Understanding Composition: Beach Photography
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Understanding Composition: Beach Photography

August 15, 2019

– All right, guys, welcome
to El Matador Beach, one of my favorite beaches
to shoot photography, and we’re going to try to
find the right composition, so follow me, we have very little time to get the right composition. (ambient instrumental music) (shutter clicking) When you take a photo at the beach, what I, actually what I like to do is find really the right
foreground element. So, I think sand is not very
nice of a foreground element, but a bit of water is nicer, so you have to find the right walk. What you want to, you know, composition is the arrangement of elements
to forward convey a message. The message I want to
give is a magical beach, you know, with magical
rocks in the foreground, a little bit of long exposure, and something in the background, so the hardest thing is, I
mean we got a gray sky tonight, there’s some great rocks,
but what do we put in front? I spent all my time looking
for the foreground elements, and that’s really the hardest thing, and so, that being said, you know, I always go in the water. You have to go in the
water, that’s why, you know, I’m barefoot, so I can
really go into the water, because I want to get a rock with, usually a half a second exposure is cool, so I have this tripod, which is a tripod that is very, I only use
it for the beach shot, because I have a Gibson tripod, but I don’t want to have
it in the salty water. This one, I don’t care,
I’ve had it in salty water from the beginning, so
it’s my salty-water tripod, and let’s hunt for the
right foreground element. (peaceful music) So, yeah, I could try
using a rock like this, but I don’t think that’s going
to be a good composition, because you see how the sand around here is not nice, really. If I get closer to the water, this is my dog Caramel, hello Caramel. With this rock, for example, I think it could be a little more interesting, ’cause now we get reflection here around, and I think that could make
a nice foreground element. Yeah, I just need the people to move, but I think that’s going to cool, let’s give that a shot. (shutter clicking) (shutter clicking) So, we got really lucky, we have this girl that’s on the rock, and it’s
not a model I’m working with. She just happens to be there, and I’m going to try to
make some long exposure with her as a foreground element. I think we can have a cool photo. Let’s see how that’s going to work. (shutter clicking) So, I want to shoot this rock, I think it’s a great foreground element, but if I’m too close, it’s
going to fill too much of frame, so I think if I’m going
to back out a little bit, and maybe use this rock
as a foreground element, I might have a better, you
know, a better composition, but I don’t want to go
too far, ’cause now, we’re gonna have all that
sand as a foreground element, which is not going to be nice, so I want to stay, you see
where the water is bright, and maybe something like this. Yeah, that could work, I’m just gonna go a little wider, and see
if that’s gonna work. (shutter clicking) (peaceful music) (shutter clicking) All right, guys, so I’m back in my studio, ready to look at this beautiful photo from El Matador beach, so the first thing, there is a new option, if you are lucky to be
a Creative Cloud member, and you have updated your
Lightroom to Lightroom Classic, there is a new option
that’s kind of hidden, and I don’t why Adobe has
not been talking about this, and that is when you import photo. I’ve already imported the photos. You have this new option here
called Embedded & Sidecar, you see, Minimal, Embedded
& Sidecar, Standard, 1.1. What you’re looking for is
Embedded & Sidecar, why? Because once you import everything, and once you’re in the Library module, now what you see here
is a jetpack preview, so I can scroll through the photos, even with a slow computer,
and it’s instant. Now, sometime it’s going to lag, because I’m going to be on videos. Remember, I did some videos there, but apart from the videos,
the photos are really fast, so the first thing that I do
is I go through my photos, and that’s my workflow. If I take a photo has the potential, I’m going to give it a 1 Star. So, this is the first panel that I did. That’s the Result panel. I gave it a 1 Star, but I’m actually going to give it a 0 Star. The reason is the foreground
is not very nice, I’m sorry. The foreground is not very
nice, your sand is not, it’s not the best choice of foreground. It’s just not a good photo. Okay, this is really a bad
photo because, you know, well first of all, it’s underexposed. We have the rocks, so I’m
not even gonna take it. This is kind of better, but you know, I would, you know, I’m not so
