10 Tips for Better Composition (Part 1)
In this post I’ll talk about 10 tips to improve your photos’ composition. To put it simply, composition refers to the way different elements in a painting, sculpture or a photograph are arranged. Hundreds of years before photography has been invented, composition has been the subject of interest by visual artists around the world. They have observed that the human eye tends to prefer certain arrangements over others. The subject has been studied at length and most concepts I talk about below can be found in many classic works of art.
This post is about the basic ‘rules’ of photographic composition. I’ll be using my own photographs to illustrate the guidelines covered below. Experiment and see what works for you.
1. Rule of Thirds:
This is perhaps the most well-known composition technique, whereby the subject of your photograph is positioned off-centre. When you look through the viewfinder, imagine that the screen is divided into a grid (some LCD screens have the grid feature activated), as in the below example. If you apply the rule of thirds, your subject will be positioned at the intersecting lines, as in the example on the right. The idea behind the rule of thirds is that it will make your photographs more balanced.
2. Leading lines:
Another common compositional practice is to incorporate leading lines into your photographs. In essence, lines can be used to control the way the viewer’s eyes move around the frame. These lines can be straight, curvy, horizontal, vertical, or diagonal and are a great way to enhance your photos’ composition.
3. Perspective and Angles:
4. Space to Move Into:
When we look at photographs of moving subjects, our eyes naturally tend to follow the direction in which they’re moving. Keep this in mind and leave enough space inside the frame, i.e. in front of you subject. Likewise, if your subject is looking at something, leave some space for them to look into. This will make your images more balanced.
What’s behind your subject is also important. Opt for a plain and uncluttered background to ensure that nothing distracts from your subject. If you cannot take other objects out of your photo, then blur them out by widening your aperture (use a small f number if your lens permits it, i.e. f1.4, f1.8, f2.2, etc).
Using colour in your composition is a good way to grab the viewer’s attention and/or convey a particular mood in an image. There’re plenty on colours in everyday scenes (both bold and subtle), so why not use them for creative effect. Have a look at this example in which I used colour to aid composition.
7. Fill Your Frame:
8. Natural Frames:
Consider placing your subject within a natural ‘frame’. Tree branches, archways, and windows are all good examples of objects that can be used to frame your subject. The result is a more focused image which draws your eye naturally to the main point of interest.
You can create some beautiful images by incorporating patterns into your composition. Patterns are visually pleasing because they suggest harmony and rhythm, which create a sense of order. Also, you can create equally eye-catching shots by breaking the patterns and breaking the rhythm.
10. Break these Rules:
It helps to know the rules, but it is also good to break them. After all, photography is not an exact science, so experiment.
Hope the above guidelines are useful and help you create some beautiful images. Check-in in a few weeks, when I post 10 more guidelines for better composition.