Thursday, June 21, 2012

Composition Class 1: Scenery and Landscape

Last Wednesday, I started my very first photography class at my local technical college, WCTC.  I figured that, since taking snapshots is now my primary hobby, I should learn some things about technique.  Our first assignment was "Scenic Photos", and we had to bring in 5-10 shots to be shown to the class and critiqued.

I'm so glad I signed up for "Photography Composition" because not only are we learning how to frame photos, cut out extraneous objects before we push the shutter, and include interesting objects in our photos to make them more interesting, there is a lot of post-production techniques we're learning as well. 

A year-and-a-half ago, I took my first Photoshop class, and I believe I retained about 25% of what I learned (I have mostly used Photoshop to crop, lighten, and provide contrast, but not much else).  I forgot about all of the other tools you can use to enhance the quality of your photos.  But, since everyone in the class has to see and critique each other's photos every week, we are given tips to use these tools to our advantage.

Take the photo above.  I took this photo in Racine at a beach on Lake Michigan, and presented it as one of my Scenery photos.  I hadn't even noticed that it had a very pronounced bluish tint to the photo.  The teacher suggested I use a yellow filter to balance the colors in the photograph, which I did at 25%.  The result, as you can see at the top of the page, is much better.  The beach itself, as well as the rocks, no longer have a bluish tint to them, and the photograph looks more realistic.

The photograph above and the two below were new photos I took over the weekend west of where I live and in St. Francis by Lake Michigan.  The compositions looked good, but the sun wasn't low enough in the sky, and therefore cast a brightspot at the top of the photos.  The teacher made the suggestion that I go over the highlighted areas with the burn tool.  So I did at about 50% and, although they are still a little too bright, it made a big difference.  I did try at a higher percentage, but then the photos looked like a storm was approaching, and I didn't like them as much.

The last tip I received about my scenery photos was for the one below.  I took this at the side of the road, and in front of the sign, there was a post that I couldn't get a good shot around.  So the teacher suggested I use the clone tool to take part of the grassy area and brush it over the post.  I did so, and I love the result. 

The last picture I presented, shown below, hit all the right notes, so to speak.  Good framing, good use of the rule of 3 and good use of an interesting object in the photo (the smoke house to the right).

I know I'm going to learn a lot of useful tips on how to create more interesting photos through this class.  I'm even planning on taking some other photography courses at WCTC while finishing my Medical Coding diploma.  Next week's assignment is "Texture".  If you would like information on the classes WCTC has to offer, go to

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