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Composing Your Photos


MountainsComposition is how we arrange the photographic elements within our photo’s boundaries.  Good composition can make the difference between a snapshot and a great photograph.  Don’t just look at a scene for what it is, but look for what it can be or what possibilities it holds.  Look for interesting angles and perspectives and create a wonderful story out of the scene.


The first concept that you may have heard about is The Rule of Thirds.  Instead of placing your subject in the center, you try to position it at the intersection of imaginary points on the thirds of the frame.  I have added lines to the photo below to show you where the lines intersect.  booksglasses-rule-of-thirdsYour ultimate goal is to lead the viewers’ eye around the photo or to evoke an emotion.  This is not to say that every photo must abide by the rule of thirds.  Some compositions look great even when the rules are broken.




When you are out taking photos, look around, not just at what is ahead of you but up, down and behind you.  Many very interesting shots could be right behind you, if you don’t turn around occasionally you could miss them. Look for interesting angles of your subject.  You could simply point your camera at a flower and snap a shot or you can get down at it’s level and get a more interesting composition.  How about getting below the flower and shooting up with an interesting sky in the background.  If your subject is a person try taking the shot from above or from below.  Have you ever seen a photo or portrait of a person from a low angle?  You get the feeling that they are powerful, confident and assertive.


Nail & KnotLook for vertical or curved lines that you can use to draw your viewer into the photo.  Try positioning your subject on the diagonal of the frame.  Look for interesting patterns, textures and contrasts as these also make great subjects.


Another compositional method that works very well is framing your subject using a window, trees, a sculpture, etc.  Doing this tends to draw our eye straight into the photo to our main subject.


washington-state-capitalIdeally, you want to properly compose your shot before you take the photo.  However, that does not mean you have to write-off a poorly composed photo.  Many pictures can be made much more interesting by applying some creative cropping in post processing.  



I have come back to old photos and found a gem in something I had dismissed at the time as too ordinary.  So let your creative juices flow.  Also, take a look at the works of others for compositional ideas.


I hope these few pages have helped you and I wish you the best of luck in your photographic endeavors.  Just get out there and have fun, experiment and create some awesome photographs.


Check back often, as my plan is to add content periodicly.








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