Clever composition: how to take a great photo

Small but sophisticated digital cameras and smartphone apps mean it’s never been easier to point and snap but if you want to take memorable pictures, a little more thought is required.

Take the time to think about the composition of your shot before you press the button and enjoy smarter, slicker snaps.

Photography’s framework

While there are no strict rules when it comes to photography, there are some things you can easily do to enhance the quality of your snaps. Composition simply describes the way that all of the elements of your photograph work together to create a whole. A good composition is pleasing to the eye while a bad one is jarring and instinctively difficult to take in.

Understand the science behind a pleasing composition more fully by exploring the tutorials and information offered by Photo Tuts+, a site packed with articles, videos and diagrams that can help you learn how to take a better picture.

The Rule of Thirds

The easiest way to create the kind of composition you want to keep looking at is to work by the Rule of Thirds. The trick is to make sure that when you look at a potential picture through your viewfinder, you are mentally dividing it into nine equal segments with the help of two vertical and two horizontal lines. For a balanced picture, position the most important elements of your photo so that they rest on these lines or their intersections.

For some photographers, the Rule of Thirds seems to come naturally. For others, it’s something that takes a certain amount of work and understanding. For a step-by-step breakdown of the rule that’s easy to grasp, have a look at the advice available at Digital Photography School. This in-depth site also offers plenty of tips when it comes to choosing your equipment and some great post-production tutorials.

Towing the line

It’s also important to be aware of the impact of real lines in your pictures. Everything you photograph has the potential to create a leading line – from skylines to the edge of a sofa – which can cause the viewer’s eye to follow a certain path. Our eyes are naturally drawn along lines, so use them to lead towards the focal point of your picture and enhance its impact.

Learning to manipulate the lines we find in the natural world can be tricky, but specialist photography blog Digital Camera World has lots of excellent advice. Its pages are packed with inspirational images and comprehensive guides to boost your knowledge.

Picking your viewpoint

Taking photographs at eye level is only natural – it’s how you see the world, after all – but if you’re looking to snap a photograph with added emotional or dramatic impact, it’s worth thinking about being a little more experimental. Consider crouching down on the ground or standing on a chair to get an unusual angle on a familiar scene, or step in for an intimate close up instead of a crowd shot.

For some tips and tricks to help you get started, delve into the excellent articles found at Photo Technique – an easy to understand blog offering guides to all areas of photography.

A few extra moments spent planning your shot can have long lasting results. Pause before pressing the button and consider your composition for a more artistic photo album.

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Mother of three grown-up daughters I am the ultimate multi-tasker and am passionate about my role as Silversurfers Website Editor and Social Media Manager. Always on the lookout for all things that will interest and entertain our community. Fueling fun for the young at heart!

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27th Aug 2017
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Now this is going to be interesting as I have recently joined the photography group in the local u3a and apart from just taking spasmodic photos with my digital Kodak Easy Share camera given me by my children for past birthday not exactly done much over the years.

I really need to focus more and use the Rule of Thirds am glad I read that so that is my first stage .... methinks I shall snap away later and report back ... smile

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