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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.
Male speaker: The assignment is to capture light and part of the idea of capturing light is you're capturing form as well. So I was just playing with the light coming across the building here, being shadowed by the overhang, making these triangular statements here, the shadow that falls underneath the boards themselves and just trying to look at that in a variety of ways.
Even with all of this going on you've got all these sort of sub-statements going on as well, so I am curious to see how that will translate out into the final images. Ben: Like you, these students have been given the task of going out and trying to shoot light as a subject itself. So they're looking for interesting plays of light. They're looking for scenarios where the light has caught their attention and can hold down the subject of an entire photo on its own.
Something that's interesting about a class like this is we've got a wide variety of skill levels, some of these students are fairly beginners, others are experienced shooters actually coming from a film background. Many of them have never experienced a group critique before and they're a little nervous about that. Some of them may have photographic experience, but not have much experience with digital photography and none of them have ever done an exercise like this, an exercise that's really challenging the way they see, and getting them to try and look at the world in a very different way.
Male speaker: Well I think you would want to go ahead and take this little bit of light out of the shot in post-production. I think we could bring in the shot a little bit and reframe it, just to make it more interesting. Ben: We really encourage them to stay around the lodge because for an exercise like this, it doesn't matter where you are. Another nice thing about this exercise is it really teaches you that good photos can happen anywhere. You don't have to go somewhere special, light is happening all over the place and so we're hoping the students are going to seek it out in the nooks and crannies around the lodge, in their own rooms, out in the parking lot wherever they can find it.
What's compelling about this exercise is it gets you seeing in a very different way. It gets you to stop thinking about the objects in front of you, and start thinking about the light that's in front of you. Very often, what makes an interesting photo is not what you're pointing your camera at, but the light that's bouncing off of what you're pointing your camera at. Very often you might see shadows that are interesting and think well, this is an example of interesting light but, and this is treacherous philosophical ground here, no, that's a picture of a shadow, not light, even though it's a shadow created by light and that's often a pitfall that students run into on this exercise.
We really want the exercise to be about shooting interesting light.
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