Skip to main content

Mastering the Art of Photography

Lesson 27 of 39

Photography Is A Two-Part Process


Mastering the Art of Photography

Lesson 27 of 39

Photography Is A Two-Part Process


Lesson Info

Photography Is A Two-Part Process

before I kick off this section of the course, I want to reflect for a moment on my thoughts about processing and introduce you to the main tools that I use now. I'm of the mind that photography is and has always been a two part process. What happens in the camera, followed by what happens afterwards? Ever since the very first camera photography has involved those two stages now, in the very early days, you had to be a chemist to be a photographer, hand coating glass sheets with a concoction of chemicals. Then George Eastman invented celluloid film, and anyone could take pictures, although chemistry was still needed to turn exposed film into print. Then came digital and chemistry, and traditional craftsmanship was gone. Today, my 10 year old daughter is processing photos on her IPhone, and the fact that processing has become easier and more accessible doesn't mean it's cheating. It just means some of the smoke and mirrors has been blown away. What I'm saying is, processing is integral t...

o photography and always has been. The camera is a tool for capturing data in the form of light, and it's very good at that. But when it comes to the final print. It's a pretty limited device, and that's why image processing is an important part of a photographer's journey. Now. That said, there are lines for sure. For me, processing is about fine tuning the raw file in order to more accurately portray the visualized image. It's not about creating images that never existed in the first place. There's a place for montages, I'm sure, but to me, that's not photography. Digital art. Now that's just my view is a subjective area, and others may draw a different conclusion. So what follows is not a no holds barred tutorial on digital manipulation. If you want to know how to replace a sky or added predator into an image of an antelope, this section isn't for you. What I am going to cover in the next few lessons of the what house and wise, with the main processing tools you can use to produce image files that are fit and ready to print while remaining true to your original intent. Now, in terms of the platform, there are a multitude to choose from, and I'm going to be using the industry leader Adobe Light Room if you're more familiar with a different software, you'll find that whatever I discuss in light room will be available to you in whatever you're using. You may just have to look for the particular control in a different place or by a different name. So with that said, Let's fire up the computer and the fancy graphics. Adobe described light room as a cloud based service that gives you everything you need to create, edit, organized store and share your photos across any device that's all well and lovely. But this isn't a light room tutorial, and I'm going to concentrate on one particular aspect of light room, which is the develop module and the panel of adjustments and controls Here on the right side, these are the only controls are used for 90% of my processing, and I'll give you a quick overview now of what they do before I get to the tools notice at the top. Here there's a history, Graham. Now this is pretty much the same tool is a history. Graham in your camera is basically showing you the distribution and quantity of the different tones in your image. From black on the left here through dark, mid and light grays to white over here on the far right. And if I select these two arrows in the top left and top right corners, it warns me of any areas of blown out highlights or block shadows. Moving down the panel, we come to the basic and H S L toolboxes, which between them controlled tone, colour and texture. And I would say, 90% of adjustments I make to an image by using the tools in these two toolboxes, and they mostly work in a top down structure. So let's start at the top with a box of tricks called Basic. Now the first thing I do is set my profile, and I almost always use camera neutral because this is the closest to raw file captured by my camera, and it's a good line in the sand starting point. Next down the white balance settings. Now the white balance settings here are the same as the white balance settings in your camera. You have finer control in light room, though, than you do in camera, so I usually shoot in auto white balance in camera and make any adjustments here. The tone controls work on the exposure, exposure and contrast are universal, affecting the whole image. Now, if my in camera exposure is correct, I usually don't need to make an exposure adjustment. And instead I use the highlights and shadows and whites and blacks. Sliders, which work only on a narrow band of tones, light or dark to fine tune the tonal range of my image. Next, the presence controls, which, broadly speaking, affect detail. Texture is generally used for subtle adjustments of what we would call mid frequency pixels. It can be used, for example, to smooth skin or at the other end, and somewhere I often use it to roughen animal fur Clarity is a more aggressive tool, working on high mid and low frequency pixels. It's more in your face but should be used with care, as it can adversely affect image quality by, for example, exacerbating any noise present in the image. Once I've sorted out tones, I move on to color. Now I have vibrance and saturation controls here, which, like exposure and contrast, are universal tools affecting all colors in the image and similarly to texture and clarity. Vibrance is a more subtle control, while saturation is more aggressive. Vibrance increases the intensity of more muted colors without affecting already saturated colors. Saturation increases the intensity of all colors, even the already heavily saturated once, with all the controls under the present toolset, the best way to get to know them is to play around with them. An experiment In my experience, though, most of the time I find less is almost always more. And finally, in the S L toolbox, there are tools for making adjustments to the individual color channels. So it's here. For example, I can remove the blue color cast caused by the bias in my neck on cameras without affecting other colors in the scene. There are a few other tools I may turn to for specific effects. I'll cover those specifically when I start working on the images from the case studies. For now. As I explained, my images aren't going to go through any fantastical manipulation, just small tweaks and fine tuning of the in camera raw file that helped to overcome the limitations of the camera as a processing talk. And with that, let's get on with the action

Class Description


  • See images with a creative eye.
  • Capture artistic photographs of the most popular subjects.
  • Choose the right lens and camera settings for the image you want to create.
  • Recognize and capture the “decisive moment”.
  • Add visual mood and emotion to your photographs.
  • Develop your own unique photographic style.
  • Find what inspires you and apply that inspiration to your image-making.
  • Fine-tune color, tone, and visual presence with easy-to-learn Adobe Lightroom adjustments.