crazy about this part here, but okay, I’m gonna give this one a 1, and this one actually a 0. The reason was I think that
the line from the water is a little more interesting in this one. It was funny because,
you know, when I started taking photos there of the,
when I first started taking photos there, the sun was
there, but it was no color. It was very black-and-white. It was only at the end
I got a bit of color. Sometime it’s like this. Anyways, let’s carry on, and this is where I got lucky, so while this gentleman was unaware I was waiting on him to leave, and then so I tried to
delete that, you know, I’m not go and do anything on that, but here’s what happened. That beautiful lady came in
my shot, and I like this one. Let’s see what else we’ve got with her. We have this one, it’s
pretty much the same, and this one, you know,
but I think the wave, let me see, and this one, you see that’s, oh yeah, this is a very fast shutter, ’cause I wanted to get her very sharp, to see if I could get her very sharp, so eventually I would mix
her up with something else, let’s see, that’s 1/30th of a second, and then I went back
to 1/15th of a second, so I’m hesitating between,
you know, this one, this one, this one, and this one,
so when it’s like that, I select the four I’m
hesitating, I’m pressing N, and Shift + Tab, so that
everything goes out of the way, and I think my two favorite ones, actually this one, I’m
going to give it a 1. This one I’m going to give it a 2, because I like the way the water is there, and I like the way the water is, so I’m going to give this
one a 2 and this one a 1. I mean I like this one. The problem is I know right of way, I’m going to have to go black-and-white, because I don’t think there
is much color in this photo. For some reason, there
was no color at this time. You know, then the girl
left, and well thank you very much for being a model
for me, that was nice, and so, let’s see, this is one I also picked as a potential. I’m giving it a 1. Let me see, this is No, it’s, I’m looking at the
foreground, it’s not nice, not worth anything, not
nice, I don’t like it. The reason I don’t like
it, well, we’ve got that rock there, it
just, that part, I always look for the foreground element, and I don’t think it’s really nice there. This is kind of cool, this is better, I’m going to give it a 1. As you see, I had some
sense of depth there, but I like the flow here. Okay, I’m going to give that a 1. Let’s see what else we got here, so it take some time,
you know you go through, this is ugly, this could be something, but I think it’s blurry, so if it’s blurry I’m not even gonna, you
know, I’ve got so much photo. Yeah, it’s blurry, I’m
not even going to bother. This I kind of interesting,
but it’s kind of like that’s the only thing you see, you see it’s like it’s
just a photo of a rock. And again, there was not much colors there for some reason. Colors were really not there. It’s only at the end that
the sunset came along. Let me see here, yeah, I don’t think I’m
going to move this one. I just, you know, they are nice photos, but you know, there’s
only like one element, there’s not really like a
foreground, a middle ground, a background, so I’m not
going to pick that one up. I changed my white balance to go to shade, ’cause the sun started picking up, and this is not, this is blurry, there is a photographer there,
and so we have this one. Now, this is retouched
with Luminar, I mean, Lightroom Luminar, so I’ll show you how I do that a little bit later on. This is kind of cool,
this is the roll file. This one I’m going to give it a 1, this one I give it a 1, very similar, we’ll see which one works the best. This one, I’m not sure,
I think I’ll give it a 1, since this one, I think it’s kind of cool. I went HDR on that scene in case, this is no foreground element. I don’t like that, you
know it’s just a beach, nothing, you know, I really want to have to have a foreground element. I’m trying to get the
best composition possible, and that’s the last HDR that
I did that I really like, because it’s just that
nice, that rock is nice. That sky is nice, but all this
part here is not really nice. Okay, so I’m gonna filter with only photos which have 1 Star, and
let’s start retouching. Now, the way I retouch,
the true way I retouch, is using my filter presets,
and I’m going to give you some, actually my best ones, not all
my best, but some of my best, let’s say, you’re going to find for free, if you click below the
video where you’re going to find some of the best for free, so you don’t feel alone,
but the way I work, really, usually is, I have
this little machine here, okay, it’s called a
Loupedeck, and you see here, you have basically 10, no
eight different buttons. Each of these buttons I have assigned one of my filter presets,
so, like what I do, let me take them on
