Photographic Composition

The critical base of all great imagery

Photographic composition: an online talk by Nigel Hicks.

An online photography talk by Nigel

The second of my new series of online talks was held on 14th October 2020, covering photographic composition. As I explained in the talk, the critical base for all great imagery, photographic composition lies at the heart of all photography. This is so whether we’re talking about travel, landscape, nature, people or architectural photography.

A recording of the talk is now available to view at any time, both on You Tube and in this blog. To see the video, just scroll further down this page.

Photographic composition: an outline of the talk

I covered many of the main aspects to consider when creating a photographic composition, much of it hinging around the double mantra ‘Keep It Simple: Less is More’. This essentially covers the need to ensure that each image contains just one main subject that dominates the image frame, with the rest of the image free of clutter and distracting or competing elements.

I used my own photography throughout the talk to illustrate my main points, dissecting a number of images to illustrate how the various components worked together to support the main subject. These included such processes as the use of diagonals both to direct attention towards the main subject, and very simple backgrounds to enable the subject to dominate the frame.

Photographic composition: analysis of a palm tree image.

Watch the recorded photographic composition talk here

The full 37-minute talk can be viewed here. To watch it at full screen, simply click on the full-screen icon in the bottom right. If watching it full screen, make sure you are watching it in HD format.

I hope you enjoy the talk!

Looking beyond photographic composition

Of course, great photographic composition is absolutely fundamental to quality photography. A badly composed image will always be a bad photograph no matter what else is done to the image.

However, composition is not the only prerequisite to the creation of great imagery. A second component is also light. Every great composition needs the right light be make it almost literally shine. This will show the subject of the photography off to its best, creating an image with the greatest impact.

The role of natural light in photography is the subject of my third talk, which will be held on 11th November. This talk will then published online shortly after that. Keep an eye out for its appearance!

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll enjoy this talk. In addition, you can also see the previous talk, Goals in Photography, which was held in September, by clicking on the link below.

Photographic composition: an apartment building in evening sunlight.

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Goals in Photography

The first talk in Nigel’s new series of online photography talks

I held the first of my new online photography talks on 23rd September, the inauguration of a planned ongoing series of free talks that anyone can attend. This first talk, entitled Goals in Photography, saw me explore some of the photography I’ve done during my lengthy career as a professional photographer. Images shown included some of my personal favourites, as well as images that have marked important points in my career, and/or illustrated and explained some of the goals that I constantly strive to achieve with my photography.

Mt Everesty, one image in Nigel Hicks's Goals in Photography talk.
Mt Everest seen from the North Face Base Camp; Tibet, China.

Watch a video of the talk now

The talk was recorded and can now be watched on both You Tube and right here, lasting about 34 minutes.

To watch the talk just click on the link below:

Naturally, I really hope you will enjoy the talk. Feel free to leave any comments or queries in the comments section of this blog. I’ll do my best to answer anything you’d like to ask.

Young boy with bubble gum and toy guny, one image in Nigel Hicks's Goals in Photography talk.

Programme of upcoming talks

This Goals in Photography talk was hugely successful, with about 40 people taking part. There will now be three more talks before Christmas, which will be:

14th October – Composition

11th November – Light

9th December – Landscape photography

All the talks will be free to attend. All I ask is that you register in advance so that I know to send you the link to enable you to join.

To find out more and to register for any or all of the talks click on the button below.

Golden Snub-nosed monkey, one image in Nigel Hicks's Goals in Photography talk.
Golden snub-nosed monkey.

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A Wild Philippines talk at Birdfair

The UK’s annual festival of all things to do with birds, Birdfair, has started and will run 18th-23rd August. I’m so proud to be able to say that in the line-up is a talk by myself, in which I’ll be showcasing the birds of the Philippines, a talk entitled by the organisers Fabulous Philippines.

Using photography from my recent book, Wild Philippines, the talk will explore the avian wildlife of that wonderful country, highlighting mainly just a handful of the many species unique to the country. These include the mighty Philippine Eagle, all 11 species of hornbill, and a host of pigeons and doves, to mention just a few.

Philippine Eagle
A Philippine Eagle

Birdfair goes online

Normally held on the shore of lovely Rutland Water, a major sanctuary for birdlife in eastern England, this year of course Birdfair has to be wholly online. That hasn’t stopped the organisers pulling together a superb event, with a huge line-up of talks, events and exhibitions.

To go to Birdfair’s home page click on the link below:

My Philippines talk at Birdfair

My talk on birds of the Philippines, which the organisers have entitled Fabulous Philippines, goes live at 8am (UK time; 3pm in the Philippines, 3am USA east coast) on Saturday 22nd August, so you’ll be able to watch it online from then and for the next three months. The talk will also be published next week on my You Tube channel.

Consisting of a mix of videos and stills photography, with my own narration, the talk runs for 15 minutes, introducing the Philippines’ main terrestrial habitats and some of their representative life. As already mentioned, the photography comes from my recent book project Wild Philippines.

Naturally, I really hope you’ll watch the talk, and that you’ll find it enjoyable. You can find my talk at the address below. The page is already live, but it won’t be possible to launch the video until Saturday 22nd Aug.

An early morning view across farmland near Tumpis (at about 1350 metres) to the summit of Mt Apo, Mt Apo Natural Park, Davao, Mindanao, the Philippines.

Getting hold of a copy of Wild Philippines

Wild Philippines is widely available from both high street and online book stores around the world, including Amazon. In the UK, the main high street outlet is Waterstones, while in the Philippines it is National Book Stores.

It can also be bought directly from me through my website. Just click on the link below to go to the relevant page.

Wild Philippines cover

I hope you’ll enjoy my Birdfair talk!

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Photography talks move online

Nigel’s first webinar

With all but one of my in-person talks this spring cancelled, I’ve started moving my talks online, thanks in the first instance to an invitation from the Sodbury and Yate Photography Club (a group near Bristol).

Nigel Hicks in front of his computer, about to start his first online talk.
Nigel about to run his first online talk, for Sodbury and Yate Photography Club. 1st June 2020.

Setting up the first online talk

That invitation came through just a few weeks ago, and the talk went ahead last Monday, on 1st June, using Zoom software. Although I’ve participated in webinars before, as a listener, this was my first experience as the presenter. Initially, I found it slightly unnerving, talking to an invisible audience, just the photography I was presenting visible on the screen. I felt as though I was talking to myself, and with no audible feedback coming from the audience I really couldn’t be sure there was anyone out there in cyberspace!

Still, I got used to it, and pretty soon I was losing myself in the on-screen photography, to the point that the time flew by.

For subject matter, things stayed pretty close to home, the remit to talk about photography in southwest England’s two national parks, Dartmoor and Exmoor. So it was mostly landscape photography, though there was also a little wildlife material, most especially around Exmoor’s well known Red Deer.

Nigel in action, delivering his webinar.

I hope you like the short video showing a few highlights of the talk: just a taster. Sadly, of course, I’m not looking at the camera shooting the video: instead I’m talking at the on-screen photography and to the online audience that was hopefully at the other end of my webcam. Needless to say, there was an audience out there – as the line of questions at the end proved, reassuringly!

So, if anyone out there has a society or club that you would like me to talk to, get in touch and lets see if we can organise an online event.

Photography courses

Finally, a short note about my photography courses. All the spring events that were postponed have been rescheduled, with the first one set for 4th July. That will be Dartmoor in Spring (I guess that should now be renamed Dartmoor in Summer!). For further information about the courses click on the link below.

Red Deer on Exmoor, one of the images from Nigel's online talk.
Red Deer in countryside near Dunster, Exmoor National Park, Somerset, Great Britain.