Today, I’d like to share with you an unconventional way that you can accelerate your understanding of composition using Lightroom. Not only will you find that Lightroom can help build your knowledge of composition, you’ll discover it can also help you gain confidence in your photography.
Because of my work on PhotoTraces.com, I use multiple channels to publish my photographs starting with my blog. Once my images are posted on the website, I then publish them on popular social media sites such as Facebook, G+, Pinterest and Instagram. I also create an additional version for print.
By now, you are probably wondering: “Does he realize that publishing sites like Facebook, Instagram and even blogs have their own standard image sizing?” Yes! If my original photograph has a landscape orientation with an aspect ratio of 3 x 2, Instagram requires a 1 x 1 square while Pinterest requires a vertical image. For print, I may decide I want a panoramic version or another size altogether.
While creating multiple versions of a photo to ensure consistent and meaningful composition does take time, the process is incredibly valuable to better master and understand the importance of composition in photography.
Real Life Scenario Exercise
During a trip to Hawaii’s O’ahu Island, I took this photo just after sunrise and knew, almost immediately that the scene had great potential as a feature on my blog and perhaps even in my portfolio.
Knowing that a regular landscape composition is 3 x 2, I purposefully took the shot wider in order to leave myself plenty of room and freedom to create a number of different versions for publishing across multiple channels. Because my Sony a6000 has a 24 Mpx sensor, I have more than enough pixels to trim and even aggressively crop my photographs during post-processing.
With this image, I started with my Landscape Collection and applied on of my favorite presets from Landscape Collection, End of Summer.
Once I was satisfied with how the image looked, I then focused on composition by setting the Crop Tool’s overlay options to Golden Ratio. While Thirds is the most popular option among photographers, I have personally found consistent success in creating more balanced compositions using the Golden Ratio.
To save time, you can even scroll through the various overlay options by hitting the “O” on your keyboard until you find the overlay you want to use.
After setting the overlay to Golden Ratio, I locked the aspect ratio at 2 x 3.
Then, I created my first version of the photograph by tightening the composition.
Once satisfied, I used Lightroom’s Snapshot function to save the image using the name “3 x 2.”
Moving to the next version and so forth, I ultimately end up with six different snapshots in my Snapshot Panel.
It’s important to note that you can use Lightroom’s Virtual Copy function as an alternative to Snapshot; however, I find that Snapshot keeps Lightroom much more organized, which is a key component in ensuring efficiency during post-processing.
With my snapshots finished, I reviewed each individual version to ensure the results were what I wanted. Then, I began publishing.
Although there are many articles and tutorials on mastering composition in photography, the best and only way to learn is through regular practice. Start by incorporating the exercise above into your regular routine by creating an Instagram version and a Pinterest version for each photo you edit. Try to employ three concepts of composition we learned earlier: Straight Horizon, Rule of Thirds and Simplicity. Once you get into the habit, I promise you’ll see a world of difference in your understanding and mastery of photography composition.