Light & Composition Photowalk – Mike Browne
Articles Blog

Light & Composition Photowalk – Mike Browne

October 11, 2019


if you’ve ever been on my Lanzarote
workshop you might just recognise this place we do an exercise a game which I
call photo twister where everybody has to stand on the steps and see how many
shots they can find without leaving them now I’m not going to do that in case you
come on the workshop I don’t want to give the game away but as you can see
it’s quite a nice shot in itself so what I want to talk to you about is when you
go through that you go somewhere really really pretty and you think okay and
when I get some shots around the town there very often some details can work
best but also think about how you put a shot together think about the elements
for example up here we’ve got a palm tree and it’s kind of holding this side
of the shot together and then over here we’ve got this lamppost and the
buildings beyond and then the steps down in the foreground which sort of lead you
into the picture don’t just randomly take a picture of the square that looks
something like this because it’s not great is it you’ve got
to walk around a bit you’ve got to think like a photographer you got to think
where to stand where to stand is so important in photography so there we go
is a little shot all in itself how would I execute it well let’s have a little go
shall we so I’d obviously be about where we are
now because this is the right place let’s see what we’ve got now the light
is absolutely awful because the Sun has gone in behind the clouds I’m hoping
we’re gonna get a little bit of light come up in a moment because there’s a
blue hole coming here it comes I think you can see the light is just beginning
to lift so I want a bit of depth of field f11 should be enough if I focus on
the steps that should be the right place very careful with the exposure because
those clouds in the sky are bright let’s just make sure I don’t burn them out
focus on the steps we’ve got our composition here we go at f11 now
unfortunately when I was talking to you the light went down so we kind of lost
that light so what I’m going to do is just wait for a moment and come back
when we’ve got some Sun on the scene and you can see the difference a bit of
light makes so here we go the light has just started
to sneak out from behind a cloud and as if by magic the place is suddenly
looking more interesting so we know what we’re gonna do we know a composition
we’re all ready to go let’s be quick and do it before this gorgeous little bit of
light decides to disappear again we’ve got some great clouds going on in the
distance we’ve got some nice sort of that’s really quite a pretty picture of
the square overall but don’t forget some details can often tell the story better
than the big overall picture so let’s go for a little walk around town see if we
can find three or four pictures that kind of tell the story we’re into we’re
into GZ the ancient capital of lanza rote
let’s see what it looks like sorry if I’m a bit dark viewers there’s a lot of
light going on at the street behind me but look what a pretty little street
this is now it’s very easy when you’re walking around to just sort of walk down
the street come around the corner and go oh isn’t that pretty and you just sort
of take a picture and yeah it’s okay but it’s not that exciting really is it
think about using a bit of foreground what about this doorway we’ve got just
here why don’t we have it go and see if we can use that to add a bit more depth
to it so the picture sort of zigzags and leads you up the street so let’s just
come in a bit closer now I don’t want let’s get some video going for you here
we go now I don’t want this sign on the wall
but I do want that doorway and it kind of looks a lot more interesting than the
shot I just showed you it’s not bad with just a little bit of wall there but
let’s just come back and eaze that doorway into the shot look you see how
it sort of adds some depth to it so let’s take it quickly before the light
goes if I can’t if I can stop my video from rolling done
at last sorry about that right now in an ideal world we do it without anyone
walking down the street but there we go we’d wait for them to go in fact we’re
going to have to wait for them to go because the lights just gone so how will
we put the shot together we want a fair bit of depth of field now I notice that
if I focus on the corner of the street just in there that kind of works really
really well f11 it’s giving me enough depth of field
with a 16 millimeter lens so what we’re gonna do is see if we can hang on for a
moment maybe the people leave maybe the light will come through in which case it
makes it a lot more interesting while we’re waiting I don’t know if you can
see looking the monitor bond about there there’s a castle on top of the hill so
it’s quite cool really if we had a shaft of light directly on it that would make
a world of difference I think we’re gonna get one
I’ve now of course got the abandoned Street but I haven’t got the light like
is the most important thing if I take that shot again now without the light I
think you’ll see it looks kind of it looks a little bit dead it’s okay but
it’s not great here comes the Sun here comes some light and we’ve got it clear
so let’s see if we can take that shot it’s not bad that is a world better than
the one we just took when there was no light so we’ve got the abandoned street
luck does play a part and so does patience you have to wait and see what
you can get here’s another one look did you notice same street we’ve
got these three doors going on that’s right Ola no gracias
we’ve got these three doors going on in the street now I think they could look
really really nice if they properly composed and put together and it also
tells a little story about what this place is all about about what’s going on
here so once again we gotta wait for light
because we want shadows you see where the cross is right now there isn’t a
shadow this area in here is really really flat a shadow of that cross is
going to lift it it’s going to put little dark edges around the doorways
and make a world of difference so let’s have a look and frame up our shot whilst
we wait get some video on the job here we go so there’s our doorways now let’s
have a little experiment let’s play with focal lengths you see that’s looking
quite nice like that there’s a bit of a shadow starting to come up as well we
could possibly just come in on just this little area here and include maybe some
sky in fact I kind of like that it makes it a bit more simple the wide shot isn’t
so great we might be in a do it with all three doors I’m not sure let’s see what
we can do if I come over here to the right a bit and zoom in yeah we can and
we can include some sky but I think sure is the one that will work the best so
