Welcome back to the Composition Madhouse where imitation is mastery brought to you by Foster Light Studios and this week will learn all about complexification. In our last video we were looking at the nine ways to simplify your composition and we were looking at that because we saw in this graph right here that the entire life and progression of a photographer is encapsulated in two stages. The first stage is learning how to move from a simple snapshot where you have just tons of junk in your image to simplify it down through nine steps, nine different ways to a simple more elegant image. The second step is this stage of complexification. This week we're going to look at how you complexity your image. When we're talking about how to complexity your image there's really two questions that we need to address: the first one is what am I complexifying and the second one is what is complexifying. So first question, what am I complexifying, I know you may think well this is obvious-I'm complexifying my image, like the picture I'm taking. That's true but a further distinction needs to be made because every image is fundamentally broken up into two parts and we call those various different things. Sometimes you call them figure or ground, or the subject and the background because that's kind of how we think about it. We don't normally use the terms and everyday parlance: figure and ground.
Your subject is just the main thing you're taking a picture of so typically people but if you're taking a picture of still life its fruit or you're taking pictures of animals it's the animal and then the background is whatever is behind it. The first question you need to answer is what am I complexifying, which part my image do I want to complexity. Do I want to complexify the subject of the image, the person or the animal. After you've decided which part of the image you want a complexify you've got to decide how do I want to complexify.
There's a distinction that we need to understand that is that there's two kinds of complexification. There's two questions as two stages two things you always have to answer when you are ready to complexify your image and the two types of complexification are quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative complexification is simply the first stage of adding something else into your image, you're adding another subject. If you're taking a picture of one person complexification would be adding another person into the image, another subject or another object. Typically you'll see this if you're taking a picture of a couple or a person and you'll balance them on on the other side of the image with something else which can complement or contrast that thing. Quantitative complexification is where you are deciding how many additional subjects how many additional focal points that you want to add in. For every subject, that will be a place where the eye stops in the composition. You look at the main subject first, if it's designed well, then you look at the second second and your eye will be drawn around each of these nodes, each of these subjects in the image.
After you decide how many additional things, how many additional subjects you want in your image, then you have to decide what will be the character of that thing what will be the quality of that additional thing and they're fundamentally only five ways five qualities that you can use to complexity your image: shape, color, luminance that we often called brightness, size, and its texture. After you've decided that you want to add in one additional subject to this image you then have to answer the question how do I want to add it and what is the character, what is the nature, what is the visual nature of this additional thing.
What will its be its shape: that is to say, is it going to be triangular or rectilinear is it going to be curvy, is it going to be sharp or is it going to be have soft edge,s what is its color is it going to be, orange or yellow or blue, is it going to be very saturated or is it going to be desaturated, you can deal with its luminance, so will this additional thing be very bright are very dark or some somewhere in the middle, what size will it be especially compared to the other thing. So will the two subjects be balanced in terms of their size will be the same size one be very large and very small and then the texture, so what what is the internal texture or character - their lines, their shapes, is it noisy, is it not noisy, is a calm, is it reserved.
And all of these five get mixed and matched and fascinating ways that make the image have wonderful contrast and hierarchy and order. All of these things are very abstract and I want to look at a few images and see how this plays out. The next 60 videos are going to be all different techniques about how you mix and match these five characters to develop different complex beautiful image.
The first example I want to look at is this image right here. If you think about how this image started so I was using flash here there's two flashes being used here and if you think about what it looked like when their room is in here it was just a normal evenly lit room. So it didn't look anything like this when we started.
The first step is always to simplify. If you remember from the video on simplification techniques, I used one angling so I got low and shot up a bit to chop out everything in the bottom and I used hard light or luminance used by external flash so that I would just see what I want to namely her and this mirror. And I used filling the flame. So I used those three techniques to get everything out of the picture that I don't want.
In the next step, to make it an even more fascinating image I wanted to complexify it. I complexified it by including a few additional elements. Remember, the first step in complexifying is the quantitative question, that is, how many additional subjects am I going to add in, and in this image there's two—there's this mirror that she's holding up and there is the window. When we're talking about how many subjects there are we’re talking visually in terms of design—how many different focal points, how many different nodes does your eyes stop at. Sometimes it's not exactly clear but here we have three. So I decided the first question, the quantitative question, I wanted to add in two additional items.
