Photographic Composition


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A powerpoint highlighting the key ideas of Photographic composition.

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  • Break down studio and have students sit in rows in front of projector.
    Introduce the topic.
    Explain this is a multiple part/day lecture.
  • Ask for raise of hands someone that can explain photographic composition, pause for answers
  • Read definitions
    Do not get long winded in your explanation. Give time for students to write down definition.
  • A Point of interest is the one object in the photograph that stands out above all the rest.
    There should be just one and the one should have been chosen ahead of time before the pictures is taken. Choosing ahead of time makes it possible to alleviate other possible distracting points of interest in the frame.
    Some ways to create meanignful points of interest are to use large contrasting elements. These elements immediately stand out in the picture. An example of this may be a large white sail set against a blue rolling ocean. Human subjects also almost demand to be the point of interest in the photo. Particularly the persons eyes affect the interest as if they are looking at the camera (and essentially the viewer) then the viewer will immediately look back moving their focus solely to that person and away from the other elements in the picture.
  • In this picture the point of interest is the Gargoyle. Just off the frame on the right is the Eifel Tower and to the left are many high-rise buildings. I wanted a picture of just the Gargoyle so I had to fram those elements out of the shot.
  • One of the common mistakes made by amatuer photographers is to frame their subject directly in the middle of the shot. What this leads to is a subject that is boxed in and literally has no where to move. This makes that subject very boring.
    The rule of thirds states that you should divide the frame vertically and horizontally into thirds. The easiest way to think about this is to think of drawing a tic-tac-toe board on the frame. Once you have your imaginary division you should position the main part of your subject at the intersection of these thirds. If your subject does not have a particular “main” part (like a horizon shot or a tall building) you should position your subject along one of the thirds lines. This gives your subject “potential” and “life” and that is something we strive for in the 2 dimensional frozen world of phototgraphy.
  • In this picture here the main subject is the castle on the left. I positioned that subject at the most important top-left intersection. Along with that you also see continued use of the rule of thirds in both the top horizon/sky line and the bottom line where the concreate barrier begins. This is a picture taken along the Rhine river in Germany where my wife and I went on one of our weekend excursions. This is just one of the over 20 castles that line the Rhine river, it is pretty cool.
  • You want people to know what you are talking about when you show them a picture. If you think of peoples attention as a number if you have two stories going on in one picture each story will only get 1/2 of the attention that you want. Instead it is best to tell one single story in each and every picture. If I look at a picture you took I should immediately know what that story is.
    Cluttered backgrounds distract from your story. It is like when I am giving you a lecture and I get into one of my long-winded and weird explanations, If I stuck to the main point without getting clutter brained you would probably get it but by the time you sort through the clutter some of the effect is lost, opps see I did it again.
    Sometimes your subject themselves may have more then one really interesting feature. If you can limit the amount of “stand-out” features that you show then you just increase the overall “wowness” of the feature you are highlighting. Again better to have one really cool object then 3 or 4 slightly interesting ones.
  • The simplicity of this picture comes from the fact that just up from here are the Swiss Alps. These jagged rock cliffs are very interesting and very neat (and I have many pictures of them) but for this picture I wanted to show the alpin flowers. To further show my point also just off the frame are paragliders launching themselves off of this crazy high mountain. If I showed all three of these things there is a good chance your eyes would wander from point to poitn but never reaelly focus on the intimidating cliffs, the beautiful flowers, or the exciting paragliders.
  • Photographic Composition

    1. 1. Definition:Definition: subject matter elements within the picture area. Photographic Composition
    2. 2. • The pleasing arrangement of
    3. 3. Definition:Definition: The pleasing arrangement of subject matter elements within the picture area. Photographic Composition
    4. 4. Photographic Composition Point of Interest • One Element Per Photo • Think Ahead • Large contrasting elements immediately demand attention. • Humans attract attention, particularly eyes
    5. 5. Photographic Composition Rule of Thirds • Center = Boring • Use Rule of Thirds
    6. 6. Photographic Composition Simplicity • Tell One Story • Avoid Cluttered Backgrounds • Focus on a Feature
    7. 7. Photographic Composition Viewpoint & Camera Angle • Close but not the same •Low angle= Drama & Size • High angle = Orientation & Relationship
    8. 8. Photographic Composition Balance • Makes photographs look harmonious • Symmetrical/Formal - Equal weight on both sides • Asymmetrical/Informal - Pivot the symmetrical photo
    9. 9. Photographic Composition More Balance • Higher is heavier • Intense objects appear heavier • Similar shape, similar weight
    10. 10. • Shapes and lines. • Pattern, Volume, Texture, Tone. • Contrast, Framing, Foreground, Background. • Perspective. • Basic lighting techniques • Basic shots or sequences