kill the video we got a little bit of light coming in and let’s just zoom that
puppy in let’s see of course as soon as I spoke the light disappeared you’ve got
to keep watching all the time you have to wait here it comes look this will
last just a breath here’s the shot on doing one with the focal length wider
with the light and I’m going to do another one without but I’m just
including the edge of the street I kind of like that corner I kind of like that
one I think it’s pretty cool let’s go see if we can find another shot as I came around the corner to walk off
up this street the one we’ve just photographed I noticed something else
look at this doorway look this little doorway here is kind of looking lovely
with its bit of Ivy and all the ring cleanness and over here on the wall
we’ve got some shadows from a palm tree shadows can be added into pictures too
something nice and simple can really work let’s just do it let’s take it
let’s just get ourselves lined up make sure the horizons nice and level focus
on it it’s a really really simple picture but I think it’s pretty
effective and it’s all caused by it’s all caused by what the exposures down
this palm tree is throwing a shadow down here that’s all it is that’s all you
need till the video that’s all it was that made all the difference let’s go
find another here is a little lesson in how less really can be more it’s very
tempting when you come around the corner to maybe take a shot something like this
we see the cross we see the church town we just sort of take a picture it’s not
really very exciting is it’s a bit of a load of all nothing but what about the
cross throwing I think I need to be this side the cross down here down here and
that window just next to it how about that sorry viewers I can’t actually see
my little monitor next to the camera it’s the Suns in my eyes how about if we
just confined the shot to that let’s have a little look through my video
camera and see and I’m hoping the battery doesn’t die sits on the edge
I’ve got a red flashing thing make sure the Sun stays out it should do right so
let’s have a look at our shot let’s get the video going right so that was our
original shop how about if we just zoom in a bit and just concentrate on that
area don’t you think that the simplicity the shadows and the light just makes a
world of difference so let’s just shoot it let’s just get in there and shoot it
I’m shooting at don’t need a lot of it at the field do
you because we haven’t got any depth to the shot halfway so let’s just get that
all nicely lined up and take that shot there it’s very simple it’s very easy
but it makes a great little photo when you go out and visit somewhere onwards
and upwards yeah I ditched the coat now the sun’s getting higher and it’s
getting warmer believe me earlier on it was really
quite chilly there was a bit of breeze blowing so one last little thing I just
noticed as I was wandering back to my car is along here look at these pretty
little things planted in these pots we got the lovely white edges the plant the
black volcanic stuff and it frames it up beautifully so how would we go back
taking a picture of it well here’s a couple of ways not to do it I mean if we
let me just get a bit of video on the scene here we go focus that I mean
everything to do would be to just walk on the street see there and go click
where it’s all right or maybe do something like that and try and get the
walls in as well but you know what I think it’s too complicated I think it’s
too messy so let’s have it go at something different how about we just
hop up on the wall and use these white lines to frame the shot now you don’t
want your shoes in there like I have you don’t a scuff the wall up but look as we
zoom in nope you see it’s starting to get a lot more interesting so kill our
video and just take the picture it’s so so simple to get something this easy I
just want to check my exposure careful because we’ve got black and white but I
love the red and the green going on in between do I need much depth of field
not really because when I’m not going off into the distance am i but I’ve got
to be careful because I want enough depth of field that I don’t just get the
top of the plant and the background soft I want it all sharp so I’m going to go
in with about f11 f10 somewhere around there 200 ISO is plenty just make sure
it’s nice and straight and take the picture now be careful with
things like this when you got straight lines because if you get it wrong key
look it just looks rubbish doesn’t it or if you kind of you’re a bit a bit not
careful with it it all starts to look nasty but you could if you wanted to
include the pattern of the pavement but again be very careful to get those lines
straight don’t get it wonky so something like that could
potentially work so there we go we’ve had a little wander round we’ve taken a
few pictures now I can hear some people sort of saying yeah well that’s all very
well I don’t live in two geezy I don’t live in a pretty little Spanish village
no neither do I but from time to time we may go on holiday we may go somewhere we
may explore a new place in which case it’s about looking at the place not just
taking a general overview not just sort of going oh look over there is the
church tower I’m going to take a picture of it because frankly that’s not a great
shot is it so we just zoom in and still frankly it’s not a particularly
interesting shot but maybe what we did earlier on back in the village square is
a little more little more pleasing to the eye you can practice this stuff
anyway you can practice it in your hometown now I know it’s hard to
practice these sorts things in your hometown because you get jaded to it I
do I live in a beautiful part of the UK but I often sort of I’m thinking who’s
in the photograph here because I see it every day but when you go somewhere else
start to look photography’s about looking photography’s about being
inspired and about seeing the world in a different way how often do we see a
plant like that just from straight down above but it makes a pleasing picture it
makes a bit of a more eye-catching picture so guys I hope that was a some
value to you right you enjoyed watching if you did please subscribe to the
channel clicking a cuddler like share the video with other photographers that
you might know if you have any comments we’d love to hear them below if you
really want to stay in touch with what’s going on in the world please subscribe
to my newsletter I only send it out once every couple of weeks you can do that on
my website at photography courses there’s forward slash videos will always
tell you when there’s a new one coming up meanwhile have a great time take care
get out with your camera go and practice looking at things differently practice a
bit of symmetry practice a bit of detail see how it goes
take care see you later

