On3legs | 7 Secrets every photographer should know about composition
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7 Secrets every photographer should know about composition

The difference between a good photo and a great photo relies on photography composition.

There are plenty of tools that a budding or professional photographer can use to take a nice photograph but it takes more than good gear to achieve it. Most techniques are simple to use and apply; we just have to seek them out. An important aspect of photography involves training the eye and mind to look for art in any environment and know how to perfectly capture it. During my day I see photographs everywhere!

Henri Cartier-BressonDo not over-think and stress too much with composition

Rules don’t apply when you have spotted a perfect image that almost comes as an instinct.

“In photography, visual organisation can stem only from a developed instinct.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

Cartier-Bresson, a well renowned photographer, has taken most of his best photographs spontaneously. He is famous for his perfectly arranged compositions that create a perfectly balanced image. His approach to photography is quite brave since he breaks the normal guidelines in photography. Think less and trust your eyes when you find something that looks right. Don’t overthink those rules and guidelines, they might come in handy someday but they’re just tools to guide your natural eye. Rules were made to be broken, especially when it comes to photography.

Luna Park Vivid SydneyFill the frame

Don’t leave too much empty space in a scene. Fill the entire frame to avoid such a compositional (did I just make this word up?) mistake. Zoom in or get closer to the subject to capture the most important elements. Having too much empty space can make the subject appear smaller and boring. In the Photo here of Luna Park in Sydney, I zoomed in so close that unless you knew Sydney well you would struggle to know exactly where this is. On a black night with all this colour going on during the Vivid Sydney festival I wanted to capture the vibrance of Luna Park balanced  with the temporarily lit up Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

Cropping

Cropping is probably everyone’s favorite tool, it comes in handy when you review your photos and realize that you’re not satisfied with the outcome. This should be done correctly to help you achieve the desired look since cropping may make or break the original photos. When using my D800, this has become a real easy way to fix a poor composition (it’s allowed me to be a little lazy really) – The Nikon D800 has a 36mp sensor, so I can crop a fair  bit of the original image and still have a lot to play with.

Lighting

You can improve the overall of a photo with proper lighting. This can make a big difference if you are shooting outdoors. Keep in mind how you create your photos in relation to the lighting to put the finishing touches on it. The image below is the dome on top of the war memorial in Canberra and was backlit with the outside sun. I am a fan of using the natural light to enhance an image.

war memorial

Backgrounds

Backgrounds are just as important as the subject. You can control the composition of a photo by giving balance to the subject and its background. If you wish to hide a background a wide lens aperture and a longer focal length can help throw the background out of focus to bring more attention to the subject and less on the surroundings. You can see in this photo of fungi how I have blurred out the background to really make it stand out from the background, I also placed the green moss behind the fungi as it was a great contrast and really enhanced the composition.

Macro_FungiCurves

A curve could add certain softness to an image and make it seem more inviting. When done correctly it allures the eye of the viewer to examine the details carefully.

Colour

The good use of colour is very important in photo composition. This is essential to make viewers want to take a second look at your photo. It can tell a story by itself.

Your Turn!

I challenge you to head out with your camera this weekend and try using these 7 composition tips to help you take your photography to the next level!

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