How to Learn Composition

7 Building Blocks of Photography 2

Composition is one of the most important aspects of photography (the other is appropriate light for your subject) and you can practise composition anywhere. In this video I’ll show you how in the least inspiring place I could find at the time.

Why not practise in an inspiring location? Well, chances are there’ll be some effort in going to beautiful locations for most of us so it’s easy to make excuses why we can’t go there. So instead of getting out the camera and getting stuck in, we find excuses and go watch some crap TV or something instead.

If you do have somewhere that inspires you right outside the window please, go right ahead. But you have to stop expecting amazing images for a while.  As with anything you are learning it’s probably going to be difficult for a while and if you’re expecting Gold Award standard images straight away, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. So don’t do it.

There’s nothing stopping you from learning the techniques of composition (and other aspects of photography) in the back yard, the garden, the shed, garage, front room, the office etc. OK, the images might not be inspiring but that won’t stop you practising with the so called ‘rules’ of composition like thirds, diagonals, negative space etc.

You can practise how you align elements of a composition with wheelbarrows, coffee cups, apples, books or any other object and you can do it anywhere.

And the big payoff is you won’t have to think about composition very much when you ARE somewhere amazing. You’ll already know how to put the image together because you’ve got off your backside and practised. On top of that, you’ll feel great because you will have accomplished something. So you can only win by doing it.

Don’t forget you can add other things to practise along the way too. What about experimenting with different exposures, depth of field and focal lengths too as you progress?

If you don’t know what I mean by these things you can learn all about them with my Masterclass in Photography where they are all demonstrated in a video which is complimented by 132 pages of notes, exercises and explanations.

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3 Landscape Tips

vietnam-txt-streamLandscape photography is one of those areas where patience, thinking it through and taking your time pays dividends.  We have all seen a scene we want to capture but sadly we’re in a hurry, so we leap out the car and just grab a shot without giving it too much thought.

This may or may not result in a great shot. But have you thought to ask yourself if there’s more to be had from a location than the obvious? You have to build upon an initial idea. Explore possibilities.

I was in Vietnam driving through the mountains when we came upon this amazing view of rice terraces. We stopped so the film crew could shoot some aerial shots with their drone so Simon and I took the opportunity to look around and shoot this video.

As we drove up the hill I’d noticed one of the little paths that wind their way through the paddies so we went for a walk to see what it would yield.

Almost straight away we came upon some greenery we could use as foreground, which can frame a scene and give it more depth. In some cases just finding a bit of foreground can make or break an image.

But don’t forget to look around you. It’s all to easy to miss a beautiful detail of the landscape that’s right next to you because you’re absorbed by what’s in front.

You have to concentrate and really look at a scene. In the first shot of the last scenario there’s a stick poking up on the left. I didn’t really notice it to begin with. It wasn’t until I checked the shot in the LCD it became apparent.

So how do we remove it? Well obviously there’s Photoshop but I’m lazy. A few steps to the side will change the geometry of the image. It makes things align differently so you can lose unwanted clutter from the composition.

So besides making sure the light is appropriate for the scene, here are 3 landscape photography tips to consider.

  1. Take time – think of other possibilities for the location
  2. Find some foreground. It could make a world of difference
  3. Look to the side as well as in front. You might have missed something

These things are not functions of your camera. They are functions of you thinking like a photographer.


3 Landscape Tips

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