Monday, June 29, 2009

Photo Talk: Composition & Framing

As much as it is important to expose your image correctly, composing your photo is also very important. You have probably heard of the rule of thirds. I think it is a great guide and I do bear it in mind when I am taking photos. On the other hand I look for other factors in the frame of the image that I may use as I compose the photo.

Rule of Thirds
As mentioned there are photos that I take when I am totally using the rule of thirds. Here are a few examples of the extreme use of the rule.

Then there are examples of when the use of the rule is a bit more subtle but still present.

In this photo you can see that the elk is not exactly in one third of the image. The back end of the elk starts in one of the thirds. Your eyes follow his body and move toward his huge antlers. The flow keeps you eye focused on the elk which in this case is the main subject. You will notice as you look at the elk your eye is still noticing the surroundings of the elk but your eye is not drawn away from the elk.

Here is an example where I have used the road starting in one third of the image to lead you into the rest of the image. The road leads you into the depth of the shot, ending in the final third of the image.

This is yet another example where I have used more than a single third of the frame to compose this image. Granted this is a tighter crop and it is clear the wolf is the subject. In this framing I purposely waited for the wolf to turn his head over the back part of his body. This helps route your eye to the face of the wolf.

Skipping The Rule
There are times I do not think about the rule so much and think more of eye flow. I may want to lead your eye to the back part of a photo or I may want to make sure your eyes capture the full essence of the shot. In these kinds of situations I think less about the rule of thirds. I compose based on how your eye will be drawn into the photo.

I tend to use this approach more with nature. I am from the old school so I use a tripod most all the time when taking landscapes and nature photos. The tripod is not just for stabilization but more so for helping me compose the shot. If I were hand holding and want to take the photo in different metering or exposure approaches, I may not get the same framing as I desire.

In this image I wanted the focus to be the rich colored porous rocks and how the water flows around them. I tried to compose this in a way to have your lead throughout the photo.

The angle and framing of this shot was intended to have your eye follow and see the entire bridge and its length.

You can see the top of the waterfall is nearly dead center in this image. I used the rock formations and flowing river to lead your eye to the top of the falls.

Full Frame & Tight Cropping
If you spend time reviewing much of my work you will find I like tight cropping, especially with people and animals. Each of us see photos in a different way. I tend to like tight crops and full frame. I dont know why...just do.

I hope these examples will help you as you compose and frame your photos. Try not to make the same mistake I do, try and not frame your photo too tight to start with. Give yourself some room to do your cropping in your software. Still compose well in the view finder. Just when you think...ah...that is the way I want it to look, zoom out just a hair. That will give you some room to finalize the desired look when you crop it.


Tim said...

Hey Scott,

Thanks for getting in touch. I had a chance to check out your photography which is quite impressive.

Keep in touch and who knows, with the two of us running around GB with cameras in hand so often I would think we're bound to run into one another at some point.

Brady said...

What works for me is when I see something that would make for a great photo I try to visualize it in my mind (how it would actually look after I take it). Then I hand hold the camera till I get that composition that I see. Once I've got everything in the view finder that I imagined I will set up the tripod and then work out the technical stuff.

Glen Hartjes said...

Nice blog Scott, good advice also.
Nice to see some local talent on the web. Now go shoot some snow...