Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Assignment: Finding light, part of Foundations of Photography: Composition.
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Connie: I'm going to give you the assignment for this afternoon first. The assignment is Female Speaker: Light. Connie: Yes, brilliant. Okay, light is what photography is all about. Can't make photographs without light. But what I want you to do is make light the subject of your photograph, which is a little bit different way of thinking. We're used to photographing a landscape, or photographing an object or a person, and we all know a general approach to take to photographing a landscape, or to photographing a person.
But light is different. There isn't a preconceived way of photographing light, and that's why I want you guys to do this. It's going to get you out of that hopefully preconceived notion. So let's start. I have a couple of examples here from our students this summer. Isn't this brilliant? These kids were -- they were outstanding. So does anybody know what this is? Female speaker: I looked up the word for it: crepuscular rays, crepuscular and the cast is the -- clouds casting shadows.
(crosstalk) Male speaker: That's a ceiling. Female speaker: Oh, it is? I thought it was a sunset. Connie: Doesn't it look like a sunset with a little city down here? Female speaker: Yeah. Connie: You know what it is? Does anybody know what it is? Male speaker: It's the ceiling. Connie: It's a ceiling. These are the curtains. He was on the top of his bunk bed, and this is the morning coming in. This is the curtains right here, the sun is coming through like that. Female speaker: Did you give him an A? (laughter) Connie: You know, I would have given him a dozen A's, but I didn't have the choice.
(crosstalk) But again, as the point is, it's a ceiling, it's a ceiling. it's all in the seeing. Okay, another one, another student. Isn't that just brilliant? It's just brilliant. These kids were so uninhibited and that's the thing that I want you guys to think about as you go out and shoot. We're not here to make good pictures, so you can just sort of let go of that. That's not what this is about.
We're here to really explore, and learn, and have fun. This stuff is fun. When you're doing it, it's just so much fun. So think outrageously. Female speaker: So is that light being reflected off a puddle? Connie: There is a hot tub right here. Female speaker: Oh! Okay. Connie: And it's the light. Connie: Let yourself play, and when you find something, when you find a patch of light, and you start photographing, don't take one picture of it and move on, stay with it. You know, you think about how much work goes in to making a pot, or making a painting.
It takes a tremendous amount of effort just to get used to the graphic forms that you're looking at, and that you're dealing with, and so take a lot of pictures. Don't worry about wasting pixels. So play with it, play with what would've happened if she had come over this far on the image, would it have made it stronger or not as strong, or come up and just had this much? There is no right or wrong here, so play with it, play with it, and when you get back and when you're looking at them in the computer, then we can talk about what difference it makes if you did it this way or that way.
Okay, I think there might one more. Yeah, this was a student where I teach at Maryland Institute College of Art. He was interning with me this summer, and I told him to go out and do the assignment and gave him 15 minutes. (laughter) I thought he did pretty well. Male speaker: Yeah, very good! Connie: Yeah. I think that's it. Is that it? Yeah okay that's it. Female speaker: Are we doing it in black and white light? Ben: We are going to talk about how to do black and white. Connie: Okay, that's Ben's job. (laughter) So any questions about that? Male speaker: Here is Connie in blue light. (laughter) Connie: Any questions about that? So one thing to think about is, let's say that there's some beautiful light falling on this chair, what you don't want to do is make a composition around the chair.
You want to make a composition around the light falling on the chair. So you can let go of horizon line. It doesn't have to be up and down. Find the best composition, the best way that that pattern of light falls into the rectangle of your camera. Okay? So, does that kind of make sense? So just a couple of rules, no tripods, so you're not stuck on a tripod and you can't move around. I want you to able to move your camera and really look through the lens and take a lot of pictures and don't judge yourself.
Just take a lot of pictures, let yourself get into that really kind of intuitive flow.
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.
- 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