Composition Tips - disassociation

Composition isn’t just about composing the elements of an image in the viewfinder. You have to be able to see the image in the first place. Because if you can’t see, your camera is blind.

Then by combining focal length, camera angle and where you are in relation to the image you can compose the image. Only then can you start to think about camera settings and these will be different for every single situation you shoot. All of them. This is why it’s vital to learn how to think like a photographer.

Many photographers find the ‘seeing’ element of composition to be one of the hardest of the entire photography process.

In April 2015 during my Lanzarote workshop we had all just photographed a spectacular sunrise, enjoyed breakfast at a nearby bakery and now it was time for an exercise in finding images and compositions.

As we walked down an un-likely street I showed a couple of images I had seen to one of the participants, Jason Milner.  “Wow”. He said. “You’d never guess those were taken in this street. I guess you have to disassociate yourself from your surroundings in order to see compositions”.

I hadn’t thought of it like that before but he’s absolutely right. Before we can compose a picture we have to set ourselves aside from our personal thoughts and feelings about a place and truly look at it for what it is.

Only then can we begin to experiment with all the other good stuff like shutter’s apertures etc. and find the settings we need to capture the image. Everything begins with a thought ­ even composition.

In this video I’ll show you the location and re-create the images we were taking. Then it’s time to pre-visualise how you want the image to look in the frame (or composition) and using techniques from my Masterclass in Photography, brought together by thinking like a photographer using The 7 Building Blocks of Photography.

Are you a beginner? If you're still learning about camera settings etc you are not ready for The 7 Blocks of Photography. The place for you to learn all that good stuff is the Masterclass in Photography.

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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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