29/08/2006

Composition Design (Part 1)

"Composition" is the simple word given to the very complex action when the camera is raised to take a photo. It is the act of composing or building the photo before you actually press the 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. 
Although this topic is in 7 parts, it still does not cover all that would normally be undertaken in a mere instant.

If taken with a little consideration and understanding of the finer points of the way 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 that subtle 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!
I'm afraid I am a bit of a stickler for the good old trusty tripod and I'm all for anything that will help me improve my photo taking, but of course, isn't too expensive either!
Another thing I use, and could hardly be without, is my remote shutter release. You might consider that a bit over the top. You're probably right, but I use one anyway.
I think both the tripod and remote shutter release are important because they help eliminate camera shake, so they help me to get good sharp photos.
Firstly, we'll look at landscapes or seascapes. Not to be confused with 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; you have the camera mounted on the tripod (I hope) and it's standing there in front of you as you assess the scene before you for its most pleasing elements.
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.
A good landscape vista should be in sharp focus from the very beginning through to the last line on the last page.
So, approach the camera standing there in front of you and look through the viewfinder (or your camera viewing screen). Wait, you are still a long way from pressing that shutter button yet.




Go to Part 2