I’m taking a beginners digital photography class at Lill Street Art Center. I’ve decided to document my weekly notes from class along with the assignments so I’ll have a point of reference when this is all over. I also hope that this shared knowledge will inspire other rookie photographers! For Week 1 Notes, click here.
When you look through your camera, the three-dimensional world in front of you is flattened to a two-dimensional, rectangular picture within a frame. Objects within the frame are arranged depending on your position relative to them. When you change your position, the arrangement of the objects change. This is called composition.
It's important to take your time deciding what you want your composition to be, which can directly relate to how the audience feels when looking at your work.
It's easy in digital photography to do continuous shooting, because we have (what seems like) unlimited attempts to get the right shot. It feels natural to just keep snapping photos. However, if we take the time to do it right, sometimes the first shot can be the perfect shot.
There are many composition concepts that can help to get the best picture depending on the situation. Some of these are often intuitive and done on a subconscious level. Remember that photography is subjective. Below are some basic composition concepts.
Rule of Thirds:
Your frame can be divided into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. These dividing lines are strong compositional points. Consider placing your subject on one of these lines (and not always in the center).
Lower and Closer:
Try getting closer to the main subject of your composition, and make it a bigger part of your frame. Many subjects seem more dramatic from a lower perspective. Bring the camera down and see how the world around you rises up.
Foreground & Background:
Even though your photography is two-dimensional, you can give it a three-dimensional feel by including both boregorund and background elements in your frame.
This type of composition can be helpful in a landscape setting. The idea is that you have heavier elements on the outside of your image (mountains, buildings, etc.) that taper down to a smaller central focal point.
Our eyes tend to follow lines. See if you can find a line in the environment that will lead the viewer's eyes to your subject (a street, fence, a broken line, or line of sight).
Often we judge the size, distance, or character of a subject by what's around it. For example: a 10' tall flag pole doesn't seem very tall when photographed with a 30' building behind it, but when photographed from a different position so that it's against a sky with clouds, it may seem very high.
Look for instances where you find identical or similar subjects in groups. One approach is to get close to one object and have the other's recede into the distance, getting smaller or out of focus. Another approach is to have all the identical objects at an equal distance and make the rhythm of their repetition the subject.
The edges of your image are as important as the center. Frames can be found in the form of tree branches, doorways, windows, arches, etc.
Dynamic Perspective vs. Deadpan:
When photographing geometric planes like architecture, many people shoot from a minor angle. Try 1) shooting from a significant angle, creating a dynamic perspective and 2) face the subject completely flat-on or "deadpan" for no perspective.
Our assignment for week two was focusing on composition. The concepts listed above were set as a guide.
Repeating Forms & Leading Lines
Repeating Forms & Leading Lines
Lower & Closer, Dynamic Perspective
Foreground & Background