Composition: The Strongest Way of Seeing, or Crop My Pictures and You Are a Dead Man!


Edward Weston said: Composition is the strongest way of seeing.

I love that quote . . . and it's the title of my latest Kelby Training Class.

The photographs here, taken in Iceland two weeks ago, illustrate some important composition techniques.

Above: use a foreground element to place the viewer in the scene.


Above: The name of the game is to fill the frame.


Above: Crop my pictures and you are a dead man! Actually, that's my own quote . . . one that I used to use (lovingly) with my book publishers.

I am a nut about cropping. I shot this picture knowing that I'd crop off the boring top and bottom in Photoshop.

Be a nut about cropping, and you will get pictures with impact.

Again, for more info in composition, check out my Composition class. My Composition class goes hand-in-hand with my class on lighting: Light - the main element in every photograph.

To learn more about composition, join one of my workshops. We work hard, but we also have a ton of fun.

Explore the light,
Rick

P.S. All images: Canon 5D Mark III, in-camera HDR and Canon 17-40mm lens. All my gear is listed on my Gear page.


Good Exposure vs. Creative Exposure


With today's digital cameras, getting a good exposure is much easier than it was with film cameras. But getting a creative exposure still offers the same challenges - and rewards. That's one of the things I talk about in my brand new Kelby Training class, Light - the main element in every photograph.

Here are a few slides from the class that illustrate that concept.

Above: The picture on the top right is correctly exposed. The lighting, however, is not that creative. The picture on the bottom right is more creative, because the entire subject is not lit. Tip: for creative portraits, don't light the entire subject.


Above: the natural light picture on the right is correctly exposed, but you can't see the subject's eyes. The picture on the left is a daylight fill-in flash shot; we can see the subject's eyes. Adding some light made for a more creative exposure. Also, balancing the light from the flash to the ambient light created a natural-looking picture - one that does not look like a flash picture.


Above: The picture on the left is an HDR image. The mood of the scene is ruined, although as far as HDR images go, the entire dynamic range of the scene is recorded. The picture on the bottom right is more creative. It's a combination of natural light and added light . . . the light from our guide's Jeep. It's a more creative exposure. The point: HDR is not always the answer.


Above: These two pictures from South Beach also illustrate the difference between a good exposure and a creative exposure. Using a long shutter speed turned a snapshot (good exposure) into a cool shot (creative exposure).


Wherever you shoot, think about how you can turn a good exposure into a more creative exposure. I talk about shooting in a variety of locations in the class.

Explore the light,
Rick

P.S. If you like my Light class, I think you'll also enjoy my composition class, Composition - the strongest way of seeing.

Compose and Expose Carefully


What do the above and below photographs have in common?


Both photographs were composed and exposed carefully.

When you think about it, photography is all about getting a well-composed and creatively exposed image. Master those techniques, and you are on your way to mastering photography.

I know, I know! A good subject is important, too. :-)


Actually, those two elements - lighting and composition - are important in painting, too - as illustrated my Vermeer's "Girl with the Pearl Earring" painting (left), and my humble rendition of the masterpiece on the right.

In my workshops, I focus on those topics. If you can't make a workshop, I have two classes on Kelby Training that I think you will enjoy:

Composition - the strongest way of seeing.

Light - the main element in every photograph.


Quick composition tip: stick out your neck and break the so-called rules.


Quick lighting tip: Shadows are the soul of the photograph.

As always . . . .

Explore the light,
Rick

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,
Rick


Heavy Metal in Hot'Lanta Workshop


All photographs © Glenn Taylor

My friend Glenn Taylor and I are running an HDR/Model photography workshop in and around Atlanta, GA March 1st to 3rd, 2013. Here's the basic info on the workshop. We are only taking a small group, so space is limited.

For now, Glenn, who as been to all the sites on the workshop, is today's guest blogger. Take it away Glenn.

In my work as a Creative Director for a business-to-business ad agency, I’m often contracted to shoot industrial-style photography of our client’s equipment, employees and locations all over the country. It’s not for everyone, but I love bringing these working environments to life.
In my off-time I shoot with several groups and friends in Atlanta and the surrounding area. Two of my favorite locations to shoot HDR and detail images are The Southeast Railway Museum in Duluth, GA and Old Car City in White, GA. Both locations are a treasure trove of heavy metal grunge images. The colors, textures and little details are just amazing!

Opening image: Sightseeing/cocktail car at the SE Railway Museum. I can always picture a scene from Mad Men taking place right in this car. This is a 5 exposure HDR, merged in Photamatix Pro and finished in Lightroom - taken with a Canon 5D Mk II and Canon 24-70mm L series lens. This is shot wide (around 34mm) while mounted on a Gitzo tripod with a RRS bullhead.


Rusted boxcar detail at the SE Railway Museum. I am drawn to detail and old paint textures. Here the multiple sixes and the row of rusty rivets built an interesting composition. This is a single exposure processed in Lightroom, taken with a Canon 5D Mk II and Canon 24-70mm L series lens. This was shot medium length (70mm) handheld in the outside yard area with natural light.

Kitchen car at the SE Railway Museum. The patina of the metal surfaces adds interest to all the geometric shapes in the composition. This is a 5 exposure HDR, merged in Photamatix Pro and finished in Lightroom - taken with a Canon 5D Mk II and Canon 24-70mm L series lens. This is shot wide (24mm) while mounted on a Gitzo tripod with a RRS ballhead.

Old Car City is a similar location with a completely different set of subjects: classic cars that are weathered, rusty and full of character. Just like the trains at SE Railway, HDR and details are everywhere you look.

The “office” at Old Car City. The texture around this part of the facility just jumps out at you. This is a 3 exposure HDR, merged in NIK HDR Efex Pro and finished in Lightroom - taken with a Canon 5D Mk II and Canon 24-70mm L series lens. This is shot wide (34mm) while mounted on a Gitzo tripod with a RRS bullhead.





Hood ornament detail at Old Car City. I shot this with backlighting from the morning sun that would emphasize the selective focus feature of the lens. This is a single exposure, processed in Lightroom, taken with a Canon 5D Mk II and Canon 90mm Tilt/Shift lens on a Gitzo tripod with a RRS bullhead.

Ladies in waiting at Old Car City. I liked the way this group looked like a beaten down car lot. This is a 3 exposure HDR, merged in Photomatix Pro and finished in Lightroom - taken with a Canon 5D Mk II and Canon 35mm lens. This is shot wide while mounted on a Gitzo tripod with a RRS bullhead.




Ford emblem fender detail at Old Car City. I captured this handheld at f2.8 to bring focus on just the emblem detail and let the rest of the fender fade into the background.

This is a single exposure, processed in Lightroom, taken with a Canon 5D Mk II and Canon 35mm lens.



Thanks Glenn for a great post.



Follow Glenn:

Glenn and I hope to see you on our workshop! Shoot me an email for info.

Check out my iHDR app to learn more about HDR.

Explore the light,
Rick