Digital Photography 1 on 1: Episode 32: Composition: Adorama Photography TV
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Digital Photography 1 on 1: Episode 32: Composition: Adorama Photography TV

October 13, 2019

Announcer: Adorama TV presents Digital Photography
One on One, where we answer your questions. Here’s your host, Mark Wallace. Mark Wallace: Hi, everybody. Welcome to this
week’s episode of Digital Photography One on One. I’m Mark Wallace. Well, this week we have a question from Amanda
in Culver City, California, and Amanda asks… [music begins] Mark: “I’m brand new to photography. Can you
give me some tips for becoming a better photographer?” [music ends] Mark: Well, Amanda, the worst-kept secret
about photography is: the way to get better is to practice, practice, practice. A lot
of people say that; we’ve seen it in a lot of our interviews. In fact, I think every
single person we’ve interviewed on our other show, How’d They Do That? — those professional
photographers all say the same thing: you need to practice to become a better photographer. Now, that sounds all good and fun, but what
do you practice? What do you do? Well, I’m going to give you three things that you can
practice to become a better photographer, and these are all basic elements of composition.
So let’s start with the first one. It’s called Pattern. Then we’ll go to the second one,
and that is called Unusual Point of View, and then we’ll wind up talking about something
called the Rule of Thirds. So let’s start with the first, and that’s
Pattern. Now, Pattern is exactly what it sounds like: it’s repeating things. So, we have a
shot here. This is actually a tree that I took a picture of. It’s a palm tree here in
Phoenix. So, when you get really close you see this repeating pattern. So if you look
closely around you, you’ll see that you can find pattern almost anywhere. The next shot here is actually — this is
a tabletop. When you zoom in on that, you get a nice pattern. And then, even, you can
be walking along some bricks on a road, and you can see that you’ve got some nice pattern.
The more you look, the more you’ll see pattern everywhere. There are a couple of rules to this. You can
break the rules later on, but originally what you want to do is you want to fill the frame
with just the pattern. For example, on this shot here of the tabletop, we don’t want to
show the entire table, even though it’s got a nice pattern to it. We really want to zoom
in and fill the frame with just the tabletop. Same with the bricks here, and you’ll get
some terrific shots. All right, let’s talk about the next thing.
It’s called Unusual Point of View. Now, this doesn’t mean it’s crazy point of view; it
just means looking at something from a point of view that’s not normal. For example, here is a plant. So normally
you see the whole plant, but I took my camera, I got a lot closer to just one of the leaves,
and then shot that plant with the sun coming from behind, and I got this really interesting
shot. Now notice, this also has pattern to it, so sometimes you can mix different elements
of composition — almost always, actually — to get really interesting shots. So here’s another shot that you’re probably
very familiar with. It’s the old trusty Eiffel Tower. This is the way we normally see it.
This is normal point of view, and here’s another look at that from an unusual point of view.
So instead of looking at the entire thing, we’re just looking from the bottom. I’ve twisted
my camera a little bit to give it a little bit more interest. And so, this is the Eiffel
Tower from an unusual point of view. Or it could just be an everyday thing like
a cup of coffee. Well, we normally see the entire table and our coffee and all that kind
of stuff. Well, one day I was out and I had a delicious cup of coffee, and so I got very
close. So that’s also an unusual point of view because normally we don’t see just a
cup of coffee. So getting close is a great way to get Unusual Point of View. Well, the third thing we’re going to talk
about is something called the Rule of Thirds. This is something that you’ll see over and
over and over again in photographs all over the place. In fact, once you know about it,
it’s hard not to see it. So let’s talk about what it is. So if we take a look at a picture like our
cup of coffee here, and we break that up into thirds — I’ll put a little grid over that
— you can see that we have our area of interest — in other words, the coffee — is on the
top left intersection of where those thirds unite. And so that’s what you want to do
— is you want to loosely break up your image into thirds, and then place your subject on
one of those intersections. So let’s take another look at a shot. This
is a shot of a lady I took somewhere in Italy. I can’t remember where. But if we look closely
— again, I’ll put the grid lines up here — you can see that the picture is divided
into thirds. And it doesn’t have to be exactly on the thirds, but it can be roughly. So,
on the right-hand side we have this nice window, and it’s right at the intersection of the
thirds. And on the left-hand side, on the other side, we have the lady walking her dog.
She’s not exactly at the intersection, but that’s OK. You don’t have to put it exactly;
it just has to be near. And so that breaks up the image very, very nicely. Also, if you look closely you can see that
this image also has… pattern! So, we’ve got a lot of pattern in this — in the window,
on the bricks, on the floor, so there’s a lot of that stuff mixed up. So now that you know about those three things,
we’re going to actually go out to the park and we’re going to shoot some stuff. We’re
going to just sort of see what we see. And the nice thing is: you can take these three
things and go just about anywhere and practice looking for them, and once you start seeing
them, your pictures will improve dramatically. So we’re going to go to the park, and take
some shots. [transition sound effect] Mark: Well, here I am at a park. This is just
a city park here in Tempe, Arizona, and the nice thing about this is you can do this just
about anywhere with just about any camera. So I’m using a Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoot
camera. You can do this with an iPhone, you can do it with an SLR, you can do it with
a $20,000 camera — it doesn’t matter. The point is to practice your composition, so
remember, we’re looking for Unusual Point of View, patterns, and we want to apply the
Rule of Thirds. So the first thing I want to do is, we’ve
got these big fronds here, and so I want to take a shot. We’ve got this really strong
