Sep 16, 2009
Rules of Composition
Rules of Composition
The Goals of Photography
To create an image that reaches into another’s eye, brain, and heart is another. Images can stun, inform, amuse, or even anger a viewer.
The Rules of Composition should be treated as guidelines. The Rules of Composition
Composition is the act of composing the image in the viewfinder. It is a visual process of organizing the elements and individual details of a scene into a balanced and pleasing arrangement.
When you take a photo, you make choices, either accidentally or deliberately. Composition
Have one main point of interest.
Have the subject off center. The Rule of Thirds
A centered image is always less interesting.
The Rule of Thirds is also called the Golden mean. The Rule of Thirds
A ratio of 5:8 is used in positioning the subject of the photograph.
Place objects where shown by the arrows & your composition will generally be pleasing. They are considered to be the four ideal positions for placing centers of interest.
The center of interest in this composition (the bird) was placed in accordance with the Rule of Thirds. The young man's face is placed in counterpoint at an opposing intersection, providing a visually-pleasing balance to the image.
Placing the horizon a third of the way down (or up) generally looks better than across the middle of the frame. San Francisco Bay
The Rule of Thirds correctly placed the center of interest for this subject.
Which picture follows the rule of thirds?
Notice the placement of the lighthouse and the ocean’s horizon.
It represents where the 5 to 8 ratio would intersect.
Which picture follows the rule of thirds?
Keep the items in your view well distributed.
Ansel Adams “ Lake MacDonald”
Try capturing emotion in your picture. Avoid the telltale notions of emotion like holding hands, googly eyes. Emotion
Try to find an emotion in action and capture it.
Simplify Have a strong center of interest, colorful subject.
Choose a simple background.
San Diego Zoo
Angles Try unusual camera angles.
Walk around to get the best angle.
Angles The unusual shooting angle is a big part of what makes this picture work
Angles Choose a shooting angle that will add interest to a basically dull and ordinary scene. Select a unique viewpoint
Change camera angle to eliminate distracting background elements. A new camera angle will often emphasize a subject's form or shape.
Angles If you find that you have more in the picture than is necessary, change your shooting angle - get closer to fill the frame.
When photographing children, camera angle can make all the difference. Get down to their level. Hold your camera parallel to the ground at the same height as their shoulders or their eyes.
Angles Shooting from Lower than their shoulders Makes someone look more impressive Makes someone look less impressive Shooting from a very low angle
Makes someone’s legs look longer
The Arche de Triomphe
Angles to Try
Remember It ’ s not enough to just make random pictures at weird angles. Choose subjects that are interesting and dramatic.
The key is to make pictures that are expressive and well composed.
Leading Lines Leading Lines should lead into, not out of, the picture.
A leading line can be almost anything, such as a road or a shadow. It is a matter of choosing the right angle to make it lead into the picture.
Leading Lines Vertical, Horizontal, Diagonal
Use lines to lead viewer to subject.
Lines can draw the eye deep into a picture. And, if they gently curve, they can provide a sense of peace and gracefulness.
A sense of rigidity and tension.
Lines Create a dynamic feeling.
Lines curved in one direction only (C-shaped lines) give the impression of force in the direction of the ben
Playing with Light
This picture is about lines and mood. The bright lines of the railings lead the viewer's eye to an inconclusive, vanishing dark point, creating a sense of mystery and interest.
Vertical Line: “Aspen Northern New Mexico” (1958) Ansel Adams
Vertical Line: Bernice Abbott Rockefeller Center 1935-1939
Horizontal Line: Robert Adams Untitled (Denver) 1970-1974
Diagonal Line: Bernice Abbott “ Broadway and Exchange Place” 1935-1939
Compositional Lines: Bernice Abbott “ Model Tenements” 1935-1939
Compositional Lines: Margaret Bourke-White “ Gorky Street Moscow” 1941
Here's a case where you have excellent subject control. You can have the model pose anywhere along the walkway. The rule of thirds indicates this placement which also gives the model a definite path to follow within the picture area.
You should always consider the path of moving subjects and,
generally, leave space in front of them into which they can move.
You can also use repetitive lines to draw viewers' attention to your center of interest.
You can use diagonals as leading lines to provide a way into the picture. It's a simple and easy path for the eye to follow to the main subject.
Pattern Repetition of similar shapes. It could be a pattern of birds in flight or a row of beach chairs.
Diagonal lines and patterns can fill an image with energy
Consider these when photographing patterns: Worn stones, rocks, bark, weathered wood, leaves. You may want to try to contrast different textures in the same picture.
Branches, trees, roots, water, reeds by water, bark, stones. Explore the patterns that can be found in nature. Look for natural elements that are dramatic.
Use dramatic lighting, early and late in the day, sidelight and backlight - strong shadows
Framing Use foreground to frame subject and add depth.
How does your subject relate to its surroundings?
Filing the Frame Move close to the subject. Do not include unnecessary background.
Use the background when it contributes something.
Filing the Frame
“ If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”
Look for graphic elements and potential relationships among them in a scene.
What does good composition achieve? The word "control" is appropriate, because without control, there is no order - only randomness and disorganization.
If the photographer does not exercise control through composition, the image will appear muddled, the photographer's message will be obscured, and the photograph will have little meaning.
What Kind Of Control Does Effective Composition Provide?
An accomplished photographer can lead the viewer’s eye through his or her work by the careful placement of shapes, color and lines right to where he or she wants the viewer’s attention to be centered.
When you are pleased with a composition, and when you feel it conveys the message you are after, go for it. You are probably right.
Master The Rules Of Composition
To use this control, the photographer must understand how different shapes, lines, colors and their inter-action will affect the viewer, and then he or she will be able to incorporate them into images that meaningfully convey what he or she wants the image to state.