So now you are ready to step out your door and start taking pictures. You have your chosen camera, you have the software you need to edit and have learned how to use it, and you have the mindset for taking these photos. So let’s step out the door and get some photos.
In this photo the background was everything. The couple up above the pond were there with another photographer but I grabbed this picture and removed the other photographer. I think the end result was worth it.
We know we can shoot everything and we know what the strengths our particular area provides. So let’s go visit some of those strengths and get some photos. But wait, you can’t just walk up to your subject and snap a photo. Well, technically we could do just that, but that is not the goal. The goal is to create something interesting and different for people to see.
With that in mind, let’s take a photo of this local statue we have found. We know nobody who lives outside the area has seen this. But we also know that most people have seen plenty of statues. So what can we do to make this statue more unique? What can we do to make this statue worth examining? The answer to these questions is one word…composition.
In this photo the lighting was everything. The framing of the photo is perfect but what really sets it apart is the light being prominent on only the right side.
When shooting a photo of any subject it’s vitally important that we walk around the subject and check each angle for background components. As hard to believe as it may seem, the background of a subject can make or break a photo. Therefore, when a subject catches your eye, the last thing you want to do is to take the picture. You must consider how best to put that subject into the proper frame, the best composition. The right angle will make the subject go from a normal photo into something worthy of people slowing down to really look at the photo.
Obviously, good composition skills are needed and this a subjective matter. However, there are some general principles to consider in creating the best composition. Here is a small, but very important, list of things to consider for a good composition:
1.Background—What is behind your subject? Does it add to the photo or detract from it? Is there something distracting in the background? Can you find an angle that removes that distraction? If you can, move! The background is your subject’s frame, so make sure it is good and does not distract from the subject.
2. Lighting—It is always important to consider where the light is coming from and it’s even more important to film photographers. If the lighting is behind the subject, the end result will often be a subject that is shrouded in shadow. Unless you are trying to do a silhouette, it is important that you move to an angle that puts that light at a different angle. The main goal with this is to make sure the subject is not just well lit but also, if possible, the brightest thing in the photo. The human eye naturally gravitates to the brightest thing in any photo. Most of the time this second part is accomplished in post-editing. However, if you can get it in the camera, it will save extra work later.
3. Angles—Straight lines, diagonal lines, even cross lines add value and interest to a photo. Always look for the chance to get these into a photo. The human eye naturally follows lines of any kind, and anything you can do to get people to look around, and into the photo should be done. This is one of the easiest things to add interest to a photo and you should look for any opportunity to add them.
In this photo the use of angles brings the eye further into the photo and forces people to look around the photo. I also removed distractions from the background to bring the focus back to the angled stones.
4. Color—While the color of a composition is not usually controllable, we can still look for certain color combinations. In art class, most of us learned about complimentary colors and opposite colors. If you do not remember these or never took an art class, learn about these now. Knowing what color combinations work well together can give you an edge over other photographers. Photography is after all, an art form and as such, does require a certain basic amount of art knowledge. It seems like common sense, but you would be surprised at the number of photographers who do not know these basics. Having this knowledge will not only allow you to notice more potential photos, it will aid in post-processing where you might desire to change the color composition of your subject, to make it more impactful and meaningful.
5. Lens—If you only have one lens with you at the time, this is not something you can consider. While sometimes we want to do exercises where we see how creative we can be with one lens, most of the time you want to have as many lenses with us as possible. While the angle is hugely important, the zoom level is even more so. I always recommend that you try to fill the frame, as much as possible, with your subject. Yet, this is not always possible. Certain situations, such as the subject being on someone else’s land or obstructions being in the way; it might become extremely important for you to consider the lens you are using. Will a different lens add to the photo or will it just add distractions? Perhaps the entire scene, such as in landscape photography, is the subject and more of that scene would be better. Consider the composition carefully and then decide if another lens would be of benefit to that photo.
These are the things I consider before every photo and then I make adjustments to angle and positioning (standing, sitting, laying down, leaning, etc.) to create the best possible photo out of my scene.
In this photo color is everything. Without the special tweaking of the colors of this room, it would just be an ordinary room in an old house.
Now that you know what to consider before snapping that photo, go get some photos!
In the next section, we will discuss processing the photos in Lightroom. What applies in Lightroom can also be done in Photoshop, Affinity Photo, or even Viveza (Nik Collection). The buttons and locations will be different but the same adjustments can be done in all of these programs.
In this photo I chose a different lens to enlarge the stumps while still keeping some of the sky in the picture. I think the wide-angle lens used, made the composition of this photo much better.
Thus, I will walk you through what I do to process a digital negative (Raw file or scanned jpeg). You will want and need to know what is important in doing this, if your main goal is to have a print-ready photo. I think whether you are selling these photos or they are just for your own personal gratification, you will want to be able to create a print of it. I will show you how it is done correctly.
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