UK local hero Jacob James is a young and talented travel photographer currently studying at Leeds University who will be sharing with you a series of 8 weekly articles covering in an informal way an Introduction to Photography – in this third in the series Jacob looks at some easy tips to help you Understand composition, a key area to taking better photos!
Learning the basics of composition is a fundamental step if you wish to improve your images. Compositional ‘rules’ apply to all genres of photography so even if you don’t shoot landscapes very often having a basic grasp of these 8 easy steps will help you take better photographs. My 8 easy compositional basics are:
1. Rule of Thirds – The simplest rule of composition. The rule of thirds is pretty much the cornerstone of all composition in photography. Essentially you want to place the main elements of the image 1/3rd or 2/3rds of the way up the frame.
2. Lead-in lines – Clever use of shape and textures can work to draw the viewer’s eye into the frame and towards the main subject of the photograph. Paths, jetties and bridges are great for lead in lines.
3. Look for depth – Use elements in the foreground, mid-ground and background to give the image a sense of depth. This is easily done by using a foreground object that is complimentary to the rest of the image i.e a rock for a seascape.
4. Depth of Field – Use a low aperture such as f11 or f16 to give your landscape image the maximum depth of field you can. If you wish to look at this in more detail check out ‘hyper-focal distance’.
5. Keep it Odd – This applies to all forms of photography and not just landscape images. Odd numbers are more pleasing to the eye and so you should aim to keep elements in odd numbers for instance 1 or 3 trees will look better than 2 or 4 trees.
6. Balance – Don’t add too much emphasis to one area of the image such as the foreground. Sometimes keeping a minimalistic and simple composition can be just as or even more effective than a complex composition.
7. Search the frame – Nothing shouts beginner more than leaving unwanted elements in your frame. It could be anything from a coke can to a power line – trying to avoid these distracting elements will improve your photography greatly!
8. Ignore all the above! – Once you have mastered the basic rules of composition, learning when to break them can produce more dynamic images. Some of the best images are often taken when these ‘rules’ have been broken.
Look out for Jacob’s next article in the 8-part series: ‘10 Tips to make great portraits’