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Understanding aesthetics and composition

From: Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light

Video: Understanding aesthetics and composition

(cross talk) We've been thinking a lot about the technical problems, but good technical solutions aren't going to guarantee you that you're going to get a good picture. You've got to frame a good shot, compose a good shot. Any tips for shooting in this kind of situation for getting better stuff? Steve Simon: Well, I guess, getting that technical stuff solved and out of the way so you can concentrate on capturing the moments, and the people kind of enjoying themselves. There are people likely that you know and you want to get nice shots of them, so you want to capture them while they're having fun. So once you've got the technical out of the way, you can concentrate on capturing those moments when people are laughing and having a good time.

Understanding aesthetics and composition

(cross talk) We've been thinking a lot about the technical problems, but good technical solutions aren't going to guarantee you that you're going to get a good picture. You've got to frame a good shot, compose a good shot. Any tips for shooting in this kind of situation for getting better stuff? Steve Simon: Well, I guess, getting that technical stuff solved and out of the way so you can concentrate on capturing the moments, and the people kind of enjoying themselves. There are people likely that you know and you want to get nice shots of them, so you want to capture them while they're having fun. So once you've got the technical out of the way, you can concentrate on capturing those moments when people are laughing and having a good time.

I would often maybe come in a little bit close to have something kind of in the foreground to help frame the image a little bit. And you never know what you're going to do with these pictures, so I might want to isolate some little close-ups and if I'm going to put together maybe a slideshow or even make my own little book about the dinner party, it's nice to have a variety of different images that will help tell the story when you put them all together. Ben: And I think coverage is a good thing to remember. You're covering the event, not just the people, and that needs to include all the details of the event: the wine bottles, the glasses, the dishes, that kind of thing. And those can all be nice little bits of texture that you can add to things.

I think also when everyone is sitting down and you're walking around with a camera, it's really easy to not even realize that you're taking all of your pictures from a standing position, aiming down at people. So it's really good to get down on your knees, sit down in chairs next to people, start working the point-of-view aspect of your compositions and really change it up and try different things. Steve: That's a great point, and you know as well as I that a slight little movement can move things within the frame. If you kind of move a little bit, you're going to eliminate maybe distractions or add, include something in the frame.

So once you're out there, you want to be kind of--you're conscious of the expressions and the moments, but you're also conscious of the little details that might distract from the total image. Ben: And distraction can be a problem in a low-light situation. We've talked about how low light is very often high-dynamic-range situation, because you've got these dim areas and then these candles and light bulbs and things that are really bright, and it's very easy to have one of those maybe on the edge of your frame, and that can be a real distraction. You need to try and frame those things out, put people in front of them, or simply crop them out, and that's a case where Steve's idea of real slight movements can allow you to rearrange things in the scene in a really helpful way, to minimize distraction.

Steve: And because things are so unpredictable, I tend to shoot maybe a little more than I normally would in other situations. It's digital. We've got the cards. We can always delete stuff. But, you want to get it, because the party happens, and then it's gone and you want to make sure you get the best coverage, because it's not going to happen again. Well hopefully, it will happen again, but not this moment, not this night. Ben: It's a lot to keep track of, your balancing, shutter speed to be sure that you get good sharp images. You're thinking about aperture, because you still need to worry about depth-of-field control. You're managing your ISO against your noise. You're trying to keep all of those things in play, and on top of all that, you're going to do all this other stuff that we've been talking about of paying attention to people's expressions and what else is in the frame.

But it's something that gets very easy with practice. And one of the great things about a situation like this is you can practice at home. Shoot the family dinner every night until you get better at it. Self-portraits at home even can be something you can set up with a tripod and get some practice managing all these different parameters. Steve: And the more you practice, the luckier you get. Ben: That's right! And that's very often a part of it.

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This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light
Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light

55 video lessons · 37335 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 2m 27s
    1. Welcome
      2m 27s
  2. 6m 20s
    1. What can you shoot in low light?
      2m 17s
    2. What you need for this course
      4m 3s
  3. 28m 54s
    1. Working with exposure parameters in low light
      1m 13s
    2. Working with image sensors in low light
      4m 35s
    3. Working with shutter speed in low light
      3m 3s
    4. Considering motion blur
      1m 14s
    5. Working with ISO in low light
      2m 29s
    6. Assessing your camera's high ISO capability
      4m 52s
    7. Working with in-camera noise reduction
      2m 4s
    8. Working with aperture in low light
      2m 10s
    9. Understanding dynamic range
      2m 2s
    10. Working with color temperature and white balance
      1m 11s
    11. Exposing to the right
      4m 1s
  4. 34m 39s
    1. Introduction
      1m 36s
    2. Talking with Steve Simon about low-light photography
      13m 46s
    3. Shooting by candlelight
      1m 55s
    4. Choosing a mode
      4m 34s
    5. Exploring the role of lens stabilization
      3m 1s
    6. White balance considerations
      3m 27s
    7. Flash considerations
      1m 18s
    8. Problem solving
      1m 35s
    9. Understanding aesthetics and composition
      3m 27s
  5. 30m 4s
    1. Introduction
      2m 20s
    2. Preparing for the shoot
      5m 25s
    3. Act I: adjusting to the light
      3m 48s
    4. Intermission: reviewing the strategy
      1m 53s
    5. Act II: moving to the back of the house
      2m 35s
    6. After the show: lessons learned
      1m 18s
    7. Reviewing the performance images
      12m 45s
  6. 19m 18s
    1. Shooting in the shade
      2m 55s
    2. Street shooting
      2m 52s
    3. Shooting flash portraits at night
      4m 5s
    4. Controlling flash color temperature
      2m 50s
    5. Adjusting exposure to preserve the mood
      2m 34s
    6. Dynamic range considerations
      4m 2s
  7. 41m 0s
    1. Shooting lingering sunsets
      1m 42s
    2. Exploring focusing strategies
      5m 17s
    3. Composing and focusing at night
      10m 42s
    4. Shooting the stars
      9m 27s
    5. Practicing low-light landscape shooting
      9m 55s
    6. Focusing on the horizon in low light
      3m 57s
  8. 13m 4s
    1. Light painting: behind the camera
      7m 34s
    2. Light painting: in front of the camera
      2m 13s
    3. Manipulating long shutter speeds
      3m 17s
  9. 1h 4m
    1. Correcting white balance
      8m 49s
    2. Correcting white balance with a gray card
      3m 50s
    3. Correcting white balance of JPEG images
      2m 0s
    4. Blending exposures with different white balances
      7m 13s
    5. Brightening shadows
      9m 8s
    6. Reducing noise
      7m 44s
    7. Sharpening
      9m 14s
    8. Correcting depth-of-field issues
      9m 32s
    9. Correcting night skies
      6m 39s
  10. 53s
    1. Goodbye
      53s

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