The majority of photographs are taken quickly, with little thought paid to viewpoint, foreground, background, depth of field and framing. Yet by just slowing things down a little and thinking a little more carefully before pressing the button, it should be possible to convert many of those rejects to winners.

We’re all familiar with the basic rules and devices of good composition, but it’s good to be reminded of them from time to time, and to practice our technique with these rules in mind, so that they become second nature. Then we can get on with the job of looking at different ways of seeing potentially good photographs and – who knows – perhaps wilfully breaking those very rules we’ve committed to our subconscious.

Graphic Shapes

So before you press that shutter button, ask yourself a few basic questions: would your shot look better from a lower viewpoint or do you need to find a higher vantage point? Do you need to use maximum depth of field or would it be better if the background went out of focus? Is there anything that you can use in the foreground to create interest and lead the eye into the shot? Can you frame the picture with a tree or the archway of a building? Would the shot be better if you returned at another time of the day when the sun will be in a different position? When you have considered points such as these, you will find that your compositional skills will improve dramatically.

Many DSLRs offer optional interchangeable focusing screens, including a grid screen which can be a great aid to composing your picture. Naturally the grid doesn’t appear on the finished image. Most compacts, too, offer the ability to superimpose a grid over the LCD screen and/or viewfinder.

Find a Frame

There are many elements you can use to enhance
composition. One of them is to use a framing device such as tree
branches or, the arch of a wall. Ensure all the elements of your shot
are evenly balanced when taking your exposure reading though.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. John Freeman's Composition Masterclass: Page 2
  3. 3. John Freeman's Composition Masterclass: Page 3
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