Composition Rule #1

Composition is the most important thing in photography. What is Composition? Simply put it is the Layout or structure of your shot. Have you ever looked at a photograph in a magazine or a painting in a gallery and though to yourself this is an amazing picture. But what makes it amazing? Well the answer is Composition. Artest have studyed what it is that makes an image pleasing to the eye for centuries. You can see the rules of composition in the paintings, architecture, potery, and clothing of our ancestors. Composition is the foundation that your image is built on and without a good foundation you will not have a good photograph. These rules are absolutely fundamental, knowing them and understanding them is what separates an amateur from a pro. There are many rules of composition, I like to focus on 10 rules that are the most important and widely known. Starting with rule #1 the Golden Rule of Photoagraphy, The Rule Of Thirds.

 

This is a very simple rule and when applied you will have great results. When setting up your shot imagine your viewfinder divided up into 3 equal parts vertically and 3 equal parts horizontally. When you do this you will be left with four intersections. These intersections are the main focus points for your eyes, and this is where your main subject of the shot should be located. It does not matter witch point you choose but keep in mind the story and movement of your shot. See the example shots below.

 

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The best way to describe the Rule Of Thirds is to show you what it looks like in real world images. These two shot show the rule in action.  I have divided them up into thirds,  so you can see the four focal points of the photo. 

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From the images you can see the points and how the shot was framed using the rule. But you can also see how I tried to convey a story and movement as well. Take the first shot of the snail. In this shot I wanted to show this snail making his way across the road, with so much out in front of him as he slowly goes along inch by inch. His journey is there in front of him. The next image of the bird in silhouette, I framed this image with the bird leaving the frame, almost escaping the frame. As if I came upon him sitting on the shore and he took flight to get away. He is exiting.  

Using the empty space in the shot as a way to convey movement and story, just another way to use the Rule Of Thirds to take great images.  

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Depth Of Field

Photo by William Gillette

Photo by William Gillette

One thing that separates a DSLR camera from your standard point and shoot is the dramatic range when it comes to Depth of field. 

depth of field (DOF): is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image.

TRY THIS

Put your camera on a tripod, go outside and find a fence. Set up yor camera so the legs of your tripod are touching the bottom of the fence and rotate the camera so it is looking down the fence line. Set your DSLR setting to "A" (Aperture Priority mode) and adjust you the dial on your camera that controls the Aperture setting or the F# on your cameras readout. If you have never adjusted these setting on your camera dust off the manual or search your cameras model number online for info on your specific cameras adjustments. 

Adjust the apriture (F#) to the lowest possible number for you camera, each lense has a different range of apriture so this number will be different depending on you lense. Take a picture down the fence line.  

Now without moving your camera adjust the apriture (F#) setting to the highest possible number. Take a picture down the fence line.

Compare the images.  

 

You will see that they are very different. Let's talk about the first image you took, with the lowest apriture (F#) setting. In this image the section of fence closest to the camera should be blurry and out of focus, as the fence gets farther away it should become clear and in focus and than as the fence goes on it will become out of focus again. This is short or shallow Depth Of Field.

Now in the second image the fence should be almost completely in focus the entire way. This is a long Depth Of Field.  

 

Left apriture F22, Right apriture F3.5

Left apriture F22, Right apriture F3.5

Depth of field is a great tool for telling a story in an image, it places the focal point of your shot front and center. Also the out of focus portion of the image adds mistery to the shot. Play around with your apriture setting and practice useing this setting. It's setting like this that make good images great images. 

"Controlling Light" Part 4

This is the last video in a four part series called "Controlling Light". A photography basics video that will help you better understand the Manual (M) settings on your camera. Knowing what these settings are and how they affect your camera will help you understand how to use them