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Monday, January 28, 2013

Time to Click: Composition

Did you know there are basic rules that photographers follow... it's not all technical and functional!

Composition from Wikipedia is described as:  the placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art or a photograph, as distinct from the subject of a work. It can also be thought of as the organization of the elements of art according to the principles of art.
The term composition means 'putting together,' and can apply to any work of art, from music to writing to photography, that is arranged or put together using conscious thought.

So to kick off our "putting it all together" week... I thought what better place to start then the real down and dirty... core element of photography... Composition. 

There are several "rules of composition" that photographers commonly follow. Here are some of my fav's! 

(I have posted some of this prior, if it seems familiar... this is a much more in depth and inclusive list)

1. Fill the Frame with your subject. (imagine if Dad was shown... it would really limit what you could see of baby! Plus it would make him look HUGE because she is SO small!)

 #2 If your subject is TALLER then they are WIDE, shoot VERTICAL

#3 If your subject is WIDER then they are TALL shoot horizontally

Note: If you cant get what you need with your camera's zoom or lens, use your physical zoom... YOUR LEGS! Move yourself closer or farther to be able to fit your subject!
Leading Lines: When we look at an image our eye is naturally drawn along lines. These lines can be made from a background such as a road, bricks, steps, as well as using people and your pose to create it!  Look for lines within your image to create interest and tell the viewer where to look! Check out your favorite scenic shot... I bet you find a leading line in it!

Lines from the elbows up to the topmost head
Perspective or Viewpoint: Before photographing your subject, take time to think about where you will shoot it from. Rather than shooting from eye level, consider photographing from high above, down at ground level, from the side, from the back, change it up!
Angled Down

Rule of 3rd's: Imagine you have a tic-tac-toe board over your frame. It is separated into 9 equal parts with 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines. This rule says that you should position the most important elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect. Filling either 1/3rd or 2/3s of your frame to do so.

NOTE! Some cameras even offer an option to superimpose a rule of thirds grid over the LCD screen! This is EXTRA handy when shooting anything with a horizon line so you can keep your perspective and horizon straight!

Balancing Elements: Sometimes having a subject on one side of the frame, may leave a lot of empty space on the other, and it may feel unbalanced especially in scenic photography. You can balance the "weight" of your subject my including another object of lesser importance to fill that space.

Symmetry and Patterns: Capturing a pattern, or symmetry in your image can make for breath taking views and amazing scenic photography. This image is framed amazingly, with a full square shown around the border, patterns in the windows and symmetry on both sides. Sometimes adding an item of interest or (in portrait photography) your subject into this will break the symmetry but create more interest.  I am hard pressed to find a better example of Symmetry and Pattern for you, however I wish the bucket was larger (or more preferred it was a little girl playing on the side of the steps) to better showcase the broken effect.

The symmetry of this chapel is broken by the bucket in the bottom right corner. Image by Fabio Montalto.
Framing Your Subject: While the above image does create it's own frame along the edge... Framing your subject typically applies to using things to highlight your subject. Utilizing natural elements or props to "frame" out your subject. Trees, holes, archways, shadows, grass, door frames... even real "frames"!

Background: The human eye is great at distinguishing between subjects and backgrounds. Your camera however does tend to flatten the image, and subjects tend to "get lost" into busy backgrounds. Creating images that are not as dramatic or engaging as the could be. You can control your background with aperture, backdrops, or even light placement to create the perfect image.

Example of a "lost" background opportunity.

Clean backgrounds make products pop!

Amazing baby... distracting background.


Well there you go... a more in-depth look at composition and how it will effect, change and improve your photography! Keep in mind, several of these images have more then one technique being used... besides the baby who's image I used twice, can you find some? Be sure to comment below and let me know!

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