Sunday, December 16, 2007

What Makes Good Composition?

As photographers, we have the ability to control our viewer's eye through several creative techniques at our disposal. It's not good enough just to say, use good composition.

Good composition is made of several element working in unison. Focus is certainly important, actually it's the use of use of depth of field rather than the actual subject your focusing on. Another is the use of Light within the photo to direct the viewers eye. Our eye usually go to the brightest object within the photo. By making your intended subject the brightest object in the photo, your view will be directed there. Finally there is the uses of Leading Lines to guide your viewer eye through the photo.

Using leading lines to guide your viewers eye is what I would like to discuss today. It has been my experience that using a wide angle lens is a good and easy way to accomplish this. Let’s take a look at a few examples to illustrate this point.

This particular photo was shot for an oil & gas client just east of Denver, Colorado. There are actually two elements being used to draw the viewers eye to the worker in the photograph. Light and Leading Lines are both being used to direct the viewers eye. The graphic lines of the lower pipe moving into the photo as well as the upper tanks descending lines. We also have the bright sunrise at the horizon working for us, our eye's will first go to the brightest spot within the photo and than leading lines will keep you there.

Let's take a look at another photo illustrating this point. Again I am using a wide angle lens to create more leading lines within the photo. I've exaggerate the size of the computer screens by placing them close to the lens. As the screens move further away from me, they become rapidly smaller thus causing a directional line leading to the operator at the controls. I have also used Light to draw the viewers eye to the operator as well.

Seldom will it be just one element used to create a photograph with good composition.

I'm constantly looking for these different elements available to me when photographing. Often having to put objects into my shots to achieve my desired results. When your lighting a scene you obviously have the Light issue in control. As far as spotting or creating those leading lines, being familiar with the various effects that your lens can achieve will help greatly.

In an earlier post Using Foreground Elements, I discuss using foreground elements to direct the viewers eye. Take a moment to review that if you like. Hope all of you had a wonderful weekend. DT


Ethan said...

Great compositional reminders. Thank you, sir.

Anonymous said...

I think I read somewhere that its an evolutionary instinct for our eyes to move towards the light areas.

Unknown said...

Well said. I always faced with dilemma where to place the focus point when taking wide angle picture such as the "computer screen & worker" above.

Can you give some pointers?

Anonymous said...

Nice reminds, I'm aways in trouble to choose the right angle, focus and adequate DoF. This text will help a lot thanks!

Anonymous said...

Great point. All the lighting in the world won't save a poor composition!

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Check it out!

David Tejada said...

I would chose to place focus on the person. That being said, if I where shooting for the computer company, I'd focus on the screen... DT

Rean Kriel said...

A few simple guidelines can make a great difference. It is maybe what distinguishes the photographers from the "snappers".

Rean Kriel