Composition-The Top Five Things I've Learned So Far-Podcast Episode 5

One of the biggest things I have found to impact the quality of my photographs is to improve the composition in the images I capture. If you look for suggestions or tips on how to improve the composition of your photographs you will find an almost unlimited amount of information. I've spent some time over the past couple of years working on improving my photo composition skills and have had good success in improving the images I shoot. Here are five tips I have used to improve my photographic compositions. These are by no means the be all end all but I think that these basic suggestions can go a long way towards improving the quality of your images, as they have mine.

Give them a shot and see if these tips help improve the quality of your images

1. Search For The Shot

When you find something that catches your eye, take a while to explore the scene and find the main thing that is interesting to you. Try to condense the scene to one or two key elements and use those as the building blocks of the final image.

2. Balancing Elements

Once you have identified the particular elements in the shot that are worthy of your attention, spend some time balancing them out within the frame. You can use a couple of "rules" to help you in this

Rule of thirds-Think of this as a tic-tac-toe board placed over your image and try to align the main subject(s) within the points where the horizontal and vertical lines intersect.

The Golden Ratio is another method of aligning the elements of an image within the frame. It uses a mathematical formula to come up with the "ideal" positioning of image elements. This is along the same lines as the rule of thirds but slightly different in the placement of the key elements.

If you use Lightroom, you can place overlays of both of these on your images to see the effect that each would have.

3. Viewpoint

Instead of just shooting the image from the "typical" viewpoint of someone viewing a scene from eye-level, take your camera and explore different perspectives on the scene. Get low to the ground, high up above, or off the the left or right of the main subject. Often you will find that changing the viewpoint can make a dramatic difference in the impact your photograph has.

4. Framing

Before you press that shutter button take some time to check and double-check how the image is framed in your camera's viewfinder. Is there something blocking a key element of the shot? Or perhaps you can use some of the natural surroundings to frame the image for more impact. How about vertical as opposed to horizontal? Heck, why not shoot the scene with your camera oriented halfway between the two? Changing the orientation of the framing can make a big difference in the final image.

5. Experiment

I saved the best tip for last...Experiment with your photographic compositions. One of the best things about photography is the ability to try new things. So, as you start to incorporate some of the tips into your photography, mix them up a little, and see what happens. When you find an appealing scene approach it a few different ways and test some variations of your preferred composition to see what the impact is.

Some Books To Consider

I have found a couple of books on composition that have been helpful to me. Check them out:

The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos

Composition: From Snapshots to Great Shots

Looking for something else? Here's a listing of "photo composition" books on Amazon:  Photo Composition Books on Amazon