Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video It's the light, part of Foundations of Photography: Composition.
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Check this out! We rounded a corner into this room and found this, this chair and this lamp in front of this beat-up old wall with peeling paint, it just looks great. It is such a picture waiting to happen. There is just one problem, the light is bad. And if you're thinking right now, well what's wrong with the light? Look what it looks like over here on this side of the room, right near the window where there was also this other chair is sitting. The light is great here. I've got this just beautiful, soft, luminous thing around me that, it'd be really nice to have over there. We have talked about a lot of different compositional ideas, different ways you can piece together lines and shapes and forms and lights and shadows and all sorts of other things to create an interesting way of ordering your scene and guiding the viewer's eye, but all of that is irrelevant if you don't have good light. All photos start with the light.
Very often you will look for the light first, and then find something to do within that light. Just because we got a great scene over there, if we don't have the light for it, there's probably not that much we can do with it. Now we can shoot this anyway and see if we can kind of fake some light stuff in Photoshop, but sometimes that works. It's not something you should really count on. Shoot it anyway, let's see what you can do with that later. But as you're walking around, trying to see, and trying to keep your eyes open for all these compositional ideas, please don't forget that also, first and foremost, you are walking around looking for the light.
Now, you can try to manipulate the light, if you're carrying the right gear to get the lighting you want over there. That's not what we're doing right now. We're walking around just with camera in hand, looking for found situations that we can find. It's very difficult to stress just how much light is where photography comes from, what makes a good photo. So don't forget that while we're working through all of these other ideas.
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