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Mornington Peninsula 1 day Photo course – James Harvie talks about Photography Composition.

How perfect Photography Composition can lift your Photography Skills is something which takes time to perfect.

Have you ever wondered what makes certain images just pop off the page and stick in your mind? Or do you wonder how an image can just gain so much popularity.

Most of us think to create a perfect image you need the perfect location. But when you look a little bit deeper a perfect or award image isn’t always shot at a wonderful location. Sure it helps but its not really the deciding factor.

There are many photography buffs/amatuers who find themselves totally obsessed with a cameras features and functions and how good it looks. Which is all very well but in the end isn’t it the image which really counts.

Clearly some of us are gifted and can naturally create perfect composition but the vast majority of us might have some difficulty with this. Some people will find this very frustrating and want to do something about it.

So I thought it might be a good idea to share with you all my thoughts on creating good composition. Now I am by far from being an expert in the matter but I do feel I can offer some guidance. Perhaps we can start by looking at some key elements which help create a perfect image:

1/ Guiding the viewers eye

As a photographer it is our job to guide the viewers eye to a focal point of interest. We do this by creating lines and angles and the use of light. Think of your image as taking the viewer on a guided tour. The guide being the lines and subtle use of light.

2/ Simplicity and harmony

We need to create an image which uses simplicity and creates harmony to the eye. Ordinary images tend to be cluttered and busy with no clear direction for the viewers eye. A busy image clutters the viewers mind and therefore fails to create impact.

3/ Impact

An image needs to grab the viewers attention immediately and hold their attention. Think of your image as a billboard advertisement in the fact that it has a split second to grab and hold the viewers attention.

There are some elements you can use to create good composition such as lines, shape, textures and form.

1/ Lines

Lines help create a directional path for the viewers eye. Imagine a photograph of a train in the distance in the centre of your image. You can use the lines of the railway track to draw you in to the focal point being the train. You can do the same with a jetty. Or you can use the uniformity of trees to perfectly frame your subject.


When we go about trying to take a photo with good composition you really have to look at all the elements in the picture and sometimes you will need to move around the subject several times until you are satisfied with the composition and balance of object. In fact balance and harmony is what you are trying to create.


2/ Shape

Shapes can create angles and drama to an image and they can help create power. This is particularly evident when you photograph a building using a wide angle lens. Shapes can create great graphics and dimension.


3/ Texture

You can use very smooth texture in an image to help create harmony. This is evident when we photograph a flowing waterfall or fast moving clouds or the ocean on a very slow shutter. The end result is nice smooth space around your subject.


4/ Form

Picture a pyramid for a moment. Your pyramid is triangular in shape. When we can see some sides to the Pyramid we create depth or form. A form makes your subject three dimensional and more realistic.


What is the rule of Thirds?

The rule of thirds involves mentally dividing up your image using 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines. The theory is to make sure your subject is placed along these lines or where they intersect. It is thought that this adds greater impact than putting your subject dead centre.

Now remember photography has no definite rules and this is only a guide line. Sometimes the rule of thirds does not apply. However it is useful to know some of the points I have pointed out.

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