Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Intro to Composition

Today we’re going to talk about COMPOSITION.

Simply put, COMPOSITION is bringing the image you’ve just visualized to life in a pleasing and attractive fashion. Pretty straight forward, isn’t it? Like many things related to photography, it goes deeper than that, simple- yes, easy - no.

Diving into the subject on a basic level, we’re going to cover some basics today.

First, there is subject and object placement to consider. Then there are color, exposure, DOF, weight, balance, and various other considerations.

The tips I’m outlining are not hard and fast rules! While often called rules, you can break them anytime. The trick is to know when and why to break them. That takes some time and practice.

The most commonly discussed is the “rule of thirds.” This rule states that your subject, or subjects, should be placed along an imaginary line dividing the image into thirds. For a more powerful composition, intersections of horizontal and vertical thirds are used. I’ve included a chart showing this and a sample using it below.

This is just a basic chart to show where things line up.

This is an example using a photo I recently took. Notice how the right line runs through the middle of her eye and the bottom right intersection is right about on the corner of her smile. Also, notice the diagonal lines formed by her eyes, smile, and head.

Another rule is the “Golden Spiral.” This one seems to have several names. This is placing your subject near one of the points of intersection in the thirds, and using a nautilus type spiral to lead the eye through the image to the subject. There is some mathematics behind this using the Fibonacci sequence and the “Golden Ratio” of 1.618 to 1. This can be more appealing than a simple rule of thirds, as this more natural. It just takes some practice and patience. I’ve included a link to a site that shows an applet demonstrating this and several others.

Java Adjuster A cool applet that shows the effects and use of the rules regarding composition.
Golden Section and the Rule of Thirds An informative sight covering more about using these rules.

Place your subjects and objects according to how you visualized their importance to the scene. A subject that is important to the overall composition can be placed on one the intersections, or in the center of your “Golden Spiral,” while objects of lower importance can be placed along either a vertical or horizontal third only. Giving each object or subject a weight or ranking based on how you visualize the scene can help in using, and breaking, the rules.

Another important element in COMPOSITION is lines. By having lines in your image, you can lead your viewer through your vision and tell a story in your work.

Diagonal lines add a dynamic and powerful element to an image. C and S shaped lines create a sense of grace and harmony. Vertical and horizontal lines are static. Including a graceful element, like a river, and ensuring that is either C or S shaped, gives the viewer a sense of calm and grace. Use your leading lines, and you will see a change in how you look at a scene and how you start to visualize your images.

Here's a link to a nice little page about COMPOSITION. It's short, simple, and very helpful! 10 Top Photography Composition Rules

Well enough for today. We’ll dive more into COMPOSITION in another post.

Try this out and let me know how it works for you! There are a large number of places that will help you feel more at ease with your COMPOSITIONS around Hohenfels! I’d love to know if it helps! If you have a question, post it to our Facebook account. Also post it here as a comment on the related post, I’ll review it and get back to you! If you have a photo you’d like to share, add it to our wall on Facebook, and I’ll get it posted here.

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