What is composition
Composition in photography refers to how we arrange and position our subjects to create a stunning photo. Simple landscapes and subjects can become stunning photographs if you can master the best composition.
There are many elements to consider when composing a photograph, but of course, the most important is your own creativity.
Check out some of these tips and ideas for composing your photos. Take some time out to give these techniques a try, then join us on the pRIOnts Facebook page and share your artwork.
Rule of Thirds
Your photo can be dramatically improved by positioning the subject away from the center of the photograph. This will give it a more natural look. Have a look at the picture above. I have positioned the giraffe so the head of the animal is at the top right-hand side of the image.
When you are taking photos, imaging your view has been separated into 9 segments as shown below. Try to position your subject where the lines intersect. This is known as the Rule of Thirds and can greatly improve many photos.
Remember: Some photos will come out best if the subject is centered. Keep this in mind and use your judgment to determine which composition will suit the image.
Sometimes when we use the rule of thirds, it can leave a big open space on one side of our image. To avoid this, you can ‘balance’ out the picture by including another subject in the background of the image.
The image of the meerkat would look too empty if the log wasn’t in the background to balance out the picture. When balancing a photo, try to make sure the background subject isn’t in focus to ensure a depth of field.
Our eyes are naturally drawn along lines when looking at a photo. It is important to think about the position of the subject and the effect it can have on the audience.
The ‘lines’ of the underside of the jetty, beginning at the top of the image, are drawing the audience through the picture to the center. This allows the audience to view the entire picture in a smooth transition. You’ll also notice the shadow of the jetty is a leading line beginning at the bottom of the picture connecting in the center with the top leading lines.
You can take very interesting photos of abstract subjects while incorporating symmetry and patterns. The first step is to identify the angle in which you would like to take a photo of a subject. I stood directly under the Eiffel Tower in Paris to take this shot.
Symmetry can come in man-made or natural form. You could find it in buildings, sculptures or the reflections on a river.
Similar to ‘Symmetry’, reflections can create beautiful photographs that draw an audience in. The most
common reflection images are created with rivers and lakes however, we can also find reflections from mirrors and the windows on buildings.
The angle and position in which you take your photo will impact the final product greatly. Have a look around the subject and think about where you can capture the best angle. Standing directly in front of the subject may not always produce the shot you are looking for. Go under, on top, side-to-side and experiment with your viewpoints.
There are hundreds of pictures of the Eiffel Tower available from the front, and recently the viewpoint pictured above is becoming increasingly popular. Why? It gives another perspective of the great tower. It shows an interesting side of the subject and draws the audience in. It is, simply put, more aesthetically pleasing.
When capturing a subject, especially people, consider the background. It’s disappointing to take a wonderful picture only to find that a busy background is distracting your audience from the subject. To avoid this, place your models or subject in front of a plain wall or landscape.
To take this photo, I asked my subjects to stand in front of a plain white wall. You can also use a backdrop if you have one available. This ensures that the audience will be solely focused on the people or subjects within the image.
In the right circumstances you can go the other way. You can place your subject in front of a background that could add interest to the image. This could include brick walls, forests, flower walls and buildings. These backgrounds can help with the picture’s aesthetics and draw the audience into the images focal point by way of symmetrical lines and the other tools we discussed above. Use your judgment to consider which background would suit your photograph.
Depth of Field
The depth of field refers to the amount of the image that is in focus. A high depth of field (f/22) allows more of the image to be in focus. This is ideal for landscape photography. A low depth of field (f/2) will focus on a main subject that is closer to the lens. This is ideal for macro photography, like the bee below.
The depth of field is determined by the subject, the background and the distance that you stand from your subject. But most importantly, the depth of field is determined by the aperture setting that you choose. As I mentioned above, a high depth of field will focus more of your image and a low depth of field will focus a segment of your image. Have a look at the diagram below. You will see that when set to an aperture of f/2 the shutter will open the whole way. When set to a higher aperture, the shutter will only open part of the way.
Try taking a photo of a flower in your backyard with each of these aperture settings; f/2, f/8, and f/22.
Framing your Subject
With some creativity, you can use just about anything to frame your subject. The outdoors provides many framing tools such as arching trees, caves and holes. Urban architecture can be used for framing too. You can position your subjects under bridges, building archways and tunnels to get an excellent framing effect. If you’re capturing landscapes, you can use tree lines and mountains to surround your scene as I have below.
Framing is something that you need to be creative with. It can give an amazing look to your photo, but you need to practice different framing styles to learn what you like. A good start is to go for a walk with your camera and see how many natural frames you can find.
Sometimes a subject in a photo won’t stand out as much as you would like it to. Cropping your photo to bring out the focus point will instantly improve it. I crop almost all of my photos to achieve a better look.
Try cropping one of your favorite images to bring out your focus point. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Let me know if these tips helped, and come onto the pRIOnts Facebook page and share your artwork for feedback and tips, I would love to see what you are working on!