It would seem I am being unreasonable to ask photographers to carry a sketchbook, even a small one, when they go out to photograph. Yet just a simple notan sketch can be a great aid to seeing better composition and understanding of tones.
So here is a simple example. I’m looking at a simple path I have walk along many times, with no obvious subject. So first I prepared a little sketch in 5 tones or a composition noting a couple of points of interest. The tree trunk on the right and the shadows on the path. How to I know this? They are the only places with a full sharp contrast between dark and light. I also consider the balance between lights and darks within the mass of mid-tone. The horizon line / apparent vanishing point is close to the centre (not at the rule of thirds intersections!) but the tones are informally balanced. Not a masterpiece but has potential.
Looking at the lightest values there are actually only two place that could be considered almost white, the tree trunk on the left and the distant section of path. The sky is a deeper blue because I am using a polarizing filter.
The shadows in the foreground are darker tan a mid-grey but lighter than blank. Perhaps even a bit darker than the fourth grey tone, which roughly correspond with the range of the shadow slider in lightroom.
I’m now ready to take my photo (see my next blog post)