Composition and good photography go hand in hand. Anyone can (with practice) perfect the technical skills to take a well exposed photo. It’s your flair for composition that will set your photos apart from the crowd.
The difficulty is, while technical photography can be taught using concrete rules and numbers, composition is a little more ‘artsy.’ A lucky few are born with a natural sense of visual style and balance. For the rest of us, it takes plenty of time and experience to develop a talent for composition.
Luckily there are a few tips and guidelines that can make the whole thing easier. One of these, the Rule of Thirds, I have already mentioned in a couple of previous articles. There is another principle of good composition that can add real impact to your photos; it just doesn’t have a name.
Today I want to write about using straight lines, or some type of lines in a composition to lead the eye of the viewer. This is a simple technique that helps to control the way the viewer sees your photo. You can use lines to lead the eye of the viewer within your composition, and even add impact to a particular part of your photo.
Imagine a photo with a panoramic landscape. You could think like a tourist and just snap the landscape with no thought for creative composition. But as a creative photographer, you have a better idea. You find an outlook that offers the same scene, but with a fence in the foreground.
For your first shot, you photograph the fence running horizontally across the foreground. In this situation, the fence is like a barrier between the viewer and the subject. It does not help the composition; in fact it’s probably an annoying distraction. People are likely to think, “Nice photo. It’s a pity the fence got in the way.
Next, imagine the same scene shot from a slightly different angle. Now the fence runs diagonally away from the camera toward the landscape in the distance. This alternate view (if done well) will create a completely different impact. The eye will be caught by the prominent subject in the foreground (the fence), and it will follow the line of the fence posts into the picture.
In this way the two elements of your composition work together to make a stronger picture. The fence is no longer a distraction; in fact, it adds emphasis to the background subject by leading the viewer in that direction.
The lines should be long (a line of two fenceposts won’t do much for your photo; twenty fenceposts will).There are many situations that can use this simple technique. A bridge, a jetty, a line of telephone wires, even railway tracks. There are all kinds of opportunities to use the lines of everyday objects to enhance a composition.
There are three things to look for when using straight-line objects.
Whenever I teach a photography class, there is a simple rule that I try to get across:
Anything that doesn’t make your composition better makes it worse.
A photographer in our hypothetical scenario should be applauded for choosing to use the fence to add interest to the landscape. After all, most good landscape subjects have been photographed a million times before, so the trick is to look for a more interesting angle. But having decided to use it, it is essential that the fence works with the rest of the composition. Otherwise, your picture may be better off without it.
As a creative photographer, always remember that nothing should appear in your photo by accident. All the elements of your photo should not only add interest, but also work cohesively to add impact to the entire composition.
About the Author:
Andrew Goodall writes for http://www.naturesimage.com.au and is a nature photographer based in Australia. He manages a gallery in Montville full of landscape photography from throughout Australia
Here are some more examples of photos taken by professional photographers, using leading lines. This way you can view these photos and learn from them, developing your own skill!
Nothing can quite intrigue and horrify us in equal parts like a town that was abandoned in its entirety.
Whether you’re looking for a creepy, off-the-beaten-path way to spend a day or a backdrop for a chilling photo series, we’ve rounded up the 13 most photogenic and terrifying ghost towns around the world.
A special thanks to Amy Daire for putting this together on msn.com/travel. And thanks to her sponsor for sponsoring this article:
Ahh, here it is, Halloween. An interesting holiday if you live here in Northern America. If you do not, it is probably a hard holiday to understand. But, now it has become one of North Americas 2nd most popular holiday next only to Christmas. Only Christmas has more money spent per household than this Halloween holiday. And it seems to get bigger and bigger every year. Parties, and even grown-ups are becoming more involved in this holiday than ever before. And as you can imagine, more opportunities to take pictures.
Years ago when I took a photography class from the New York Institute of Photography, they spent some time specifically on this subject, or this type of subject in general. There are 3 things that make picture taking work right for this type of holiday, or 3 questions you have to ask yourself:
1- What is the subject of the photograph?
2- How can I focus attention on that subject?
3- How can I simplify the subject?
What is the subject of this photo? Is it the girl? No, it is the teeth! Aren’t you focused on those teeth? Yes? Is it a simple picture, and no distractions in the background? Yes? So, all three of those questions are clearly met.
The three Guidelines are only part of the story on how to get great Halloween photos. The Second key, really, is to get into the “spirit” of Halloween. Halloween is about fantasy, fear, the supernatural, the eerie. The best thing you can do to make your Halloween photos even more dramatic is to use good, dramatic lighting. Since this seems to be a nigh-time event, and the ghouls are out for this holiday, it often means the lighting just has to be eerie, itself. Takes some great practice to get just the best effect, too.
Now, because we are talking about taking pictures at nightime, in the dark, do you forsee any problems? Ohhh, having worked at a camera store before, and seeing the pictures come in and so many disappointed people with their Halloween pictures, let me warn you now, the number one problem? Flash pictures will just take the effect away. So, shooting in the dark without flash is the best, but, it is hard when your camera is screaming at you that you need the flash. For sure, it’s even harder when your little boy is dressed in black and it is pitch black outside. So, figure some light that you can use to highlight the subject to give it some definition so you can still see what is going on with your subject:
See how in this photo there is just enough lighting to highlight the subjects and tell the story, yet, keep it very interesting.
But, of course, more than any other photo that is taken at Halloween is just all the cute kids that are dressed up in their costumes, ready to go “trick or treating” to all their neighbor’s homes. You have to get some photos of the kids. I am just going to include a few ideas of some of the great photos of some of these type of photos. Using what we have learned above, see if these follow those rules:
So, the idea with Halloween, is learn to be creative, have a lot of fun, but, you do have to take some great photos.
Here are some other great Halloween photos, just to give you some ideas: