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In this course, Pulitzer-nominated photographer Natalie Fobes takes viewers into the studio and on location to explore the many elements that combine to make an effective photo.
The course explores compositional elements that guide a viewer's eye, including the rule of thirds; leading lines, patterns, and curves; and depth of field. Natalie then details the roles of color and light in a photo. She shows how to work with the natural light in a room or outdoor location, and how to enhance it using reflectors, newspapers, a T-shirt, or whatever might be handy. She also shows some simple indoor lighting setups that can replicate the look of natural light.
The course continues with a look at movement and how a photographer can convey a sense of motion by blurring part of the image or freezing a fast-moving subject. Next, Natalie explores the concepts of peak action and the decisive moment—those split seconds that capture the essence or emotion of a subject or scene. The course wraps up with a discussion of the roles of planning and research in creating effective photos.
Close relatives of the rule of thirds include leading lines, mirroring, and repeating shapes. All are designed for one thing, and that is to guide the viewer's eyes through the frame. Remember that as artists, we choose what is included in the photograph and we want our viewer to see all of it. So how is this for a leading line? Route 50 in Nevada is known as the loneliest road in America. This line really helps get across that feeling of the great expanse of this area.
Diagonal lines add a dynamic element to the photographs. Your eye probably landed on the snorkeler and then went back on this nice diagonal line of the creek to the forest behind. This really helps you get to the information in that photograph about the habitat of the salmon, and I use that diagonal line to help you move around the photograph. Now, you can use diagonal lines in portraits too-- I do it all the time; by simply tilting my camera and the model's head I created a beautiful diagonal with her eyes and her hand.
Another tool of composition is the S curve. My eye normally lands here at the top, and then I go down through the frame, and exit out the bottom. But some of my friends tell me that they actually enter here and go this way. Either way, it's okay because you see everything I want you to see in the frame. Now, this time the light formed the S curve, and it lets your eye really enjoy the texture of the forest in Canada.
I love those partly cloudy days, just love them. Mirroring is another great technique that you can use in your composition. This is a bird that was taking a drink in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska, and I love how the form of the bird is actually repeated in a reflection in the water. So remember, you want to help people see everything in the frame and you do that by guiding them through the image with the rule of thirds, guiding lines, and repetitive shapes.
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