybe there's a shot that I took, and they're certain things in it and I wanted incorporate all those things for different reasons but later on I want to focus in on someone and we can do this later on today I'm going to be doing some image editing in adobe photo shop elements and I could I could show you perfect example for that so you could actually go in and crop and do the rule of thirds in your cropping too so no I don't think it's cheating at all and whatever turns out great whatever looks good to you I mean you're the artist's urine a photographer you decide what you like but these are just some rules you can play with whether it's in camera or in postproduction too why not that feels pretty good let's try since you looks like you're perfecting here the horizontal rule of thirds let's try a little vertical rule of thirds and hans is now going to shift the camera in the now I'm going to give you a little tip on this when you're holding the camera in what's called portrait mode sometimes it works out better if you hold this up that way so now you can still kind of work the lens with this hand in this hand is is up and try that your profession and let's see let's see how that looks and that's great he's playing with the focal length a little bit he's really eyeballing it there and the optical viewfinder to see what looks good to him and he's creating his shot if it's worth of course it is gonna have that video okay, so he's almost getting up there but you know what? Try zooming in a little bit closer try using the longest focal length on here you can and try to get his eyes get fill the frame mohr with him so we're cropping out his hands and just get in tighter and see if you can do a little vertical rule of thirds that way and eric you can give us your zoo lander whatever you want tio let's see how this turns out ok so when youre doing ok very nice now I could probably move the lighting around a little bit lighting could be better on this but you're you are totally getting right now the rule of thirds as faras moving his eyes in the upper third of the frame it doesn't have to be exact but it's great and you've cropped off a little bit of its head which is totally fine um cropping head is could be a good thing sometimes um so it looks actually looks really nice and you've gotten in closed so look it also what's happened in the background because you've used the longer focal length on that lens it's blurring out that background even mohr and the couch in the wall is not is distracting let's try another one and now that I've turned on this other light, we have, like more light here because what happened is he backed up and the lens is using a longer focal length because it's this variable aperture lens it's using f five six as the aperture setting might have been a little dark now we have both lights on okay, all right, so we could we could play around light part, but I think that in this one you've actually used the rule of thirds twice being moved him a little off center on the side and he's also off center vertically meaning he's got eyes or in the upper third of the image so you could really take a few more just play around a little bit, you could really you could really experiment with this and have a lot of fun. Is that permission there? You have permission to do that? But this is what's great about taking and I'm gonna I'm gonna lower the light a little bit because when eric now is he's kind of he's standing down there on his knees with his hands hit the lights were too far above his head and we weren't getting catch light in his eyes I'm gonna bring this down and see how that looks looking good, I'd say very nice I think your pictures have definitely improved just in these last couple of minutes now just I mean what's his eyes are in the upper third and you've got his hands in there and you know you can play around with positioning and things like that too later and then just more of what you want to kind of look at and pay attention to is he's got there's a kind of a lot going on here and it's gonna pointed out here he's got his bracelet he's gonna watch which he put back on and there's the zipper thing that's hanging down right here so those three things and there are little distracting if you really wanted to like you know, focus in on taken great portrait you just kind of have to start paying attention to those those little details and then you know, maybe I would play with this a little bit and just because you're in close you know you want oh kind of pay attention to those details that might be too distracting but as faras I'm using the rule of thirds you're totally right on and you're doing it so woo honza graduated from the rule of thirds school okay, so I'm gonna take that back from you and we're going to give someone else a try thanks very much good job would you like those in four by six is or five by seven okay feeling good all right so who's up next would like to do next julian alex wants to you oh ok, I had an idea when I sitting here um I have I was wondered if you'd use the stair or is that too well actually because we're on the set right now with the lights and everything we kind of have to keep to this this area but that's a great idea julian was thinking about using the stairs is a place to shoot um and that's excellent in fact she's working in a very creative thought mode now which is what you always want to do when you're moving into any environment taking shots is look around and see wow what would be a a cool place to shoot that would add some interests and actually stairs are great oftentimes people can sit on stairs lean on the stairs and the pattern of the stairs is kind of interesting so that's excellent idea but we'll try it maybe later today after receiving here on that we're going to a cool way to incorporate pattern but right now we just worked on rule of thirds what I'd like to try with you is framing the compositional role framing and you might wonder ok, how am I going to frame someone where there's no like archway around him right right now? Um and but we want to create some kind of frame of framing element that you can incorporate into a picture is anything that covers at least two sides of the frame of the frame of the photo if