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Recently I had my first photoshoot with a model who wasn't a relative or friend and I dont think I could have done as well as I did without your videos.

  2. Mike, thanks. I love your style of teaching! These "watch Mike compose a picture" videos are excellent very helpful. As I've said before, I love how you show a video of what you're seeing and then the resulting image! Brilliant!

  3. Hey Mike, it's always a learning and a great pleasure watching your videos as they are explained with so much of simplicity. I am in Vietnam for few years now and would look forward for your next workshop plan here. Thanks and would look forward for your next video.

  4. Hello.
    I am a huge fan of the videos you published.
    Those videos helped me a lot to broad my ideas.
    Coming to the point straight , I have some questions.

    I am using the Nikon D7100 a DX camera with 18-140mm nikkor lens. I have 18-55mm lens. I haven't got any prime lens or other.

    I just need to ask you that which lens should i go for a wide angle shot and for better portrait ?

    50mm f/1.8G is my favourite one though I haven't got that.

    Kindly help me choosing a correct lens.

    Thank you.

  5. your vdos inspired me to look at urbanscapes differently. you wont know what it means to me but i can only say its a huge help. thanks for explaining the way you see, along with settings which gives idea of approx settings to start off with while shooting

  6. Mike, as always I find your videos the most helpful of all the YouTubers I follow. You walk us through your thought process all while showing it on screen giving us examples of do's and don'ts. I will always look forward to new videos. Thank you for taking the time to make these for us.

  7. Mike…I always appreciate your style of teaching… if it wasn't for you, then I would not be the landscape photographer I am today…. mind you, I learn all the time…a student of the art but fundamentally I have you to thank.

