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An Introduction To Photographic Composition

There’s a lot that happens between eying the subject and getting the results. This is extremely complex to describe and understand. Luckily, the technological advancements have taken this burden off the photographer’s shoulder. However there’s quite a lot which still only the photographer can do, after all there’s a difference between the man and the machine.

Composition is one such thing. While today’s digital cameras can focus and expose effectively and some even do the face-recognition, it is only the human eye which can visualize the results and perceive the effect or the final result perhaps. Composition is the effective placement of the visual elements in the photographic frame such that the results draw emotional reaction.

There are various elements that contribute to a good composition like the color, texture, lines, shapes, the light and more. Also there are various rules which works more as guidelines to help you use these elements for maximum effect. Here are commonly used rules and elements contributing in making eye-catching photographs.

  1. Rule Of Thirds

    One of the most crucial element of making great photographs is the composition and you can make good composition by following the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds in the photographic composition speaks about the placement of the subject in the third part of the frame — where the photographic plane is divided into three equal parts either vertically, horizontally or diagonally.

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  2. Golden Ratio

    You can make your compositions aesthetic and pleasing by following the golden rule. The golden rule or the golden ratio is about placing various elements of a photograph off-center; by placing them in the ratio of 1:1.61803399. The golden ratio is best used when composing a scene comprised of two major contrasting planes; by placing the planes vertically, horizontally or diagonally in the golden proportion.

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  3. Lines Draw Viewer’s Eye Into The Frame

    Lines draw the viewer’s eye in the photograph and draws his attention to your center of interest. Portraying the lines as the subject conveys orientation, elegance, strength and authority. Lines also play an important role when used in conjunction with the subject — by complementing the subject harmoniously.

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  4. Patterns Makes The Composition Interesting

    Patterns add interest to the composition. Patterns draw the viewer’s eye and engages the user in the myth of voluminous repetitions. Patterns help in creating illusionary effects; and thus heighten the sense of involvement into the dynamics of the subject. Patterns are a perfect medium of portraying the blend of colors, shades, tones and conveying the effects of lines, curves and textures.

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  5. Portray Your Viewpoint With Perspective

    Perspective is all about portraying your creative outlook and viewpoint of the subject. Your perspective adds an element of interest in the photograph. It adds depth in your photographs; by introducing the third dimension to plain, dull and flat photographic plane. You can portray your perspective by including elements in the foreground, depicting converging lines and most important by experimenting with various angles of shooting. The angle of shooting helps in exploring and discovering the dimensions and dynamics of the subject.

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  6. Natural Framing Gives Context To Your Shots

    Natural frames compliment the subject by drawing the viewer’s eye to your center of interest. You can weave the story around your composition by following natural framing tips. Complimenting your subjects with the natural frames add your unique perspective to the composition.

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  7. Elements Of Lively Composition

    Though the above mentioned rules and elements add to the interest, creativity and uniqueness of the composition; you can always include people, expressions, kids & pets, magic lights, motion effects and blurred backgrounds to make the compositions lively and dominating.

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As I noted earlier, composition is out of reach of the camera and is dependent on the perception and the visualization of the photographer. Good composition is the difference between a perfectly sharp and well exposed yet uninteresting photograph and an underexposed photo with effective highlight on specific area(s) of the frame that make it interesting even to the layman.

Still not sure how to make impressive images. Check out the killer composition tips to make a mark with your photographs.

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1 comment… add one
  • Tilen Hrovatic Jul 19, 2011 @ 21:04

    Thanks for sharing these tips. bookmarked and printed :) really interesting and helpful!

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