Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Working the shot: Why one is never enough

From: Foundations of Photography: Composition

Video: Working the shot: Why one is never enough

We live in a world that's pretty saturated with images, with really beautiful images a lot of times, and it can be a little difficult for the learning photographer to realize just how much work goes into a lot of those beautiful finished images they see in news magazines or National Geographic, things like that. No National Geographic goes on assignment to shoot the Great Pyramid or whatever, gets off the plane in Egypt, walks out, sees the pyramid, thinks about it, sets up their camera and goes, click, "Okay, I've got the shot, I'm going home." It doesn't work that way. They shoot lots of lots of pictures. They shoot dozens of pictures, hundreds of pictures, hoping to get down to those twelve to thirteen that might go in a magazine article.

Working the shot: Why one is never enough

We live in a world that's pretty saturated with images, with really beautiful images a lot of times, and it can be a little difficult for the learning photographer to realize just how much work goes into a lot of those beautiful finished images they see in news magazines or National Geographic, things like that. No National Geographic goes on assignment to shoot the Great Pyramid or whatever, gets off the plane in Egypt, walks out, sees the pyramid, thinks about it, sets up their camera and goes, click, "Okay, I've got the shot, I'm going home." It doesn't work that way. They shoot lots of lots of pictures. They shoot dozens of pictures, hundreds of pictures, hoping to get down to those twelve to thirteen that might go in a magazine article.

This is a process called working the shot, and it's something that you have to start doing if you want to get good composition, if you want to get good exposure. Working the shot is critical to finding the image that's really there after you had an impulse that there is a photo there of some kind. A lot of people kind of naturally resist shooting a lot, because when you get home, you've got all of these images and most of them are bad, and so you feel like oh, wow, I shot fifty images today, and there're only two that I like. Now, two out of fifty is a good ratio. If you think about it, you would never walk into a painter's studio and see a lot of sketches on the floor, and one finish painting and go, I don't know, you only got one out of these dozens of sketches that are here.

Those sketches lead up to the finished painting; that's what working the shot is. It's the way you discover the image, it's the way you sketch the image, it's the way refine the image. So, I want to show you an example of that right now. I'm out here outside of a lodge and it's late in the day, so I'm going to move pretty quickly here to get through this. And there is this wonderful cement path going off this way and there's a shadow being cast by the bridge over here alongside it. I really like the relationship of these two things. They are kind of similar shape. They're going off in this V sort of thing. One is really dark, one is really light.

I'm shooting black and white, so I'm thinking I can exaggerate that darkness and lightness even more, so I just need to find the right framing. Now, I'm standing right here at the apex of them, so this seems like this might be pretty dramatic. I've got one going off this way, one going off this way. I'm shooting at a pretty wide angle to exaggerate that some, and I'm going to take my shot. Yeah, and that's kind of boring. I can't really see it there. I'm seeing it kind of going off this way and kind of going off that way. It's not as dramatic as I thought it was. So, I might consider zooming in a little bit tighter, maybe moving back and zooming in a little bit tighter again.

These are mostly the same, as you can see. There's nothing real dramatic. The key to working the shot is to feel your feet moving. If your feet are not moving, you're not working the shot. So, I'm going to get mine moving by going this way, and come out here and see what I see. So, now I'm seeing the road. I'm not seeing the path as much, because it's leading directly away from me, and it's starting off down this hill, so that's hiding it and there's a big tree in the middle of it-- that's not helping. That's blocking my view. So, this doesn't work. I'm going to go this way and see what I can find.

Again, I'm moving kind of fast because the sun is sinking pretty quickly. This is a little bit interesting, except now, now I'm down too low. I'm looking along the path. I can't see it as well, and this shadow is really dominating. I would like to be taller and I'm very fortunate in that I'm standing just below a balcony that's overlooking this whole thing. So, and it's pointed in the right direction. I've got a little sunlight left. I'm going to head up there and see what I can find. Okay, so, we're up quite a bit higher now.

I'm hoping this is going to make a difference. If I sound frantic, that's because the sun's going over the mountains. Here's a quick little tip for knowing how much time you have. Hold your hand at arm's length. The number of fingers between the bottom of the sun and the horizon, it's about seven minutes per fingers. So, I got about twenty minutes here. I'm doing pretty good. So, if I come over here to the edge and take a look at where I'm at, right away I can tell we're really getting somewhere now. I can get a clear view of both the road and the shadow and even the bridge, if I want to play with that, so I've got three elements that I can work with here.

But something really interesting is happening, and this is why we work the shot. A new element has presented itself that I never saw in the first place, and that's a street sign that's down there that's kind of sitting right at the apex of the two lines. So that might be something interesting. So, I'm going to shoot. I'm going to shoot in both orientations, because I'm not sure what might be better. I'm also bracketing my depth of field. I'm shooting at F/11; I want all of this in focus. So I'm putting my focus point either closer out or further in to move my depth of field around to ensure that things up close they're going to be in focus.

Still the shots are--I don't know, they're okay, but they're kind of-- they're kind of not okay. So, I'm going to keep working it. If I come over here, I'm thinking maybe I take the bridge out completely. Simplify is of course our mantra, so maybe I get rid of the bridge and work with just the lines. That's not bad, except the bridge shadow is kind of big. I'm getting some extra shadow. So, I'm going to try going this way. And again, my feet are moving. That's the clue that I'm working the shot, and this is what you should be doing no matter what you're shooting.

You want to have your feet moving. You want to be looking to find the shot. Again, think of it as sketching. As I'm sketching, I've added this new element. I'm playing with the lines in different ways, working up to my final shot, and I think that this is it. Let's do a black-and-white conversion on this, and we end with this, our final image. You can see I played with the tones some to play up that relationship that I had originally seen, but this is a composition that's very different than what I had originally envisioned when I was standing down there. I worked it.

I worked my way through and discovered this shot. I've got a whole bunch of other pictures that are technically not any good, but they served the purpose; they got me through to this. I could not envision this in my head initially. And you may think, well, if you're a good photographer, you would have been able to see that in your head. That's just not how it works. Sometimes you get that, sometimes you have the moment, the inspiration where you do see it in your head perfectly realized, and you take it. Most of the time though, we work the shot. You're going to see me doing this throughout the rest of the course. You're going to hear me nagging you about it. I promise you, until you really have experienced it some, you're just not going to be shooting enough.

You've got to always work it more, work a little deeper. One of the easiest ways to work the shot that's kind of most immediately effective is to try moving closer to your subject right away. Very often you'll see a scene--maybe not a big landscape like this--you'll take a shot, and the solution to the shot is to get them a little bit closer. It inherently simplifies the image; it's a very good initial working. So practice that with all of the exercises that we're going to be sending you out on during this course.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Composition
Foundations of Photography: Composition

86 video lessons · 59170 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  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

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Foundations of Photography: Composition.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your lynda.com subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.