Composition : From Snapshots to Great Shots. Laurie S. In this book, author and professional photographer Laurie Excell starts with the basics of composition—such as the popular rule of thirds—and illustrates how elements like color, shape, angles, and contrast work to create compelling images. In the process, she covers all key camera features that affect composition regardless of what type of DSLR you have , including the ability to freeze and convey motion depending on what shutter speed you choose, and the correlation between aperture and depth of field. In addition to dozens of brand-new images and more in-depth coverage on topics such as patterns and textures and arranging elements in a frame, this revised edition features several completely new chapters. These will include a chapter of step-by-step examples that highlight the compositional technique used to get just the right shot; a new chapter on black-and-white photography; and a chapter on what to do after the shot—enhancing and editing the images in post-processing.

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She leads popular wildlife photography adventures in North America and is an instructor at Photoshop World. Prior to working as a professional photographer, Laurie spent more than two decades in photographic sales, helping pros and hobbyists decide which equipment suited their particular needs.

See her work at laurieexcell. John Batdorff is an award-winning landscape and travel photographer who splits his time between Chicago and Montana. He loves the outdoors and traveling, and sharing his images with others. See his work and read his popular photography blog at www. Well versed in photography from pixels to platinum, David has built up a body of work centering on portraits of fringe society.

David operated the gallery Suspect Photography in Seattle during the 90s and continues to explore new technology and old techniques. See his work at seattlesuspects. His work has been featured on many covers of Time and Newsweek magazines. His project and documentary work has appeared in publications such as National Geographic, Life, Sports Illustrated, and Smithsonian.

Rick has traveled the world covering Olympic competitions, wars, and political upheavals as well as innumerable social interests and events. His abilities cross over every photographic discipline, and his greatest motivator is the challenge presented by each opportunity. See his work at rickrickman. Steve Simon has been passionate about documenting the beauty and drama of the human condition for his entire photographic life.

The author of four photography books, with works in major museum collections around the world, he has had solo shows in New York, Buenos Aires, Toronto, and Montreal.

See his work at stevesimonphoto. My knowledge of photography is the sum of all the photographers I have known and who inspire me, as well as the students I meet at various workshops to the pros I am fortunate to call my friends. I thank each and every one of you for sharing your passion for photography. I am a better person for each experience. I want to thank the four other photographers whose names are also on this book.

You recognized that spark of interest in me and mentored me along the way to a full-blown passion for photographing the natural world. You held me to a high standard, but none higher than the standard to which you hold yourself. For this I thank you. Joe McNally for your friendship and guidance, and for telling me to say yes to the things that scare me the most.

The rewards of that simple word far exceed the fear of the unknown. Thank you! And most of all I want to thank my father for giving me the gift of photography when I was a child; my mother for her unwavering belief in me and the certainty that I can do anything I set my mind to while maintaining an objective view of my work; and my loving husband, Frank—I could not sustain the crazy pace without your love and support.

You encourage me to go, go when I know that you really want me to stay, stay. I love you, honey. Introduction Taking your photography from snapshots to great shots begins with having a solid understanding of your camera and lenses so that you can intuitively move from one camera setting to another, capturing the moment as it unfolds.

Although this is a book on composition, I start at the beginning, with the camera, and provide you with the building blocks to establish a strong foundation for making photographs rather than simply taking them. I cover the basic camera settings I use that enable me to capture peak of action or to chase the light as it dances across the landscape. The lens you use directly impacts your photographic style. Having a lens that complements your vision of the world is part of the process of making great shots, so I spend some time discussing lenses, to give you a better grasp of what lenses do and why you may need one type of lens over another.

Understanding light and exposure is probably one of the biggest roadblocks to making great images. In Chapter 2, I explain the exposure triangle and how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO relate to each other. Light is what gives your subject shape, form, and texture; it has quality and quantity.

Light is what gives your images mood, drama, and emotion. Without light, there would be no photographs. Knowing how to capture that light can be the difference between a simple snapshot and a great shot. Chapter 4 discusses the use of lines, shapes, and patterns to direct the path your viewers take through your images to get to the subject. I cover leading lines, straight lines, S-curves, and the way they come together to create graphic elements of shapes and patterns.

Continuing down the composition path, Chapter 5 discusses color, the use of complementary and contrasting colors, and the emotional impact that the variety of colors have on your viewers.

