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Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 37 of 50

Light and Depth

Chris Weston

Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Chris Weston

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Lesson Info

37. Light and Depth


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Your 10,001st Photograph Duration:03:24
2 Camera Gear Duration:03:03
4 Be a Storyteller Duration:03:09
7 Photograph What You Love Duration:02:00
9 Have an Opinion Duration:01:46
10 See With a Child’s Eyes Duration:02:34
11 Tell Your Story Duration:08:46
12 Find a Needle in the Haystack Duration:01:38
16 Case Study - The Maternal Bond Duration:02:42
18 Relevance Duration:01:06
19 #1 Reason Photographs Fail Duration:02:57
20 Getting Rid of Clutter Duration:03:59
21 Post Capture Cropping Duration:02:04
22 The Elements of Design Duration:02:31
23 Elements of Design Duration:01:38
24 Elements of Design - Shape Duration:02:21
25 Case Study - Shape Duration:02:11
26 Elements of Design - Color Duration:01:55
27 Case Study - Color Duration:01:50
28 Color in Camera Duration:01:42
29 Pattern Duration:01:54
30 Texture Duration:02:24
31 Seeing The Elements of Design Duration:08:52
32 Gestalt Theory Duration:05:10
33 Case Study - Cove Duration:01:36
34 Case Study - Hat Duration:02:09
35 Light and Contrast Duration:01:54
36 Light and Form Duration:01:26
37 Light and Depth Duration:03:48
38 Perspective Duration:02:28
39 Lenses and Perspective Duration:02:47
40 Rule of Thirds Duration:02:48
41 Centre of Frame Duration:01:36
44 The Horizon Line Duration:02:52
46 Other Lines Duration:04:57
48 Negative Space Duration:02:29
50 Training the Mind Duration:04:26

Lesson Info

Light and Depth

in the last lesson, we saw how tone in the form of light and shadow gives form to the shape of individual objects. Tonal contrast can also be used great illusion of depth throughout the whole image space. Because the photograph is two dimensional areas of high contrast project forward, while areas of low contrast recede. If an image contains no contrast to speak off, it may appear flat because no one area stands out from another. Instead, the eye is drawn across the scene, left to right, rather than into the scene. Front to back. Now to show you what I mean. Take a look at the scene behind me. In real life, this scene contains a lot of depth, but because there's no contrast, the image looks flat, which becomes even more apparent when I convert the image to black and white. But if I wait a while for different lighting, it would be a very different story. So now, with the sunlight falling on the foreground rock on the background in shadow, the image appears more three dimensional and aga...

in you can see a distinct difference when I convert. The black and white contrast creates depth now I'm gonna hang around until the morning, because tomorrow I'm going to show you a completely different picture. So last night, I said I was going to show you a completely different picture on here. It is when shooting in color depth may also be implied by exploiting atmospheric perspective. What do I mean by that? Well, take a look at the hills in the background on notice how the color of light gets more blue, the further away they get. This is because we're looking at them through a layer of molecules that are reflecting blue light on. By emphasizing this color caste, which I've done using white balance, you can add to the illusion of depth in your photographs. Another way to create a sense of depth is with color for example, red and green, a complimentary but contrasting colors. So if I take this red flower and photograph it against a green background, I create the appearance of depth. Now to illustrate this, if I take this image and make it black and white, you can clearly see that without color and contrast. The image appears flat. And just to emphasize the point if I put the color back. The illusion of depth returns. Saturation is another tool I can use to affect visual depth. Vivid colors project forward what the saturated colors recede, so an image that has a uniform level of saturation will appear flat. But I can create the illusion of death by selectively de saturating one every. The scene in post areas of contrasting sharpness also affect how we perceive depth objects that a sharp project forward while areas of blur recede. So without other compositional tools such as leading lines, an image that is foreground to background sharpness may appear flat. Reducing depth of field will add depth by emphasizing either foreground or background. By blurring the background, I've created an illusion of depth in the field of poppies. Contrast then in all its forms, whether it's tonal color saturation, all atmospheric is a tool that may be used to give your photographs a true sense of depth, and that enables you to more accurately portray the physical world we live in on a flat piece of paper or computer screen

Class Description



  • Compose a shot consistently and effectively
  • Create artistic, powerful images quickly
  • Gain confidence in building narrative
  • Identify what stories you’re drawn to photograph
  • Brainstorm and develop concepts for creative shots
  • Trust your instincts when approaching a subject


CreativeLive is partnering with Chris Weston to offer you his Complete Photography Master Course. This is the second class in the series.

Today, everybody has a camera, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s a photographer. Chris Weston will show you how to do all the other stuff – how to “see” an image, tap into your creativity, and compose a photograph that makes the subject look as good in print as it does in real life.

This class isn’t about cameras, it’s about you – the photographer. It will break free your creative mind, get you thinking about narrative rather than object, and show you how to apply simple artistic skills that turn that next click into a powerful photograph.

Learn how to approach photography like a pro and start creating great pictures straight away. With in-the-field lessons, case studies and powerful tips and techniques, you’ll quickly unleash your creativity and gain confidence in expressing yourself through your camera.


  • Beginner photographers
  • First time DSLR or mirrorless camera users
  • Any photographer who wants to hone their artistic skills


Named one of the world's most influential wildlife photographers, Chris Weston takes a contemporary approach to photography. After launching his career in 2001, the Fujifilm ambassador's images have graced the pages of top publications like BBC, The Times, Outdoor Photography, Practical Photography, and Digital Photography. As a photography educator, Chris has written over 20 photography books, along with leading photo tours and online workshops.


Edmund Cheung

Perhaps the style of presentation and simple, short, and direct messaging does not "jive" with some; but others may really love this. Yes the production of each episode is stylized and perhaps a bit formal (like a TV Show?), but there is something to be said about it. Perhaps this is not meant for professional photographers? I think of myself as decent amateur / high level photographer. I found lots of great nuggets of wisdom and inspiration from this. Especially when I an in a rut for creativity. Yes I have heard all these concepts and ideas before. BUT it is always great to hear and see a different way of presentation and voice. Please do NOT take the naysayer reviews as the end all. You should judge for yourself and watch a few episodes. If the style and content click for you, I would highly recommend this course.

Kai Atherton

While I am perhaps more advanced in my photography then this course. It is always great to be able to go back to fundamentals and remind ourselves of the basic principles, and even camera function. I thoroughly enjoyed this course and Chris's other. It is a great motivational jumpstart when lacking fresh creative idea's.

Abdullah Alahmari

Thanks a lot to mr. Chris Weston This course is great and It is a 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 course for me. Beside the other course ( mastering the art of photography ) both courses are Complementing to each other and highly recommended.