Visual Perception


Fundamentals of Photography


Lesson Info

Visual Perception

Alright, let's keep moving along into visual perception. How do you see the world, what's important? So, if we're gonna have a photo, sometimes it's a visual story, sometimes it's just simply a statement. And, when people look at that, what they're trying to do is they're trying to understand what your story is. They're trying to figure it out, they're trying to identify what you're trying to say and sometimes you don't have very long to get your message across. Have you ever seen people scroll through photos? They're just... They're checkin' 'em all out as they're going through, and I wanna show you how quick people are at reading a photograph. And so, we're gonna have a bit of a challenge here, and this is not a group A B challenge and I am gonna be asking some questions so get ready with microphones. And what we're gonna do is we're gonna do a little test, a visual comprehension test. So, what's gonna happen is I am gonna show you a photo for one second and you're gonna tell me what...

was in the photo. Alright? But then I'm gonna show you some other photos, so don't yell out things quite yet. So, you guys ready for your one second? Alright, looking at the screen, here we go. Remember everything you can. Okay, that was it. Just remember that for the moment. It's gonna be like going to the police station, what did the suspect look like? Alright, we'll go through these details in a second because now we're gonna do it, another one, for a half second. So, take a look, remember every bit of detail you can about this photograph. Alright. Now we're gonna do it one final time and this time I'm gonna show you a photograph for a tenth of a second. Alright, you gotta be really quick on this one. Alright, I want to know as many details as we can figure out about this. Okay. So, let's hear... What can someone tell me about that first photo? Give me some details, I wanna know as many details as we can. Let's get the mic to somebody who has something to say and then we'll... Yes. There's kayaks by the water and there's a city skyscrape that you can see. City in the background, great. Who else has something to add to that? Go ahead. It was Seattle. What's that? It was Seattle. It was Seattle, okay. Somebody else? The kayaks were lime green. Lime green in color, good. Anything else? Was there any boats in the water? Yes or no, was there anything in the sky? You're not sure, okay. So, we did a pretty good job. Let's go see, I kinda gave that one away a little bit. And so, that is right. There is a barge out there, but it's kinda blended into the city. That's kinda hard to see there, but you got that right. What about the half second photo? Remember back to the half second photo. Who can offer us a first bit of information from that? Okay, let's get those microphones ready to go. I think several pictures in the wall and I think was a dark blue wall. Okay, dark blue wall and paintings on the wall. There were chairs on both sides and people sitting on both sides. Do you remember how many people? Two or three, I was gonna say, on each side, but I'm not sure. Okay. Anybody else have something to add? It looked, to me, like Amsterdam. Amsterdam, okay. Anybody else wanna add anything? Blue chairs. Blue chairs. Okay, let's go ahead and take a look at the photograph. And so, we do have three people there. Blue wall, paintings on the wall. And so, that's a lot of information you picked up (snaps) in a half second. Alright, now the tenth of a second. That's like no time at all. Can any remember anything from the tenth of a second? Okay, so let's get a microphone down here. There was a tree in the center, there was an elephant to the side and a tan colored Range Rover to the other side, I think. Okay. Alright, anybody else have something else to add to that? More detail? Just that everything... The grass was yellowish. Okay, yellowish grass. Yes? I think maybe there was two vehicles. Two vehicles. Like one closer to the front of the frame. Okay. Anything else? Did you see a guy in a mask and a gun off to the side? (laughter) Alright, so our tenth of a second photo. You actually have three vehicles there, but we did have a tree in the middle, we had yellowish grass, we did have an elephant. We had Range Rovers, actually one, two, three, four of them there. But the thing that amazes me is how much people can remember from just a blink of an eye, looking at a subject. And so, when you're looking at... When you're making your photographs, realize that some people are just (snaps) that quick on it and then they're on to the next thing. And one of the goals for a lot of photographers, including myself, is I would prefer you to look at my photograph for a while. And so, I kinda want you to look at it in some ways. And so, in some cases it's a more complex story that requires more studying, sometimes it's a simpler statement. Some photographs are very very simple and that's perfectly fine 'cause there's different purposes to different photographs. So, if a photograph is complicated, cluttered, or confusing, that's probably something that's gonna make it fail in what you're trying to do. So, a good goal to start with is to try to simplify, get it down