tracey medcalfe photography | You're Smarter Than Your Camera - Composition - Finer Details

You're Smarter Than Your Camera - Composition - Finer Details

August 14, 2015  •  Leave a Comment
You're Smarter Than Your Camera - Composition - Finer Details
Good morning and welcome to the second blog on composition.  We are lucky enough to have Xfinity for our internet service provider and the adverts would have you believe that it's the fastest and most reliable of all options....lets just say I'd hate to see the rest of them!  Anyway, that's enough of my rant! As I write this on my iPad from Starbucks, you will have to forgive me if there are few shortcomings....for e.g. Not enough images! Hopefully you will find that it's still full of great tips and useful advice to improve your photography.  Thanks for reading and enjoy this weeks blog.

So last week we looked at a few basic composition techniques that are quick to learn and use in your photography and can make a big difference to a good image.  This week I wanted to introduce a few new composition terms and continue with how you controlling your camera can help you create better images.

Enjoy and thanks for reading,
Some New Terms

Tone - 'The artist must feel free to select his rendering of tonality as he is to express any other aspect of the subject' ~ Ansel Adams

Tone refers to the full range of greys in an image.  It includes all the shades from solid black to paper white and if an image is said to have the full range of tones, then it also has normal contrast.  A low contrast image will consist of mostly light greys and dark greys.  High contrast images can be bold and help subjects in the image stand out.

The histogram view of an image in your camera can help you understand the tonal range of your image.  We touched on histograms earlier in the year to help define if an image was over or underexposed.  For tonal information you will need to look at the luminance histogram.  It is probably referred to as the 'brightness' histogram in your camera manual and the graph represents the entire tonal range your camera can capture.  The image below shows and example of a histogram detailing the tonal representations of the image.
The overall tone of a photograph is described as 'key', from the key light, which is the main light setting the mood of an image.  High-key refers to an image that is predominantly composed of the lighter tones and a low-key image is naturally composed of the darker tones.  Again the histogram can help when trying to achieve these compositions.  For high key it is important to ensure that the image isn't over exposed.  It is likely to contain the full range of tones, but with a dominance of lighter ones.  The image below is an example of a high key portrait of the deer.  There is very little that is truly black, just his eyes and part of his nose, everything else has a lighter tone to it.
Grain and Noise
Your digital camera produces noise when taking long exposures in low light.  In some photography such as black and white, this can be considered attractive.  It can increase the mood of the image or give it a dated appearance.
Sight and touch are very closely related senses developed in our infancy and it is because of this, that images that visually offer texture can generate a strong emotional response either through association or memory.  Exaggerating texture when wanted and reducing it when not wanted can be achieved through photographer lighting techniques.  Waiting until the sun is low will reveal lots of texture in landscapes.  I often think that the drive up from San Jose to Pleasanton just before the sun dips over the hills creates this amazing texture in the grassy hills....they almost look like velvety carpet.....haven't managed to slow down enough to capture it on camera yet though!!  The image below captured during early evening displays the texture on the beach, created by the light as sand stripes.
Texture doesn't necessarily mean rough wood or smooth granite etc.  Diffused main lighting and a shallow depth of field can soften an image and smooth the skin textures to result in a clean, warm image like the one below of the little boy holding his soccer ball.
Your Challenge
Creating a good image goes way beyond mastering your camera settings, and a skilled photographer has an intimate knowledge of their camera and tools coupled with good understanding of composition.  There are lots of books and blogs attempting to teach you composition and it is a great place to start, however, I think there is nothing that can replace the actual process of taking images yourself and critiquing them from a composition viewpoint.  So this week, when you are shooting your images, try to go through a selection of the ones you like and decide what makes them good from a composition standpoint and how they could be improved.
Next Time
So....enjoy and I look forward to seeing you next week in the final instalment of composition where we will look at organising space as well as aspect ratio and frame size.  We will also touch on patterns and reflections....thanks for reading and as always, enjoy your photography.
As always, I would love to hear any comments or questions you have.
Have fun,

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Complete Guide to Digitial Photography by Rick Sammon
Basics Photography Composition by David Prakel
Nikon D7000~From Snapshots to Great Shots by John Batdorff
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