Shoot like a Pro! Beginners guide to composition.
We all take photos. Everyone does. And in case you are on this blog, reading this, possibilities are you want to take up your snapping hobby to the next level. What makes a photograph stand out from a normal snapshot? (Yeah snapshot and photograph are two different things. )
The most important thing a photographer should possess is the ability and patience to compose the frame before hitting the click button. It doesn’t matter how expensive your camera is, if you blow-up the composition you are not going to get that wow-photo that you had imagined in your head. Same way, even if you have a thrift camera or a mobile phone, you can still manage to capture some jaw-dropping photographs.
Lets discuss some basic yet most important ‘rules of composition’.
1. Keep your horizon straight. I am not talking about keeping your camera horizontal or vertical but to align your frame according to the horizon. Of course you can straighten that out in post processing software but you might have to lose out image size specially in the corners. When you straighten the pic later, corners will get cropped out. Also imagine the time you can save by not having to do the same job later in post production/editing.
2. Rule of third.
Perhaps you have heard it before. If not, here is an example below where you can see the grid lines. The idea is to place your main subject in one of the dots. This is done for a reason. Placing your main subject on these dots make the photo look more pleasing to your eyes.
3. Visually balance your photo. This rule is a successor of the Rule of third we discussed above. Now that you have moved your main subject to one of the dots, you will find an empty are in your frame. This imbalances your shot in certain cases. Try finding something on the other side of the frame to balance your shot.
4.Give space to move.
Another rule that immediately follows the rule of third is to provide your subject with space on the other side of its placement. For example, if your subject is placed on the left side of the frame, allow some room on its right side to either look or move. What is behind your subject is past and you must allow it to move to future or ahead.
5. Get down to eye level Specially when shooting kids, pets, flowers, tiny objects or anything shorter in height that you, it’s always advisable to get on the same eye level as your subject. This connects the viewers with your subject. Shooting the same subject from top will make them look tiny or with inappropriate proportion.
6. Fill Frame: Leave out any unnecessary empty spaces on your frame. Just crop them out. Or move closer to the subject of interest so as to make your frame full and rich.
7. Check your background. This will come to you gradually. Keep an alert eye on your subject’s background. Trees, phone towers, electricity cable, stray animals or even humans you don’t want in your frame should be avoided. You can either change your angle to make them disappear or wait for them to pass by if they can move. This will keep all the focus on your main subject.
(The palm tree right behind my friend, striking an awesome pose, ruined a perfect photo. Also notice the people in the background creating distraction which prevented me from winning the 'Photo of the Year'. Pun intended, of course :D )
8. Leading lines. Leading lines are very common common to find wherever you go. You just have to be observant enough. Leading lines gives another dimension to your photos by bringing in depth and guides the viewer’s eyes to the subject.
9. Creative Cropping
Cropping is an under-rated art. Even when you have taken a perfectly framed photo, go ahead and crop further. Leave out part of your subjects face/body. Crop out portion of a monument, flowers, landscape to give that feeling of mystery. Go give it a try. However, make a backup copy of your original photo.
10. Centered Composition and Symmetry
This is contrary to the Rule of Third. Imagine taking photo of Taj Mahal and miss out one of the towers! The idea is to keep your main subject in focus and the other assisting subjects symmetrically paced on the either side. Even during a group photo, for example, of a bride and groom, place equal number of people on either side of the couple. This will make the photo well balanced.
Break The Rules. (But only when you have mastered them) Don’t get confined by the rules. Break them. Try something new. Be Creative We will be discussing few more guidelines on taking aesthetically pleasing photos in our next blog. Thanks for the support :)