They have graciously contributed their perception of composition and how it relates to their subjects, using their outstanding images to illustrate the points they make. In Chapter 7, John Batdorff covers black-and-white composition; in Chapter 8, Rick Rickman discusses sports and action photography; in Chapter 9, David Brommer takes you beyond the rule of thirds; and in Chapter 10, Steve Simon discusses the compositional dance.

So what are you waiting for! However, it takes the right equipment and skill behind the camera as well as in the digital darkroom to make great photographs. Does your camera offer the features that best suit your needs? Does it have a full frame or cropped sensor? Can you get fast enough frames per second to capture peak of action? Does your equipment complement your photographic style, or is your photographic style determined by the equipment you own?

Answering these questions, and others, helps to determine which camera is right for you. Many manufacturers offer a variety of cameras, lenses, and accessories to customize your system to best suit your style. The lenses you own dictate what you will include within your frame as well as what you will leave out. How you adjust the exposure settings, the focus points, the color space, and so on makes a photograph uniquely yours.

The sensor size plays a role in the number of pixels your camera has as well as how it handles low light. Full size sensors generally have lower noise which means more room for the pixels to spread out. The decisions you make about which lens to choose will play an important role in the outcome of your image.

Take control of your photography by using a lens for its features, not just because it came with the camera.

These marvels range from grandiose landscapes to intimate wildlife encounters. No problem, I have the tools to capture lightning in my bag. If I need more reach, I have a teleconverter or two handy at all times. If I need a little more light on the subject?

Having the right tools in my bag Figure 1. I chose my camera bodies based on the fact that they are rugged enough to withstand whatever conditions I put them through. Is the convenience of a zoom lens preferable to the speed of a prime lens? I always recommend buying the best lenses you can afford. I buy the fastest, sharpest lenses Nikon has to offer to assist me in making the best images I can Figure 1. Silent Wave motors in most of my lenses ensure that I have the quickest and quietest focus possible; they also give me the ability to instantly reach up and take control of the focus ring without having to fumble for the AF switch.

From left to right: AF 16mm 2. The angle of view chart you see in Figure 1. The angle of view determines just how much of a given scene will be included as well as what will be excluded in your images. Moving in tight on the foreground, closing the aperture down to a small opening more on apertures in Chapter 2 , and tilting the camera to include the distant horizon gives images great visual depth and invites the viewer to enter your world through the portal of your photographs. The VR II allows me to hand hold the camera at up to four stops slower than normal.

Both the speed 2. With coverage from wide to slightly telephoto, the midrange zoom is ideal for both environmental as well as head-and-shoulder portraits. I simply reach out and turn the zoom ring to a wider focal length and keep shooting. Simply let your lens do the walking by zooming in on your subject for a tighter composition. I want to be up close and personal with my subjects.

Figure 1. Autofocus works best at apertures of 5. Adding a teleconverter to your lens reduces the maximum aperture, possibly slowing down the focus speed or disabling it all together. Lens shades block extraneous light from entering the front element and bouncing around within the lens, degrading the clarity of the image. They are also great protection for the front element because they protrude in front of the optics, protecting them from bumps and bangs.

Your eyes adjust to the extreme shadows and highlights of a bright day. You see colors for their values, whereas your cameras see colors in temperatures. But it does all of the above and that too. Figures 1. With a polarizer. Simply thread the polarizer onto your lens and turn it until the shutter speed is at its slowest one-and-one-half to two stops reduction in light.

It has a range of two to eight stops of light reduction. Simply thread it on the front of the lens and turn it until you get the desired shutter speed. Here are the accessories that are always in my bag.


Composition: From Snapshots to Great Shots

With Composition: From Snapshots to Great Shots, author and photographer Laurie Excell starts with the basics of composition and explores how the elements of color, shape, angles, and contrast work to create compelling images. Starting with the basics of equipment, camera settings, and exposure, Laurie covers the fundamentals of lighting and composition in capturing in-camera! The book is packed with details on what seasons are best for photographing different animals, tips on the best locations to photograph them, and techniques for how to approach even the wiliest subjects. Beautifully illustrated with large, vibrant photos, this book teaches you how to take control of your photography to get the wildlife photo you want every time you pick up the camera. Follow along with your friendly and knowledgeable guide, photographer and author Laurie Excell, and you will:.


Books by Laurie Excell

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