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Composition

Lesson 8 from: Photography Essentials: Getting Your Best Shots

Sean Dalton

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Lesson Info

8. Composition

Lesson Info

Composition

Alright guys, So for this next lesson, I want to talk about composition and one of the first things you need to do when you're studying composition is to make yourself a nice warm cup of coffee jokes aside um composition is incredibly important when it comes to photography and composition is the thing that people are often referring to when they say, oh that photographer has the eye or or whatever that means. Usually they're talking about composition. So in short, composition is basically how you arrange the objects in your frame. Good composition is very important because as human beings, our brains work a very specific way. Our brains want to see something that's easy to see. And what I mean by that is our brains want to be able to look at an image and process everything that's going on in an easy to understand away when an image doesn't have a good composition, then our brains can't properly navigate the photo. And because our brains can't properly navigate the photo, our brains sub...

consciously think of that photo as not beautiful and that's why composition is so important at its most basic level. Um Good composition allows your viewer's eyes to navigate around the photo, find the main subjects um and then kind of taking the entire scene um in a way that's easy for the brain to comprehend. So when it comes to composition, there are many, many, many different types of compositions that are accepted in photography. And honestly, I think when it comes to teaching um composition, you can't over teach it because a lot of it is gonna come when you're out shooting. If you confine yourself to a very specific list of compositions, then you're gonna be really holding yourself back creatively. So I think it's important to understand some of the concepts of composition. Um but not so much like this is a good composition. Um You should try this and this is a good composition, you should try this. The reason why I have the course project as Shoot one object 50 different times is because that is gonna really help you improve your composition. But with that said there are some things that I really want to talk about and the first thing is perspective. So perspective is essentially how you orient yourself in accordance to your subject, whatever that subject might be, this is hands down the most important, the most fundamental piece of composition that you need to understand because where you are in accordance to your subject greatly changes the outcome of the photo. Um and this concept of perspective is also relevant to all of the different things we're gonna talk about here in this composition video. So you can adjust your perspective by either moving forward and backwards horizontally so left or right um as well as vertically up and down. Um no matter which way you're moving, you're adjusting your perspective on that main subject. So there are a few different perspectives that you can try where you're shooting. Um the first one is worm's eye or basically where you're down below and you're looking up at your subject this often um gives your subject a bigger appearance, gives them more authority in your photo. Um And it can also be used to kind of isolate them from anything else behind them. If you find the background um kind of obtrusive, you can shoot up at them and maybe use the sky as a background. Um The opposite of worms I is bird's eye. So looking down on the subject, this often makes objects look smaller. Um and it's good for kind of showing a cityscape. You can show a lot of different things with a bird's eye view. Another one is just straight on, so just shooting it straight on, right in the middle. Um That's a good perspective. And then also shooting it from either side. So sometimes like if I'm traveling and I want to shoot a road, you know, you're in the middle of the desert and there's a really cool road and you have those like leading lines. You want to shoot the road where you can shoot it from the middle and then you can shoot it from both sides. Um It's hard to know which one's gonna be better until you shoot it. So what I always like to do is, you know, find my subject and then just shoot it with a bunch of different perspectives. You know, move around it in so many different ways, like I said for the class project, you know, tried to adjust your perspective and try to get some unique compositions. So once again, perspective is the most fundamental piece of composition and understanding perspective and how it affects your photo is gonna really help you understand composition. Um Later on the next piece of composition that I want to talk about is the concept of leading lines or diagonal lines of interest as human beings. We love lines in photos. And the reason for that is because they really help guide our eyes. Leading lines, refer to lines in the image that naturally guide our eyes to the main subject in a photo. So think of somebody in a tunnel. Um all of those lines of that tunnel are kind of converging onto our main subject in the middle. So if it's manmade, we often call those geometric leading lines and if it's from nature we call them organic. So we do see this in nature quite a bit, even if it's just the separation between you know, the sand um in the water or you know, the trees in the ground, there's a lot of different leading lines that can be found organically in nature. And then if you're shooting in a city, you know, there's often a lot of really interesting geometric lines that you can use to uh lead to your main subject now often times where these lines converge, we call that the vantage point and that's where these leading lines kind of coming together um and kind of finalize on our main subject, diagonal lines of interest are are very similar, but they're not always necessarily leading our eyes to our main subject. Maybe they're just kind of balancing the composition or adding interest or kind of just making the composition a little bit more complex, a little bit more interesting. So here's a few good examples of diagonal lines of interest. These are really cool photos and you can see how the diagonal lines really just add so much more