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Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 49 of 50

The Two Most Important Controls on Your Camera


Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 49 of 50

The Two Most Important Controls on Your Camera


Lesson Info

The Two Most Important Controls on Your Camera

there are only two controls on the camera that effect composition, lens, aperture and shutter speed. This is a reason that any old camera, however antiquated or inexpensive in the hands of a skilled photographer, will record a compelling image now shutter speed and aperture covered in great detail in the first of the complete photographer, Siri's. So here. I just want to give you a flavor of how you can use them to set mood and to emphasize or de emphasize elements in the scene. To do this. I've come here on to affirm my point about antiquated cameras. I'm going to shoot with this. My ancient, fully manual Niccum at camera shut the speed controls how movement appears. A fast shutter speed freezes movement to reveal detail and form a slow shutter. Speed blurs movement to create a sense of motion on visual energy. Photographing a waterfall using a fast shutter speed will create an image where the water looks more like ice frozen so you can see every splash and droplet of water. A slow sh...

utter speed, on the other hand, will create a veil of water. Detail is lost, but there's a greater sense of movement intentional motion blurs a creative technique used to give an impression of movement in a static subject. I like to use it when photographing trees, for example, and it creates an effect that looked a lot like an Impressionist painting a technical bit, I said, to shut the speed of around one second. But the skill in this technique is in the body movement. What I'm doing here is I'm bending at the waist as if I'm bowing. Keep my arms tight to the body and perfectly still on that. Make sure I get a perfectly straight line. Now. You do look a bit odd, to be fair, especially doing it in view of the main highway, But this is a result on, I think, is worth it. In technical terms, lens aperture controls depth of field that is, the area in front of and behind the point of focus that appears sharp. More importantly, in composition, it determines emphasis. In other words, lens aperture let you highlight the important objects and high the distracting ones. Now the reason for this is biological. Human beings focus our attention on objects at a sharp, and we ignore objects of the blood and to show you what I mean. I've enlisted the help of my daughter, Holly. I've come to a field of sunflowers, and I'm going to take to classic portrait shots of Holly, the first using a wide aperture, the second using a narrow aperture on Let's Compare the two images in the first image, where both foreground and background of blurred the eye focuses on what's sharp in this case, Holly. I've isolated Holly, and so the visual story becomes about. Her is a classic portrait in the second image, where the whole scene is sharp holly on the sunflowers in front and behind her, the eye has taken on a journey from foreground to background. Now the visual story has changed. This is an image of Holly walking through a field of sunflowers. Both images work aesthetically, but I've changed the story they tell by changing the emphasis I give to different areas of the frame using lens aperture, learning the nuances of shutter speed and lens. Aperture is the most critical part of camera technique because in terms of composition, they're the only two controls that change the look and feel of the image

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.