Condition snobs are all around us. You know the types…"I’m just going to wait in the car while you snag some shots” with their noses in the air and a voracious, cynical chuckle insinuating YOU are wasting YOUR precious time and energy chasing a photographic ghost. Whilst they are double tapping posts on the "Gram" and slowly building their empire of followers you decide to go off and prove there's at least a shot or two to be had. It's about the experience, right? It's also about pushing yourself beyond boundaries. Whenever I find myself in a creative funk out in the field, I have this internal voice that says "Kenny, there is a shot out there, you just haven't found it yet". Think about different focal lengths or underexposing or overexposing the scene during high dynamic light situations. Don’t be like Karen, explore and snag those compositions!
A GOOD photographer can compose a shot in the RIGHT LIGHT. A GREAT photographer can find and compose a beautiful shot in ANY LIGHT. There is always an interesting perspective to be snapped. You are an artist, not a spray and pray lottery award winning photographer. Take the opportunity in different light to challenge yourself. Remember, at the end of the day composition is king!STRONG COMPOSITION & GREAT LIGHT
RAW UNEDITED PHOTO (W/ A FILTHY CAMERA SENSOR) by Kenneth LeRose
WEAK COMPOSITION & GREAT LIGHT
RAW UNEDITED PHOTO by @KENNETH LEROSE
STRONG COMPOSITION & GREAT LIGHT
RAW UNEDITED PHOTO by Kenneth LeRose
STRONG COMPOSITION & GREAT LIGHT
EDITED PHOTO by Kenneth LeRose
But why is composition king? Let’s talk about what you can do with flat images. When I say “flat”, I mean photographs where the light is very even and doesn't showcase a lot of high contrast drama. Here is an example…LEFT- UNEDITED FLAT IMAGE. RIGHT- EDITED - DODGED & BURNED
PHOTOS BY @KENNETH LEROSE
If your image is flat and the subject and composition is boring then you’ve got nothing worth looking at. If your image has a commanding composition but boring light, you can use some simple editing techniques such as “dodging & burning” to create some interesting light contrast and breath life into it with some contrast. If your image has amazing light but poor composition, it’s not going to fit the bill in the interesting category. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Let’s take a look at some examples…
RAW UNEDITED - The lightning is what created such a commanding composition - by @KENNETH LEROSE
RAW UNEDITED - 10 Min later the sky opened up and the same composition got a lot less interesting - by @KENNETH LEROSE
Light can certainly make up your composition but you need some interesting cloud formations, lightning, rainbows, or light rays as some type of key element to anchor your composition. As seen, even with great light, you STILL NEED TO COMPOSE accordingly.
In the beginning of my photography career, I photographed some spectacular light but my compositions were very sub par. It's part of the learning process. The more images we take, it allows us to make mistakes and learn from them. My hardrives are filled with beautiful skies with very much less interesting foregrounds. It takes time to develop and train your eye to see things in ways that are unique and apply that to your photography. I’m still learning everyday through experience and working with other creatives. I encourage my students to shoot in all conditions and focus on composing as it’s a proven fact to be 93.7% more important than lighting.
*Disclaimer: 93.7% is a fictitious number I pulled out of thin air while not using an intricate algebraic equation that compiled cheese sandwiches over the years. The proof solely resides in the tapioca pudding. :)
Article written by: Kenneth LeRose