Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Capture the Moment...

Last month we talked about the Rule of Thirds, the most well-known principle of photographic composition.  Now let’s talk about other aspects of composition...

Composition, the act of composing the image in the viewfinder, is the visual process of organizing the elements and individual details of a scene into a balanced and pleasing arrangement.  It is largely a matter of personal taste. What one person finds pleasing, someone else may not. A composition that clearly and interestingly conveys the photographer's intended meaning is an effective one. A composition that doesn't or that confuses the viewer is not effective and can make or break an image.  Below are some popular composition guidelines:

Change Your Angle. Not only does changing your shooting angle impact the feeling of size of your subject but it can also have a real effect upon the light and shade and patterns on it.

(In these 2 images, I climbed higher than the boys so I could get a better view of what they were looking. If I would have taken the shot at eye level you would not have been able to see the rocks under water that they were looking at through their goggles.)

Fill the Frame. A person’s facial features tend to disappear when you move more than a few meters away from them. While it can be appropriate to take shots that put a person in context with the environment that they are in - they often get lost in the scene.

(Almost all subjects will look more interesting close up. Just look at the detail in the flower that you don’t notice in the image where the flower doesn’t fill the frame.)

Watch your Background. You don't always want to fill the frame with the subject. Sometimes you want a little space around the subject, or you want to show the environment around your subject. But make sure you keep distracting, or unappealing things out of your viewfinder. Be sure that you don't miss the occasional tree (or other object) appearing to stick out of your subject's head. Simply moving the camera angle slightly usually eliminates the unwanted object. Look around for a plain and unobtrusive background and compose your shot so that it doesn't distract or detract from the subject.

(These images of the boy swinging were taken on the same rope swing. I walked a few yards around the pond to get the view without all the distractions. How easy is that?)

Simplify. Don't try to include too much in the image. The viewer won't know what to look at. Try to keep only those things that are essential to the subject in the frame. Remember that the outer edge of the frame is also part of the picture and don't let something distracting on the fringes take your viewers' eyes away from your intended subject.

(I didn’t include the little girls face in this image because my intent was to focus on those adorable little chunky legs and that gorgeous sunlight in the background. Simple!)

There IS more to good composition than the placement of elements. Lighting, shutter speed, depth of field and other considerations contribute to a picture's mood and clarity of what the picture is saying, and therefore the effectiveness of its composition. We’ll cover those topics soon!

Once you start observing the principles of composition, employing them will become second nature to you. The best way to learn and to improve your composition is by practicing and experimenting. With the dawn of the digital age in photography we no longer have to worry about film processing costs. As a result, experimenting with our photos' composition has become a real possibility; we can fire off tons of shots and delete the unwanted ones at absolutely no extra cost. Take advantage of this and experiment with your composition - you never know whether an idea will work until you try it. Your images will greatly improve and people will start commenting on how great they look! So go ahead and… capture the moment.

~ Mary M.

If you have an image that you feel is well-composed, post it on the Facebook page for our fans to see and our FANS get to be the voters! The top 5 winners will receive the textured images below via download from Mary Moseley Photography. Your images will also be highlighted on Mary’s Blog. If you have any composition tips of your own feel free to post them too!

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