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Visual Balance Test

Lesson 108 from: Fundamentals of Photography 2016

John Greengo

Visual Balance Test

Lesson 108 from: Fundamentals of Photography 2016

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

108. Visual Balance Test

Next Lesson: Visual Drama


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Welcome to Photography


Camera Types Overview


Viewing Systems


Viewing Systems Q&A


Lens Systems


Shutter Systems


Shutter Speeds


Choosing a Shutter Speed


Shutter Speeds for Handholding


Shutter Speed Pop Quiz


Camera Settings


General Camera Q&A


Sensor Sizes: The Basics


Sensor Sizes: Compared






Sensor Q&A


Focal Length: Overview


Focal Length: Angle of View


Wide Angle Lenses


Telephoto Lenses


Angle of View Q&A


Fish Eye Lenses


Tilt & Shift Lenses


Subject Zone


Lens Speed


Aperture Basics


Depth of Field


Aperture Pop Quiz


Lens Quality


Photo Equipment Life Cycle


Light Meter Basics




Histogram Pop Quiz and Q&A


Dynamic Range


Exposure Modes


Manual Exposure


Sunny 16 Rule


Exposure Bracketing


Exposure Values


Exposure Pop Quiz


Focus Overview


Focusing Systems


Autofocus Controls


Focus Points


Autofocusing on Subjects


Manual Focus


Digital Focusing Assistance


Focus Options: DSLR and Mirrorless


Shutter Speeds for Sharpness and DoF


Depth of Field Pop Quiz


Depth of Field Camera Features


Lens Sharpness


Camera Movement


Handheld and Tripod Focusing


Advanced Techniques


Hyperfocal Distance


Hyperfocal Quiz and Focusing Formula


Micro adjust and AF Fine Tune


Focus Stacking and Post Sharpening


Focus Problem Pop Quiz


The Gadget Bag: Camera Accessories


The Gadget Bag: Lens Accessories


The Gadget Bag: Neutral Density Filter


The Gadget Bag: Lens Hood and Teleconverters


The Gadget Bag: Lens Adapters


The Gadget Bag: Lens Cleaning Supplies


The Gadget Bag: Macro Lenses and Accessories


The Gadget Bag: Flash and Lighting


The Gadget Bag: Tripods and Accessories


The Gadget Bag: Custom Cases


10 Thoughts on Being a Photographer


Direct Sunlight


Indirect Sunlight


Sunrise and Sunset


Cloud Light


Golden Hour


Light Pop Quiz


Light Management


Artificial Light




Off-Camera Flash


Advanced Flash Techniques


Editing Overview


Editing Set-up


Importing Images


Best Use of Files and Folders




Develop: Fixing in Lightroom


Develop: Treating Your Images


Develop: Optimizing in Lightroom


Art of Editing Q&A


Composition Overview


Photographic Intrusions


Mystery and Working the Scene


Point of View


Better Backgrounds


Unique Perspective


Angle of View


Subject Placement


Subject Placement Q&A




Multishot Techniques




Human Vision vs The Camera


Visual Perception


Visual Balance Test


Visual Drama


Elements of Design


The Photographic Process


Working the Shot


The Moment


One Hour Photo - Colby Brown


One Hour Photo - John Keatley


One Hour Photo - Art Wolfe


One Hour Photo - Rocco Ancora


One Hour Photo - Mike Hagen


One Hour Photo - Lisa Carney


One Hour Photo - Ian Shive


One Hour Photo - Sandra Coan


One Hour Photo - Daniel Gregory


One Hour Photo - Scott Robert Lim


Lesson Info

Visual Balance Test

Which brings us to the quirkiest, weirdest test of the class for sure, but definitely one of my favorite. And this is where I don't want you to think. This is where I want you to go off of your gut reaction. And there is the chance that you will have the opportunity to cheat. And I want to encourage you to not cheat. Just, nobody's keeping score. You're the only one that gets to keep track of this thing, alright? And so we're gonna go through things and some of you are probably gonna be wondering, why are we doing this? This doesn't make any sense at all. And this is one of those things where I no know other photographer that would do what we're gonna do for the next ten minutes, but I think it will improve your assessment of a situation and understanding of balance. Alright, so let's start with an easy one. Alright, we have a red block and blue block. Which one is bigger? So try to measure it, don't try to hold your fingers up. Which one is bigger? Now raise your hand if you think it'...

