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Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 37 of 50

Light and Depth


Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 37 of 50

Light and Depth


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.


Silvia Garcia

Excellent ! Will see it many times to digest all the messages here. Important info on composition theory. Very well explained. Go to the essence of photography. Thanks, Chris !

a Creativelive Student

Absolute must to watch! Perhaps few times, as is packed with all the information you need to know to make your photography to the next level. I think it is the most comprehensive class on composition. Fantastic!


fabulous course no matter how advanced you are.. LEarned so much from it. I'll watch it again as it contains so much.