Unit 5


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Unit 5

  1. 1. Diploma in Photography UNIT 5CRACKING COMPOSITION
  2. 2. Unit 5 – Cracking composition Learning outcomes of unit 5By the end of this unit, you will:• Understand the ‘rule of thirds’• Learn how to work the lines in your photography• Know about the importance of focal points• Learn how to break the rules
  3. 3. IntroductionComposition is everything in photography. It involves all thephysical images we see when looking down a viewfinder.In this unit, we look at how to compose a great shot and somerules for you to consider when deciding on composition.Dont forget that rules are made to be broken and some of themost inspiring shots we have ever seen do just that. Before youcan break a rule though, you need to understand it in the firstplace and that is what we aim to do here.
  4. 4. IntroductionSometimes, youll get lucky with a snapshot with perfectcomposition, however most shots will need to be carefully plannedand may take patience.Have you ever looked a photograph and it just works? Well trainyou to have that professional eye, so you can take more of theseshots every time.Read on and if inspiration strikes during this module, why not postsome of your pictures on the forum?
  5. 5. SimplicityPerhaps the most important guidelinethat you should always follow issimplicity.Think about how you can keep you shotssimple while giving your subject thecentre of attention.In this shot, a relatively uninteresting anduncluttered background helps tohighlight the red arrows zooming in fromthe right.
  6. 6. Using the picture shapeOne of the most useful options at yourdisposal is being able to change theorientation of the frame from horizontalto vertical.Which one you use will depend on yoursubject, the background and what youwant to convey with your image.Tall structures like lighthouses and openlandscapes may automatically suggestvertical or horizontal framing but thinkabout how the subject would look if youchange the frame.
  7. 7. Using the picture shapeHorizontal lines can increase a sense of horizontal movementwhere vertical shots can have the opposite effect.Remember, the more extreme the proportions of your subjectwithin your chosen frame, the more your eyes will be forced tofollow the composition of the shot in a certain way.Your eyes see square images as most static as they require lesseye movement, so take all you have learned about movement inprevious units and start to put it together with composition foramazing effects.
  8. 8. Rule of thirdsThis is perhaps the most widely known rule in photography andessential in good composition. So what is the rule of thirds? Have a look at this grid:
  9. 9. Rule of thirdsThe easiest way to explain this rule is toimage breaking down your frame into ninecompartments, using horizontal andvertical lines.When you look through theviewfinder, image the scene with this gridsuper-imposed on the top.This grid will help you define where theimportant elements of your shot should liein the frame (the red plus points). Placingpoints of interest at these intersectionpoints, should in theory give you a betterimage.
  10. 10. Rule of thirdsThis is because your eye will be more likelyto go to an intersection point and the exactcentre of the frame and the idea withcomposition is to take the viewer on ajourney around the shot.If you can capture a subject where the eyefeels most comfortable beginning thejourney, you will be more likely to achieve apleasing composition.The insect in this picture is at one of thegrid points. You can see that it falls nicely atan intersecting point and so the photo looksmore interesting to the eye, because youbegin with the wasp and then your eyesmoves around the frame.
  11. 11. Rule of thirdsHave a look at this shot of acyclist.You can see how the compositionhelps to tell the story.Because the main subject is atthe intersecting points on theleft, your eye begins with thesubject and follows the journeyhe is likely to take out of theframe.
  12. 12. Rule of thirdsWhen you are taking landscape shots, consider using one thehorizontal lines of the grid for your horizon line.Have a look at this picture. The sea takes up the first third of thepictures and the sky the remaining two thirds. This gives aninteresting composition and draws your eye from the start ofthe pier to the end.
  13. 13. Rule of thirdsSo, when you are using the rule of thirds, first decide what theimportant elements are and think about those intersecting focalpoints. Move the viewfinder around and try differentcompositions.Remember, rules are made to be broken, but in having anunderstanding of this fundamental principal, you will have abetter understanding of how to break the rule as well!
  14. 14. LinesLines play a very important rolein composition. When you arecomposing any shot, you shouldtake time to consider the lines inthe image.They can play a very importantrole in the feel of the shot andhow a viewers eye interactswith the image.
  15. 15. LinesThe three types of lines within images are horizontal, verticaland diagonal lines and well look at all three in detail in thisunit.It does take time to become good at using lines in your images. Areally good way to start is to go back over your pictures and lookfor lines which worked. Why did they work? Look at images thatdont quite work and the lines within those images.Before you take your next shot, stop and think about the lines inthe frame. How can you use them to make the shot moreinteresting? Is there something in the scene that can beemphasised using lines?
  16. 16. Horizontal linesA horizontal line in aphotograph gives an imagea feeling of stability or of anobject at rest.The horizon, the ocean, aperson sleeping, a gate. Allof these objects havesomething timeless andpermanent about them.
  17. 17. Horizontal linesHorizons are the most common horizontal line in our images andthey can be used as a dividing point (using the rule of thirds).Your horizon can be the anchor around which the rest of yourshot forms.To further emphasise the horizontal lines of a horizon, shootingin landscape (the viewfinder being horizontal) rather thanportrait (the viewfinder being vertical) will achieve this.
  18. 18. Horizontal linesHorizons are the most common horizontal line in our images andthey can be used as a dividing point (using the rule of thirds).Your horizon can be the anchor around which the rest of yourshot forms.To further emphasise the horizontal lines of a horizon, shootingin landscape (the viewfinder being horizontal) rather thanportrait (the viewfinder being vertical) will achieve this.