s the blue one. Raise your hand if you think it's the red one. Okay folks, you need to participate in this class. (class laughing) Alright, let's try this one more time. Let me go back here. Okay here we go, here we go. (class laughing) Here we go. Folks, who thinks the blue on is bigger? Raise your hand. Who thinks the red one is bigger? Alright, here we go. Look at these folks! These are awesome, man! Now how were you able to do that? Think about that. You all got it right. I think I made this test too easy - oh no. And so look at that. You were all able to assess that situation. And so that's a sense, I think, of good visual balance. Wow are you guys all good photographers? How'd you guys do at home? I'm thinking that a photographer is able to just suss out that slight little difference. Alright, let's see how good you are with this one, though. Okay, which one's larger, think about this. Okay, who thinks blue is larger? Raise your hand. And who thinks red is larger? And 100% on two questions! Dang, you guys are good! Okay, I'm glad I put some pretty tough stuff in here, 'cause it's gonna get more difficult in here. Alright, so here's one that I think is fairly easy. Which one is largest, which one is smallest? Okay, you got your colors down? I'm not gonna bother asking you on this one. This is a fairly simple one. So, largest and smallest. Raise your hand if you got that right. Most of you got that right. Okay good, all of you. Alright, let's try that with more of them. Smallest and the largest. Alright, give ya a chance to look it out. And maybe I could have someone volunteer. Let's see, grab a microphone if you think you've got it. So, smallest and largest. The smallest one, I would have to go with the purple one. Okay, so right here? Yep. 'Kay. And then the largest one, I would have to go with the green, all the way at the... Alright, perfect. Nice job. Look at how sensitive photographers' eyes are in judging these spacial relationships. And I think this is a good exercise for just composition. And I have zero proof of this, folks. Absolutely zero proof, but I feel like it's good in my heart. Okay now, will this ball fit between those two blocks if we put it in there? Okay, so if you think it can fit between, raise your hand. Who thinks it can fit between? Okay, we finally have a split here. We have some people who say that, yes it will fit. And it will not fit. It's not the right size. Okay, let's try this again. Here's the opening, here's the ball. Will the ball fit between the blocks? Raise your hand if you think it'll fit between the blocks. Okay, we've got most of you saying yes. And it will fit, okay. Let's do it one more time. We'll make it a little bit more difficult. We've put ball off to the side, so now it's a little hard to line all the pixels up correctly. Alright, raise your hand if you think the ball will fit between the blocks. And we got most everyone here saying yes. And, barely so. Nice job folks, very good. Alright, so now we're gonna be judging kind of our balance left and right side. Is this line on the left side or the right side of the screen? Okay, point what side of the screen you think it's on. Okay, and so you're correct, it's on that side. Now, when I showed this to one of our Creative Live employees, Mike, who's not here, he's in the other room right now, he cheated, and he told me how he cheated so I decided to fix the quiz so that you can't cheat, alright. And so now you gotta figure it out over on the side. 'Cause he was using, like the Apple symbol, and the middle of the TV (class laughing) to line things up. And so now I'm gonna make things a little more tough on ya. Okay, now is this on the right side or the left side of the screen? Point to what side of the screen you think that this is on. So we're getting a little bit of a mix here. And this is on the right side of the screen. You guys are keeping track of your own score here, okay. And this one's closer to the middle, but which side? It's either on the left of the right side. So go ahead and point to which side of the screen that you think it's on. So we've got a lot of people pointing, more people pointing over there. And it's on this side. Very, very hard to get that one. Alright, so on this one, is this line above the middle of the screen or below the middle of the screen? So here you can either point up or point down. A lot of people pointing up on this one. And you are correct. Notice how close it is, but you're able to get that right. I think that's really impressive that we're able to assess that situation so closely. Once again, above or below the middle of the screen? Got a lot of down votes on this one. And you're all correct. Nice job, nice job. Okay, which one of these is in the center of the frame? One of these is in the exact center of the frame. And let's see, how do we want to do this? Does anybody have a quick answer? They wanna grab the microphone? Raise you hand, grab a microphone real quick. Got an answer down here? I'll say blue. Okay, let's take a look. You are correct, nice job. 'Cause you know what, we're talking about balance and composition we need to really have a good feel for exactly the size and positioning of the frame. Alright, so which one of these crosses in the exact middle of the frame? It's interesting how people kind of, you know, they move your head around 'cause you kinda want to get things lined up just right. Do we have someone that would like to volunteer and answer here? Alright, here we go. I'm gonna go with, I believe that's magenta. Alright, and you are correct. That is magenta, the other one was red, off to the side. Nice job, very good. That's amazing how we can just nail that so perfectly in the middle. Okay, one of these arrows is pointed to the middle. What I'll have you do on this one is hold up the number that you think it is. One, two, three, or four. So hold up the arrow that is pointed, with the tip of the arrow at the exact center. Hold up the number with your hand. Okay, I see twos, and most people have four, Kenna has two. (John laughs) I'm at an angle! She's a little off center from the TV. He called you out. Okay, so just as a rule of thumb, just as a reminder, this is the Rule of Thirds. Okay, so you got that memorized? Let's go on. Now the question is, we'll refresh here. Okay, which one of these arrows is pointed at exactly the