The act of creating a photograph typically falls into two broad camps. I would argue that in both camps, there are several fundamental tips around composition to always keep in the forefront of your creative mind whenever you reach for your camera or smartphone to capture something photographically. But before we get into that, let's take a look at the two broad camps of photographs that I just referred to. They are: Camp 1: There is the off-the-cuff snap, usually relegated for documentation purposes, like receipts or parking spot reminders, … [Read more...] about Four Photo Tips To Improve Your Compositions
I'm sure many of you photographers reading this post can sympathize with the plight of ever-maneuvering ourselves and our cameras around so that we can omit any obstacles from our frame. Whether we're contorting in some undiscovered yoga position or have our tripods defying gravity with the way they're being balanced, we go to great lengths to remove obstacles. And in a lot of cases, it's probably warranted. Why have them there? They'll only serve as distractions, right? Well.... not so fast. What if you simply couldn't get past omitting an … [Read more...] about Improve your composition by using obstacles
In this video, you'll learn how to quickly turn a plain photo shoot into a fantastic one. This technique uses the Quick Selection Tool, Refine Edge, and Adjustment Layers. Disclaimer: This is only one way to composite a photo in Photoshop. … [Read more...] about Quick Photo Composition in Photoshop
We took the day off to walk around Las Vegas before our scheduled filled work week at the Photoshop World convention began. People were everywhere taking cell phone photos of themselves and loved ones in front of Vegas landmarks. Every shot the same; they got as close to the landmark as possible then captured the image. That got me thinking. This will be a great article to write How I got the shot. To start with, these are cell phone images. We only had a few seconds to snap a shot before people walked into our frame. I tried to recreate a … [Read more...] about Make your Vacation Cell Phone Photos Better
As real estate photographers and agents know all too well, nothing says home sweet home like a bunch of utility lines and cables attached to the side of a house. In this short video, we'll do a little addition by subtraction and minimize these and other distractions by way of the Spot Removal Tool in Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw. http://youtu.be/NOPIUcarTBY Thanks for stopping by. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below or contact me anytime. … [Read more...] about Removing Utility Lines in Adobe Camera Raw
When photographing an image with some type of line, path, or object that will go out of my frame, my very first instinct is to find a way to push it towards one of the corners. This also works well for items that are coming into the frame, too. Compositionally speaking, this type of framing is very pleasing. It can prevent a road, stairway, or limb from the appearance of being chopped off or awkwardly positioned in the photograph. It can help bring balance to the image as a whole. Keep in mind that to do this, you may need to tilt your camera. … [Read more...] about Photographic Composition: Using the Corners of the Frame
I want to share a simple way to apply a "texture" to a plain or seamless background. A texture is an image of almost anything that can be appropriately ghosted back adding a "texture" to the background. I use images of side walks, freeway underpasses, brick walls, sheets of paper, rusted steel, graffiti, roads, cracked glass, wrapping paper, you name it. Truly, infinite possibilities. This simple technique can provide you with the power to control the drama, mood and overall feeling of your image. It will also provide you with perfect … [Read more...] about Simple Background Magic for Photos
In this tutorial, we'll be taking a look at one approach to combining HDR (High Dynamic Range) composite images in Photoshop to remove any undesired detail, and easily blend softness back into a landscape composition as needed. Questions? Drop me a line at and . If you're looking for a great gear guide for landscape photographers, check this out. … [Read more...] about Blending HDR Images in Photoshop for Smoother Landscapes
In this Photoshop tutorial, I'm going to show you how to create a cinematic video composition using a few video clips, blending modes, and Adjustment Layers! Disclaimer: This is just one way to create a cinematic video effect. For more tutorials go to . ______ … [Read more...] about Cinematic Video Composition in Photoshop
Ive been frequently asked to help take pictures (with a cell phone) simply because Im a photographer and therefore MUST make better pictures than those coming from an average joe. Probably not always true, but I feel that there are some elements to know that could help everyone take better pictures even with a phone. As a disclaimer, I shall say that this is NOT A RECIPE. When I shoot for myself, I shoot out of love. I choose and design my images based off feeling what is evoked when I come across an image and how it jumps out to me … [Read more...] about 5 Design Elements for Better Pictures!
