My Photo Blog

The Composition In My Window

Most photographers today see their world through a window called a view finder. Advances in camera technology have given us tools to control focus and exposure, but none that help composition. Composition is how we place our subject in the view finder and its relationship to the space around it. For some, it comes naturally and for others like myself, it had to be learned. Studying the composition of the old masters paintings and the photographers of both the past and present, opened my eyes to what makes a great photograph. When arranging a still life, or product photo, you can make fine adjustments to all of the elements involved, however, on location it’s a different story. Buildings, large pieces of equipment and the environment are not as flexible. When it is practical, I like to scout a location prior to the shoot day. Unfortunately, that is usually not the case, but you can still mentally plan the most likely scenarios. Controlling the viewpoint, foreground, middle ground and distance are some of the main elements to a successful photograph. In the example below, the focus is on the worker and what he is doing. The closest foreground element is the machine part in the upper left. Its strong perspective guides our eyes right to the worker and his attention takes us to the part he is working on. His blue shirt and flesh tones also make him a focal point. In the distance there are strong verticals that also lead down to him.From the complexity of the industrial image above, we look at a simple but strong composition below. The line of the rocks meeting the sky, leads you from left to right to the boy that breaks that line and becomes the focus of the composition. Interest is also created by the textures in the rocks in the foreground against a smooth blue sky in the background. The boys yellow shirt adds the final touch.This next image works because of its viewpoint, created by moving the camera away from the normal eye level position. By placing the camera below eye level and looking between the shelves it frames our subject, while blurring out the chaos in the foreground. .

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