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Composition | Light

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  • Composition | Light

    As I went on to visit Hulu Langat for a family pick-nick I was not too interested in dipping the water so I decided to bring along my camera gear in the hope of picking up some good shots.

    On arrival the weather was dreadful; grey skies hence a pretty dull outlook. As the hours progressed I played a bit with the water, trying to find the ideal settings for a creamy effect without the wash-out effects that normally tend to appear.

    I made my life difficult from the start as already during the drive towards the location I came to the conclusion that I left some valuable filters at home, hence I was without polarized (CPL) and ND 10 stop filter. I was not really bothered too much about the latter one as the dense tree areas normally block so much of the light that it is not really a concern if you keep the ISO settings low, typically 100.

    I was forced to bag my camera as the rain came out and in fact I was pretty happy about that as the rain can literally save the day. It sounds a bit odd but as a photographer in Malaysia you should really welcome the rain as there is a good change that it will clear up instantly. It was no different this time and my photographic senses came alive.

    I already noticed some good potential compositions but photography needs the element of light as well. On occasions where time is limited I am willing to compromise but time was still on my hand and I started to unpack my tripod.

    For my first shot I took a high position, standing on a bridge giving me a nice view down on the river overlooking the water activities. Overall I tend to shoot a bit wider than my final shot, meaning that I factor in some cropping up front. I.e. it is better to go smaller in post processing than coming to the conclusion there is something elementary missing!

    I try to keep my photography simple in choosing straight forward compositions but while doing so I am carefully lining up the elements. I prefer working ‘from left to right’ as this is how the human eye tends to look at images. At the same time I look out for certain elements, just look at how the path leads up on the right hand side of the corner.

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    The composition for the second shot appeared in front of my eyes as I was walking by. I was lucky as the couple felt a bit uncomfortable, being on the water in the left, and they moved back to their towel place on the right hand side. The girl actually sat down on a newspaper that I moved out of the frame as I rather remove elements while I can than doing so in post processing. The couple decided to take their late lunch and the picture was complete! I had the elements nicely in position and all I had to do is eliminate the boring foreground and take a test shot to check my composition, followed by the final shot.

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    The next shot was no further away. The light literally came my way and created a nice contrast between the different elements in front of me. Again I lined up a wider shot but a bit tricky this time as I did not want to end up with a final shot that had a strange image ratio but it turned out to be no issue in the end. Similar like in#2 I had to take out some food trays I spotted in my test shot while zooming in on the area and once moved out it was a matter of finally lining up the shot and take it while the light was still in my favour.

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    The final shot was in fact my first shot after the rain came out but as I was getting back to ‘base camp’ the light had so drastically improved that it would have been unwise to settle for the previous attempt. This time the human element was almost eliminated contrary to the first attempt so I went for it right away.

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    All and all, try to focus on the following:

    • Photography is about composition and light. Although not always in your favour, try to make the best out of it if circumstances are not ideal.

    • If you have the time, be patient and wait. If in the end the compromise is too big, walk away from it unless you are in a location where you won’t be at in years to come. (I rather come home with no shot than a louzy shot. Frustrating, but that is the way it is sometimes)

    • When shooting water in compositions like these, you wish to increase the exposure time. Ideally you bring the shutter speed down by selecting a low ISO. If this is not working, a ND filter can help you further reducing the light.

    • Be careful selecting the aperture. I normally try to settle between 11 and 16 as in this area the lens is still very sharp. Choosing a smaller aperture is not always desirable in loosing sharpness and potential lens diffraction issues. While bringing the shutter speed down the aperture goes up but if you can’t it get down far enough it is better to use the ND filter instead of going to small on the aperture.

    • Try to eliminate elements that can be moved, this will save time in post processing.

    • While doing so, always respect mother nature.

    • Consider upfront the equipment you believe you might be in need of for the type of shooting you expect to do. I was lucky with my filters this time but it is a lesson learned. For this outing I brought one full frame camera body, two lenses being 16-35 and 28-70, a tripod and some small towels to protect the equipment where needed. (I did so as once I started shooting after the rain, still a lot of water came down dripping from the trees) ‘Strange items’ that I bring along most of the times, batteries if needed, a release cable, flashlight, spirit level and a few items more.

    • Think before you shoot. Look carefully at the elements being present and try to orchestra them into your final frame.

    • Try to envision how your shot will look alike once post processed, therefore ideally shoot in RAW format. For these shots all were cropped to the ideal composition somehow. I adjusted the white balance and exposure where needed before opening the file in Photoshop. I have a simple and yet consistent way of processing; I add a new layer to make corrections on the shadows, highlights and mid tones, perform a (colour) contrast correction and add a curve. Finally I sharpen the image followed by the fade unsharp (luminosity) command to prevent any colour issues.

    • Processing wise, keep it clean. I wish to end with how I started; a photograph is all about composition and light. If the image lacks the basic elements you will not be able to save it using excessive processing (such as HDR), or converting the image to black and white.

    Shooting info has been remained intact in the files. Similar as I end in many of my comments in the newbie section; keep shooting!
    Last edited by pointblank; 07-11-2010, 11:57 AM.
    Portfolio / Blog / Photography Course | Instagram | Twitter

  • #2
    Re: Composition | Light

    Am I the only one who can't see the photos?
    http://www.raais.com/

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    • #3
      Re: Composition | Light

      Neither can I. I'll let Jan know so he can attach the images again.

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      • #4
        Re: Composition | Light

        ops. teh photos are not there. ;p
        Life's not always about winning.

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        • #5
          Re: Composition | Light

          can't view the attachment

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          • #6
            Re: Composition | Light

            me too...

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            • #7
              Re: Composition | Light

              Only the first pic is visible.

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              • #8
                Re: Composition | Light

                Sorry for the inconvenience. I noticed a glitch in the upload of the images and they now should appear.
                Portfolio / Blog / Photography Course | Instagram | Twitter

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                • #9
                  Re: Composition | Light

                  Originally posted by Chihuahua View Post
                  Only the first pic is visible.
                  Because as you were watching this thread I was working on the uploads
                  Portfolio / Blog / Photography Course | Instagram | Twitter

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                  • #10
                    Re: Composition | Light

                    good reminder at least to me...thank you
                    http://rusdi3713.blogspot.com/

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                    • #11
                      Re: Composition | Light

                      very informative! thank you very much for sharing your thoughts behind each shot!

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                      • #12
                        Re: Composition | Light

                        thanks sir.. very informative,..
                        flickr.com/fahmi969&flickr.com/fahmifotopsikologi

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                        • #13
                          Re: Composition | Light

                          thank you. much learned here.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Composition | Light

                            Your most welcome, do stay tuned as I will organize regular outings to demonstrate this thinking in the field allowing you to practise this on the spot!
                            Portfolio / Blog / Photography Course | Instagram | Twitter

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                            • #15
                              Re: Composition | Light

                              Originally posted by pointblank View Post
                              Your most welcome, do stay tuned as I will organize regular outings to demonstrate this thinking in the field allowing you to practise this on the spot!
                              very informative and learned alot from this article. thanks..and i personally would love to join your next outing if time really permits. thanks again Pointblank

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