Why do some pictures hold your eye while others of the same exact subject fall flat? Composition is at the heart of the matter when it comes to taking good photographs. Learn these tips and tricks of composition so that you can start taking better pictures instantly.
Whether you are photographing nature, portraits, or photo essays composition creates a visual order in the photograph. Sometimes the composition may be subtle and other times it can be very obvious. The composition of a photograph determines the way the eyes travel through the photograph and shows you exactly what you want your eyes to see. Shape, texture, patterns, and the visual weight of colors are all parts of photographic composition. You can spend a lifetime developing your own creative compositional style but you can immediately improve your photos with these techniques.
The first thing you can do to improve you photography is to practice filling the frame. A 35mm film rectangle may not seem like much to fill but for some artists it takes a lot of practice and breaking of bad habits. Some photographers like to take a wide angled picture and then later crop out what they don’t need. Cropping after you take the picture is not a great idea because you may loose the emotional sense of the photograph and just end up with a thing. Every square inch of the frame should be filled with meaningful information. If there is something in your frame that you do not want to see just chip away the unnecessary details of the photo. Come in closer until you have pinpointed your focus and managed to keep the items that are significant. If you take too much out of the photo it will end up being insincere and emotionally detached.
Another way that you can take better pictures immediately is to use the rule of thirds. When you look through your camera lens you should mentally divide your frame into thirds representing nine boxes. The points where the lines overlap are like targets and they are great places to position your subject. If you follow the rule of thirds you will instantly take better and more expressively impacting photographs. If you want more dynamic results try zeroing in on your subject or focus. Get close and find the meaning of the subject and what it represents.
Choosing the proper lens will also help you take better photographs. If you are photographing relatively still life like nature it is best to use a wide angle lens. The wide angle of the lens will explode the foreground and the sky when used properly. If you want to expose the foreground use a wide angle lens and lower the position of your horizon line until you have the effect you want. Revealing the foreground will make bright colors and highlights pop in the foreground of your picture.
If you want to show the greatness of the sky try using the same wide angle lens, but adjust the horizon line so that it is nearer to the bottom of the frame. This is a great technique used for capturing sunsets, storms and lightning, clouds, and rays of sun sometimes referred to as “God rays”. When using a wide angle lens your intentions are to draw the viewer into the photograph. Once you have mastered this skill you will be able to take magnificent photos of all kinds of weather, and you will find that the pictures have a much stronger impact on your viewers.
If you are shooting an event you may choose to use a wide angle lens but a telephotographic lens will help you bring your focus into high resolution. When photographing events like dancing or sports it is important to be able to capture the emotion of the moment. A telephotographic lens will allow you to capture facial expressions, body movements, and other quick actions that you cannot get with a wide angle lens.
When you are shooting in the field of events it is very likely that you will not be the only photographer present. You must think to yourself, how can I get better pictures than everyone else? Using a telephotographic lens will allow you to do this. The telephoto lens will allow you to bring your subject up close and personal without you having to interfere with the movement. Telephotographic lenses will allow you to capture things like drops of sweat and positioning of a person’s fingers. A wide angle lens will only capture an entire frame and not a single entity. Often times when blown up or cropped the wide angle photographs will look blurry or loose details. If you use a telephotographic lens you should be able to blow up your photograph without loosing details and elements.
Learning basic composition will help you creatively express yourself better through photography. Once you discover how to control the many elements of composition you will start to see improvement in every shot you take.