It’s easy to pick just about any photography-related topic– exposure, lighting, etc.– and make the claim that it is the most important element of photography. By extension, that bold statement would mean that the element in question would also be the most important step to taking better photos. The truth is, though, that all of the components come into play each and every time we bring the camera to our eye. We continue, however, to give more weight to some than to others. Sometimes it’s because we’re learning something new, while other situations may be dictated by the subject or surroundings. For me, though, that quintessential element is composition. If the composition fails, the entire image fails. Now, I can already hear feathers being ruffled. Some of you are already scrolling down to the comments section to remind me that without proper exposure, composition becomes irrelevant. The reason I totally disagree is that I am confident in your ability to assess a scene and dial in the right aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. But telling your story– creating a photo that truly speaks for itself within the four corners of the frame– that’s a process that separates a photo that works from one that doesn’t.
Allot of times you’ll look at two very similar pictures, and say "Man, the left picture looks great, the right one is nice, but the left – Man I love it". Eight times out of ten, this difference can be explained by something called rules of composition. There are many such rules, (The Rule of Thirds is one known example, but there are many more). The rules of composition are a set of thumb rules to help the photographer rely on experience gathers in many years of art. (I was trying to avoid the whole "breaking the rules" argument, but feel free to comment) One such rule simply says Keep Your Horizon Straight. It’s a simple rule to follow, just make sure your camera is leveled when you take the shot. If you miss that rule, you’ll sometime hear comments about people falling to the side, or having the sea spilled out of the frame – some persons can not resist this remark. Some of the new DSLR models can help you with this task. Nikon’s D80 (or Nikon’s D70) for example can display a grid on the view finder, and you just need to make sure the horizon aligns with that line. There are also some nifty accessories you can attach to your hot shoe mount if you have one, see this nice gizmo from Hakuba for example.
But leveling the horizon can be sometimes tricky. When you take lots of shot, when you don’t have time to aim well or when you don’t have anything to level against. [Read more...]
One of the basic rules of composition is the rule of thirds. This is a very basic rule, that is often ignored by amateurs, and can drastically improve your pictures. Here is how this rule works: imagine that you draw lines across your frame to form a tick-tack-toe playing board. (you should end up with nine identical squares). Now the image is divided to thirds, both horizontally and vertically. See the diagram for lines positions. [Read more...]