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Basic Composition

The very basics of good photography concepts. This will lead into a photo practice session and then post-processing.

Mr. Brash

on 28 October 2013

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Transcript of Basic Composition

Basic Composition
General Guidelines
More natural.
Pleasing to the eye.
Creative use of negative space
Don't need to be lined up.
Rule of Thirds
Composition rules have been around since the first camera.

Do not need to be followed perfectly. (Guidelines)

Cannot combine them all.

Try them ONE AT A TIME. Perfect one, move on. Keep a list of the rules somewhere and check back to freshen your photography.
Lighthouse Photo by Trey Ratcliff
Be aware of the background in the image. The human eye is easily distracted.

You don't need to eliminate the background - find a simpler one (or use depth of field).
Leading Lines
Eyes naturally follow lines.

Draw the viewer "through" the photo.
Photo by Pierre Metivier http://www.flickr.com/photos/feuilllu/227310839/in/photostream/
Focusing on a specific object can give very different effects. Try a different focal point to accent your photo.
Selective Focus
National Geographic
Easiest way to break the Rule of Thirds.
Occurs naturally and is pleasing to the eye.
Works well if you have something to break it up (see red bucket).
Architecture, landscapes, people, flora, reflections...
Symmetry and Patterns
Photo by AnyMotion
Photo by Fabio Montalto
Helps isolate the main subject.
Several natural items help with framing: doorways, trees, holes, leading lines...
Creates a more "focused" photo (not in the actual focus sense).
Can create context - a sense that the viewer was there.
Organizes thoughts in a photo.
Sally Crossthwaite
Similar to Framing, this isolates the subject.
Eliminates background "noise".
Works especially for small items and children.
Fill the frame (Cropping)
Take time to think about where you will shoot the photo from.
Try getting an angle or view that you wouldn't normally see. Change it up - augment reality.
Perspective (Viewpoint)
Rules of Composition
Go out and practice these techniques. Eventually you will be posting these techniques (or at least some) on your blog.
Rule of Thirds
Simple Backgrounds
Leading Lines
Selective Focus
Rule of Thirds
Most amateur photographers/artists try to make sure that the subject is centered in the middle of their photographs.
However, you can achieve some interesting and more realistic-looking results by having your photos more asymmetrical, where the subject or focus of your picture is not directly centered.
Most asymmetrical photos come from photographers following the well-known design principle, the Rule of Thirds.
Photography Composition
The thoughtful arrangement of the elements of art in the picture frame, or within the cameras viewfinder.
“making pictures that look good”
Symmetry = Balance
Rules are meant to be broken! (In Photography)

Just because we have a guideline called the Rule of Thirds does not mean that it is bad to shoot images that are not asymmetrical.
I prefer to use guidelines, rather than rules.
Used thoughtfully, balance can contribute an elegant solution to any visual challenge!
Balance can speak of: order, structure, control, peace, consistency and harmony.
Horizon Line Placement
Worm's-Eye View
Using rule of thirds, we can control where a horizon is placed allowing photographers to tell their story
There are 3 types: Middle placement, upper third placement, and lower third placement.
If the horizon is in the
upper third
, then the focus in the photo is the bottom portion
If the horizon is in the
lower third
, then the focus in the photo is the top portion
If the horizon is in the
, the main subject can be about anything! (Rule of thumb: try to avoid this)
The view point in now from below (the opposite of bird`s-eye view.
It`s an unusual perspective that works well with special types of photography such as macro photography
By choosing from which vantage point a photo is taken, a photographer can
how their image will be perceived.

There are 3 main perspectives:
Bird's-Eye View
Worm's-Eye View
, and
Horizon Line Placement
. Remember though, these are just guidelines! Your image can be taken from any angle and any perspective! Even tight cropping can be considered a "different" perspective.
Bird's-Eye View
This is a view from above, as if you were a bird (hence the name birds-eye view)
It can range from just a few feet above the subject to a very wide angle shot
Can also be known as Aerial View or Overhead View
Lower Third
Upper Third
Doesn`t need to be a place only!
Worm's Eye View
Bird's Eye View
Horizon Line Placement
Leading Lines
By adding lines, a viewer's eyes can be led to the
focal point
of the picture.

A leading line can be straight, wavy, radial... basically any variation of a line
A leading line has many purposes:
- It can lead the viewer to the subject
- Adds a sense of depth to the image that would otherwise look "flat"
- Creates patterns that is visually stimulating to the human eye
Patterns and Repetition
Repetition uses leading lines as the main focus of the image. It can also create some interesting patterns that can really make your photography stand out!
There are two options when it comes to patterns and repetition:
Emphasize it
Break it
Emphasize it
Filling your frame with a repetitive pattern can give the impression of size and large numbers.
The key to this is to attempt to zoom in close enough to the pattern that it fills the frame and makes the repetition seem as though it’s bursting out.
Break it
The other common use of repetition in photography is to capture the interruption of the flow of a pattern. For example you might photograph hundreds of red M&Ms with one blue one. Broken repetition might include adding a contrasting object (color, shape, texture) or removing one of the repeating objects.
Another great way to use them is to break the symmetry or pattern in some way, introducing tension and a focal point to the scene.
3) Leading lines / Patterns and Repetition
Shooting assignment : 3 days to complete
Leading Lines:
2 (Before & After = 4)
2 (Before & After = 4)
(Must include pattern & broken pattern)
Submit in Blackboard
A presentation created by Mr. Brash and expertly updated / upgraded by Mr. Saikali of TSPhotography (
There are 4 reasons for framing...
1) Bring focus to the Focal Point:
A frame provides a barrier between the
focal point of your image and the outside of the image. It ensures that the viewer's eyes remain there longer.
2) Adds sense of depth:
A frame provides an object that "sizes" and "layers" objects.
3) Intriguing your viewer:
Sometimes it’s what you can’t see in an image that draws you into it. Do this concept correctly, and you can leave the viewer a desire to see more; get it wrong, and it can actually take away from the overall image.
4) Gives the photo context:
The architecture or style of the frame can give the photo context. For example, foliage can give the sense that the image was taken in nature.
Often a photo will lack impact because the main subject is so small it becomes lost among the clutter of its surroundings.

Tight Cropping:
By cropping tight around the subject you eliminate the background 'noise', ensuring the subject gets the viewer's undivided attention. It tends to focus on details rather than the full picture.
4) Framing/Cropping
Shooting assignment : 4 days to complete
It's time to take
photos - break out of the "hallway" shots. Experiment. Incorporate the other composition rules. Look and move around (yes, outside is cold - welcome to Canada)
Submit in Blackboard
Submit on BBoard
That's a total of 16 photos to submit by end of day Friday.
Framing (not cropping):
4 shots

(before & after = 8)
Cropping (in-camera):
4 shots (before & after = 8)
I expect
work from now until the end of the course. Use your time very wisely.
Full transcript