Foundation upon which we build our photo
images by the
§ correct selection
§ arrangement and
§ combination of the visual elements
within the picture area to produce a harmonious
and pleasing photograph
Limitation of Photography
§ Photographer can use of objects within a frame of
the camera viewfinder.
§ Not to point the camera head on and shoot like a
tourist who does look around for the best angle
and lighting condition.
§ Little harder than the artist, he must find a scene
that has the best composition by finding the right
angle, choosing the right lenses, at the right time
of the day for the best lighting condition and using
Decide what’s your Subject
§ What’s your subject?
§ Remove clutter you see in the viewfinder.
§ Keep your backgrounds clean. If possible
use DOF that will show clearly your
§ May allow distractions in the foreground or
background to remain out of focus.
§ Eliminate distractions. Identify your subject and
emphasize only the subject.
§ It is best to communicate only one idea per
photograph. A written sentence that does too much
is called a run-on sentence and is considered poor
§ A run-on photograph is bad photography. Keep
each photograph simple. Remove unnecessary
elements. Move in closer if required.
Basic Elements of
§ Objects, such as trees, houses, mountains,
lakes or any other large or small object
within the picture area (viewfinder).
§ These are the objects the photographer is
“stuck” with and has to do the best with
what is in front of the camera.
Vancouver, BC Canada July 7, 2004 (Bong Eliab)
§ Mass comes in two sections
§ Formal Balance: equal balance or classical
balance; it elicits feelings of dignity, repose, but
makes static, unimaginative photo images as
the objects in the picture are of equal size, one
balancing the other equally. It makes the
photograph uninteresting and boring after the
§ Informal Balance: un-even or un-equal balance in the picture area
Toronto Yonge St., Canada July 9, 2004 (Bong Eliab)
Avoid the Center or the Bull’s
Use the entire photograph. Placing your
subject in the geometric center of your
view finder is not pleasing to the eye and
does not efficiently use your picture space.
Avoid the center. Before you snap the
shutter, check all four corners of the finder
to see that you are properly using the space.
Avoid the Center or the Bull’s
With the main subject at the center, the eye
will go in to picture and stay in the center
and will not move around to see and enjoy
other objects in the frame. The eye will get
tired very fast and lose interest in the
§ Divide the picture area
into “thirds” horizontally
and vertically, the lines
that cross in the picture
area are the golden mean
or the best spot in which
to place your main subject
as it is the focal point of
§ The best spot is the upper
right or the lower right
because the eye enters the
picture frame at the lower
left hand corner, travels to
the center of the picture
area, then reaches the right
hand position where it
stops to look at the center
of interest (main subject)
§ Try to frame your
subject in such a
way as to direct
attention toward the
§ Vertical Line: it denotes dignity, height,
strength, and grandeur. We find verticals in
trees, tall buildings, fences, people standing up,
mountains, etc. A tall building shows height,
grandeur and dignity. Trees show height and
create depth and texture
to the photo
§ When possible, accent any diagonal lines in your
scene. Diagonals are great for directing attention
and for adding tension to your photograph.
§ Diagonals are visually exciting because they play
against the rectilinear edges of the photograph.
§ Nothing can rivet attention as powerfully as a set
of converging lines.
§ If your subject possesses curvature, try to
compose in what is called an S-curve. This
is visually interesting and works like a
§ The curve is a line of great beauty and
charm, it creates the sensation of elasticity,
charm and strength, perfect grace and
§ The line that leads your eye in to the picture area
easily like a road, a shoreline or a river, a row of
trees or a pathway.
§ The un-successful leading line will take the eye in
to the picture but will zoom the eye right out of
the picture if there is no “stopper” to hold the eye
in the picture frame. The main subject should act
as the stopper.
San Francisco, California Jul 15, 2004 (Bong Eliab)
§ Circle: a continuous curve and its circular
movement keeps the eye in the picture frame
§ Radii: a connection of lines meeting in the
center, it is also an expansion of lines
leaving the center. The eye has two ways to
go when meeting the radii, it can be drawn
toward to center or be led out of it. Caution
must be done with the radii.
§ Color also helps in photocomposition by
drawing attention to the subjects. The eye
will always go to the “brightest and lightest”
colors in the photograph. Watch for the
play of colors at all times.
Value of Colors
§ The value of colors depends on intensity,
brightness and luminance factors. Thus colors
have strong and weak values. They can be warm
or cold, advancing or receding. The longer
wavelength colors from red to yellow are usually
described as strong, warm, advancing colors while
the shorter wavelength colors, the greens and the
blues may be described as weak, cold and
Value of Colors
§ Pastel colors are quiet and moody while bright
colors are strong and active. However, certain
colors “react” very strongly if juxtaposed with
others, giving contrasts. To many people, these
will become “discords” rather than “harmonies.”
§ Hue is the scientific counterpart for the more
popular word color. Red, yellow, green and blue
are primary hues, while orange, blue-green, and
violets ate secondary hues.
Value of Colors
§ Complimentary Colors: desirable in any
photograph as it highlights and compliments each
other. If you place primary and secondary colors
in the color wheel, you will find that red will be
opposite of green, orange of blue, yellow of violet,
Avoid Horizon Bisection
§ In landscape photography it is usually best
not to bisect your photograph with the
horizon line. If you are photographing sky,
put the horizon in the bottom third of the
frame. If you are photographing land, why
include one-half picture of empty sky? This
issue of horizon placement is really just a
special case of the first rule: use the entire
§ A photograph should be complete unto itself.
§ Do not allow picture components to trail off
the edge of the photograph. This is especially
true of portraits.
§ Try not to cut off people's legs, arms, and