Thanks to Vanelli and Meghan Ryan-Harrington for the Behind the Scenes shots. When shooting a video project, there is a need to typically get multiple shots (or angles) of the same scene. In modern productions, viewers aren't content to watch just a single shot occur on screen. The audience expects multiple angles to be combine together. This creates visual interest and helps guide the viewer through the story. The use of multiple shots is also helpful during editing as it helps control the timing on a scene (and even cover mistakes). The … [Read more...] about What’s That Video Shot Called?
As a photographer, youre likely used to using to capture several shots. You capture them to have options... bracketing to cover the exposure range, or shoting safety shots to ensure focus. With video, you have even more reasons to get additional coverage... the narrative demands it. Shooting video is much more than capturing the action in one long shot. Sure, you might see this approach if you went to a play... the audiences point of view. But for film, television, and even web video... a collection of shorter shots are usuall edited … [Read more...] about Sequencing Shots to Tell a Video Story
Many photographers worry about making the switch to DSLR Video. The gear and the challenges can seem a bit overwhelming at first. I thought it might be helpful to point out some of the things the two mediums have in common. Your gear. The investment youve made in equipment translates very well. Your camera body likely shoots video, and good lenses are good lenses. Composing the frame. Youve probably spent a good deal of time practicing composition. Your ability to actually position the subject within a frame to tell a story goes a long … [Read more...] about What Do Video and Photography Have in Common?
This is a short and sweet post about composition. It's very basic and intended for those who are just starting out in photography, but could be a good reminder to old hands as well. Beware the intruder! What's wrong with the photo above? Do you see it? Do you recognize the ugly intruder sneaking into the shot? Look at the top right hand corner of the image. THERE IT IS! That's what I call an intruder. That person's tennis shoe is stuck in the photo. I've talked about this before when discussing composition. It's one of the easiest photo … [Read more...] about Attention Photographers – Beware Intruders!
I've been spending a lot of time thinking about composition lately. I am really trying to push myself to get beyond the rule of thirds and try out some new methods. The method I'm experimenting with now is called the Golden Spiral. It's based on of all things an ancient sequence of numbers that often repeats in nature. 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 The sequence is often called the Fibonacci numbers and is named after Leonardo Fibonacci who was an Italian mathematician. He didn't actually invent the series (it's though to … [Read more...] about Fibonacci, Nautilus Shells, and Photography
If you ever wonder why you're drawn to lines don't worry, it's normal. As humans we tend to prefer certain shapes and leading lines are one of our favorite distractions. Some people see them better than others. But those who do see them are immediately drawn to them. And for that reason alone, leading lines are a valuable compositional tool in photography. I made these two images a few years ago for the Tacoma Glass Museum. I wanted to show off the architecture without doing a cheesy postcard shot. So I got my wide-angle lens out and leaned … [Read more...] about Composition Basics For Photographers – Leading Lines
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This post won't be for everyone. It's in fact a very advanced concept and it might miss the target. If it does, I'll take the blame because of my inability to share the heart of what drives me to find the perfect photo. But here's trying a little bit. Some photographers go through life randomly documenting what comes their way. Others pre-visualize their photography and set out to tell a story. There are many approaches to photography. All of them are valid. But there's one you may not be familiar with. It's a little bit Zen, but it's very … [Read more...] about Seeing A Photograph – Looking For What Isn’t There
If you want to help your photos get noticed - arrange your composition so that the viewer needs to work just a little bit to find the treasure. Here, there is one bright stand of orange poppies sticking out amongst an entire field of purple flowers. The eye is naturally drawn to the thing that doesn't appear to belong. And that's exactly what I am going for. You'll also note the placement in the lower right corner of the frame - homage to the rule of thirds. Lastly - I shot with a long lens to compress the distance between the single stand of … [Read more...] about Quick Photographic Composition Tip – Look For Something That Stands Out
One of the most enduring themes in art is the concept of harmonious balance. Balance is something the human eye just naturally gravitates to. It's something that is automatically pleasing to most people. When you're composing a shot, look for ways to introduce this concept. It can be done using many of the traditional "rules" of photography such as iteration, repetition, rule of thirds etc. In the image above, I introduced simple balance into my composition by shooting the two birds perfectly juxtaposed against each other - side-by-side but … [Read more...] about Photography Composition Basics – Balance