to its bare bones of what it needs to be and you'll have success in that photograph. Clear photographs generally do very well. But, there is the possibility of over-sanitizing a photograph. And so, you have everything perfectly clean and there's this one style and it gets to be very simple and basic, which can be fine, but sometimes you wanna add a little bit more to it. And so, if you can add something else that's fascinating, some more detailed information, something that's a little bit surprising in there, you'll have even more success. And so, there's a little bit of clean it all up and then just add a little bit to it. And so, there's a lot of cases where there's be just kind of like a little bonus in the photograph, and you know what, if you didn't have the bonus, it'd still be a nice photograph. It's like, you've probably seen a nice landscape photograph with a person standing on a lil' hilltop right there. You know what, if you took the person out, it'd probably make a still pretty nice photo, but just adding that one extra person in there even makes it a little bit better. And so, I was thinking about what do we like to look at? Just as humans, what draws our attention to either looking at a scene to photograph it or what we look at in a photograph. But, just what causes us to go, look at that. Alright? And so, the first thing is something we've already talked about. It's the way that human eyes work, the movement. Even though there's not much moving in this scene, it does attract your attention. Any slight movement, we pick up on that. The ways our eyes and brains work, we pick up on movement very very quickly and easily and we look at a still photograph in a different way. If something is big in the frame, and this rock in the foreground is relatively big in the frame and it's gonna attract your attention as opposed to if it was someplace else further away where it's much smaller in size. Anything that's unique. There's a lot of trees in this photograph, but there's one that's kind of different than the others and that's gonna attract your attention. We're attracted to things that stand out from everything else. Now, closely related to unique is unusual. That's something that we don't expect to see. And so, if something like, wait a minute, what is that? The goat tree in Morocco, that's a very unusual thing. A gigantic lamp of some sort, that's unusual. That's gonna attract our eyes. I've mentioned this before in the class, but things that are brighter will attract more attention. So, your eye is more likely to go up to the top of the hill than to spend a lot of time perusing the bottom of this hill because it's much brighter. Whatever's brightest immediately draws a certain amount of attention. Shapes, we love shapes. And so, those outlines that contrast between dark and light, that's gonna attract our attention. We're definitely attracted to colors. Strong vibrant colors are gonna be interesting for us to look at and so, they affect our images greatly. It's possible that this might be the best example photo in the entire class in my mind as far as your eye is drawn to sharpness. It's hard to look down here in the bottom right of this frame, your eye just wants to go where it's sharper and it's not comfortable looking at a blurry area. It's like we have a problem with our vision and so, we tend to go to whatever is sharpest. We like contrast where there's lights and darks. That's kind of interesting. Our eyes kind of enjoy that because then we can see detail and sharpness in those areas of contrast. Don't read the sign in here. Kinda hard not to read the sign. I mean, once you learn how to read it's not hard not to read things. You know, driving down the street there's a billboard. You know, you really have to concentrate to not just glance up to see what that billboard says. And so, if there is text in your photograph, people's eyes are gonna be drawn to it. And if it's not something that you want a part of the photograph, you better figure out a way to crop it or not include it or do something to lessen its impact because people are gonna read any sort of words that are in your photograph. People do interesting things and it's hard not to look at people. I'm curious about what they're doing. And so, any time there's a person in your photograph if they're not the main thing, people are gonna still look at what's this person doing, what's that person doing? We also like animals, and so if an animal's in a photograph, that's gonna attract our attention. We're interested in what animals do. And whether it's people or animals, we're really interested in faces. We like to see faces because we want to know what they're doing, what they're thinking, and by looking at their face and looking at what their eyes are looking at and the expressions, you can read a lot about somebody if you can see their face. And when you look at their face most people are lookin' at those eyes. They wanna see what those eyes are looking at. And when you can see those eyes, you can see a lot about what's going on. And so, that's why you want to really make sure that those are nice and sharp. And so, when we talked about focusing on the eyes that's a really important thing when you're doing portrait photography.