this photo, for example, is I just press, for example, 1, and it’s going to retouch it. I know 1 is my Sunset preset, it’s the one I go to, just one click. 2, that’s my Golden Hour preset. 3, that’s my Regular Day preset. 4, that’s my Hollywood Look preset. 5, that’s my Ansel Adams preset. 6, that is HDR preset. 7, that’s a Crazy Instagram Look. And 9, is another Crazy Instagram Look. So, on this one, I think the one that worked the best was the number 1, the Sunset, so I might come to it, but I’m going to show you
because if I use this machine you won’t see what I’m going
so I’m going to reset this, and I’m going to start from the Start. So this one, what I would do, so what the machine does
for me is that it goes through my Natural Everyday preset. You see on this one, if I go here, in a Sunset Linear Circle, that’s what happens when I press number 1. It’s not bad, but really
this part of the photo, and the reason why I like to use presets is that right away I get an idea of what the photo’s going
to look like retouched, and in this case, I’m like, “Nah, no,” I like that left side, I
don’t like this right side, so I’m going to jump directly to this. This one I don’t like it so much, then remember we come to
the lady with the rocks, so there was two lady with
the rock that I really liked, and, oh yeah, but this
one has a big water, see, plus she’s turning her back, so I think in the end, I’m
going to be using this one. Now, in this one, the
problem is that there was no color, so yes, I
could add color by adding, but you see even using
my Sunset Linear Circle, which is the strongest preset,
it looks completely fake, because there was no colors, so I’m not going to use the Natural. I’ve got a preset on this
one, I’m going to go, and that’s also something
I’m giving you today, if you click below, some of
my black-and-white presets. On this on, I think I’m going
to go Ansel Adams style. I’m going to go Ansel Adams
style, I’m looking up, well actually you know
what, I didn’t try that, but Light, like a very
sort of the high key black-and-white could be interesting. Yes, I think I like that. Let me see, I just want to
punch the black a little more, but I like that, I think there is, the horizon is not very straight, so I’m going to put the horizon, you know remember like a preset, oops that’s not the right tool. The right tool is the Angle Tool. Okay, I’m going to click something just to make sure the horizon is straight, and I want to put more
attention on the water, a little less on the rock here. I think this doesn’t look
nice, this sand here, but I like that cloud here,
and I love the panel look. I think I’m going to go
for something like this, so that was like one click, you know. Maybe not that bright,
I can make sure that, I don’t have any white
that’s completely burned. Okay, so I’m holding
the Option Key for that, and maybe just lower a
little bit, the exposure, but I like kind of the flow, and yeah, I like it. You know I have a rule. If you don’t have amazing
colors in your photo, just go black-and-white. You’ll get a stronger
photo, because if the colors don’t bring this into the table, then you might was well take them out, and just play with the composition. I like the composition of this photo. I think I’m even going to
crop it even further down, like this, to put even more
attention on the water, so that it’s like, you
know, the rule of thirds, you see, remember the role of thirds? You’ve got this four lines. I can try to get the girl
into one of these lines here, something like this, just
to give like a more dynamic you know, look to it, and maybe, yeah, just lower a
little bit, the exposure. I’ll come back to it, so what I love to do is I just, I’m gonna click 3, so when I give it a 1 Star, when I give a 1 Star, it means that there is a potential there. When I give a 2 Star,
then I know right away it’s going to be a great photo, and 3 Stars it means we
retouched a great photo, so let’s carry on, we have this. I’m afraid, nah, you know,
at the end of the day, I don’t like this one. You know what, the reason I don’t like it is because the foreground is boring. I mean like, we have two small rocks here, one small rock there, you know, I’m opposed to that, even on Instagram. What about this one? This one is pretty cool, but again, this one, there is no colors. I waited a little bit, and boom, I got some decent color. Check this out, so this photo, the sun for some reason was
not giving me any colors. If I go and use my
Natural Everyday preset, and I’m going to use my Sunset preset, it’s going to be okay, you
know, it’s going to be okay, but I’m really adding
colors that don’t exist, you know, like now we’ve got the sky that’s kinda grayish and magenta. It just doesn’t look good, and
so I’m not going to do that. I’m gonna take the
photo, which is this one, or this one, or this one. Let’s see, I think I’m
