Lighthouse photography: learn to compose images of very tall subjects

(Image credit: Peter Fenech)

There are certain subjects that pose unexpected compositional challenges. This might be to do with the arrangement of objects in the foreground, making it tricky to pick an ideal focal length, or objects in the scene impeding the perfect view of the subject. One example of a setting that, on paper at least, should be relatively simple to shoot, but which causes many photographers to throw their hands up in frustration, is a tall and thin subject.

Structures such as this lighthouse look as if it were impossible to take a bad image of, but their tall, narrow design makes it a challenge to fit them into a balanced composition. The issue is not so much with the lighthouse as with the negative space around it. Instinctively you might shoot in portrait orientation, but this can sometimes produce an uninspiring, predictable composition. Shooting in landscape, however, reveals too much sky or foreground if you fit all the building in the frame. 

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Peter Fenech

As the Editor for  Digital Photographer magazine, Peter is a specialist in camera tutorials and creative projects to help you get the most out of your camera, lens, tripod, filters, gimbal, lighting and other imaging equipment.

After cutting his teeth working in retail for camera specialists like Jessops, he has spent 11 years as a photography journalist and freelance writer – and he is a Getty Images-registered photographer, to boot.

No matter what you want to shoot, Peter can help you sharpen your skills and elevate your ability, whether it’s taking portraits, capturing landscapes, shooting architecture, creating macro and still life, photographing action… he can help you learn and improve.