Class Description

As a photographer, you will need to master the technical basics of the camera and form an understanding of the kind of equipment you need. The Fundamentals of Digital Photography will also teach something even more important (and crucial for success) - how to bring your creative vision to fruition.

Taught by seasoned photographer John Greengo, the Fundamentals of Digital Photography places emphasis on quality visuals and experiential learning. In this course, you’ll learn:

  • How to bring together the elements of manual mode to create an evocative image: shutter speed, aperture, and image composition.
  • How to choose the right gear, and develop efficient workflow.
  • How to recognize and take advantage of beautiful natural light.

John will teach you to step back from your images and think critically about your motivations, process, and ultimate goals for your photography project. You’ll learn to analyze your vision and identify areas for growth. John will also explore the difference between the world seen by the human eye and the world seen by the camera sensor. By forming an awareness of the gap between the two, you will be able to use your equipment to its greatest potential.


1Class Introduction 2Photographic Characteristics 3Camera Types 4Viewing System 5Lens System 6Shutter System 7Shutter Speed Basics 8Shutter Speed Effects 9Camera & Lens Stabilization 10Quiz: Shutter Speeds 11Camera Settings Overview 12Drive Mode & Buffer 13Camera Settings - Details 14Sensor Size: Basics 15Sensor Sizes: Compared 16The Sensor - Pixels 17Sensor Size - ISO 18Focal Length 19Angle of View 20Practicing Angle of View 21Quiz: Focal Length 22Fisheye Lens 23Tilt & Shift Lens 24Subject Zone 25Lens Speed 26Aperture 27Depth of Field (DOF) 28Quiz: Apertures 29Lens Quality 30Light Meter Basics 31Histogram 32Quiz: Histogram 33Dynamic Range 34Exposure Modes 35Sunny 16 Rule 36Exposure Bracketing 37Exposure Values 38Quiz: Exposure 39Focusing Basics 40Auto Focus (AF) 41Focus Points 42Focus Tracking 43Focusing Q&A 44Manual Focus 45Digital Focus Assistance 46Shutter Speeds & Depth of Field (DOF) 47Quiz: Depth of Field 48DOF Preview & Focusing Screens 49Lens Sharpness 50Camera Movement 51Advanced Techniques 52Quiz: Hyperfocal Distance 53Auto Focus Calibration 54Focus Stacking 55Quiz: Focus Problems 56Camera Accessories 57Lens Accessories 58Lens Adaptors & Cleaning 59Macro 60Flash & Lighting 61Tripods 62Cases 63Being a Photographer 64Natural Light: Direct Sunlight 65Natural Light: Indirect Sunlight 66Natural Light: Mixed 67Twilight: Sunrise & Sunset Light 68Cloud & Color Pop: Sunrise & Sunset Light 69Silhouette & Starburst: Sunrise & Sunset Light 70Golden Hour: Sunrise & Sunset Light 71Quiz: Lighting 72Light Management 73Flash Fundamentals 74Speedlights 75Built-In & Add-On Flash 76Off-Camera Flash 77Off-Camera Flash For Portraits 78Advanced Flash Techniques 79Editing Assessments & Goals 80Editing Set-Up 81Importing Images 82Organizing Your Images 83Culling Images 84Categories of Development 85Adjusting Exposure 86Remove Distractions 87Cropping Your Images 88Composition Basics 89Point of View 90Angle of View 91Subject Placement 92Framing Your Shot 93Foreground & Background & Scale 94Rule of Odds 95Bad Composition 96Multi-Shot Techniques 97Pixel Shift, Time Lapse, Selective Cloning & Noise Reduction 98Human Vision vs The Camera 99Visual Perception 100Quiz: Visual Balance 101Visual Drama 102Elements of Design 103Texture & Negative Space 104Black & White & Color 105The Photographic Process 106Working the Shot 107What Makes a Great Photograph?


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!