tracey medcalfe photography | You're Smarter Than Your Camera - Composition - Some Essentials

You're Smarter Than Your Camera - Composition - Some Essentials

August 07, 2015  •  Leave a Comment
You're Smarter Than Your Camera - Composition - Some Essentials
Hello everyone and welcome back to the 'You're Smarter Than Your Camera' blog.  I am excited to take up where we left off with the new month of composition!  This is a topic that could be a blog of its own and although it definitely has a big subjective element to it,  there are a number of 'rules' that most people would agree improve an image.  There are also tools with most modern cameras that can help with the composition.

This week will provide an introduction to composition and going forward we will look at more detailed aspects.

Enjoy and thanks for reading,
Basically composition is how you choose to frame the picture you are just about to take.  Every time you take an image, you are making decisions about composition, whether you think about it or not and as with's better to think about it :-). So for this week, I am going to outline just 5 tips that will improve your images if you follow them.  I  will also include ideas for having your camera assist with these tips - some cameras have tools built in.  So here goes -
1. Rule of Thirds
Imagine your image divided into 3 equal sections.  If you imagine lines that divided the sections and place your subject  at one of the cross-sections of those lines, you will make a more interesting this point I would just like to say that of course rules are to be broken (definitely for the mischievous) and there are occasions where the subject would be better right in the middle of the frame.  But please treat these rules as general guidelines rather than absolute truth.  See the drawing below for an example portrait where the subject's eye is positioned on one of the intersections.  It doesn't have to be exact, just close.

The image underneath is included with the thirds gridlines and you can see where the subject lies.

2. Where to Put the Horizon Line
Most images look best when the horizon line is either below or above the centre of the image.  Smack centre doesn't create as much interest in the image, with the exception of an image of a reflection.

The image below shows an example of the horizon being higher than the centre line of the image.  There is clearly much more interesting material in the image below the horizon than above it, but sometimes it can be the opposite.

3. Look or Lean Into the Frame
When photographing people and animals, it is always more interesting to have more of the image space on the side that they are looking at.  I.e. they are looking into the frame.  It gives the subject space and it allows the viewer to read the story of the subject more naturally.
4. Leading Lines
Leading lines draw the viewer into the image.  They provide a direction for the view to enter the image and then can transport them to the main subject.

In the image below, it is clear that the path is leading you into the image from the bottom left and drawing your eye to the main subject - the building.  Leading lines can be natural, like rivers or can be man made like fences and pathways.
In the second image, it is actually the coastline that leads you into the centre of the image.

5. Pattern and Texture
Images with strong patterns either man made or natural can make very interesting images.  In the same way, texture also provides interest in the composition of an image.

In the first image, I love the way the patterns from these palms create a dark contrast with the warm sun setting sky behind. in the second one, I love the way the green palm creates a patterned background which is mostly out of focus for the flower in the foreground.... although the image may be a little busy you get the idea.  In the third image you can see the bold texture of this plant.

Your Challenge
When you are taking photographs this week try to think of one element from this blog....take the image as you would have done and then take it again using one of the 5 guidelines above and see if you like the difference and enjoy your photography. 
Next Time
Next week I will go through some more detailed aspects of composition and introduce some of the common terms used to help define composition like tone, and key, grain and noise etc. I will also look at how different camera lenses affect the composition.  
As always, I would love to hear any comments or questions you have.
Have fun,

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