When you understand good composition, then you know when you can break the rules.
In this edition I hope to teach you some of the standard rules to follow when shooting so you can improve your final outcome. It will be then up to you to work out the best way of breaking these rules so you can come up with some unique ways of shooting a scene.
Now composition for anyone that doesn't know is basically, where things are placed on the final image. Now this is important for landscape photography, but also plays a major role in most other types of photography. Now there are a few different composition techniques, but the one that I have always used, and is probably the most common, is the Rule of Thirds. Basically what this rule states is when you look through your cameras lens you divide the image into one third segment, both horizontally and vertically, as shown in the image below.
So on the picture above generally, you will decide what is going to be the focal point in your picture, for landscape photography this can be either something on the ground or something in the sky. So if the ground is going to be the main focus of your shot then you would line up the horizon with the top horizontal line. Or if you were shooting something like a sunset, you may have the horizon lined up with the bottom horizontal line. In most cameras these days you can have the option of displaying a grid or not to display a grid. So when you are starting out or practicing having the grid on gives you a good guide. The red dots on the grid above is where it is good to have the main subjects on your photo placed.
So, I never have used a grid to line up my shots, but I always keep this technique in the back of my mind when I take a shot, as you can see from the above photos they are still pretty close.
In the first image of Stonehenge you can see that the horizon is basically in line with the with the bottom horizontal third of the picture. And even though normally someone would take a shot of Stonehenge taking up two thirds of the picture, I like to always take a different perspective. In this example making the clouds and the sky the main focus.
You may go to a place that is a tourist haven, but the way I think about it is, how can I shoot this same object I have seen so many times before in a way that no one else has seen before. This example, you may say, is still a very standard shot, which it is, but if you have ever been to Stonehenge you know that you can not get very close to the structures at all and there are hundreds of people walking a loop path the whole way round. This means you always will have people in the background. But sometimes good composition is also about patience and waiting for that one moment that everyone is hidden behind the structure so it looks as though you are there alone.
In the second image you can see that the boy character is in line with the left third line and the dogs face is on one of the red dots, thus when you look at this image even though most of the subjects are on the left side of the image it still seems well weighted or balanced.
Some times with composition you must try to think outside the box. For example this shot, how many photos have you seen of Uluru? But in this picture of Uluru the main focus is the stark trees in front of Uluru, first you look at them, then your eyes look at what is in the background. Also this is a picture of a landscape, but who says that a landscape shot has to be taken in a landscape format. Thus this image leaves you with some intrigue as to what lays further to the left of this image.
Another technique when composing a picture, is to have some lines or a path that lead the viewers eyes into a shot and therefore making them feel involved in the image. Using this technique you can control where a viewers focus lays.
If you didn't do this then the viewers eyes may wonder around an image and leave them feeling confused as to what the image was supposed to be about. I have provided a few examples of shots that lead your eyes into an image below.
These pictures leave you with a sense of purpose to the image or a story that the image has told you by leading your eyes into an image.
Another technique to consider is to fill the whole frame with your subject, this leaves no doubt in someone's mind as to what the image is supposed to be about. This technique can be used if you are trying to create an image with high impact, because you are putting the subject right in the viewers face. As with this picture below of this old broken bullet ridden train. As you look at this image and get drawn in further you start to see more and more damage it leaves you with a sense of history and thoughts as to what this train has been through.
So I would like to leave you with a few other things to consider when you are composing your images. Firstly, always pay attention to what is in the background of your image. Particularly when you are taking photographs of people. I don't know how many amazing photos I have seen of people where the image is ruined by something in the background. In most cases this could have been avoided by the photographer moving just slightly, to hide the object in the background or so a pole isn't coming out of someone's head in an image.
Secondly avoid having the main subject of your image directly in the centre of the image, the only time you really need to do this is if you are taking a passport photo.
Lastly don't forget to break the rules. Now don't break all of them at the same time because that is what is called a badly composed photo, but break maybe one or two in a shot, experiment and enjoy trying to create something from a perspective that no one else has thought about doing.
I hope you have enjoyed this months' topic "Composition, point and shoot?". Please share this with any of your friends you think it may benefit.
And if you have any topics you would like me to cover in future editions of "Photography Tips" please feel free to contact me by any of the means below.