intersection of the Rule of Thirds? Hold up the number in your hand. Don't look at your neighbor's hand. (John laughs) So I'm seeing a one, a two, a three, a two, lots of ones and twos. And the correct answer is two. Nice job, several of you folks. Okay, this line is not quite level. It is higher on one side of the screen. Point to the side of the screen that it's higher. Everybody's pointing over here. And you are correct. You remember when we did the triangle puzzle that rearranged itself? Humans are really good at judging horizon lines if they are off just a little bit, and this line is off by a half a degree and you all got it right. Let's try this one. Is it higher on the left side or the right side? Point to the screen that it's higher. What side of the screen is it higher on? Don't look at your neighbors. Most people are pointing over this direction. And they are correct. And that is point two degrees that you guys are able to determine how far something is off. That is not a very steep slope. Okay, the question is, are these lines parallel? So, if I extend these lines, will they be perfectly parallel lines? And, let's do thumbs up if you think they're parallel, thumbs down if you think they're not parallel. Parallel even lines up, not parallel down. Okay, I get a lot of thumbs pointing down. More thumbs pointing down than pointing up. And these lines are indeed parallel. Okay, so that is a hard one to get. That is definitely a hard one to get. Okay, this is the more difficult version of it. Are these lines parallel? You don't have as much information to work. So they're not parallel, they are parallel. And I think I got everybody voting no on this one, they say they are not parallel. And they are not parallel. There is a one degree difference in their angle of view. So as I say, people are very sensitive to these things. Okay, in this case, will these lines meet when I extend them to the middle? Yes they will meet, no they will not meet. Okay, looks like I got everybody voting no on this one. Will they meet. No they won't. Very good, very good, nice job folks. You guys should get group bonus points when it's a unanimous decision. (class laughing) Alright, so moving on to a slightly different balancing here. Alright, so these are the same size. And we're talking about how many units these are in visual block size. And so these are exactly even, okay? So you got that kinda started with. Now let's take a judge. We'll point to the side of the screen that is the heaviest. Which side of the screen has the larger block? Point to the either left or to the right side of the screen. Which one's bigger? So we're judging overall, kinda volume size. And it looks like everybody's pointing over here. And it is heavier there, so it's 75 versus 50 in this case. You keeping track at home on this? Is anybody keeping score to see how well they're doing? I don't know about keeping score, John, but they're certainly playing along. Good. And this is something that you can come back to because, like I created this months ago, and when I see it, I forget what the answer is sometimes, and I'm trying to play along and see if I can remember it as well. Because these are things that you don't necessarily remember. And so, let's continue on. Alright, next one. Bigger volume, more space. Which one's gonna be visually heavier? Point to the side that's heaviest. And so I got a lot of people pointing to camera left. And, which one is heavier? And I always like to put up the numbers as to how much heavier it is, so it's a 50 versus 40 ratio. And these are getting harder. These get harder and closer, but I'm trying to change the shapes to see if I can trip you up. So point to the side of the screen that is heavier. This one's a smaller difference here. And so I'm getting some disagreement here. Everybody get your votes up. And let's see, it's like a 50/50 on this one, alright. And so we have a little bit heavy over here, but it's only by five units. Very, very small. Alright, little different test here. Alright, we're looking at the circle in the middle and we want to figure out which on is the lightest and which one is the darkest. And all of 'em have a black background so it's all basically fairly balanced. Can you judge which one is the lightest one and which one is the darkest. And this one's a little bit more difficult for me to get answers on, so let me just have you point to the corner of the screen that has the darkest. Where's the darkest one? And so I've got a lot of people pointing up to the top left, and that is indeed the darkest with the lightest being down here. 40% white versus 100% white. Okay, so I figured out how I'm gonna do this one now. So we wanna find the lightest and the darkest and, on the count of three, everybody point to the lightest corner of the screen. One, two, three. Okay, so I got a lot of people pointing on this one. And the darkest one, reset, reset. Darkest corner, one, two, three. So, the answer is, lightest up here, darkest down there. This is 100% white, that's a 70% white option. Everyone's kinda getting that feeling oh, I am a natural born photographer. I'm gettin' this stuff! Okay, lightest and darkest. I will ask you about the lightest one first. Another second or two to look at this. Alright, let's point to the lightest in three, two, one. Okay, so it looks like I got a lot of people saying D for white. And the darkest one, one two three. They're pointin' all over the place, folks. Alright, so in this case, they got the lightest one right, which is 95% white. Darkest one is over here at 80% white. Alright, do not count, okay. Do not count, just is there more red gumballs or blue gumballs? Okay, raise your hand if you think it's red. Raise your hand if you think it's blue. Okay, looks like most of the people are picking red here. What are there, more red or more blue? There are more red by quite a bit, by quite a bit. So, that's a fairly easy one. Same thing, are there more red or more blue? Raise your hand if it's more red. Raise your hand if it's more blue. Little bit more evenly split here. We're going for the red, though, most people are. And there are more red by three. Okay, next up, same thing. More red or more blue? So raise your hand for red. Raise your hand for blue. Everybody's going for this one on blue. And in this case, we have another unanimous call and