This is a short description of my personal method and theory regarding photo composition.
The method I use is how I get the look and feel common to all my photos. And it’s how I often come home with a keeper, sometimes several.
In photography point of view is the feel of the image
It’s how the photographer is seeing the scene and how he or she wants the person viewing their image to see the scene when they look at it.
Here are couple of ways I try to get an interesting point of view in a scene:
- From the point of view of looking through something, around something or over something as if your composition is revealing the subject.
- Getting the camera low to the ground thereby giving the point of view of looking up toward the subject.
- Finding a high point and looking down toward the subject.
- Observing where others are shooting from and deliberately going to a different spot to see what point of view others may be missing.
You’ll know when it’s right
It’s not about following a composition rule, it’s about creating a feeling. Although there are some composition tools that will help you get a more pleasing and professional looking shot once you find your point of view.
Therefore, try all of the ideas above when deciding how to establish the right point of view. The point of view that speaks to you. That you want others to see when they look at your images.
In the featured photo above of the rocks at Arch Cape, I started out about 100 feet to the right. Nothing else in the shot but the rocks. But it didn’t look quite right. I kept moving left until some other interesting stuff appeared.
First the bushes at the bottom and then the dead tree limb. That’s when I saw what I wanted.
Photo Composition – Framing the scene
Whenever I am looking at a potential location, usually one of the first things I do walk past it at a 90-degree angle looking at it with my heard turned toward the subject while walking. I am looking for an interesting composition. This is the quickest way to see almost every possible framing from where you are located.
You should move closer or father away and repeat this examination. I always take at least a dozen photos of the same subject because I like several different points of view during this process.
Zoom in, zoom out, move it all around
Once I find a pleasing point of view, the next thing I do is stand in that location and try a variety of focal lengths (zoom in and out).
Sometimes I take several photos at different focal lengths. I tend to start farther away from a subject and move closer as I am looking for the right point of view. This helps to get interesting foreground or alternately eliminate foreground distractions.
Photo Composition – Focus on point of view
When you come up on a scene that holds great promise, take a LOT of photos… from far, near, different focal lengths, different points of view. This is the only time you will have to capture that exact moment in time.
Things will change if you come back; the sky, foliage, lighting, your mood, etc. It is not unusual for me to come home with several hundred photos.
Toss out the unusable, but chances are you have gotten at least one and likely several usable shots and maybe, just maybe that killer shot, the magic shot that makes it all worth it.
Speaking of bad or unusable shots
Don’t immediately assume an image isn’t usable. Unless it’s blurry, out of focus, super dark or some other irredeemable technical issue, hang onto it for a bit and look at it again later. I have come back to shots 2 years later and said to myself, why did I not think that was an OK shot.
I can assume the reason why I didn’t like a shot at the time is because it didn’t fit what I was trying to see, not because it was a bad photo.
Later I look at it and think to myself, “well it’s not a picture of X but it’s a pretty good picture of Y”. So, I dust it off, do a little post processing and viola, brand new photo to display.
Make yourself happy with the shot
Don’t get hung up on trying to shoot what you think other people want to see. Shoot what you like, the way you like. The appreciation from others will come as they see what you were seeing.
When you get to a location, take it all in. Look around and let your eyes wander. Enjoy the scene. No need to hurry. Let the scene speak to you. Then start staking photos.
I hope this gives you some ideas of things to try, and way to do things. Get out and take some photos!