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Foundations of Photography: Composition

Changing composition through retouching


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Foundations of Photography: Composition

with Ben Long

Video: Changing composition through retouching

Your image editor is capable of dramatic retouchings of course, and very often when you're retouching you are mostly worried about making an edit that isn't noticeable. But you also want to think about the effect or impact on your composition of any retouching efforts that you might have. Take a look at this image. I have of course the tree backlit. It's built largely around this great shadow here. But there is a lot of balance happening here. I have got the tree and I have got this cart, or some kind of vehicle full of hay I think, and I have got this telephone pole over here.
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  1. 12m 4s
    1. Welcome
      1m 47s
    2. Using this course
      7m 27s
    3. What you need to know
      2m 50s
  2. 2m 47s
    1. What is composition?
      2m 1s
    2. All form, all the time
      46s
  3. 12m 34s
    1. How your camera is not like your eye
      2m 52s
    2. Looking vs. seeing
      2m 25s
    3. Vision and attention
      2m 13s
    4. Dynamic range
      1m 59s
    5. Seeing exercises
      3m 5s
  4. 36m 48s
    1. What all good compositions have
      1m 8s
    2. Subject and background
      3m 5s
    3. Balance
      7m 20s
    4. Point of view
      3m 22s
    5. Simplicity
      2m 59s
    6. Finding and capturing a good photo
      2m 11s
    7. Working the shot: Why one is never enough
      6m 41s
    8. Practicing
      3m 24s
    9. Why black and white?
      2m 21s
    10. Exercise: Practicing the fundamentals with points
      4m 17s
  5. 41m 48s
    1. Lines
      7m 7s
    2. Analyzing lines
      6m 35s
    3. Exploring a town
      4m 7s
    4. The Franklin Hotel
      2m 7s
    5. Shapes
      10m 13s
    6. Repetition: Arranging the elements
      1m 37s
    7. Rule of threes
      1m 36s
    8. Perspective
      1m 47s
    9. Symmetry
      1m 10s
    10. Focal length, camera position, and depth
      2m 27s
    11. Intersections
      1m 41s
    12. Exercise: Practicing fundamentals with geometry
      1m 21s
  6. 10m 38s
    1. Working a shot, revisited
      3m 21s
    2. Understanding the photographic impulse
      2m 58s
    3. Warming up
      2m 16s
    4. Exercise: Get your feet moving
      2m 3s
  7. 35m 7s
    1. Thirds: How rectangular frames are weighted
      2m 20s
    2. Tonal balance
      3m 52s
    3. Content balance
      1m 20s
    4. Squares: Weighting the corners
      2m 24s
    5. Composing people
      3m 42s
    6. Composing landscapes
      3m 53s
    7. Sometimes you can't get the shot
      1m 12s
    8. Practicing thirds with points and geometry
      1m 45s
    9. Practicing squares with points and geometry
      1m 12s
    10. Image analysis: The work of Steve Simon
      13m 27s
  8. 19m 6s
    1. It's the light
      1m 50s
    2. Direction of light
      8m 30s
    3. Texture
      2m 7s
    4. Shadows and negative space
      1m 19s
    5. Exposure concerns
      2m 44s
    6. Keeping one eye on post
      58s
    7. Light as subject
      1m 38s
  9. 18m 59s
    1. Introducing the workshop location and instructors
      1m 2s
    2. Assignment: Finding light
      5m 17s
    3. Shooting the light
      3m 14s
    4. Critiquing the light assignment
      9m 26s
  10. 22m 11s
    1. The basics of color
      1m 4s
    2. When to shoot color
      3m 56s
    3. How to shoot color
      2m 47s
    4. Practicing color composition
      1m 4s
    5. Image analysis: The work of Paul Taggart
      13m 20s
  11. 16m 48s
    1. Entry and exit
      5m 41s
    2. Framing
      2m 17s
    3. Examining the composition of this set
      2m 28s
    4. Narrative
      1m 55s
    5. When the scene doesn't fit in the frame
      3m 13s
    6. Guiding the viewer's eye
      1m 14s
  12. 13m 36s
    1. Assignment: Foreground and background
      3m 4s
    2. Shooting foreground and background relationships
      2m 19s
    3. Critiquing the foreground and background assignment
      8m 13s
  13. 34m 24s
    1. Planes
      5m 13s
    2. Controlling depth
      4m 54s
    3. Juxtaposition
      2m 58s
    4. Fear
      4m 3s
    5. Layers
      55s
    6. Image analysis: The work of Connie Imboden
      16m 21s
  14. 41m 21s
    1. Recomposing an image with the Crop tool
      7m 23s
    2. Resizing an image
      8m 9s
    3. Tone
      8m 54s
    4. Altering the perspective in Photoshop
      4m 38s
    5. Changing composition through retouching
      6m 16s
    6. Vignetting to drive attention
      6m 1s
  15. 10m 22s
    1. Workshop wrap-up and exhibition
      3m 13s
    2. Workshop students' final thoughts
      7m 9s
  16. 1m 0s
    1. Final thoughts
      1m 0s

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Foundations of Photography: Composition
5h 29m Intermediate Dec 22, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Composition can make an interesting subject bland or make an ordinary subject appear beautiful. In this course, photographer and author Ben Long explores the concepts of composition, from basics such as the rule of thirds to more advanced topics such as the way the eye travels through a photo.

