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Creating Compelling Compositions
Instructors: Donna Eaton/Kevin Adams                                                                    Duration: 4 Weeks            Cost:US$169        

Have you ever wondered why some pictures are more appealing than others? What is it that makes a photo "work", or "not work"?

Have you ever wondered why some photographers consistently win the praises of judges and critics, and editors?

Snapshots may be well composed at times, but most outstanding images are created by paying careful attention to composition. How do you create a picture? First you must learn the guidelines for good composition. This means arranging the elements of a scene in your camera's viewfinder so they form something visually interesting to look at; something that will hold the attention of the viewer and take their eye on a journey around the frame.

One of the main reasons why some pictures are more outstanding than others is because of their strong composition. That's what this class is all about. You will learn how careful composition can improve your photographs and make them much more visually appealing.

Composition is the choice and placement of various elements in a photograph, and how they are placed relative to each other and the frame. It is somewhat like a puzzle with all the different pieces demanding your attention. If you arrange all those pieces in the right order you'll end up with well organized, structured image that makes sense, looks good and makes viewers want to linger. But if you put them together any old way, the end result will be a confused collection of colors, shapes, and pieces that are difficult to appreciate. The arrangement of the elements is a key factor in expressing your subject, your message, your emotion and story-telling of an image. Small changes in design can have a significant effect on the appearance of the resulting image, and careful thought should always be given to composing your image before you click that shutter. Good composition can seem a little bit like magic sometimes, but it can be learned and is an expression of your natural sense of design. This class will help you create images to express your artistic vision and produce outstanding, magical images.

Course Outline:
  • Using the "Rule of Thirds".
  • Choosing between a vertical and horizontal format.
  • Understanding horizons.
  • Filling the frame.
  • Composing in the viewfinder.
  • Using leading lines.
  • The power of diagonals.
  • 'S' and 'C' curves
  • Power shapes.
  • The use of odd numbers.
  • Using frames to enhance composition.
  • Using negative space and giving subjects room to move.
  • KISS (Keep it simple silly).
  • The importance of backgrounds.
  • Lens choice and use of focal length to influence backgrounds.
  • Using aperture to control backgrounds.
  • Checking for distracting elements (Border Patrol).
  • Breaking the rules.
Course Requirement:

A working knowledge of aperture and shutter speed and a desire to create dynamic photographic compositions. Suggested but not required: tripod, assorted lenses such as wide angle, standard and telephoto zoom, and macro lens.

Instructor: Donna Eaton

Donna EatonDonna Eaton is a professional photographer and North Carolina native now living on six acres in the Upstate of South Carolina. She spent eleven years as the staff photographer for a raptor rehabilitation and education center located in North Carolina before venturing out on her own as a professional photographer. There have been many honors and awards for Donna including being a winner in Nature's Best Magazine's annual Backyard Photo Contest, Nature's Best Magazine's Windland Smith Rice International Awards and the National Wildlife Refuge Association's annual photography competition. You can find Donna's photos gracing the pages of magazines, textbooks, billboards, brochures, websites and private collections. Publishing credits include the National Wildlife Federation, North Carolina Wildlife, American Greetings, Our State Magazine, WNC Magazine, Expressions Magazine, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, & Popular Photography.

Donna has conducted workshops, taught photography and been a featured speaker. She has also served as a leader for Popular Photography's Mentor Series and a NANPA Regional Event. Her work is represented by Getty images and Fogstock LLC. Memberships include North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), Carolinas' Nature Photographers Association (CNPA), Professional Photographers of America (PPA) & Photographic Society of America (PSA).

Instructor: Kevin Adams

Kevin AdamsA naturalist, writer, teacher, and photographer, Kevin Adams has had a lifelong love affair with nature and the outdoors and he enjoys sharing his passion with others. A photographer for nearly 30 years, Kevin is the author of nine books, including the bestselling North Carolina Waterfalls. In addition to photography, he enjoys hiking, kayaking, and gazing up at the night sky. He also writes magazine articles and his photographs appear regularly in books, magazines, calendars, and advertisements across the country. He is the man behind the popular Digital After Dark® blog and the free Night Photography News eNewsletter. Often called the “MacGyver of Photography,” Kevin has designed several unique products for night photographers, including the GelGrip™, for holding gel filters, and the LensMuff™, which he invented to keep dew from forming on the lens during long exposures. He lives in the mountains of North Carolina with his lovely wife, Patricia, their mischievous cats, Lucy and Titan, eight chickens named after women on Star Trek, two guineas named Spock and Data, and a groundhog that lives under the house and eats Patricia’s flowers. (Did we mention that Kevin is a Star Trek fan?)

To learn more about Kevin, please visit his website at and his Digital After dark blog at
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