Thursday, 18 April 2013 12:23

Composition – Make your photos “talk” Part 5

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Composition is one aspect of photography that differentiates good photographers from bad ones. There are certain guidelines which are discussed later, but really good photographers will sometimes bend these guideline to create the look and feel that they which to portray. The main thing is to be in control of the composition and create the look which you desire. If in doubt use the guidelines below and be very aware when you start bending these rules that it fits the purpose of your composition. One of the attributes of great artists is good composition in their paintings. 

For us mere mortals a few guidelines have been established to assist us in making your picture look better.

Thirds rule

Where the lines intersect on the thirds of the photograph is generally a good focus point. To take advantage of this one would compose a picture so that the subject’s eyes fall on this third. In a landscape it is good to place the horizon on one of the thirds lines. Even in action shots use the thirds rule: for instance a cricketer catching a ball in mid air could be composed so that the ball is on a third with the cricketer’s body stretching to reach it. So in summary use the thirds as focus point to draw attention to the subject.

Creating space

To add to the thirds rule it is a good idea to create space. If a person is looking in a leftwards direction place the eyes on the subject’s right-hand thirds - in doing so there will be space in the direction to which the eyes look. Same goes for an action photo of a person casting. Place the angler’s head on one third leaving the other third open in the direction in which the person is casting.


Backgrounds can be distracting and make photos look busy. Be very careful of things protruding from your subject such as background branches protruding from a subject’s head. Distraction could even be a lighter background than the subject. Also power and telephone lines can be distracting in outdoor photos and many times Photoshop is used to remove these distractions. In a next issue we will show how to make backgrounds blurred.


Depth is created in a photo when the foreground is included in the composition. Here one has to manage the depth versus the depth of field to make sure the picture remains in focus. Try a high  f stop of say F11 and a wide angle to achieve this. In this instance also keep the camera at a lower level close to the ground.


Although this is not strictly a composition issue I though it appropriate to discuss this important issue here. Most of our photos will be capturing family and friends in various situations, but no-thing gives away spontaneity more than when everyone’s eyes are looking at the camera. In this situation a good photographer takes photos without the subject knowing and in doing so captures the ”moment”. Street Photography is a facet on its own and possible the closest to what we want to achieve with our cameras. Street Photographers sometime shoot from their hips, use small discreet cameras, sometimes even hiding their cameras in clothing, all in aid of getting natural looking shots.

Read 853 times Last modified on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 10:36

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