there was only two difference in that. Alright, there's only one different in this one here. There's one more of one color. Raise your hand for red. Raise your hand for blue. So, six versus two. Six of you going for red. And the majority of you are right, with just one different. Just visually assessing a scene. Is it a little bit more this way or a little bit more that way? Okay, so we got a group of blocks put together in a box on the left. Will this make a box that is bigger or smaller? If you think it's bigger, do a thumbs up. If you think it's gonna be smaller, do a thumbs down. Most people don't think it's gonna make as big of box. And you would be correct. Alright, same thing. Thumbs up if you think this will make a bigger box. Thumbs down if you think it will be smaller. Most people are saying bigger. Let's put it together. Nice job, two extra blocks, alright. Now I think we're down to one extra box, but we're not. So, it's more or less? Let's see your votes. I'm getting lots of lesses. Remember, don't count. Just personal assessment. And if you get that right, it feels so good. Alright, two puzzles. Which one will be the bigger puzzle when it's put together? Point to the side of the screen that you think is gonna make the bigger puzzle. Go ahead and point. Left or right? Lot of people pointing over here, looks like. And correct answer is screen right by two boxes. Alright, which one makes the bigger puzzle? Quick visual assessment. Point to the side of the screen. Got a lot of people pointing to screen left. And you would be correct. It's amazing how many of you get these right. I mean, these things are really, really close. Alright, just the last few of ones here. Are there more in the left or more in the right? Point to the side of the screen that has more. Which side of the screen has more? You're pointing straight at me. (everyone laughing) I guess I'm slightly screen right. Okay, got a lot of people pointing to the right-hand side of the screen. And you would be correct. Alright, let's make this a little different. Throw the box down here. More in the left or more in the right? Point to the more side. Lot of people pointing to the right side. And you are correct. Alright, let's make this more difficult. Oops, oops, oops, sorry! (class laughing) That's the clicker. Hey, you got that one alright, nice job! Okay, I think this might be our last one here. This one's just like as hard as you can imagine. Which one is gonna have more? Point left, point right. Look at this, everybody's pointing to screen left. And you all nailed that. Nice job, give yourself a round of applause! (class clapping) As I say, I have no proof that, that will make you a better photographer. But I think that going through those exercises kinda reinforces your own visual awareness and balance. And I think it just heightens your sensitivity, which I think is good for a photographer. I mean, does anyone have any thoughts after this? I would love to hear what your thoughts are because I know this is just some crazy stuff, some wacky professor getting up here. (John laughs) Kenna, yes. Well, I'd like to give a shout out to the folks at home who are playing along, but Ingall from UK says, all those hours of Tetris are now paying off. (everyone laughing) That's right! So, I thought that was good. Does anyone have anything that they would just? I'd love to hear what your thought are. Is something about yourself that you realized or any other realization, something like that. Yes? Yeah, it gets me to think about perspective in a different way. As far as being able to take photos, whether it's of real estate, like inside versus outside, what I'm able to get within a frame, what may look large, what may not look large, things of that nature, so visually it's helping. Good, good, good to hear. My mentor recently pointed out some of my horizons shots from the ocean. And that put that in perspective for me. Oh really? Big time (laughs). Well, you know I'll be honest with you. Sometimes when I'm looking through the camera, I don't do real well on horizons. But I can pick 'em out later real easily on the screen. I can see it very, very easy, but sometimes in the camera, I have a hard time and that's why I sometimes need help with those grid lines and horizon lines that you can turn on in many of the cameras. Yeah? Well I think a couple things really came out of that. Not only do you learn to think out of the box and see out of the box, but also, if you go through that and really start looking at it and thinking about it, it gives you confidence to trust your eye. It'll go to where that shot is. Right, and you know, a lot of times we are naturally drawn to a shot. And one of the things that I like to instruct people on is don't shoot too quickly. Walk around and look at something. But one of the trends that I have found is I will walk into a situation. I'm like, ooh, well, this is good. And then I'm like, hold off John, hold off. Don't go into the camera bag yet. Let's take a look around. Let's see what else we can see. And it just doesn't hit me. And it happens to be that I happen to hit the right spot and this is the right spot. And so sometimes that's when we recognize things. I know I was up at Mount Rainier, and I was hiking up on a trail, and all of a sudden, oh my gosh. You know, there was just this kind of line-up of elements that was really good. And part of me said, wait a minute. Was that really good back there and I just didn't notice it? So I went back on the trail and I came walking back up and I'm like, no, not quite really good. And it's like, I did notice it at just the right time. And so, a lot of times, and we've probably all had situations where we've noticed that something is off. Something around the environment, something's missing from the room, something's gone that's supposed to be here, somebody moved a photo that was hanging on the wall. And you walk in and you're like, something's different, right? I can't identify what it is, but I know something's different. And I think, intrinsically, I think photographers are a little hyper-sensitive on that. Where they just know, they can't specify exactly what it is sometimes, but they know visually, something's different and something's changed. Either it's better or it's worse. Just be aware of that, think about how you view the environment around you.