  8. Thanks Mike. City Paris of all places was beginning to become more dull than it is. Have to get off my ass and walk around. Cheers

  9. Once again Mike a Brilliant video and at the end i could not agree more with you once again when you said trying to find a shot in your home town that is 100% the truth im guilty of that myself . And about looking for the shot i use to struggle with at the fire away and think nothing of if but now after 6 years of photography if i can not see that shot will work i dont press the button my trouble is now i look back on my earlier images with more experianced eyes and think G i shot some rubbish when starting out lol but as you have said many times it is all about larning for some it will be quicker and some lower but it will happen if you put the time and effort in . Kind regards : Matt P.S do you ever have plans to visit Australia especialy Hobart area as it would be great to meet you even if it just for a coffee .

  10. Hi Mike, informative and positive as always. Could I ask what what metering mode you used as you seemed to be spot metering at times or was that you trying to turn the video off? Cheers, Paul

  11. Absolutely love, love, love your approach to photography! You really make it seem less daunting and that with a bit of thinking, that perfect shot isn't just a matter of a happy accident. Thanks!

    And I have to add, the minimalistic approach to composition is so right up my alley, hopefully we'll be seeing more videos like this in the future.

  12. My other half and I live in Lanzarote and love it here! He's always out with his camera, how does he go about joining you on your groups? Or would you ever do one to one over here? He says great video as always 🙂

  13. You should have your own PBS travel and photography show. You are really good at explaining something difficult and make it simple at the same time giving an amateur like myself confidence to go out and try some of those techniques you talk about. I always found photography difficult to understand until I saw your videos.

  14. This is probably one of the best tutorials on composition I've ever come across on YouTube. I love that you show your thought process behind the shot and how you get from the average boring shot to the interesting and appealing ones. I might have to ask my husband to watch this too, so he will understand why it takes me so long to take a photograph. He thinks it's just about pushing the button on top of the camera. "Please, can you get on with it?" LOL. Nah, I'm not being quite fair to him, but you get my meaning. 😜 Absolutely love your tutorials. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Great video Mike this is exactly what this channel is about for me. That first shot was great adding the door in the foreground many people wouldn't even think about doing that including myself without practice. Perspective and light make all the difference. I also love how you are doing this in midday and not golden hour or blue hour. Most people don't always have a choice what time they can shoot when they are in a tourist location. This video shows what people can do with some thought!

  16. Excellent! One of my self set objectives in photography is to discover interest in my everyday surroundings. If I can then communicate it to others, so much the better. You have gone to a not particularly interesting location (Subjective, but isn't everything?) picked out some details and shown them them to be worth a second glance simply by paying attention to composition. Easy lesson to watch. Hard act to follow! Thanks!

  17. Love it Mike. Love this kind of videos where you are sharing your whole thought process about a particular shot. I prefer this style of teaching as it is far more engaging and feels more real. This sort of videos let me have a peek inside your head, to experience your vision and your thought around a 'good shot'. That is so invaluable. Helps me grow my ability to "see a shot" if you will. I know it takes a lot of time and effort to produce these kind of contents and I want to say a big "Thank You". You are gold mate. Cheers.

  18. Excellent help as always Mike, thank you.
    I recently found out we have a mutual friend too – Dave Kai-Piper (not forgetting Stephie of course 😁) I mentioned to Dave that you'd had a big influence on my work, he then informed me about the videos you guys have done together… small world of 'biker' photographers eh?

  19. A brilliantly talented educator ……as others have said , i learn more from Mike than anybody else . So if my lovely other half is reading this , Mikes course would make a great Xmas pressie !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Thank you for another great Video Tutorial Mike. I like the way you explain the various shots. A question if I may. I notice that whilst you were waiting for the light to improve, you also waited for people to move out of the picture. It that a personal trait. I ask because I try to not have people in my pictures, unless it is for a specific purpose.