Once you’ve mastered basic camera craft and photo-technique, what is the next step in advancing your photographic skillset? In this in-depth course, award-winner Chris Weston shares an approach to photography that has creativity at its heart, and reveals the secrets and professional techniques that will get you creating photographs that ‘sing’.

Taking you on a step-by-step journey, from vision to print, Chris shows you how to: tap into your natural creative instincts; ‘see’ much-photographed and everyday subjects with a unique vision; set a creative intention and get the camera to capture it authentically; and, with a few simple techniques, process superb print-ready photographs. Through ‘in-the-field’ examples and inspirational case studies, he reveals the nuances of composition that can make or break a photograph, and describes the creative tools that turn snapshots into stunning photographs good enough to adorn any wall.

Delivered in an easy-to-follow, down-to-earth style, using ‘real-life’ examples and ‘live’ tuition, this course builds on the practicalities of camera technique to equip you with the creativity and vision to see, capture and process compelling photographs time after time, whatever your camera or level of experience.


  • Beginners who want to create better photographs.
  • Intermediate photographers who want to refine their image-making and be more creative.
  • All photographers looking for inspiration and creativity.
  • Outdoor photographers interested in travel, landscape/cityscape, nature, sport, and wildlife photography.


  1. Class Introduction - Three Steps To Creative Photography

    There are three elements that go into creating a compelling photograph: technique, composition and creativity. Chris explains how an ancient Japanese philosophy of art, built around the notion of hand, eye, heart, helped him develop a fool-proof process for creating beautiful photographs, time and time again.

  2. Firing The Creative Mind - Part 1: The Camera Points Both Ways

    The photographs we take reflect not just what we see but what we feel about what we see. In this lesson, Chris explains how to connect with your subject - the first step in turning snapshots in photographic art.

  3. Firing The Creative Mind - Part 2: Letting Go Of Judgement

    Almost by definition photography involves making judgements but being judgemental blocks creativity. So, to reveal how to turn negative views into positive outcomes, Chris heads to Britain’s “least-interesting” location and challenges himself to create a compelling photograph.

  4. Firing The Creative Mind - Part 3: Detaching From Outcomes

    Sometimes, we get so focussed on what we set out to photograph that we forget about everything else, which leads to missed opportunities. Often, the most successful photographs are the ones never anticipated. Chris reveals the benefits and practices of keeping an open mind.

  5. Practicing Mindfulness In Photography

    By deconstructing one of his all-time favorite images, Chris shows how approaching photography with a mindful eye can help you create photographs that show much-photographed subjects in a new and compelling way.

  6. Finding The Visual Narrative

    To find the story, you have to get involved. You have to invest time and energy and immerse yourself in your subject. Stepping way outside his photographic comfort zone, Chris heads to Naples, in Italy, to see whether he can capture on camera its people and culture, and reveals the benefits of knowing your subject.

  7. Behind-the-scenes: Naples

    In a feature-length lesson, Chris is joined by fellow professional Simon Weir. Together, they take you behind-the-scenes of photographing on assignment, and reveal their vision-to-print approach for capturing compelling images.

  8. Seeing Beneath The Surface Of Things

    Getting beneath the surface of things is key to creative photography. Chris compares his passport photograph with a masterful portrait to demonstrate the difference between the semblance of a subject and its essence.

  9. Finding Inspiration

    Where does inspiration come from? Chris looks back at the past to discover what inspired his approach to photography, and passes on ideas about how to find inspiration in the world around us.

  10. Slowing Down

    Revisiting a personal photographic project, Chris explains the benefits of taking a more thoughtful approach to image making.

  11. Three Reasons To Shoot RAW

    Looking at the whole process of photography, from visualisation to print, Chris explains the three key reasons for moving away from JPEG and embracing RAW.

  12. Choosing the Right Frame Format

    Cameras are designed to be held a specific way but that way doesn’t always suit the composition. Chris reveals how turning pro’ helped to think more carefully about frame format, and explains how to match subject and composition in the field.

  13. Don’t Be Limited By The Shape Of Your Camera

    We rarely give much thought to the shape of the camera sensor and yet it defines the image space. Investigating some of his favorite photographs, Chris shows how thinking “outside the rectangular box” can have a huge impact on the visual quality of photographs


    With a camera, what you see is what you get. Unlike the human eye, cameras record every minute detail, which can reduce the visual impact of a photograph. In this lesson, Chris reveals how he uses the viewfinder to improve his compositions and ensure every pixel counts.

  15. Choosing Lenses

    We all love to buy them but don’t always know how best to use them. Chris heads to the cinema to showcase how different lenses are used to define the visual narrative of a photograph.