not three or four so if you want to just hand me that actual frame right there against the law I'm gonna hand you the camera there and we're going to do some we're going to play around a little bit so just to make a point let's see, I'm actually gonna have you stand up and we're gonna get rid of the chair because I think it's going to be a little distracting in the shot yeah and so here's the waves you can play now it typically if you're looking for framing, you might look for an architectural element that he could stand under a doorway or look through a window or maybe find an overhanging trellis or tree or something to kind of frame over him because of what a frame does is it draws attention to you're seeing it too it gives focus on the person that you actually want to pay attention to. So if I take this frame away and by the way this is a frame that you would get it the frame store it has no glass in it or anything and this is just really like a literal representation of using framing and to give you the idea but if you're looking at eric right now and he's just you know man against the white wall here but as soon as you incorporate some kind of framing element there it's it really it puts the emphasis on him and you can kind of play around with this. So this is something fun that I was doing with my friend maria in some of the picture examples I showed yesterday members she was kind of hanging out in the frame yeah, the best one was when she was interacting with the frame like she leaned out I think place so that's what? We're gonna have a rating right now so eric ok, I'm just going to show eric what it was because he wasn't here yesterday is we can't he wasn't here to see, but this is what I had just some fun pictures in my own presentation yesterday, so one of my friends was just kind of holding this and she was sort of leaning out of it like she was in the frame or kind of playing around, you know, like this looking around or they could be totally, you know, serious like that. So there's just one way to kind of play with it so we're going to do that at first, but then I want to have him create a frame in a different way this was just kind of a fun way to play around with it so all right and julianne she's holding the camera she the way she sure and she wants to stand on this that's great ideas that about half the distance we want. All right, just be sure if you're standing on a step stool or something that it's solid enough that you're not going to fall off you don't want that to happen to the photographer named since he's standing up I'm going to raise the lights a little bit like so he's looking out the window way I think we have enough light yep I'm gonna cross in front of you for a second and I'm gonna adjust this a little bit and what are you what are you looking for as you're adjusting the light there right now because he was sitting down we had the lights positions for that particular height and since he's standing up now at least one of these lights was kind of pointing at his knees and since we're cropping the shot pretty much around the frame and actually what you might want to do is shoot a little wider on that so and try to incorporate all of the frame all right? I think maybe the frame horizontal might be better okay on and then then he can turn a little bit maybe I don't know that's good that's good you're giving him directions so julian eric you're working working, working creator well actually turn a little more that way that was that's good okay, I think that's good sorry because let's, get it on your show? Yeah, yeah. So and you can also get in here with you. Okay. All right. We'll take one together, so you can, you know, so you can have this is a big enough for him to have two people and I had a smaller frame before, but or you could dio get me out of this frame. So this is a fun way to a fine way to play around with framing. Can you get it all in? All right, so we look let's, try something else. We'll see how these turned out. Well, that's cute. I like it. Well, you you what you did from this world to set this down for second. What you did from the first photo to this one is you opened up. So you were shooting wider, incorporating more of the space. I have a lot of head room down there. If you're going to go that big, he may want to include feet and there is opposed to the head room. Come, you could try once more if you want. And then I thought we'd go into waves that we can frame a face just by using posing. Oh, yeah, I think the three domesticated ha, all right, let's, see how that looks fun ok and the other thing we could do to play around with this is because she's going wide she's trying to get our feet and everything too is I could move the lights a little bit just so they're not totally in the shot and with them off to the side will try once more and then we'll go into doing just a couple poses were you contrive framing that way? We're just playing around having fun right now I mean this is like as I said, the literal representation of framing that kind of gives you the idea draws attention to your subjects let's see how that turned out so if you're looking at your frame okay it's good and so what we can do later on today is I could take this and we could crop out some of the some of the other stuff that's maybe a little distracting because what you're trying to do right now is get our feet and everything in there and sometimes you just have to play with that so let's ok, so we finish with this so erin we have about ten minutes way do we want to move on to maybe using the opposed to frame the subjects but we're gonna do right now yeah, we're finished with the frame okay so now since we kind of have that in our minds about what framing it is and how you can play with it let's do some framing with eric and you're going to come in kind of tight on these so we're going to have eric frame his face with his arm all right? So normally just think about any kind of framing element that might be in your image so I'm just going toe I'm going to give you the example of how that might be but if you turn to the side like this if he's like this his arm now becomes a frame so you can capture and kind of crop in close to him his arm and get his face like