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if you are like us, you are totally nuts about photography and spend a lot of your time taking photographs. We thought it would be a refreshing change to talk a little about a non- technical aspect of photography, ie Photographic Composition:
All photographers need to develop their skills when it comes to composition. It is better to have a good eye for composition than to have loads of expensive equipment or technical knowledge, these things can actually get in the way of true artistic composition. Developing your compositional skills rarely comes naturally, it is something you have to consciously work on and see every photograph you take as an opportunity to do this, or you will stagnate and your photographs will be uninspiring.
It’s better to fail or make mistakes with technical details than compositional ones. If your picture is interesting or inspiring but is let down by poor lighting or you used the wrong equipment in some way then you still have the idea for the composition and you can in many cases go back and try again. Many excellent photographs are the result of multiple attempts when the photographer had an idea in their head and kept going back with a different approach to the same subject, using different techniques and equipment to get the best possible rendering.
Using the rule of thirds is always relevant and needs to be thoroughly understood, it is very effective and is a great rule of thumb to make use of when you are in the compositional stage of arranging a photograph. This is particularly true in the case of landscape photography, when you are looking at all the elements in your composition and being aware of how they relate to each other. It’s always best when the horizontal and vertical lines of your thirds are bisecting each other in the middle of any of your elements, they will just seem to be in an aesthetically pleasing formation when this is the case.
Always avoid the urge to include as many elements in your landscape as possible, this is a classic mistake that many photographers make. Be aware of the importance of space around your elements and how it provides a stage for the players, you don’t want clutter, you want to impart a feeling of balance and clarity. It can look far more dramatic when you have a single object or element framed on its own it a large space.
A good technique is to study the lines in your picture, extend them and if they are straight lines, keep those horizontals and verticals perfectly aligned with the edges of your frame or it will look off balance. If the lines are diagonal, look for ways to exaggerate this so they can’t be viewed as off kilter horizontals or verticals, if they are curved then extend them to see where they lead. Try to imagine how the elements in your picture will interact with the viewer and see which ones will leap out at the viewer first, where the lines will lead the eye, it tells a visual story and creates tension, which is always a plus compared to shots which have no composition and are ultimately bland and do not edo anything to engage or interest the viewer at all.
Compare different arrangements of your subject in terms of distance, think about where you are shooting from and try varying these to see what happens. Be aware of the various perspective layers in your composition and how these produce an interesting visual effect along with your lines. Time spent considering these aspects of your picture will undoubtedly pay off in the final image and you will have much more fun cropping and enhancing your picture if it has a well thought out dynamic in the composition to begin with.
Using applications like photoshop to crop and enhance your photographs is very much a part of the final stages of composition and one of the skills a photographer has to master these days is electronic document management as we inevitably end up with such large numbers of picture files to keep track of. You simply have to be organized and regularly move files to external storage and keep your current work folders as uncluttered as possible to stay on top of things.