  16. Perspective

    Chris takes on the challenge of capturing an image he’s long had in mind to show the benefit of looking at the world from a different perspective.

  17. Considering Foreground And Background

    Most photographs contain three elements: the subject, and what’s in front of and behind the subject. Chris puts on his walking boots to reveal the importance of considering all three elements, and show how to use foreground and background to strengthen composition.

  18. Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad But Three Into Two Is Better

    Chris considers the limitations of cameras in recording the world we see and reveals compositional techniques that can be used to recreate the three-dimensional world on a flat piece of paper (or digital screen).

  19. Separate And Isolate

    Chris compares a set of images to show how separation of subject and “ground” improves composition, and shows the different camera techniques and composition rules you can use to draw attention to your main subject.

  20. The Art Of Creative Exposure

    There is no “right” or “wrong” exposure. In this lesson, Chris looks at silhouettes and high-key imaging to demonstrate that exposure is a creative tool, and reveals some of the techniques behind capturing in-camera exposures that match the photographer’s vision.

  21. Focus On The Story

    Chris poses the question, what is the point of focus? In answering that question, he reveals the power of focus and de-focus in defining the visual narrative and leading the viewer on a visual journey through the image space.

  22. The Passage Of Time

    Most photographers know the technical role of the shutter. In this lesson, Chris looks at how to use the shutter as a creative tool.

  23. Creating A Visual Sense Of Mood

    Great photographs reveal more than the physical nature of things, they elicit an emotional response, too. In this lesson, Chris heads out in the middle of winter to show you how to use light and color to add mood to a photograph.

  24. Color vs. Black & White

    We see the world in full, beautiful technicolor. So why on Earth would anyone want to compose an image without it? In this thought-provoking lesson, Chris looks towards some of the world’s leading photographers - past and present - and heads to New England to reveal when to shoot color and when to shoot black-and-white.

  25. The Decisive Moment

    Henri Cartier-Bresson coined the phrase “The decisive moment”. In this lesson, Chris talks through one of his most successful wildlife images to explain what makes a “decisive moment”.

  26. Using Color As A Cohesive Tools

    Photography isn’t always about the single image. There are several reasons you may want to consider building a portfolio of work - from exhibition to competition. Chris reveals how he set out to create a unified set of images for display in his gallery.

  27. Photography Is A Two-Part Process

    As Chris moves from out in the field to inside the digital darkroom, he explains the role of computer-based processing in photography, today, and describes the essential processing tools he use for the vast majority of his processing work.

  28. Case Study: Recreating The Art of Sumi-e

    In the first of three case studies, and with the help of some Hollywood-style GFX, Chris takes you on a step-by-step explanation of how he used Adobe Lightroom to fine tune the out-of-camera RAW files of his Japanese-style photographs, ready for exhibition in his galle

  29. Case Study: Making Something Out of Nothing

    In this second case study, Chris takes the out-of-camera image from his Lincolnshire challenge (Lesson 3) and sets about completing the process of vision to print.

  30. Case Study: Moody Blues

    In the final case study, Chris takes an image from his winter waterfall experience (Lesson 23) and, step-by-step, reveals how he used Adobe Lightroom to turn the RAW file into a finished image that perfectly matched his visual intent.

  31. Image Reviews

    In a series of image reviews, Chris deconstructs (mostly) TCP students’ images, posing the question, “Does the image tell the story the photographer wanted to tell?” Where it does, he explains how, and where it doesn’t he reveals what could be changed to better match final image and creative intent. The sequence starts with a herd of zebra and frame format.

  32. Image Review: The “Thinking Man”

    Chris reveals how to use depth-of-field to improve a portrait of an orang-utan.

  33. Image Review: The Golf Course

    Chris shows how to use the vertical format to identify and isolate the main element in a “busy” scene.

  34. Image Review: Dreamstate

    Chris uses frame format, color and the presence controls to turn an “okay” portrait into a more compelling composition.

  35. Image Review: Gone Fishing

    Chris reveals some useful composition techniques to bring visual energy to a static kingfisher.

  36. Image Review: Promenade

    Chris takes a step forward to remove a foreground distraction and open up the visual journey.

  37. Image Review: Sky and Reflections

    Chris shows how the placement of the horizon line can completely change the visual narrative.

  38. Image Review: Grass and Field

    Chris shows how an image that looks pretty on the surface, misses the visual narrative, and sets about making changes that better match the photographer’s story.

  39. Final Word: Show Me What The World Looks Like To You

    In his final word, Chris explains why just because “everyone now owns a camera” doesn’t mean the world is full of photographers, and shows why training yourself as a photographer is the most challenging but most rewarding aspect of The Complete Photographer journey.



I loved this course - in particular the latter part of it in which he demonstrated how post processing lets you really tell the story of the image. Another fabulous course. Thanks Chris & thanks Creative Live.

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 photographic composition and visual storytelling) both courses are Complementing to each other and highly recommended.

Charles Ewing

Fantastic course. Great photographer, teacher and storyteller!