Composition, in general, can seem like a fuzzy concept to many photographers. Trying to frame an image in a way that “works” is not something that is intuitive, even for people who have been taking pictures for years. And, unlike other aspects of photography — focusing, selecting a sharp aperture, exposing properly — composition has no correct answer. The best you can do is to create something that looks good to you, or looks good to your intended audience. Still, there are some composition tips that can help make this abstract topic a little more concrete. One of my favorites is to give your subjects their own personal, breathing space in your photos, so that they aren’t cut off or bunched up against anything else in the image.
Few topics in photography are as important – and as personal – as the composition that you choose. Composition has the power to convey exactly what you want to say with a photograph, guiding a viewer’s eye seamlessly across the frame. It has been called, with good reason, the strongest way of seeing. This article revisits some previous Photography Life articles on composition, covering the most important elements and discussing how they relate to one another.
In the previous two parts (I & II), I describe the careful planning involved in creating those images. Sometimes, however, with some luck, elements and light come together in several ways, (often unexpectedly), and create lasting, memorable moments. During those moments, it helps to stick to the basics, follow the light, and let your heart do the work. This third installment describes the amazing two hours I had at Sandy Stream Pond in Baxter State Park. I created 3 of my favorite images from last year in that short duration- it was like being a kid in a candy store. Please read on for the description.
This is the second part of a series in which I share my favorite photos from 2015 with the Photography Life community. These articles include the preparation that went behind creating each image, the thought process that led to the final composition, post processing technique, etc. Continued from Part I.
Every January, I spend couple of days reviewing the photos I made the past year. My first step is to narrow those down to about 45 – 50 favorite images and then eventually to top 12 (the latter reduction often aided by a Facebook poll). I find this exercise rewarding and a very effective way of improving my photography skills. I thought of sharing these final 10 – 12 photos from 2015 with the Photography Life community including the preparation that went behind creating each image, the thought process that led to the final composition, post processing technique etc. After a quick email back and forth with Nasim, I decided to take a stab at it and here is my first write up of this 12 part series.
You have probably already read some great articles at Photography Life regarding framing of your subjects and all the rules that are applicable while doing so (if you have not, check out the section on composition in the photography tips for beginners page). This time around, I want to draw your attention to framing subjects with natural elements to create compelling images. For me personally, photographing is like narrating a story, so I often find it important to incorporate the surrounding elements of the scene along with my subjects. While you can certainly take fantastic photos isolating your subjects with creamy bokeh, I believe that decorating your shots with creative framing will help you add some substance and a pleasant visual appeal to enhance the story.
Since the early days of film, panoramic photography has been synonymous with landscape and architectural images, and sometimes with other genres like street and wildlife photography. By combining two horizontal frames of film, typically 120 medium format, some film cameras actually shot panorama photographs by design. Most of these cameras emerged in the latter half of the twentieth century, bringing the panoramic format to the public eye. The panorama had existed long before this time, of course, but its popularity has only grown — and with good reason. Panoramas are fun and dramatic, and their subtleties are just as important in today’s mostly-digital age as they were during the heyday of film. In this article, I will discuss some of the important but less-common benefits of taking panorama images, as well as sharing a set of my photographs from Iceland in the classic 6×17 aspect ratio. If you are new to panoramas, you might enjoy reading our general panorama tutorial first.
Famous scenes — landscapes, wildlife, buildings — are famous for a reason: they are spectacular, and often easy to access. You have seen these photographs, undoubtedly: a sepia-toned photograph of the Eiffel Tower, perhaps, or a dusty herd of wildebeest in the sun. Glacier Point at sunset, and Mesa Arch at sunrise. These are some of the most incredible sights on the planet, and it is no wonder that photographers flock to them; in many cases, photographers are the very reason that these sights are on the map in the first place. I have nothing against photographers who focus on these beautiful scenes, and I wholeheartedly admire those who photograph them well. Indeed, as photographers, we too often get caught in the idea of taking unique photographs at a famous location, when the most beautiful scene may be the one staring us in the face.
I have never liked the phrase “rules of composition.” To me, it seems too formal, suggesting that such a complex topic as composition can be boiled down to a few quick tips. So, in a blatant attempt to out-do John Sherman’s provocative “Is Nikon’s New 500mm FL Too Sharp?” title, I have aimed this article at the heart of photography school’s most basic lesson in composition: the rule of thirds.
Balance is one of the least-discussed principles of good composition, but it is perhaps the most important. Photographers, consciously or not, make an important decision for every image: should the composition be balanced or imbalanced? To some degree, every photograph in existence has elements of both balance and imbalance, which makes this topic crucial for photographers looking to improve the strength of their images at the most fundamental level.