  19. 19. Horizontal lines When you are using horizons, do remember that a horizontal, unbrokenhorizon can look quite static and dull, so make sure you something else in theframe at the intersecting points on the grid to give it some interest.This picture of a yacht has a very restful feeling about it and the horizonanchors the frame, giving a balanced shot.
  20. 20. Horizontal linesThe image of the yacht can be improved compositionally bycropping it down. This is because, having a horizon right in themiddle of the shot leaves it feeling unbalanced. Its much moreeffective to place your horizon line on the upper or lower thirdof the frame.
  21. 21. Horizontal linesFinally, a really good tip is to keep your horizontal lineshorizontal.It may be obvious, but a great shot composition can bespoiled by having the horizon skewed by just a fewdegrees.
  22. 22. Vertical linesVertical lines can produce verystrong images indeed andconvey power, strength andgrowth.Think of the dynamic imagesproduced by shootingarchitectural structures likethis one on the right.
  23. 23. Vertical linesVertical lines can be significantlyenhanced by using the camera inportrait mode (the viewfinderbeing vertical) as in the imageabove. This lengthens the subjectand enhances the feeling ofheight.Break the rule: by framing verticallines in a landscape frame, youcan convey the impression of thesubject bursting out of theframe, which helps to emphasisethe power of the vertical lines.See an example on the right.
  24. 24. Vertical linesAgain it’s important to try and keep your vertical lines as much inline with the sides of your image as possible. This is not alwayspossible if you’re shooting looking up an image as the subjectwill taper off towards the top (this is called converging verticals)– but attempt to keep it’s centre as straight as possible and youshould be ok.Keep in mind the Rule of Thirds when you have strong verticallines in a photograph. Placing a line directly in the middle of ashot will effectively cut your image in half. This can be used withdramatic impact but also can leave your image lookingunbalanced.
  25. 25. Vertical linesKeep an eye out for vertical lines thatare repeated in patterns in yourimages as they can be used to greatimpact. Have a look at this image foran example.Think about composing shots withvertical lines contrasting with othershapes and lines going in all differentdirections for interesting images.
  26. 26. Diagonal linesDiagonal lines can be used togreat effect to draw the viewerseye through the image, creatingmovement and dynamism.They create points of interestwhen they bisect other lines andcan create interestingperspective shots.
  27. 27. Diagonal linesAnother great use of diagonal lines is to help emphasisemovement or dynamism.Consider how your diagonal line could define the way theimage is viewed and how it could lead the eye to (oraway from) the subject.When people were studied viewing images, it was normalfor people to view them from left to right. A diagonal linetravelling from the bottom left to the top right of animage can give a very natural feel because of this.
  28. 28. Diagonal linesYou dont want a strong diagonalline cutting your image in half ofcourse, just look around fornatural objects and lines whichwill give this effect withoutspoiling the composition.Also, having your diagonal lineslightly off centre can look better. The sculpture of a fish has naturaldiagonal lines which have beenshot slightly off centre to give abetter feel.
  29. 29. Diagonal linesLots of diagonal lines in an image can create movement andinterest, but be careful, too many and your image could becomedistracting and cluttered.Have a look at the patterns in the world around you.You can create some really good images by focussing in oneveryday objects and using lines to create a dynamic image.
  30. 30. BalanceWhat does a photograph with good balance look like? Does theshot need to be composed of equal sized elements? The answerto this is sometimes yes and sometimes no.Formal balance is the equal balancing of elements on each sideof the shot. This works well for any visual art and is often used bydesigners to get a good balance on web-pages or adverts forexample.
  31. 31. BalanceHave a look at this portrait image.If you folded it in half, the two halfwould look loosely the same. Bothsides would show half a nose, half amouth etc.This is formal balance and whenused for images which have strongsymmetry, it can produce a strikingeffect.
  32. 32. BalanceInformal balance isbalancing on one or moresides of the subject byusing an object that isdifferent to the originalsubject.Have a look at the portraitof the girl again, but thistime the picture has aninformal balance.
  33. 33. BalanceIs one type of balance better than the other? Well it reallydepends on what you are shooting of course.Buildings, sculptures and monuments or anything with a uniformstructure often look good in a formal composition as this is howthey were designed to be viewed.Ultimately, balancing a shot comes down to personal taste andartistic eye for what works.
  34. 34. BalancePRACTICE ASSIGNMENTThis assignment will not be scored.Take your camera and a staticobject, preferably outside. This could be atree, a post-box, a mailbox or a notice-board.Your assignment is to take 36 pictures of your chosen object andeach one must be balanced differently.You should find that your last shots are better because bythen, you will have been forced to see things differently. Shareyour best shots on our forum!
  35. 35. PerspectivePerspective can be used in manydifferent ways in photography togive your pictures a differentfeeling or to emphasis strengthor even weakness of yoursubject.Shooting up towards a subjectgenerally gives it a sense ofpower and solidity like thiscactus.
  36. 36. PerspectiveIn the opposite way, if you shoot an image looking down on thesubject, it can make them appear diminutive and thesurroundings more powerful.This can be a great technique for portraits. Just by movingslightly above or below the subject you can give a differentfeeling to the image using perspective.
  37. 37. PerspectiveADVANCED TIP:A growing trend in photographyis to used forced perspective.This is where you use perspectiveto make the subject or object inshot appear larger, smaller orappear in a different way than isnatural.The classic shot of forcedperspective is the personstanding at just the right spot infront of the Taj Mahal andholding their hand at the tip, tomake it look like they are aboutto pick it up. This is a fun Image Fraser Reidtechnique and can deliver somereally professional results.