interest in and complexity to the images. The next concept I want to talk about is one that you've probably heard of and that is the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds can be understand by basically breaking down your frame into nine different equal parts. The rule of thirds states that you should place your subject in one third of the frame. So either the left or the right side. And the reason the rule of thirds is so great is because by placing your subject, you know, on one of the sides of the images instead of right in the middle and then you have that whole other side to show something else. Maybe it's a background of a mountain or maybe they're in a cafe and you want to show a little bit more of that cafe where you can do that and you can also create a very balanced frame. Maybe your main subject is on the left side, but then you have um you know a lot of stuff happening on the right side. So even though the main subject is on the left, we have a lot of really interesting information that kind of balances out the frame a little bit. And I think the Royal Third is just great because it allows you to deviate from what we naturally want to do, whereas put the subject right in the middle of the camera um and take a picture that way. This will kind of help you think a little bit outside the box um and help you understand that you can position your subject in different parts of the frame to come up with another. Cool look, the next concept I want to talk about is framing and framing essentially is using different things in your environment. Um to basically frame your subject framing looks good. And the reason why is because once again our eyes can see where the main subject is. It helps us kind of focus on the main subject. And with framing, you have natural framing. So things like trees, even mountains sometimes. And then you also have manmade framing like doors or windows or anything that is gonna kind of surround your subject um with content whatever that might be. I really like to frame my shots with something in the foreground. So um if I'm shooting a portrait and I'm outside and there's some trees or some plants. Sometimes I'll kind of kind of ducked behind the plants and try to get some greenery around the edges of my frame. Um just to kind of eliminate some distracting areas and make sure that we're really focusing on the main subject in our photo. The next concept I want to talk about is depth and depth is a really important thing when it comes to photography, um, conveying depth in our images really allows us to understand what's happening in the scene. When we see a flat photo, it just doesn't really appeal to us that much. But if we can see depth in the photo, it tells a much more compelling story. So when talking about depth and photography, I think the most important thing to ensuring you have depth is to make sure you have a foreground mid ground in the background. A foreground is essentially an object or some type of subject matter that's very close to the camera. Mid ground is somewhere in the middle. Um, and then background is something you know, far away from the camera, maybe that's mountains in the distance or something like that. And I think the landscape photography is a really good way to understand this. So if you have a landscape photo, you might have a plant in the foreground in the mid ground, maybe you have a river or a lake or some trees or something like that in the background. You have some far away mountains. And this allows you to really understand the environment because we can see three different pieces of the environment. And that really adds a level of depth in the photo. I mean this also goes hand in hand with framing. Um Like I said I often frame my subjects with something in the foreground like a plant. So I'll keep it really close to my camera and then I'll shoot my subject was a little bit further away. So not only is that creating depth but it's also framing my subject. So you're kind of killing two birds with one stone if you will. And the next topic I want to talk about is negative space. And negative space is essentially blank space in your photo. So maybe it's just pure white or pure black or just there's really nothing happening in that part of the image. Negative space can be used to really put the focus on your main subject um and get rid of any distracting details in your scene. It can lead to a more simple composition, a more minimalist composition if you will. Um And it can really be used to enhance the composition in your photo. And the last topic I want to talk about is this concept of balance. And when I say balance, I mean basically the balance of your frame. You know we have symmetrical compositions and asymmetrical compositions. Asymmetrical. Um A good example of that is maybe you have your subject on one third of the frame. Um and then the other side is completely blank. That's an asymmetrical composition. Whereas a symmetrical composition is that subject would be right in the middle. It's a little bit more simple, it's kind of minimalist. Um there is no right or wrong. You know you don't always need to have a balanced frame. Um You can really go with some really cool asymmetrical looks and kind of have even an abstract look and I think that goes with all of these principles in this composition video. All of the things we've talked about here are good guidelines for you to understand composition and understand kind of what people like to see in photos but in no way are these the only way to do things. Composition is very much a creative process. And I think a lot of the time we kind of over teach it and really composition comes from you the photographer and you're gonna master it by going out and coming up with really cool unique compositions. And also learning composition is it's kind of hard to categorize even just looking at our inspiration on instagram or on facebook or wherever you get your inspiration from looking at those images subconsciously we look at those compositions and we kind of imprint what we like in our minds. So next time you see some photos you like take a look at the composition and really break it down. Um I think that's a great way to learn some of the things that you like, and then you can go out and implement those things later on when you're shooting.

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