September 21, 2019
  • 10:48 PM Advocating for RAW vs JPEG
  • 8:38 PM Patriots at the White House.
  • 8:30 AM Understanding Photography Composition, Part I
  • 9:04 PM The Exposure Triangle
  • 10:59 PM Photographic Exposure: Learn the Fundamentals, part I
  • 2:22 AM Miami Beach South Pointe.
American Cock, Key West. , Isabel Sierra ©2019 inFocusPHOTOGRAPH

One of the basic components of photography,  alongside the Exposure Triangle, is good image composition. There are various important requirements to compose a good photograph that every photographer need to master. Here are four of the most important skills that you can practice and develop.

Maintaining the horizontal line

Sunset, Captiva Island. All rights reserved, Isabel Sierra ©2019 inFocusPHOTOGRAPH
Sunset, Captiva Island. All rights reserved, Isabel Sierra ©2019 inFocusPHOTOGRAPH

If the horizontal line in a photograph is crooked (i.e. not at 180 degrees), then the viewer of the photograph is bound to find it un-natural. Whether you are shooting a landscape or an indoor object, always try to maintain a straight horizontal line. 

However, sometimes a crooked horizontal line can provide the necessary context the picture requires. But that is for later when the time comes to break the rules with proficiency. If you are an intermediate level photographer, ensuring that your camera remains set at maintaining the straight horizontal line is essential for good composition. This is one of the primary compositional skills you should practice.

Shooting moving objects

When you are trying to place a moving object within your frame there are some key rules you have to remember. 

Family  skateboarding near Ocean Drive, in Miami Beach. Photo by Isabel Sierra for ©inFocusPHOTOGRAPH
Family skateboarding near Ocean Drive, in Miami Beach. Photo by Isabel Sierra for ©inFocusPHOTOGRAPH
  • Above all, you do not want to place the subject near the border in the direction of the movement, because it will be scaping the frame, running out of your composition. If you want to place it in the center, then it will be more of a sport kind of shot. This will reflect the intensity of the action and the importance of the athlete.
  • Better, you can place the object at the beginning of the frame. This allows the human mind to trace a trajectory and understand the movement in realistic terms. Such composition portrays the movement aspect more solidly in a picture, it tells a story. 

Rule of thirds

Tour Eiffel, Paris. All rights reserved, Isabel Sierra ©2019 inFocusPHOTOGRAPH
Tour Eiffel, Paris. All rights reserved, Isabel Sierra ©2019 inFocusPHOTOGRAPH

This is where things become really professional. So, imagine that you have divided your frame into 9 equal parts by using two horizontal lines and two vertical ones.

Rule of Thirds applied to the Tour Eiffel picture
Rule of Thirds applied to the picture above

Now the rule of thirds states that the primary object in the image will be placed at any of the intersections of these parts.

The effect the rule of thirds creates is a contextual one. A large part of the frame captures the background while the subject still stays the primary focus of the image. Since the human brain can focus clearly on 1/3rd of a frame and loosely on the other 2/3rd of the same frame we better put the main element of the image where the viewer can easily find it. This is the idea behind the rule of thirds and placing the object off-center in an image.

Leading lines

Famous Globe at Epcot theme park,Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando. All rights reserved Isabel Sierra PHOTOGRAPHY ©inFocusPHOTOGRAPH
Famous Globe at Epcot theme park,Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando. All rights reserved Isabel Sierra PHOTOGRAPHY ©inFocusPHOTOGRAPH

Another great compositional tool is to create leading lines in the composition of a photograph. In this case, you want to place the primary subject at a long distance away. Then, the use of the leading lines can provide a sense of depth.  So while the focus of attention remains on the main subject, the viewer’s eye is also helped by the pathway leading up to the point of interest, created by other elements in the composition.

Certain common shoots where you can try exploring the use of leading lines are highway, bridges and more. Let’s use architectural elements to our advantage.

Final Though

The way towards becoming a professional photographer maybe a long one, but with the right set of rules and lot of practice, you can achieve it too. Use these four compositional concepts to bring a high-quality touch to your work.

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