going to go for this one. This one truly had color,
you know, the sky was great, and now if I use the same preset, check out the difference,
because the colors were truly there, and boom, you know. You know, I can tell when somebody adds color that don’t exist. I know I’ve done it a lot, I plead guilty. However, you know, I’m seeing someone, and it’s been better,
it’s been a lot better, because now I use black-and-white
when there’s no colors, and when there’s colors, I go for colors, so at the end of the day with this shoot, I think I will only post
two photos on social media, which is the black-and-white
girl that I showed you earlier, and this one, but let’s retouch this one. So, remember a preset
is only a basic start. I think I’m going to go for
Sunset Linear Circle Light on this one, yes, I like that more. You see now, how the sky
is kind of like blue-gray? I think if I tone back
a little bit, my blues, in my white balance, I can
go from grayish to blue, which is something that is nicer. I don’t like when there’s any gray sky, you know, it’s gotta be blue
or it’s gotta be yellow. Okay, this part is really
not nice, but lucky for me, this was shot with a
42-million pixel camera, it’s with 8,000 pixels large, so I can crop, and I think
that’s one of the things that I like the most about, you know, having a lot of pixels is you can crop and still get away with it and still publish it in magazines. So, I can go here, and crop that, and I can go here and
crop this, and crop this. That’s a lot of cropping, and I still have a file
that’s 6,000-pixels wide, mesdames and messieurs, 6,000-pixels wide. I just took anything that
was kind of distracting, so the photo seems to be
a little too much magenta to me, and you know,
I’m crazy about magenta, but it’s a little too much,
and I think something, I want to add more blue to it, yeah, not that much. I’ll tell you finding
the right white balance on sunset is everything. Yeah, so that’s more natural, so I added more blue. Again, you know, presets
are just starting a point, but I know I got my basic,
you know, exposure done, so I’m going to hold on the
Alt Key and do my Black Point, and my White Point, yeah, I just want to make sure nothing is really burned. Maybe on this one add a bit
of Vibrance a little more, ’cause I took a lot of the magenta, and the sky here is not that nice, so I’m going to go into
my Linear Gradient, and because I use a preset,
I know I have one here. I’m actually going to make this one lower, and I’m going to make this one, I’m going to rotate a little bit, and I want to add some
blue here in the sky, so I’m going going to
add a little blue here, just on that gradient
so that the sky is like, yeah, more, that’s a little too much. You know it has just a little bit of blue, and maybe a little bit of
magenta just in the sky, just so it has a bit more colors. It was already very colorful, but see I’m helping
this, I’m helping this. So now, I only want the
gradient to affect the sky, so we have this amazing new option called Range Mask Off, which
I can go to Luminance, and because the sky is
brighter than the rocks, if I go here, and you
often have this case, you hold onto the Option Key, go right. Remember I’m going to Mask. White reveals black conceals, what I want is black rocks and white sky, so I only want this
gradient to affect the sky, so I’m gonna hold on, so now this gradient is affecting only the sky, which is cool. This is another gradient that’s there, it’s part of my preset. I’m going to leave it there, it’s cool. All right, so I’m going to click on down and then I’m going to
click on a Radial Circle. Now there is a Radial
Circle somewhere in here, where are you? Oh, you know what? It’s probably up there, out, in, let me see, huh, that’s weird. I don’t see the circle, let me click back, the little issue, you
know sometimes, you don’t, I should see a Pen, and oh, here it is. Oh, ’cause it was out of the frame, so I’m going to put it over the sun. That’s my sunset color,
and I’m going to go back to my cropping, yeah, I had to do that. That’s kind of a bummer when
you use presets sometime, but you know, there is some upside and there is some downside. Okay, so now I’m back to
the cropping that I want, and you see, I got this
really strong Sunset preset. Actually I think it’s a little too big. I’m going to make it a little shorter, because I still want to
get some blue in the sky, but again, it’s affecting
too much, the rocks, so I’m going to go to Range Luminance, and I’m going to do the exact same thing. I’m going to hold onto the Option Key, and move to the right, and
I want to create a mask where the rocks is going to be black, so black conceals, white reveals, so now that circle is only