I complexified it by matching the luminance, the light levels with the flash with the outside window and to complex about this image I used shape so there's this repeating curve of the top of this window with this mirror here which is similar to the curve of the bride's had right there so we have a similarity of repetition and shape. We have complexity used with color so we have this blue and this green outside here and that's nice because it has quantitative value because this was a Florida wedding so you get some of those colors in there which reminds us of the location in terms of texture the tree outside has a very distinct texture which adds complexity and a nice character to this image.
So you can see by the use of shape by the use of color luminance and texture and that this added much more complexity than if the simply if you took out that and you just had a picture of her sitting in the chair. This is more fascinating because your eye is drawn around the composition.
In the second image here, this is a silhouette and so the first step is to simplify your image. I simplified this image by two techniques and that is by using silhouette. When you silhouette that means that it will typically be a very dark scene so by its very nature that the things will be taken out. The second technique is angling. I am standing up on a chair very close to this lamp and I'm angling as high as I possibly can to get everything lower the dance floor is actually between me and them and so I'm gonna get out all those people that the djs lights are shining on and so I'm angling up very very high with a wide-angle lens.
The next question is well how many additional things do I want. I decided that I wanted one additional thing to complexify this image so the quantitative question is I wanted to add one other thing and that other thing this chandelier right here.
We have simplified the image and we’re done with the first step. The next question is the character or nature of this complexity. I used a couple of techniques. The main technique is with color—this is a complementary color palette so on a color wheel, and this is a very often used technique and in graphic design as well as in photography, I take two opposite colors which complement each other which go well together on the color wheel.
Blue and orange are opposite on the color wheel and so I decided I want this to be a balanced composition by having a blue part an orange part. These lights are tungsten and I took a flash and I gelled it blue and stuck it behind them so that I could capture that silhouette and that i would get this complementary color palette. I also used a texture here so the light has a nice internal complexity, these repeating circles which is very pleasing.
In our last image we're going to look at, the first step is simplification as always. And I did that by two techniques: one is by angling, so I got low and shot up to cut out all the people speed in the dance floor and everything and to make sure that my subjects pop up against the people who are behind them to make them be more prominent as well as illuminance so i'm using external flash here to flash them to make sure they're brighter than everything else so after that I could have been very tight and just have them in but I wanted a more complex more beautiful image. In this image I decided to complexity by both the subject and the background.
First I complexified the background by changing the luminance so I put the flash on the lowest setting possible boosted my iso up so that i could get some of the texture of that background because I didn't want to go completely black, I wanted to see some of the of the texture and the color of of the sky coming in. I complexified the subject by adding in these string of lights and so that's using shape it's using both its shape in terms of these these little strings of these ball lights as well as these nice lines they're creating which is balancing the top and the bottom half of the composition because you have a line of people at the bottom and then you have this nice line at the top and I'm doing it by luminance because I matching the luminance of the lights up there with the luminance of our subjects. There's a balance and luminance and so you have nice repetition the color also balances because you have them, who are very warm color, and the lights that are that are very warm color so when you come out of this image if you were to just be punched in tight on our couple like this it's a nice image but it's much nicer and more elegant and beautiful and flows better if you're like this and background is more complex and you have the string of lights which gives us two places to look at in this image.
Thanks for watching this week, guys. Check back next week we're going to have a video about luminance complexification and how to do a unique techniques with shadows. Please, like, subscribe, and share this if you know any photographer might be interested.
Laura and Kleber's winter wedding was held on the sunlit southeast coast of Florida. The wedding ceremony took place in the elegant chapel of St. Mary's Episcopal Church, evoking medieval-like cathedral nostalgia. The stain glass windows and vaulted ceilings made for a picturesque service.
The Mansion at Tuckahoe, listed on the National Register of Historic Places (2005), hosted the lively reception. Overlooking the breezy Indian River Lagoon, the mansion offered breathtaking views and photogenic backgrounds. Laura and Kleber took advantage of the winding staircase, bright balconies, and palm tree lined landscapes to capture their invaluable wedding moments.
Suffice it to say I did not know how wonderful a Ukrainian wedding would be. From all the beautiful details to the wild dancing at the end of the night - this was a wedding photographer's delight. Thank you Mike and Natalie for letting me photography your beautiful wedding!
Venue: Knickerbocker Hotel Chicago
Church: St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church
Hair: Donielle Vines-Nowakowski
Makeup: Nika Vaughan Makeup Artists
Flowers: Steve's Flower Market
Dress: Mira Couture
Just this week I shot Emily and Kelby's wedding. So before then I wanted to put up their wonderful engagement photos from Naperville.