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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.
The ratio of the width of an image to the height of an image is referred to as the image's aspect ratio. If you're shooting with an SLR, you're most likely shooting with an aspect ratio of 3:2. This is the same as 35 mm film. Some SLRs though, and most point and shoots, have an aspect ratio of 4:3. That's the aspect ratio of standard definition television. HD television has an aspect ratio of 16:9. If your aspect ratio is 1:1, then you're shooting in a square and there is a great tradition of square format photography.
If you ever had a medium format film camera, then it probably shot square frames. Shooting squares is different than shooting rectangles though. As we have already discussed when you shoot with a rectangular frame, you tend to balance the image by dividing the frame into thirds and working the thirds. Square doesn't divide into three very evenly, instead while it divides evenly just doesn't divide very well. Instead when you are shooting squares it's a good idea to try to balance your image by working the corners. Now a square still has a fulcrum, just like a rectangular image, so putting something in the dead center can work very well like we have here.
But there are other times when it's going to be better to try to get weight into the corners of the image like we have here. When you are weighting the corners you need to consider the same things that you do with any other type of balancing exercise. If you weight one corner, you might need to weight another corner. You can sometimes work by weighting the sides of the image rather than the corners. Your balancing elements, just like with a rectangular frame can be literal objects in the scene, real physical shapes. They can also be tone. So your balancing elements can be just what they would be if you were working with a rectangle.
Squares can be a lot of fun to work with, but they take practice. It's a really different way of shooting. Some cameras can show you a square crop of your frame in your viewfinder or on the LCD screen on the back of your viewfinder. Others might give you guides within the viewfinder, others don't have a square option at all. You're just going to have to visualize what the crop would be within your rectangular frame and crop it when you get into postproduction. Even if your camera does show you square guides in the viewfinder, it's possible that it still takes a rectangular image, so you're going to need to crop when you get into your viewfinder.
So again, think about the corners, think about the sides, give up on thirds and go try some practice shooting squares.
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