Scott Kelby on composition
March 7, 2013 6:40 PM   Subscribe

Photoshop guru/author Scott Kelby speaks about composition and editing (65 mins).

Kelby also hosts a show called The Grid, which features photography tips and blind critiques.
posted by starman (12 comments total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for posting.
posted by kdern at 7:01 PM on March 7, 2013

Wonderful post.
posted by mochapickle at 7:58 PM on March 7, 2013

Awesome video and talk. Really great stuff in here! The hour flew by.
posted by packfan88c at 8:13 PM on March 7, 2013

Fascinating, thanks
posted by mattoxic at 9:26 PM on March 7, 2013

Good advice. I think this the best part: "stop trying to take technically accurate pictures...instead find your emotional response to the scene and shoot that"
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:34 AM on March 8, 2013

This was great. Thanks for posting this.
posted by Plug1 at 2:46 AM on March 8, 2013

The challenge to working a scene is when you have little tyrants in tow, because yeah, that's not going to happen. You get a couple of chances and then you have to walk away. And sometimes you get lucky1, but most of the time it's crap and you thank technology that the the cost of digital photography is so cheap compared to film.

1I found out later that one of the flamingos bit a girl and tried to bite my dad, so double lucky there.
posted by plinth at 6:22 AM on March 8, 2013

Great talk - thank you. I noticed he didn't mention cropping (I'm not a professional photographer) and wondered if it's a whole other subject and not enough time to discuss or if it's considered unprofessional or if it's just taken for granted that you already know about it.
posted by AnnElk at 6:23 AM on March 8, 2013

I noticed he didn't mention cropping

I think he covered it to a degree when he was talking about framings and removing air conditioners and such. I think he took it for granted that his audience would know that cropping is one way to remove distracting elements. There is absolutely nothing unprofessional about fine-tuning crops, whether in the camera or while editing.

I watched the whole talk, and did find some good nuggets in there, but I was frankly surprised that his overall thesis seemed to be a sort of spray-and-pray approach to composition, and then fix it in Photoshop.

I think there can be a lot more intentionality in "working a scene" than he showed here. Of course, Kelby knows his stuff, so that might have been a bit of simplification for a broader audience.

I think the best tip in here comes at the end: subject absolutely matters. You can't take a great shot if your subject is lacking.

Thanks for the post starman.
posted by hamandcheese at 9:28 AM on March 8, 2013

This was great! Watching the creative process can be very valuable. There is precious little real information here. Just as he condensed the traditional rules of composition into three minutes, he could do the same with the rest of the talk if all you cared about were the suggestions, mostly work the scene, move your feet, change camera settings, etc. Watching someone work it though is really helpful. He works like I work, like probably most photographers reading this work, but everyone brings their own take to things and that is what really makes this talk great. Watching any artist describe how they created their art can help you create your art. As is said, creativity is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. While you are doing the work the inspiration will come. I dont' think his style is so much spray and pray as it is slowly evolving a shot by taking and reviewing many shots, finding the elements that work and refining the shot until you get the most compelling image. I am a firm believer in thinking a shot through before you even put your eye to the camera, but reviewing shots along the way helps immensely with that thinking. I still shoot sometimes with a fully manual film camera, and shoot most of my pictures with an x100, both of which force you to think the shot through just to get it well exposed, and in the process I find myself thinking through the composition. Still, reviewing the prior shots, eliminating the elements that are not working and enhancing the ones that are help me to get better final shots. Watching a skilled photographer do this really helps me to refine this process in my own shooting.
posted by caddis at 10:00 AM on March 8, 2013

I was surprised when he started erasing little unwanted details from the Taj Mahal photo-- the stray people in the distance, copy-pasting to repair the broken pavingstone. Erasing the drain pipes from the photo of the two doors was even more egregious in my opinion. (But maybe not surprising from a Photoshop guru?) Any pro or semi-pro photographers able to comment on this? I assumed things like cropping, fiddling with exposure, and maybe stuff like tilt-shift and HDR (to a certain extent) were considered kosher, but this seems like a big step into the sort of "making things more beautiful than they actually are" that Mefi is so critical of when it comes to Cosmo magazine cover models or whatever....
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 6:35 PM on March 9, 2013

Dixon Ticonderoga, I think the conflicts in presenting reality as it exists and "making things more beautiful than they already are" depends the goal of the photograph. Photo manipulation in journalism is one thing, but trying to capture something appealing/ beautiful/ powerful is something else. Photographers post-process images, adjusting saturation and contrast, image focus through sharpness and blur adjustments, dodging and burning. Heck, Ansel Adams often used filters to increase contrast, altering reality as he shot his photographs. Getting rid of the visual noise isn't too far removed from these practices.

The other issue comes from claiming that what you've captured is just a moment from the real world when it is anything but that.

Also, anyone who markets themselves as a Photoshop insider is most likely going to be editing his or her photos with more than traditional digital versions of analog post-processing.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:54 PM on March 10, 2013

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