(Photo is Copyright Nicole S. Young – All Rights Reserved)
Image and Post by Nicole Young – Follow Nicole on Twitter
Composition is an extremely important aspect of photography. Not only do you want your subjects to be positioned in a pleasing part within the frame (usually on a third-line) you also want to make sure that they are not pushing your viewer’s eyes too far to the edge of your photo.
One way to avoid this is to find triangular “flow” within your image. In the image above I have three main objects: a devil, a man, and a contract. My intention was to get the viewer’s eyes to circle around the photo without naturally being drawn too close to the edge and off the frame. You may start with the devil, then see that he is looking at the contract, then notice the man signing the contract … the point is to keep you, the viewer, interested and not lose your focus or have your eyes wander away from the main part of the image.
Photographs © Rick Sammon
Image and Post by Rick Sammon – Follow Rick Sammon on Twitter
My buddy Scott Bourne gets a kick out of my posts that were inspired by his posts. Scott: here is another one.
The Road picture Scott critiqued was cool. The first thing I saw was the “S” curved of the road. The “S” curve has been used by photographers (and of course painters) to add interest to a photograph – be it a landscapes, seascape, wildlife, or fashion photograph.
So, I went through my files and found some of my images that feature the “S” curve.
Try seeking out or creating the “S” curve when you are photographing.
For more “S” curve images, do a google search. Among the photographs you’ll find are some captivating images by Ansel Adams.
For more on why we like images with “S” curves and contours, and why we like particular images in general, pick up a copy of my favorite book: Perception and Imaging
- Photography, A Way of Seeing by Richard D. Zakia.
Copyright 2005 Scott Bourne - All Rights Reserved
a. Shoot a frame within a frame using minimal depth-of-field, with leaves, tree limbs or other framing devices in the foreground.
b. Give your subjects plenty of room in the frame to breathe. Avoid having the subject too close to the border, which makes it feel crowded.
c. Watch out for merging lines. If these merging or intersecting lines get in the way of the subject of your photo, they will be very distracting.
d. If you’re photographing moving subjects, try to photograph them moving toward you. When you do this, you can usually get away with a slightly slower shutter speed than normal, since action coming toward you is easier to freeze than action going side-to-side in front of you.
e. Look for “s” curves and fold them into your composition.
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Copyright Scott Bourne 2005 - All Rights Reserved
Trying to decide which composition best suits a scene is something that takes an eye for detail and some practice. But to make the path a bit easier, I’ve included some basic tips.
a. Know what NOT to include. Simplify, simplify, simplify. As you look at each element in the scene, ask yourself, “How does this element make the photo stronger?” If it doesn’t, simplify and remove it.
b. Remember that the closest object tends to dominate the foreground. If this is what you want to accomplish, no worries. But if the foreground object is simply in the scene to establish scale, be careful that it doesn’t take up too much real estate.
c. Check for intruders. Is that twig on your right in the frame? How about those messy piles of leaves on the bottom of the frame? Is there a telephone poll jutting into the scene from the left? Check all around the outside edges of the frame to make sure nothing is sneaking into your picture that you don’t want there in the first place.
d. Always try to work with odd-numbers of subjects. Five birds, three trees, seven apples, etc. For some reason, the human eye doesn’t like looking at batches of even numbered things as well as it does odd-numbered.
e. Every picture should have a beginning, a middle and an end. You can align this to a foreground, middle ground and background. Try to layer the shot. Have something of value that relates to the story you want to tell in every part of the picture.
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I’ve written here before about lines – specifically leading lines. But there are all kinds of lines that can help you compose a photograph more interestingly.
If you’re in a photographic rut, start looking for lines. There are lines everywhere and they make great compositional elements.
Look for diagonal lines, horizontal lines and vertical lines. Look for straight lines and crooked lines.
Give yourself a photo assignment. Grab a camera and a medium telephoto lens and go out looking for lines. Look for single lines or repeating lines.
There are lines in roads, fences, buildings, lines at boat docks, on football fields; heck there are even lines in the sky sometimes.
You can use lines to lead the viewer’s eye from one point to another in a photo.
Photos by Alex Lindsay
Sometimes, composing a photo is just as much about other areas of the photo as it is the subject. If you look at these images, you will see the use of the “other elements” to compose the picture. The first, Carrletta is behind Kie…it frames the photo and puts them together. In the Second, I shot Kie through his play gym. The out of focus foreground plays a key part of the composition. I often find myself looking for opportunities to use the background and foreground in the image as much as paying attention to the subject. Developing the muscle to look for the whole image is key to talking great pictures of the subject.
Be on the lookout for intruders trying to make their way in to your pictures. Branches, out of focus grass blades, telephone wires – all these and more can act as distractions.
Most camera viewfinders show only about 92-95% of the image. Keep that in mind while photographing. You may want to try shifting your camera around to see what’s at the edges.
Some intruders are hard to see in the viewfinder simply because they’re too close and not in focus. When you get your pictures back you see things you didn’t see before. Remember, you’re looking through your lens at its widest aperture. Accordingly, you’re looking at things with the shallowest depth of field. Some things won’t appear to be in focus. Use your depth-of-field preview button, and you’ll see any intruders. If you don’t have a preview button, try focusing throughout the range of your lens to see what may show up.
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