that and so eric you're gonna be kind of like kind of like this and you may have toe work it a little bit and see what feels comfortable um but I'm just gonna do a little adjustment just a note if you're working with mom or anyone in front of the camera it's a good idea to ask them if it's ok first before you start pushing and pulling clothing around on them so do you mind if I move your bracelet down a little bit? Okay, so just so because he's bringing his hand close to his face, I just want to get this kind of out of the way so I'm just sort of pushing it down below and I'm going toe like there but I'm just gonna make sure this is about simple looking as possible and kind of push that out of the way there okay all right so you're going to be with this arm it's it's almost like you've got to be doing something with it so that's whenever you're giving direction to someone if you're telling and put your arm up it's like they don't in real life he wouldn't be walking around like this right hi how are you you'd be going oh god, I'm so tired right now or something or some has to be some you know, what's your motivation behind it right? And and even like that like sometimes that could be its frame framing him kind like this in his face could be in like this if you're cropping and tight it creates kind of a frame around him it's a visual interest he's tilting his head though which he said was kind of not soft on balls right it's let's see how it looks from here? I mean not that not that I don't like it it's just okay maybe but sometimes it's like it's like this and you've got your arm up we're just creating we're playing around creating a fun frame it's almost like you've got your arm like like this and you're going to shoot him right in here okay? And so it's just it's kind of a fun artistic too in a way like like a shot put her are slim athletic kind of post kind of athletic uh what can move the camera a little bit all right let's see what it looks like so that's just a fun way to play around with frame so good all right so let's I want you to zoom in so far as you can and try and crop him like right here like under his arms so we don't want all this down here all right we want a crop here and just get him really close fill the frame we'll see how that looks I may move the light a little bit okay we're getting there I think eric I want you to like really get into it more so you're it's like and you're doing something with that hand it's like it's up here on your head it's like if you were if you were to be doing something like oh my god it's like all right try that but what if you kind of crunch down like like sort of like yeah exactly like alice yeah, that could be something to it just like that you could try that I don't know this is just one idea but you get you get the general concept of what it takes to train a shot you can also try just arm are over your head like that and it's on top your head like this not behind your head there let's see what that looks like turn a little bit to camera okay even in the in the shot down below. All right, so this is something you can definitely work on and again now that he's got stripes on his shirt so that's like the highway off of his arm to his face I don't know it's kind of interesting that was a surprise I didn't know those were there but if you get the idea and also if you just had you know both hands over your head like that that's a little bit more of a framing element but julian, I want you to really zoom in close on him so you don't get closer or zoom in more of the longest telephoto length and cut out this this head space up here and crop in really tight so that's going to be so if you're cropping really tight on his face then you're framing something okay? So even to get rid of part of the arms but yeah, you want to hear it all right, so those are just some waves to instantly franco's were working with a model and a solid background, but normally if you're looking walking around outside, you might incorporate ok, so if you cut off his arms and you'd wanna maybe just cut off the bottom part tried shooting that horizontally and eric, you're kind of like this no like this okay, well like huh so you have to play around with this but you get you get kind of the idea of what it takes to take take some elements in there that might frame something and draw attention to the face so right now you know what this is saying is, you know, he's kind of he's an athlete he's hanging out there has to think about, you know, having some meaning behind the poses that you're having people do, but it gives you an idea of just incorporating something in and around what you're trying to focus on so in this instance you were trying to cross thin and that's definitely get a lot better focusing more on his face so that's how that's what I would use for a free meal it means a very good job I think about I know, but it does make a difference says it when you're doing it hands on I mean, when you're in front of the camera and working with someone in front of the camera and thinking about ok, how am I going to position them imposing maybe also distracts, you know, regular people you know, models they're used to posing but other people maybe are not used to being directed imposed, but it might give them a little a little, uh, less anxiety because they're doing something right now that's true, yeah, that definitely helps

Class Description

Are you ready to start taking amazing digital images? Join award-winning photographer Erin Manning for a three-day introduction to the fundamentals of digital photography — frustration-free.

Whether you take pictures with your phone, a point-and-shoot digital camera, or a DSLR, Erin will give you the tools you need to capture beautiful digital images. You’ll learn about light and exposure, including how to work with and modify your on-camera flash. You’ll learn about common errors beginning photographers make and develop strategies for troubleshooting. Erin will also guide you through the basics of digital image editing and sharing your images online.

By the end of Digital Photography 101, you’ll have the creative and practical skills to create, edit, and share stunning digital images.



Good basic or "refresher" course.