A couple of months ago I had a rough time with an online Photography Class. The instructor’s critiques were so withering that I developed performance anxiety and froze up like a turkey facing a firing squad.
So what did I do? Signed up for another class, of course. Not with the same guy, mind you. I only need to be bit once to know I don’t need to walk in that yard again.
My new instructor, Kerry, is touted as “a kind and gentle” teacher. And what a difference praise makes! Confidence has been restored and I’m back to making happy-go-lucky pictures again.
Let’s look at the lessons from (kind, gentle) Kerry’s course on Understanding Composition. You can try this at home – it’s easy to follow the rules.
Lesson One – Rule of Thirds
Place the subject or horizon off-center, not in the middle of the picture.
This next shot is from a giant granary operation. I was guilty of mild trespassing and their junkyard dog came running out to challenge me with a gaping jaw full of fangs. I zipped up the windows and then popped out the sunroof, precariously balancing the camera while the beast circled around my car and peed on all the tires. Atta boy, nice doggy.
Lesson Two – Lines and Textures
Compose a shot with vertical or horizontal lines with lots of texture.
Our old creaky barn was the perfect spot for this lesson. Lots of gnarly texture here.
Lesson Three – Depth
Shoot wide angle with a long depth of field (sharp all the way back).
Ruined my corduroys by kneeling in the mud for this next shot. The toy tractor is vintage from Tim’s childhood and I hauled it around the countryside looking for a location with an interesting backdrop. No snarling dogs on patrol at this farm!
Lesson Four – Contrast
Find bright colors or deep shadows for visual contrast.
Got challenged by the Produce Manager at Kroger for this next shot. He thought I was working for a competitor and started to call security. I chatted him up for a while until he tucked his fangs back in. Good boy.
So now you’ve had some free photography lessons. Grab your camera and come join me on a shoot. I’ll be out there trespassing somewhere.
Oh, and bring dog biscuits.