Good Light + Good Composition + Good Subject = A Nice Photograph

Here's my favorite image (so far) from the California Photo Festival.

Tonight I took a group of dedicated photographers on a street walk. The focus of the walk was composition and lighting. We found both, plus a great subject – my good friend and wonderful photographer Lee Varis.

I took this shot with my Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105mm lens (my favorite street lens) and my brand new Really Right Stuff tripod and ball head. ISO was 6400, which say a lot about the image sensor in the camera.

To learn about lighting, see my lighting class on Kelby Training.

To learn about composition, see my composition class on Kelby Training.

Explore the light,

Light - The Main Element in Every Photograph

My latest Kelby Training class - Light, the main element in every photograph, is here.

This class is a follow-up to my class: Composition - the strongest way of seeing. Put exposure and composition together, and you have a good image!

I chose that title because every photograph you have ever taken and every photograph you will ever take has the same main element: Light.

I did, however, have alternate titles:
- Get the Very Best In-Camera Exposure
- Get a Creative Exposure (as opposed to a good exposure)

The class covers seeing the light and controlling the light in the studio and while traveling (in the city or in the great outdoors). I also touch upon black and white and a a couple of CS6/LR4 enhancements.

As you may know, I like to make learning fun. In the class I talk about why a good exposure is like a slice of pizza. I also talk about how lenses see light and how cameras see light compared to how we see light.

I talk about shooting in bright light and in low light; shooting indoors and outdoors; using a reflector, diffuser and a flash; and envisioning the end result.

I also talk about seeing the light: the contrast range in a scene, the direction of light, the intensity of light, the color of light and the movement of light.

I use my latest photographs to illustrate the topics. Below: the only difference in the photographs is the light.

If you learn how to see the light and control the light, you'll get the very best in-camera exposure.

Explore the light,

See the Light and Get it Right

I love Lightroom and Photoshop - and all the digital enhancements these programs have to offer. What fun!

I love plug-ins - and all the fun we can have with the cool and creative effects that are available to us with the click of a mouse or tap of a Wacom stylus.

I like stand-along HDR digital imaging programs, such as Photomatix Pro.

But I love something even more about photography: getting it right in camera - so I can spend more time shooting (and exercising) and less time sitting at my computer. 

(Flash back to the slide film days: We had to get it right - otherwise we were screwed.)

Getting it right in camera is what I suggest (preach) on my workshops: how to get the best possible in-camera exposure. That starts with seeing the light - the contrast range in a scene, the direction of light, the color of light and the quality of light.

Next: controlling the light - with a reflector, diffuser or flash. These accessories have something very important in common: they reduce the contrast range in a scene. We must see the contrast range in a scene to get a good exposure.

Next: check the histogram on the camera's LCD monitor to make sure the highlights are not washed out: look for the spike on the right. About the shadows: shadows can be your friend - so I sometimes don't mind if they are blocked up.

And guess what? It's really not that hard to get it right in camera. Using just one light, a Canon 580 EX II Speedlite in a Westcott softbox, I got a perfect exposure when I took my "Girl With a Pearl Earring" photograph with my Canon 5D Mark II. So, after opening the file in Lightroom, I made virtually no adjustments - and then went for a walk.

So my friends, try to get it right in camera. That's one of the things I will be doing during my creativeLive class in October. More than 6,000 photographers have already registered – so I hope you can join the photo fun. The more the merrier.

Explore the light - and capture the light the right way,

Here are the links to some of the products mentioned in this post:

Photomatix Pro
You can save 15% when you order Photomatix by using this code: ricksammon.