sun, and it looks great when it’s shining through this. So I’m going to first take a
picture of this guy right here. So I’ll get really close here, focus my shot, and… [shutter sound effect] Mark: …whammo, I’ve got that. I really like
that. Now, the next thing I’m going to do is, right down here, we’ve got some nice pattern,
so I’m going to make sure I get close enough here to fill the frame. [shutter sound effect] Mark: All right, I’ve got it. Now we’re going
to go look at some other things around the park. It’s going to be really fun, so let’s
get going. [scene change] Mark: Now, the point is, with photography,
you don’t want to miss the little things. So, right down here in the parking lot is
a piece of trash, which most people would overlook, but this has some great texture.
It’s got some great pattern, so I’m going to fill the frame, look at this from an unusual
point of view. Once my camera focuses… [shutter sound effect] Mark: …I’ll take the shot, and take a look
at this piece of trash, which I’ve turned into a piece of art! [scene change] Mark: All right, well, I’ve been looking around
and I found this little grill right here, so I’m actually going to step out onto it.
Now, the nice thing about this — it’s got really strong pattern, and pattern, a lot
of times — especially stuff like this that doesn’t have a lot of color — will actually
look a lot better in black and white. So, on my Lumix here, it has a black and white
mode, so I’m going to set my camera to black and white mode, and then take some shots of
this. It also has a little grid on the back of my camera, so I can use that to line this
up on my Rule of Thirds. There we go. I really like that. And just for an alternative I’ll
put one at a little crooked angle. And we’re going to continue our quest for
more Pattern, Unusual Point of View, and apply the Rule of Thirds. So, let’s go! [footsteps] Mark: Woohoo. [scene change] Mark: Well, we have just an ordinary tree
here, and we’re going to try to capture that by using some Unusual Point of View. I like
the texture of this tree, so I can get really close with my camera here, and once that focuses
I’ve got some really interesting stuff. [shutter sound effect] Mark: And then I also have this sort of weird
shape, so what I’m going to do is I’m going to twist and turn my camera and try to see
the… [shutter sound effect] Mark: …best way to capture that. And because
we have this unusual point of view, we have a lot of options, and we have some shots that
really look great. [scene change] Mark: Well, I was looking around, and I saw
this outhouse at the park here, and what do you know? Lots of pattern on this wall. So
once again, I’ve got my Lumix here. I’m going to use my grid on the back of the camera to
help line things up. I’ve got it set to black and white mode. [shutter sound effect] Mark: Oh, I love that. All right, I’m going
to keep going. [scene change] Mark: I want to capture this lake here, and
I do that using the Rule of Thirds. So, I’ve turned on that little grid on my camera that
shows me where the Rule of Thirds lies — it’s just this little grid here — and I’m
going to take my camera and get it as low to the water as I can, and then I’m going
to place the water right at the lower third there. [shutter sound effect] Mark: Take a shot. Then I’m going to do it
again with the water line at the upper third. [shutter sound effect] Mark: And we got that shot. Now, if it’s not
perfect, don’t worry. You can always fix it in post-production using Photoshop Elements
or Picasa or something like that to make sure everything’s level and right at the thirds.
And it doesn’t have to be exactly on the thirds; you just sort of want to break your picture
up into three segments. So that’s the shot I just got of the lake. [scene change] Mark: Well, here’s another everyday, ordinary
object. It’s just a picnic table, but the top of this has some great pattern. So I’ll
just take my camera, focus it, line it up on the top here… [shutter sound effect] Mark: …take the shot, and once again, we
have a winner! [scene change] Mark: Well, Amanda, one of the points of practice
is to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. So behind me I have this tree that I
think will work great for applying the Rule of Thirds. So I’m going to try to take this
shot, so I’m lining it up with my camera here. [shutter sound effect] Mark: I’ll take the shot. Well, when I look
at it, it actually — it’s not a very good picture, because the tree is very dark, the
background is very bright. It just doesn’t look very good, and that’s OK. That’s what
practice is all about — figuring out what works and what doesn’t work. Now, I’ve learned something from this, and
that is: if I do want to take this shot, I need to come to the park at a different time
of the day when the sun is on the other side of the tree, so everything’s illuminated correctly. Well, that shot didn’t work out for us, but
I had a lot of shots that did work out, so here’s some shots that I took at the park
today. [musical interlude] Mark: Well, thanks for the question, Amanda.
We had lots of fun out there at the park. Remember, you need to practice, practice,
practice to become a better photographer, and for more tips and things to try out, just
visit the Adorama Learning Center. There are all kinds of articles and videos of different
things that you can try with your new digital camera. Well, thanks for joining us this week. Remember,
you can subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss a single episode, so please
do that, and I’ll see you again next week. [outro music begins] Announcer: This episode is brought to you
by Adorama TV. Visit the Adorama Learning Center, where you’ll find photography tips
and techniques, links to the gear used in this episode, and related videos. For all
the latest photography, video and computer gear, visit And the next time
you’re in New York City, visit our store, located on 18th Street between 5th and 6th

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Mark…GREAT Job as usual. I have learned so much since I have begun watching your videos. Keep it up your a real inspiration to a beginning DSLR users like me.

  2. Hey Mark, I wish to thank Adorama and you. I love watching your video's. I have been shooting for a while and have knowledge of the items you spoke of in this video but to see you go into the park and capture some great shots was outstanding. I really loved the examples you provided. Great work and thank you!!!

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