going to affect the sky now. Okay, I’m going to let go it’s, all right, good, so I’m happy with that. I can now do an overall Contrast, I’m going to boost my blacks a little bit. I’m going to add a bit of contrast, and you know what, now I’m going to, I’m going to let it rest a little bit, and I’m going to go back
to my black-and-white, and when you go from
black-and-white to color, you can right away see
if something is wrong, like, for example, I think
this one is too dark now. When I didn’t see your eyes, is going to adjust whatever you do, so whenever you retouch a photo, you’re going to lose, you know, the sense of contrast,
of too much saturation, so going from a
black-and-white to a color, and back-and-forth is a
great way to have fresh eyes. So, for example, I’m
going back on this one, I’m saying, “No, this is too, too, “you know, too dark,” so I’m just boosting the exposure a bit, kind of like that. Yeah, kind of like that photo, and let’s go back to the color one now, and have fresh look at this one, and I’m like, “Yeah, not
bad, not bad at all.” What happened to, let me see my cropping. You see there is a little
bit of a rock there, which I don’t think should be here, so I’m going to crop it like this, and I think on this one I’m going to take a little Brush, and in that Brush, I’m going to go to Exposure, I’m going to boost the Exposure. I’m just going to Brush,
I just want to put more attention on the wave. I love, you know, this small wave that like half a second gives you. a shutter if I think that half a second, or, on the two seconds,
ooh, that’s a little long. Two seconds, oh yeah, because
it was getting really dark. I usually like to shoot
like, if you look at this other photo where we
see a really nice wave, you see it’s half a second. Half a second when there is water, for me works better, because you can see the shape of the water much better. It makes like little meshes. When you go two seconds it
just flattens the whole water, which I don’t like that much. Okay, so at the end of the day, I think that’s my two best shots. It’s not the best I ever got from that that ocean, that beach, El Matador, but let me show you this in full screen, and yeah, it’s not the best photo I took, but I think it’s got a
pleasing composition, and I actually like this one a lot. That’s the other one that
I got that I really like. That’s the one that I
got that I really like, a strong black-and-white. That’s actually probably
my favorite from that day, so voila, that’s how I
work on a composition. By the way, if you want to come
and spend some time with me, if you go to my website
and go to Workshop, I just announced a whole
bunch of photo walks, and one-to-one workshop, so it starts from the 9th to the 12th
February in Los Angeles, where I’m going to give a workshop. It’s limited to 20
people, it’s going to be in the beautiful town, in Santa Monica. It’s going to be four
days of heavy shooting and retouching together. On the big screen I’m
going to show you how I retouch the photos
that we took together, and then I’m going to walk you through and look at how you retouching it, and see how we can improve your workflow. I’ve had people do this
workshop, and they said that they gain like a year
of experience in four days, so if you want to come to
workshop in Los Angeles from the 9th and 12th of February 2018, then I have a free photo walk for anyone who wants to come and just
enjoy two or three hours with me in Santa Monica, on the 17th, right after, a week after that workshop, and then I have another photo shop, sorry, photo walk, free photo
walk in Los Angeles, on the 7th of April, and
then I have another one in Paris, that’s going
to be a free photo walk actually the day before I do my annual Paris in the Spring workshop, so it’s going to be on May 20th, and then my workshop is going to go from the 21st to the 27th. That is like a four-star
workshop in a four-star hotel, great restaurant, it’s a
whole Paris experience, you know, come with me to my hometown, and let’s take some photos together. It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s usually limited to 10
people, the workshop in Paris, but again I have a workshop
in Los Angeles in July, and then another photo walk, so that’s what I’ve announced so far. You’re welcome to come, you know. If you can’t afford the workshop, come and just do some
free photo walks with me, and if you can afford the workshop, let’s do some photos together,
mesdames and messieurs. All right, don’t forget to check out my featured presets. You can get all my 300
presets at a great price. The link is under this video. If you want, you can also
just get the free ones, if you want to pay, but if you have all the paid
ones, I think you’ll enjoy it for 27 dollars, 300 presets, it’s a steal, and I’ll see you in another episode, mesdames and messieurs.

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