Photographic composition is the mindful act of composing or building an image prior to pressing the camera’s shutter button; just as a lyricist composes a song before it can be sung or a playwright composes the script before it can be presented to the actors.
If taken with a little consideration and understanding of the finer points of how you compose and design your photographs, you'll find your friends will become envious of you, but they will always enjoy looking at your photos, because they'll see the difference compared to the normal run of the mill, 'point and shoot' style snapshots.
First things first - if you are taking photos in a hurried fashion, of birds or animals on the run, then you must move in quickly and get the best shots you can. But if you have the time to relax and consider the scene on its merits, then you'll find, with a few tips on how to design your composition, you'll have a far more acceptable result. And others will appreciate looking at your images, too!
Firstly, we'll look at landscapes or seascapes. At this stage, we will leave out sunsets or sunrises, as they can be a bit like the moving animals or birds, for their features and colours change rapidly from minute to minute. No, for this exercise we will mainly look at the basic landscape and when you get this right, you can then move on to the sunsets and sunrises.
Now, let's say you have chosen the place and the scene you want to photograph; if the light is low I would assume you have the camera mounted on the tripod and it's standing there in front of you as you assess the scene before you and seek out its most pleasing elements.
A good landscape vista should be in sharp focus from the very beginning through to the last line on the last page and a well-composed landscape image should read like a book with a beginning, a middle and an end. And like a book, it should relate a story to the viewer.
So, approach the camera standing there in front of you and look through the viewfinder (or your camera's viewing screen). Wait, you are still a long way from pressing that shutter button yet.
Go to Part 2