Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Finding and capturing a good photo, part of Foundations of Photography: Composition.
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How do you know what to shoot? Where do you find subjects? I live somewhat boring. What should I do? I hear a lot of questions like these from beginning students, and while these questions aren't directly related to composition, they do fall well into the artistry domain. Now the fact of the matter is, good photos can happen anywhere. Finding good photos is more often about you, the photographer, than it is about the location that you are in. As I said earlier, you don't have to go to an exotic locale or find some kind of landmark spot or attend a big event of some kind.
Last summer, during the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, we had a high school student named Ashley Hale. We had been out shooting and Ashley was back here in the lab working on her images. I happened to be walking across the room when I saw her get kind of bored with what she was doing and she stopped and she grabbed a plastic water bottle and took a drink out of it. And as she was taking the bottle away, from her mouth, she looked at it again and then she drained the bottle and grabbed her camera. And as I watched, I saw her hold the bottle up in front of the computer monitor and start shooting.
She put it all down, took her card out, stuck it in the computer, processed it, and immediately had this image. I really like this picture. It's very abstract, but I really like the light in it. But what I think I like the most about it is the more you look at it the more you realize well, I recognize that shape. After all, how often have we all take a drink from a plastic water bottle and looked down the length and seen those concentric circles that she captured. She found a great shot without even leaving her chair. If you worked through the previous chapter then you already explored some of the fundamentals of seeing.
In other movies throughout this course, we're going to talk about how you go from an initial impulse about a scene to working it into a final shot. We are also going to talk about how you can give yourself assignments and practice very specific things which will help you find subject matter. Now while there are tricks that can make it easier to find subject matter, to really have success as a photographer, you simply need to have your eyes open. You need to know that subject matter can be found anywhere, even when you're doing something as simple as taking a drink of water.
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