Composition IV: The Viewfinder with Marcin Lewandowski
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Composition IV: The Viewfinder with Marcin Lewandowski

August 24, 2019


Welcome to AdoramaTV. My name is Marcin Lewandowski and in this episode of The Viewfinder we will summarize for you the previous episodes about composition in 10 easy bullet points. Number 1: The Rule of Thirds. Creating a balanced photograph that’s pleasing to look at begins with structure, and this rule will certainly help you find it. Cut your frame into nine equal sections using vertical and horizontal lines and experiment with placing your subject on the intersections, along the lines or allow it to glide from one section to the other. Number two: the Phi Grid and the Golden Ratio. This is also known as Divine Proportion and helps to create aesthetically pleasing compositions. There is an ongoing argument as to which is better, the Rule of Thirds or the Golden Ratio? But both of these are worth knowing. A good way to see this in practice is to look at other photographer’s work we like and admire with overlaid grids or the golden ratio spiral. Lightroom is a good tool to do that. Number 3: Negative Space. Place your subject towards one of the edges or the corners in your photographs, leaving the rest of the space more or less featureless. This technique will guarantee to instantly draw attention to your subject so we use it to your advantage. Number 4: Putting the Subject in the Middle. A great tool for portraiture which you can interpret and use in a number of different ways as well Combine this with an interesting background that adds to the photograph without distracting the viewer and you will create something more powerful and more pleasing to look at. Number 5: Space Around the Subject. Whether you photograph on location or in the studio keep your background as tidy and uncluttered as possible. When structuring backgrounds by applying any rules we mentioned or dissolve it in bokeh. It’s all about not taking away from your subject and potentially adding to it’s story. Number 6: Symmetry. Even though it seems self explanatory there is more to it than you might think. Humans find symmetrical things more appealing and using it in a photograph can add great strength to your image. Two symmetrical halves, two objects each and opposite sides, an object and its reflection, a few small objects and one large object. Keep adding and bending this idea but remember about the principle. Number 7: The horizon line. This is the one that will continue to make your head spin, especially when photographing landscapes. But when looking through the viewfinder try to start with the rule of thirds, go through to the Phi Grid, negative space and the middle of the frame. This way it will be easier for you to decide which looks best. Try all of the different approaches to see what works for what you see. Number 8: Less is more. Compose your photographs using the background as an integral part of the shot, choosing a surrounding that’s not only interesting but also adds to the story contained in the frame. Keep it clean and uncluttered. The same applies to the edges of your photographs. Frame and reframe to choose carefully what to include in your photographs and the easiest way to do this: Number 9: Frame with your fingers. Very simple but effective. When you don’t have your camera around this will teach you to more intuitively find structure and help to frame photographs in the future. And last but not least Number 10: Cropping in post-production. As photographers we are blessed with tools like Lightroom which allow us for example to quickly crop and crop again. Keyboard shortcut; R See different types of grids. Once in crop mode use keyboard shortcut; O to cycle through different grids. To compare different crops side by side, simply create a virtual copy, keyboard shortcut; ⌘+’ Crop. Choose both images and press N. Voilá! That’s it for now in terms of composition basics. I hope you will keep some of these ideas for yourself and bend them to your will. Subscribe to our channel for more and check out the Adorama Learning Center for some tips and tutorials. This was Marcin Lewandowski for AdoramaTV, see you next time.

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