The course addresses how the camera differs from the eye and introduces composition fundamentals, such as balance and point of view. Ben also examines the importance of geometry, light, and color in composition, and looks at how composition can be improved with a variety of post-production techniques. Interspersed throughout the course are workshop sessions that capture the creative energy of a group of photography students; shooting assignments and exercises; and analyses of the work of photographers Paul Taggart and Connie Imboden.

Topics include:
  • Looking versus seeing
  • Understanding when and why to use black and white
  • Analyzing lines
  • Arranging the elements into lines and shapes
  • Working with perspective and symmetry
  • Changing focal length, camera position, and depth
  • Dividing rectangular frames into thirds
  • Weighting the corners in square pictures
  • Composing photographs of people
  • Composing landscape photos
  • Working with light: direction, texture, and negative space
  • How to shoot color
  • Guiding the viewer’s eye
  • Controlling depth
  • Improving composition in post-production
Subjects:
Photography Photography Foundations
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Ben Long

Changing composition through retouching

Your image editor is capable of dramatic retouchings of course, and very often when you're retouching you are mostly worried about making an edit that isn't noticeable. But you also want to think about the effect or impact on your composition of any retouching efforts that you might have. Take a look at this image. I have of course the tree backlit. It's built largely around this great shadow here. But there is a lot of balance happening here. I have got the tree and I have got this cart, or some kind of vehicle full of hay I think, and I have got this telephone pole over here.

I can't tell if the telephone pole is balancing this thing or not. It's--if it isn't just a distraction, because it's a big dark line. So I am going to take it out and to be honest, I have not actually tried this edit before making this video. So it will be interesting to see. I'm as much at a loss here as you are. The important thing is as I am doing this, I want to keep track of what it does to my composition. There are a lot of different ways of making this edit on an edit like this. The thing I am mostly going to be concerned about is the sky.

The sky is a very subtle gradient moving on a couple of different axes at the same time, so it could be very difficult to get this pole removed. I am going to start by selecting this layer here. This has my vignette on it. And I am going to try doing something that's only possible in Photoshop CS5 or later, and that's to use Content-Aware Fill. I am going to just select this part of the pole. We will see if this works. I am going to go up here to Edit and choose Fill.

I could also hit Shift+F5. And I am going to set Contents to Content-Aware. Hit OK and Photoshop is going to do some thinking. And boy, it did a pretty good job. What I want to do is assess. Yeah, this sky looks very good in here. There is a little bit of a blob here that I can probably fix when I take out the wire, but I think that's going to work. I am going to keep that edit and keep going here. I did just a part because I am figuring that this part against empty sky is going to be a different operation than this part against the branches. Those are two very different problems for the computer to solve. Shift+F5 and we'll see.

That did pretty well. I am going to have to decide what to do down here. I may just leave that there, because it will just look like a chopped-off post in this scene, and that might be completely believable. Let's see how Content- Aware Fill does with this bit. Shift+F5 to get the Fill dialog. It's still set on Content-Aware. Of course, it always remembers the last thing that I did, so I don't have to keep doing that. This one didn't work quite so well. I got some breaks in the branches here, but it got the sky all really nice in the background. So I think what I will do is keep that and then try and repair the break in the branches.

I have got my Clone tool here. I am going to make the brush smaller by using the left bracket key, and I am just going to do to some cloning in here. One thing about making adjustments to something that's kind of a fractally random texture like this is I can just cheat like crazy and for the most part no one is ever going to know. What I may do with some of these is just delete them. It's going to be difficult to get all of the stuff connected back up just perfectly.

So obviously I am looking for anything that's a conspicuous, obvious break. This is going to be tough. This twig here is going to--suddenly going to bend. And some of these fine details, I don't need to worry about them too much because when it's printed, if they are small enough, no one is going to notice. And I am going to just cheat that up there and so on and so forth. Now this could take a while to work out here. It's obvious to me that I could get all these reconnected and refilled and again, I think what I will do is just take these little bits and simply fill them away. Just get rid of them all together.

And I am using Content-Aware Fill for that so that the sky will look okay. And that's working pretty well. But using these different techniques, I could go through and clean up all these branches. Let's just assume that I am able to do that. Now let's go think about this bottom part of the post here. It actually looks okay chopped off. It's still kind of a heavy element. So let's zoom back out. So, now that's not nearly as noticeable. I need to get rid of the telephone line.

That's a pretty easy edit to make. And actually I am liking this post being the same height as this thing over here. I think there is still a little bit of a balance to be had here, but it's not as distracting as having that whole line. I am going to hide this layer that we were working on and you'll see the post come back. Obviously, I was wrong. This was not a vignette layer. It was just a duplicate. So this gives me a chance to do a before-and-after. Here is with the post. Here is without. If you are not clear on what's happening, it's that I've got two identical layers here. The background one has the post and the upper one doesn't.

So I can easily see a before-and-after. So, before I have got this kind of heavy graphic element. Well, I don't know I like it, but I do think this makes it a little more about the tree. It gives it a little more center weight. Once I get those telephone wires out of there, I think I am going to be in good shape. Again, the point here is to pay attention to composition as you make edits, if your edits are changing the content of your scene. Even if you are making tonal adjustments, you may be creating weight more in one place or another. So in addition to trying to make this look like a real edit by getting all the branches working and making sure the gradient in the sky is okay, what's going to be the critical decision here is how does the edit affect the composition? And in this case, I think getting rid of the post, or whittling it down to fence-post size, gives me a more balanced image than when it's sticking up there like that.

So again, as you're making alterations to your image, you want to be thinking about composition in just the same way that you would when you're shooting. Am I simplifying the image, am I creating balance? All of those issues come into play when I am retouching.

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