Part 4: THE ART OF COMPOSITION

The Art of Composition? Well, yes, if you can master the composition rules and techniques, your photography will most likely become art! Isn’t that a great thought?

Today is the 4th in a series of composition rules and techniques. We have had a Checklist of 15 different rules and techniques to follow so that your photography can start looking professional. If you have missed any of the previous articles on this blog, then just go below, and you will see the articles 1 through 4 describing the different rules and techniques, that started this Monday. So, today, we are going to give you the last 5 techniques from this article by STACEY HILL and the article was posted in DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY SCHOOL.

#11 – Do you have a sense of scale in your landscape scenes?

Big mountain vistas are lovely. But sometimes they can become bland and uninteresting because they lack a sense of scale to truly appreciate them.

One recommendation is that a foreground element can be used to both ground the image and provide scale for the big vista behind it. Some photographers like to use themselves as a prop to help add scale as well.

Composition Checklist for Beginners - man in landscape scene

#12 – How does the eye travel around the image?

Where does your eye go first? Where does it end up? Is that the story you want to tell the viewer?

What do you have in the image to engage the eye? Are there different elements or points the eye can travel around? Does it have contrast? Are there elements that lead the eye out of the image? Are there elements that lead the eye into or around an image?

spider web in a tree - Composition Checklist for Beginners

#13 – Lens choice

Does the lens you are using affect the composition in a positive or negative way? Would a different lens be worth considering?

This can cross the boundary between a technical consideration and a creative one. Sometimes there may be a valid reason to use a specific lens, a faraway subject likely to fly away demands the use of a long lens. A tiny flower might be better shot with a macro lens. Telephoto lenses compress the elements in an image, making them seem closer together. Wide angle lenses create a lot of distortion around the edges, especially at minimal focal lengths.

Beyond that are the creative choices. Yes, you could shoot the front of this house with a wide focal length, but what if you put a zoom on and highlighted the fancy door knocker or handle? Is the lens you are using giving a flattering look to the person you are shooting?

Composition Checklist for Beginners - large eagle wings spread
A different lens would have allowed me to zoom out far enough to get this entire bird in the frame sigh.

#14 – Less is more

What truly needs to be in the frame? What can you leave out?

A mistake a lot of beginners make is to include too many elements in an image. It can be cluttered, messy, and confusing as to the point of the image.

Sometimes that can be used to advantage in things like street photography, but usually, less is more. A strong obvious subject and minimal distraction around it is a very aesthetically pleasing combination but it can be difficult to learn how to frame images up this way.

Composition Checklist for Beginners - landscape scene
So much going on here, its a bit overwhelming with no clear subject. It’s a pretty scene but is the composition effective?

#15 – Is the image sharp?

Do you want it to be? Not every image need to be 100% sharp. You can use aperture to creative effect by selecting a narrow depth of field. ICM or Intentional Camera Movement adds blur and movement as well. Use of specialty lenses like those from Lensbaby gives you many different ways to add soft focus or special effects to enhance your image.

Many street shots have blurred movement and creative focus elements, either the photographer or the subject (or both) may be moving.

Some people insist that images be absolutely as sharp as they can be, but that is a creative choice up to you, the photographer.

Composition Checklist for Beginners - motion blur from moving water
A bit of slow shutter speed on the waves for a soft creative swirl effect.

Summary

Some of the items on the checklist are basic sensible things that apply to most images. Some are more advanced technical considerations. Others may only apply if you are considering trying some more creative approaches to your composition

There are many other specific technical concepts that are not covered in this composition checklist. When you are ready for them, you can find plenty of information here on dPS to guide you.

This list is designed to cover the most basic ideas and thoughts that a beginner might need to keep in mind when first starting to think about properly composing and framing up their images. Good news, if you have made the step to start making your images with deliberate intention, that means you already have your feet on the path to becoming a better photographer.

Pick a few key items from this composition checklist that apply to your style of photography and try to remember them deliberately everytime you shoot. Eventually, it will become so automatic, you adjust for them without thinking, your mental muscle memory will have kicked in.

Are there any key concepts you feel should be included in this list?  By all means, let me know in the comments below.

Here are just a few more photos that show great composition techniques:

A PEXEL PHOTO BY JAYANT KULKARNI
A PEXEL PHOTO BY EKRULILA
Photo by Lanny Cottrell Photography

Published by 123photogo

I have been a photographer for many years. Worked in retail selling cameras and accessories for over 20 years. Taught many photo classes, and have even been a judge in several county fairs. Now, I want to share photo instructions and entertainment with all other photographers around the world.

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