  21. Hello, Mike!! Great video as always! But I really like this photo walk idea behind it 🙂 So great 🙂 I would like to see more video like this from you. Thanks for all that I've learned with you 🙂

  22. No fancy video production. No catchy music in the background. Lots of focus on teaching about what matters – photographic techniques, composition and careful thinking to make a great photo!!! Refreshing!!

  23. Your videos are absolutely fantastic. they have, to me, elements of adventure and a documentary type feel which I absolutely love. I just can't get enough of your videos where you're outside explaining things. No other YouTuber like you ANYWHERE. Keep up your great work and I enjoy your videos so much.

  24. Another useful video, Mike. Too often we get caught up in taking snapshots instead of photographs. I wish I had your eye for composition.

  25. Love your videos. You rekindled my love for photography. Did you switch to the 16-55 f2.8 Fuji lens? I’m also looking to lighten my load since I’m going for a trip to Rome in December. I love shooting with my 15-85mm canon since I can explore a variety of compositions. Over the years I find that at least a third of my photos are shot at the wide and tele end! What would you recommend for the bag if I switch to Fuji? There are great deals in the Fuji xt1 but the lenses don’t cover a similar focal range in 1 lens. I have never found it easy to switch lenses around when traveling on vacation with my family and kids. Help!

  26. Your videos are the best of anyone out there. i especially like it when you show a "bad" shot of a scene then show how to turn it into a "great" shot just by looking at it differently. Love hearing your thought process. Keep it up!! thanks

  27. Dang, I saw the shadow disappear behind the cross as he spoke. The live view through the , ahh, live view really puts one right in the action. One of the best, to the point, tutorials I've seen, I like real working scenarios and this was one of them.

  28. This was a very timely discovery. I am travelling to Seville tomorrow and I will be “walking around” a lot superb video as usual. I have spent a lot of time shooting in Lancastrian light (50 shades of grey, ……. no, Grey, the colour!) and now, after watching this, I will be paying more attention to shadows, especially as I will be shooting in decent light. You are, by far, the teacher I recommend the most.

  29. Hi Mike, you make the mundane shots into interesting shots… I love all of your videos, keep up the good work – Thanks

  30. I used a Tamron 16-300 mm lens Nikon D 5100 . This is a great video. My photo mentor tells me like you to see Vertical or horizontal lines. I like how you talked about the windows and the cross and palm tree casting another part of it leaves against the building. I think also getting down really low gives another perspective on it too. Thanks a lot Mike.

  31. Mike, too many times I have had this problem where the face of the person is dark while the scenery behind is good. In the first 2 minutes of the video your face looks dark but the scenery behind is good. Is there a way by which I can take a photo where the face is bright and looks good along with the scenery behind when the sun is also behind you. Whenever I go out with my friends for a trip I have had this issue. If I take about 200 photos I end up deleting about 60 photos because of this issue. Can you make a video on this and explain…I use a super-zoom camera so will a lens hood help ? Let me know….how to take a good photo with the face bright when the sun is behind you along with the scenery….!

  32. This channel's a classic example of a competent and enthusiastic individual sharing their passion in an engaging way, which is Youtube at it's best, in my opinion.

  33. This is off-topic but I am so self-conscious when I vlog in public, to the point where I try to avoid other people as much as possible. I'm amazed at how Mike is able to totally ignore everyone around him, especially when he is recording himself alone using a tripod. He is obviously unconcerned what they may be thinking about a guy talking to a camera and doesn't let them affect him in any way, which I find quite inspiring.

  34. Hey Mike you're so courageous to shoot your movie like that. If you would make a movie in that way here in Amsterdam where i live than you would need a spare camera for every photo you shoot hahaha. I enjoy watching your vids very much, so thanks for uploading them.
    Greetz from the Netherlands

  35. Mike Browne I have only recently discovered you on You Tube. As many have said I enjoy your teaching style because you explain your thought processes. At the end of the video where you are capturing the image of the flower the video camera was looking back toward those low rock walls. I am curious why you did not think that could be an interesting picture.

  36. Hey Mike just want you to know that I have learned loads from your videos. Your voice is my mind every time I go photographing. I've been meaning to tell you this for quite some time (8 yrs) Your like the Obi-Wan Kenobi of photography.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *