PART 3: MORE IDEAS OF COMPOSITION!

Part 3 of a series of 3:  Final ideas to make your composition better than other photographers:

 

In this final series, I want to mention once again, that this applies to both photographers, and artists alike.  Artists, too, have this same issues as photographers, because they are trying to make sure their drawings, paintings are nice to look at too, and composition plays a big part for them as well.

 

VISUALIZE YOUR IMAGE BEFORE YOU TAKE IT:

 

To an artist, this seems like common sense.  To a photographer, this is one of the biggest mistakes photographers make.  Shoot first, then be disappointed later.  Imagine if you could that you came upon a beautiful landscape and then you could visualize in your mind what you want it to look like on your image sensor…… the final result.  So, how would you take that photo?  The difference between a good photographer and a great photographer is creative composition. Knowing the what, where, and how of composition will put you ahead of your peers and help you create a dynamic image every time.  And that takes practice for sure.  It is kind of like what your parents wish you did early in life:  “think before you speak”, only in this case:  “visualize before you shoot”.  The best images aren’t taken by accident. They’re carefully composed before the shutter button is pressed.

setting-up-composition
Photo by Wayne Turner

By carefully selecting and positioning your subject matter in a composition you will be able to create a successful image every time. Here’s how.

1-  VISUALIZE YOUR IMAGE

Know what you want in your image before taking it. Composition is not luck or chance. You rarely shoot a great photo by chance. By considering what you want in your image and placing it according to the rules you’ll be able to repeat great images all the time.

2-  CHOOSE THE RIGHT SUBJECT MATTER:

When visualizing a scene there are always several possibilities for a subject and related elements in the photos. By choosing the right subject for a particular image you will create the perfect image. The right subject for the right scene will create the right photo.

composition-photo

3- SELECT THE RIGHT FOCAL POINT:

It is essential when choosing a subject to place it on a focal point that creates interest in the image. This is the area that draws the eye of the viewer into the photograph. This focuses the eye on the part of the photo you want to emphasize. There may be several possibilities but choosing the right one will create the best possible image.

4- CHOOSE THE BEST FORMAT:

Normally you might shoot the photo horizontally.  See how it looks if you shoot the photo vertically.   In between the two is a 45 degree angle which makes an image dynamic with the diagonal lines created by the tilted view.

Framing your photo

In the past, it wasn’t a strange thing to see a photographer use his hands to frame the landscape first to see how it would look in his mind

 

 

 

It does take time and effort to learn to do this, but, it is important in your pre-visualization of your composition.

 

LEARN TO TELL A STORY WITH YOUR PHOTOS OR PAINTINGS:

 

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. That means that your photographs or paintings should be a great way for you to communicate. The question is, do your photographs communicate the right thousand words to tell your story?

composition-to-tell-a-story
Photo by E_Bass; ISO 400, f/4.5, 1/45-second exposure.

I think we have all had this experience before:   photographing in a wonderful location, feeling eager to rush home and look at your pictures, only to be disappointed in the results? It’s quite a challenge to convert a three-dimensional, full sensory experience into a two-dimensional photograph.

I would like to give you a few tips that I have learned that may help you in your success rate in obtaining higher than normal quality photos. Instead of just raising your camera for a quick snapshot,  now you would take the time to make a careful composition decision about the scene and how you feel about it.

 

#1  CHOOSE COLORS OR TONES THAT MAY REINFORCE YOUR STORY:

Light is the fundamental building block of any image. Light produces two kinds of contrast: color contrast and tonal contrast. Color is the hue that you see, like red, or green, or purple. Tone is another word for brightness, or how light or dark something is. Our brains are good at forming associations, and we associate colors and tones with particular feelings. These same associations appear in our spoken language. You’ve heard the expressions, “He was in a dark mood,” and “She was feeling blue.”

Blue connotes melancholy or tranquility. It’s also a color associated with stability and reliability. (What color are the logos of IBM, Microsoft, and Ford?) Red is the color of passion. Photographing an orange beach umbrella gives a stronger impression of a hot day than a purple one. Using dark tones creates a sense of gloom and foreboding. Light-toned images make us feel light-hearted and uplifted. Consider carefully whether the tones and colors in your image strengthen the story you want to tell or contradict it.

best-composition-tricks
Photo by Susanne Nilsson; ISO 200, f/11.0, 1/1000-second exposure.

#2 USE LINES TO GUIDE YOUR VIEWERS EYES

Color and tone also reveal lines in your image. Lines are the boundaries created where two contrasting colors or tones meet. A thin shape, like a road, the stem of a plant, or a tree branch, may also be perceived as a line in your photograph. The brain’s visual cortex is programmed at a fundamental level to follow lines.

This is a powerful tool for you as a photographer. You can guide your viewer’s eye toward what you consider important in the image by using something in the environment to point to it. Conversely, be careful not to inadvertently place lines so that they lead your viewer out of the image.

#3  ORIENT THE LINES IN YOUR IMAGE SO THEY CONVEY THE RIGHT EMOTION:

Just as with colors, our brains also make emotional associations with line orientation. Vertical lines in an image give an impression of power, strength and pride. Horizontal lines are stable and calm. Diagonal lines, on the other hand, are dynamic, and signify motion or change. Curved lines may convey a sense of melancholy or of hope, depending on the direction in which they curve.

compositon-advice
Photo by Mike Steinhoff; ISO 200, f/5.0, 1/125-second exposure

 

Think carefully when composing your image so that you include colors, tones, and lines that reinforce the story you’re trying to tell. You’ll be much more likely to create a photograph that captures and communicates how you felt when you were observing the original scene.

 

EVERY PHOTO SHOULD BE YOUR CANVAS

I read this once from a well known photographer, and I think that helps me realize that every photo I take is not a snapshot.  Every photo I take is going on canvas.  In fact, as you think about taking this photo now, think:  “how big is this photo going to be on someone’s wall”.  If you thought that, would you do something different taking your photo?

Original_Jeanine-Hays-Gallery-Wall-6-Dwell-Studio-Patterned-Wall-Sofa-Artwork_s4x3.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.966.725

If you get a nice shot, what usually happens? You frame it and put it on your wall. Why do you frame it? Because it draws attention! In the children’s story “Charlotte’s Webb”, Charlotte concludes that people believe what they see in print. Likewise, people believe if something is framed it must be important. So why wait? When shooting, framing means something in the foreground that sets off, or “Frames” your main subject. Framing helps create a sense of depth by creating opposition. Start framing your shots, while you take them.  Have you ever seen photos that have a natural frame in the photo?  It makes it even a nicer photo.

Framing 4
A sample of framing your subject

 

framing 3 (2)
Photo by:  Oksana Karaush  and another great idea of framing the subject.

 

framing-composition
Another idea of framing your subject

 

framed arch
Another example of framing your subject

Between the series of the 3 blogs on Composition, I hope you have enough in your tools now to go out and create some incredible photos.  But, I hope that there is one thing more than anything that you have learned:  and that is in order to become a success as a photographer, or even an artist, you must see your photo or painting as a finished product.  See it hanging on the wall.  Put some feeling into every photo.  Not just one or two, but practice doing that with every photo.  And the next thing is to learn from a photographer.  This website is full of great examples of great photographers.  I am constantly trying to find new photos, new photographers to help us all.  I am constantly finding new people who take photos that just take me to a new level myself, and make me want to take more photos and want to find out how to do it myself.  Let’s go for it, and soon, I hope to see your amazing photos here as well.

 

Article written by:  Lanny Cottrell for 123Photogo

 

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