Camera Tips

Composition Hints

Here are a few basic composition hints

  • Imagine your view finder split into 9 rectangles by two vertical gridlines and two horizontal gridlines. Try and position key parts of your subject on the “thirds” of a picture (where the gridlines intersect). These are the ‘sweet spots’ to which the eye is naturally drawn
  • A good picture should “tell a story” immediately.
  • Crop! Crop! Crop! What doesn’t help hinders.
  • Get in close to your subject. Fill the frame (but remember cut-off by viewfinder and processors).
  • Watch out for distractions on the edge of the picture eg light patches, electric sockets, fire extinguishers etc.
  • Light in the early morning or late evening is often best, creating shadows, silhouettes and emphasizing textures. Light directly overhead is often ‘flat’ leading to ‘bland’ photographs. Don’t be afraid of shooting against the light, but if you do, carefully consider your exposure settings.
  • Use Advancing (warm) & receding (cool) colours – to your advantage. The advancing colours eg; Reds, yellows, violets and terracottas create a warm cosy compact feel, the cooler receding colours eg; light blues and greys make the space feel bigger.
  • Try framing the picture with trees, arches, or other shapes.
  • Use differential focus and depth of field, where the photographer chooses to have part of a photograph ‘in focus’ and part of it ‘out of focus’ – to “lose” or “blur” backgrounds or foregrounds. This technique removes distracting details / objects and permits the eye to concentrate on the key subject matter of the photograph.
  • Use natural lines to “lead the eye in” to key parts of the picture. (eg; roads & paths, fencing lines, hand rails etc)
  • Consider using portrait format, not always landscape.
  • You can “lose” an uninteresting ‘middle ground’ by using a low viewpoint.
  • Pack couples or groups closely together in posed people pictures.
  • In landscapes, look for some foreground interest, eg perhaps a boulder or a person, to give depth to the picture.
  • Don’t have skylines / horizons centred horizontally across the middle of a picture (ie; have different proportions at the top and the bottom of the picture eg; one third to two thirds). Keep skylines and horizons level! (NB; this can often be corrected in photo post processing)
  • If you have an uninteresting featureless plain sky without cloud definition, include only the minimum in your composition.

A good big ‘un always beats a good little ‘un!

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