Friday, January 21, 2011


Simply put, Composition is known in the photographic world as using "The Rule of Thirds". What is the Rule of Thirds? It's a rule or guideline used to make your picture is well balanced and interesting. I say the Rule of Thirds is more a guideline instead of a rule because once you find your niche, you  may not always follow the Rule of Thirds, and at times, the Rule of Thirds just doesn't always look good. Besides, Rules are meant to be broken right?? :D

Like I said, the Rule of Thirds is more of a guideline, but a good guideline to say the least. The theory of the Rule of Thirds is that if you place a subject (trees, people, water, etc.) on the lines or at the intersections of the lines, then your photo will be more balanced. 
Where the red dots are are known as points of interest. Many photographer like to line up what they are shooting at those points of interest. 
Here you can see I used the Rule of Thirds, bottom 1/3: river. center 1/3: trees and mountain. top 1/3: sky 
Here you can see I used the Rule of Thirds by only using 1/3 foreground and 2/3  for the sky.

But Rules are meant to be broken!

You can see in this picture the horizon is directly in the center, 50% water, and 50% sky. 
Also to compose a good photo, it's important to fill the photo with interest. Make sure when you take your photo, you know what your point of interest is/are. Bring it in close if it's a person. 
Bring them in close so you know where the center of attention is and you're not distracted. Don't be afraid to tilt your camera and add your own style. 

You can see how bad this composition is by the bad points of interest, there is no depth of field, there are many empty spaces, and you can hardly see any details in the man. Also the photo is very busy, there is a lot going on. As you can see there are people walking in the background, other people sitting and they appear to be eating. Your focus is taken away from the man they initially intended to shoot. 

As you can see, Composition is what makes a picture. Its the what makes the picture interesting or not interesting. It is what makes a person go "WOW! I really like that photo!" or go "cool". The simpler the photo, the more it says. The more complex the photo, the less the photo says. You can really create a stunning, powerful, and meaningful photo with less.

Example of a too busy bad composition photo:
The photo above was taken by me. This has terrible composition. It doesn't follow the rule of thirds, but more like a 4 square ball playing court. There is a lot going on here. You have the driftwood on the bottom, you have the water behind it, red pedals on the ground, a big tree taking up half the picture, and some sky in the corner. This photo is not simple and it leaves you looking at everything. Nothing is spectacular about it, you just go, uh huh. There isn't anything that stands out and makes you go wow, that catches my interest. A picture like this you go, should I look at the deep blue sky? Should I look at the bright green tree? How about the driftwood?

But a photo like this is simple and powerful. It's strong, sharp, and simple. I took this by just getting a flower from outside, putting it on a black table and shooting my flash to light the flower. The pedals casted a nice yellow shadow to go underneath. This photo isn't busy, it doesn't have you looking all over the place, it leaves you with the single subject.

Ways to take a picture with good Composition:
1) Use the Rule of Thirds. If you feel that your photo looks good with the rule of thirds, then go for it!
2) Points of Interest. Are your subjects lined up or along your Thirds line? Is your subject interesting? How about the rest of the picture? Does it look good and balanced?
3) Bring your subject in close. Lets see some detail. If you need to zoom in or crop your photos, then do so. Sometimes you may not have the zoom to bring in your subject close enough, don't be afraid to crop your photo!
4) Take multiple photos with different angles. Go back and put the photos on your computer. Sometimes what you see on your LCD screen doesn't look as good as when you put it on your computer. You'll be surprised with what you get from different angles and views!
5) Don't be afraid of adding your own style and view of things.. Add a little tilt to your portraits.. But always make sure your landscape horizon is straight! 
6) Change the your F-Stop. When you're taking a landscape photo, 99% of the time you want everything in your picture to be sharp and visible; so you should shoot with a higher F-stop number. When you're taking a head shot or portrait photo you want your focus to be on that certain person, so you'll want to shoot at a lower F-stop number, creating bokeh (blurred background).


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