Guest post & photos by One of the most significant aspects of photography is that the way you see things is the way things end up being seen - and few things determine that more than the power of selective framing. The recognition that we, the photographers, have the power to frame things however we choose to, knowing it will completely change the way the viewer will experience them, is an extremely liberating realization. Just like in the entirety of life, things are hardly ever just the way they are its often just the way we see … [Read more...] about The Power of Selective Framing
Photographic composition is a tricky thing. It depends on taste. It depends on point of view. It depends on being able to see before there is something to be seen. It's an art and a science and it's very subjective. When I took my first few photo workshops, the composition instructors used to tell me that you can't mix lines and circles. Like many when I was young, all you needed to do was tell me I can't do something and I decided to try. Most of the time it turned out my instructors were dead on. You really couldn't do most of the things … [Read more...] about Composition Tip – Lines & Circles
This post isn't about UV filters or screw on filters or gear of any kind. It's about the filters we use to make photographic decisions. What to include or not include in a photograph What color background to use What lens to shoot with What camera angle When you think about it, each photograph is comprised of a series of decisions that filter out one choice over another. Once you have that fact down, it becomes a little less daunting to make the right choice. Start with entire scene. Now, where do you want the viewer of the image to focus? … [Read more...] about Filters – No, Not That Kind
If you're a regular follower of my podcast, blogs or Twitter stream you may have surmised that I am a car guy. If I'm not taking photos or running my business I'm probably doing something car-related. It may come as no surprise to you that I am a huge fan of the British television series Top Gear. In order to share the point I want to make today, I need you to spend a few minutes watching a very compelling and beautiful video. Jeremy from . Now here's where the lesson is. Note the use of negative space in the video. The director of … [Read more...] about Sometimes Less Really is More – Negative Space
It's photo 101, but many landscape photographers are unaware of it. The horizon tends to look best when it doesn't split the center of the image. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but unless you can articulate with specificity why you want to do it differently, avoid putting the horizon dead center. You can put the horizon toward the top or the bottom of the screen. Either way is acceptable and both are traditionally more pleasing to the eye than putting the horizon dead center. While we're talking horizons here is a bonus tip. … [Read more...] about Landscape Photographers – Watch Where You Put That Horizon
If you want to make strong compositions, look for repeating themes. I made this portrait of my pal Skip Cohen and his lovely wife Sheila at the launch party in Las Vegas at the swanky new Cosmopolitan Hotel. Making portraits at a party or wedding reception is always a challenge because you typically have little time. It's also very easy to end up with lots of cliches. I wanted to set up the composition in Skip's portrait so that it would be a tad bit more interesting than the average party grab shot. I spotted this portrait on the wall of a … [Read more...] about Photo Composition Tip – Iteration
Filling the frame is the name of the game. But it's WHAT you fill the frame with that matters. I was sharing some insights with a new photographer recently and it dawned on me that my own style has matured significantly since I was a newbie. The biggest change I see in my work is that it has become simpler. When I was new at all this, I thought my photographs had to be "complicated to be good." Turns out, that's not necessarily true. I've started to simplify every image. I shoot tighter and tighter every year. I find myself gravitating to … [Read more...] about Photo Composition Tip – Clutter Be Gone
In food photography, and photography in general, a good fundamental tip on composition is to create or find triangles in your images. Triangles keep the viewers eyes on the photo, since when you follow a triangle with your eyes you are basically circling around the image, looking at all the elements. In this image the basil leaves are the boldest color, so your eyes probably were drawn to that part of the image first. If you followed your eyes to the other leaves then you were fooled into looking at the entire photo. ;) Your triangles don't … [Read more...] about Food Photography: Finding Triangles
At least once a month, I'm going to start talking about photography from a purely artistic point of view. I want to try to expose the photographers who stop by here to some "art lessons" in the hopes that those of you who really want to take things up a notch will spend some time contemplating something other than gear. In Japan there is a principle called (Yohaku-no-bi.) This loosely translates in English to the beauty of empty space - looking for what is implied by the absence of something. The tendency to clutter a photograph is one of the … [Read more...] about Using Negative Space
Photofocus received several questions about composition this week so I thought I'd cover some basic tools that will help you improve your compositional skills. These ideas aren't presented in depth or in any particular order, nor is the list complete. But it should get you started. Also note that you can find an argument for ignoring any of these ideas. Just make sure you know the rule before you break it and that you can articulate why you broke it. 1. Use negative space. 2. Avoid merges. 3. Place your subjects in unifying positions. 4. Look … [Read more...] about Composition – Basic Tools – 15 Quick Tips