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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.
Balance is one of the most ephemeral, kind of slippery compositional ideas that we're going to cover in this course. It's also probably the most important. If you had to pick a single word to define composition, balance would be in the running. It's a very difficult thing to define, it's also the most critical thing for you to understand about composition. We've looked a lot at ways of creating balance through the use of geometry, weighting elements in your scene against each other. There's another way of balancing an image though, and that's through tone or lightness.
Right now, we've got a whole bunch of bright on this side of the frame and that's creating a certain amount of weight, and so we are balancing that with a whole bunch of dark on this side of the frame. Light against dark can create a sense of balance. You can also go more symmetrical and do light against light or dark against dark. We've also got a rhythmic thing going on in this frame. We've got light and then dark, and then light again and then dark. That's working with the balance. So light of course is the thing you're always wanting to keep your eyes out for.
Don't ignore it when it comes time to balance your image and find a balanced composition. It can be a very powerful balancing element and let's look at some other examples. Here's a very straightforward example of the idea of balancing tone. I have got a lot of really light tone right here, sitting right next to a bunch of really dark tone, and they are balancing each other out very nicely. Here's an example of where I've got a few compositional ideas going on in an image, we are going to talk about some of them in another movie.
Right now, I want you to notice that kind of the image is split diagonally, and I've got a lot of really light tones here and some really dark tones here. Again, there are other things going on, but you've probably noticed by now I am showing some of these same images in different movies to serve as examples of different things, and that's because very often you will mix and match these compositional tools that we are talking about. These building blocks can be assembled in lots of different ways and you would think about them in different combinations and group them together in different ways. Here's an example of some rhythmic tone, kind of like what I was talking about in the introduction of this movie. I've got this dark pit and then a light pit and then a dark pit, and they are all kind of balancing in the frame.
The shadows on either side are making a nice well-balanced frame with a nice light patch in the middle. This one is a little more subtle, but I've got light on top, dark on bottom. And I was noticing that while I'm there. Again, this is not an example of me looking back at it and going well golly look I've got light up here and dark down there. I was actually thinking about that when I saw the image. I knew it was going to go black and white. I knew I could create a balance that way. And this has kind of worked, I was thinking that maybe the light of this rock would serve to be very symmetrical in balancing with the dark of these trees, and that sort of worked except that the shapes are fairly different.
But I do like that it's kind of a gradient that goes from dark into lighter gray and all the way out to white. This one is a little bit strange and I put it in here for one reason. I do feel like this dark tone over here is balancing all this light tone over here. Another way of thinking about this though is an example of shape. I liked the shape of this shadow. So I'm as much playing with geometry here as I am with tone. Yes the shadow is dark, but I wasn't necessarily seeing it as a dark balancing element. I was seeing it as a shape.
And you'll very often work with tones this way. You won't always be thinking of them in terms of tonality. You'll be thinking of them as geometric objects. So if you're looking at some of these things going, well I don't know, that doesn't seem so much like an area of dark as an area of square. That's fine. They are very often interchangeable that way. But think about light and shadow not as literal things, but as balancing factors that you can work with when you're trying to create balance within your image.
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