Class Materials

Free Download

Fundamentals of Photography Outline

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Learning Project Videos
Learning Projects PDF
Slides for The Camera Lessons 1-13
Slides for The Sensor Lessons 14-18
Slides for The Lens Lessons 19-31
Slides for The Exposure Lessons 32-42
Slides for Focus Lessons 43-62
Slides for The Gadget Bag Lessons 63-72
Slides for Light Lesson 73-84
Slides for the Art of Edit Lessons 85-93
Slides for Composition Lesson 94-105
Slides for Photographic Vision Lessons 106-113

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Love love all John Greengo classes! Wish to have had him decades ago with this info, but no internet then!! John is the greatest photography teacher I have seen out there, and I watch a lot of Creative Live classes and folks on YouTube too. John is so detailed and there are a ton of ah ha moments for me and I know lots of others. I think I own 4 John Greengo classes so far and want to add this one and Travel Photography!! I just drop everything to watch John on Creative Live. I wish sometime soon he would teach a Lightroom class and his knowledge on photography post editing.!!! That would probably take a LOT OF TIME but I know John would explain it soooooo good, like he does all his Photography classes!! Thank you Creative Live for having such a wonderful instructor with John Greengo!! Make more classes John, for just love them and soak it up! There is soooo much to learn and sometimes just so overwhelming. Is there anyway you might do a Motivation class!!?? Like do this button for this day, and try this technique for a week, or post this subject for this week, etc. Motivation and inspiration, and playing around with what you teach, needed so much and would be so fun.!! Just saying??? Awaiting gadgets class now, while waiting for lunch break to be over. All the filters and gadgets, oh my. Thank you thank you for all you teach John, You are truly a wonderful wonderful instructor and I would highly recommend folks listening and buying your classes.


I don't think that adjectives like beautiful, fantastic or excellent can describe the course and classes with John Greengo well enough. I've just bought my first camera and I am a total amateur but I fell in love with photography while watching the classes with John. It is fun, clear, understandable, entertaining, informative and and and. He is not only a fabulous photographer but a great teacher as well. Easy to follow, clear explanations and fantastic visuals. The only disadvantage I can list here that he is sooooo good that keeps me from going out to shoot as I am just glued to the screen. :-) Don't miss it and well worth the money invested! Thank you John!

Vlad Chiriacescu

Wow! John is THE best teacher I have ever had the pleasure of learning from, and this is the most comprehensive, eloquent and fun course I have ever taken (online or off). If you're even / / interested in photography, take this course as soon as possible! You might find out that taking great photos requires much more work than you're willing to invest, or you might get so excited learning from John that you'll start taking your camera with you EVERYWHERE. At the very least, you'll learn the fundamental inner workings and techniques that WILL help you get a better photo. Worried about the cost? Well, I've taken courses that are twice as expensive that offer less than maybe a tenth of the value. You'll be much better off investing in this course than a new camera or a new lens. I cannot reccomend John and this course enough!

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