How to take good photos: 10 simple ways to boost your hit rate

    | Photography Tips | 21/02/2014 00:01am

    How to take good photos: 02 Get composition spot-on every time

    How to take good photos: 02 Get composition spot-on every time

    Image by Gary MacParland

    Whenever you look through your camera’s viewfinder, or line up a shot on the LCD screen, you take your first step towards composing a shot.

    There are lots of long-standing ‘rules’ regarding photo composition, many – such as the Golden Spiral and Golden Section – going back to classic painting techniques.

    Perhaps the most widely used rules in photography, and certainly one of the easiest to work with in the field, is the Rule of Thirds: it’s simple, yet effective.

    Just imagine two lines crossing the frame horizontally, and two crossing it vertically to divide it into thirds.

    Positioning key elements on these lines, such as a horizon on one of the horizontal lines, can produce a more dynamic image than having something dead centre in the frame.

    Placing key elements at the point where the lines intersect also serves as a powerful compositional device.

    SEE MORE: How to compose a photograph – start seeing images where you never saw them before

    Drawing the eye in
    Using leading lines and foreground interest can also strengthen a picture. Whether it’s a stream winding away from the camera position, a wall receding into the distance, or the implied leading line of a subject looking into the distance, these will all help to draw a viewer’s eye into a picture – perhaps to a more distant feature that you want to highlight.

    SEE MORE: Leading lines – photography’s most underrated composition device

    At the same time, you don’t want to have a large, blank space in the foreground, so look for something interesting to fill the bottom of the frame and link this to the main subject.

    If it’s a landscape you’re shooting, you could look for wild flowers or lichen-covered rocks to add interest in a pastoral photograph, or maybe even something that jars with the image – a discarded carrier bag or some litter will say something equally valid about people’s interaction with the natural environment.

    And don’t forget to use your feet to find the perfect position to shoot from.

    SEE MORE: Camera composition tips – how to shoot 1 subject in 6 different ways

    Above all, when you look through the viewfinder you should be aware of everything you’re looking at – not just the subject, but the way the various picture elements work to attract the eye and whether there are any distractions creeping into the edges of the frame.

    Sure, you can crop or clone these out later, but zooming in slightly or taking a step to one side to exclude something isn’t difficult, and highlights the difference between a good photographer and a digital retoucher.

    While it can get boring when used in a formulaic way, there’s no doubt that the Rule of Thirds is a valuable tool in your compositional repertoire. This boat would have looked much less attractive if plonked dead centre!

    SEE MORE: The 10 Commandments of Landscape Photography (and how to break them)

    How to take good photos: use the Golden Spiral technique

    Golden spiral
    The Golden Spiral is a time-honoured way of creating more visually harmonious compositions. The Rule of Thirds is a simplified version of this ancient formula.

    How to take good photos: 01 Think about your shots
    How to take good photos: 02 Get composition spot-on every time
    How to take good photos: 03 Ensure your basic camera functions are set correctly
    How to take good photos: 04 Use aperture to control depth of field
    How to take good photos: 05 Use shutter speeds for creative effect
    How to take good photos: 06 Get the white balance right
    How to take good photos: 07 Get your camera’s ISO settings right
    How to take good photos: 08 Take control of focus
    How to take good photos: 09 Assess your shots in-camera
    How to take good photos: 10 Review and edit your images


    Shape photography: how to balance your compositions and when to break the rules
    Forced perspective: fun photography effects you can achieve with any camera
    Camera angles: 5 ways to add impact with unusual perspectives
    Balanced pictures: using color, shape and light for perfect composition
    Portrait composition: how to compose a stunning portrait

    Posted on Friday, February 21st, 2014 at 12:01 am under Photography Tips.

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