Up for Discussion – Composition
Today’s guest blog is from Stacey who has a blog called Lensaddiction. Stacey has offered to write a post on composition and some of the basic aspects of it that help make a good image.
I get frustrated by the fancy books and websites with amazing shots from Iceland and Patagonia, waterfalls in Norway, amazing scenery in places I can never expect to go. Usually shot by professionals with several days or even weeks to spend on site so that they get lots of opportunities to get the perfect sunrise or shot.
This post is bought to you by just another photographer, with limited time and budget for gear and equipment, who is still learning every time she gets her camera out. Someone who goes to exotic locations hardly ever and if she does, has pretty much one opportunity to get the shot and has to deal with whatever the conditions are on the day.
When you boil photography down to the very key elements, composition is ultimately what makes or breaks an image. You can have the most expensive gear, know absolutely everything about all the functions and features on your camera, travel to the most exotic locations, but if your image is not well composed then its not really happening.
Back when I was getting serious about photography I researched composition, and blogged about it
For this post here are what I think are the four most important basic fundamentals for composition. Helpfully there are plenty of “this is the wrong way to do it” shots to share with you!
1. Everybody’s Favourite – The Rule of Thirds
To me this is the “not putting the subject in the centre” rule, which offers more latitude and for me that is the essence of this rule. A subject smack bang in the center of your image (unless it’s a symmetrical reflection shot) is static and uninteresting.
This little fellow below is to the right of center with space to his left – that is to give him space to “look’ into or ‘move forward into”This shot also shows the “fill the frame with the subject” and “keep the background neutral” compositional elements
When taking photos of anything living, always focus on the eyes. You can see from the image below the front of the bill is out of focus, and the eyes are as well. The bit that is in focus is the front of the head, and so you feel like she is actually looking over your shoulder at something more interesting LOL.
Now this handsome Willy Wagtail has all the eye action and also the very important catchlight (that’s the bright white spot from the sun on his dark eye) which helps highlight the eye and shows the critter is engaged with you.
We don’t have the catchlight on the duck above, hence the feeling she is looking elsewhere.
A Black NZ Robin where the eye has been directly focussed on, and I waited til I had the right angle for the catchlight. The lower part of the body is out of focus, but it’s the connection with the eye that we look for.
Oooh this is one that I am really bad at, getting so involved in the action and completely forgetting to check and see what the background is doing.
The Robin shot above is a classic example of a terribly messy distracting background but when shooting wild creatures you just get whatever their environment it and have to make the best of it.
This is a blue Burmese kitten that a friend wanted shots of – I have used black sheets on the bed to provide a neutral background (and focussed on the eyes) also shows filling the frame with your subject.
Indoor social dance shots often have messy and distracting backgrounds, using a shallow DOF helps isolate the subjects from the background. Also if it is dark, using a flash to isolate the subjects can help too.
I could go tone down the exposure of the background in post pro a bit as well.
I read somewhere that around 80% of all images are taken at an average height of 5’ 6”, which is fine if that’s where your subject is, but not so good if it’s a small mushroom or flower in the ground…..
Be prepared to get down in the dirt, in the water or climb a tree or a ladder to get the best vantage. This also applies for framing up your shot, don’t just rock up to a viewing platform, take the shot and then go. If its safe to do so and you have time, wander around, see if you can get a better or more interesting angle. Take into consideration what the light is doing for the image you want to create.
(Stacey from Lensaddiction invested in her first DSLR back in 2007. Since then she has spent far too much time outside with her camera having adventures and luckily not getting her car stuck in a bog or a stream, both of which are common in New Zealand.
To make sure that some sanity remained she took to blogging about experiences with trying to use the new camera and sharing what learnings came her way.
Remember, its supposed to be fun!)
I hope you will all thank Stacey for her post and I hope it will help you all with, or those that are unsure about composition. Thank you Stacey. I also hope that you will go and visit her blog, Lensaddiction.