04/09/2006

Composition Design (Part 6)


In this exercise we will discuss the last of our elements - framing, people and lines. Not to be confused with the framing we use to mount our pictures in. No, this is the framing we can use to better compose a photograph.
Framing, like over-hanging branches, fence rails, windows, doorways, tunnels, open structures like bridge girders and electricity pylons. I suppose, in this case, you are only limited by your own imagination.

Framing can be beneficial, in that it can also add depth to a scene and can be used as guidelines to direct the eye of the viewer to the centre of interest, but we have to be careful how we use framing, otherwise it can become distracting.
So, when using framing you need to ensure it is only being used as an inconspicuous guideline and does not dominate the scene.
I don't think there is much more I can add about framing, but as I have a bit of space here, I think I might fill you in on what I mean about using people in composition.
A lot of photographers use people for one reason or another, but one obvious reason that comes to mind is, if framing can be used to show depth, people can be used to provide a sense of scale.
Have you ever taken a photograph of a high waterfall, only to get your prints back from the lab and find the waterfall doesn't look as high as it appeared when you saw it through your own eyes?
Imagine photographing a very tall person. If you didn't have another person of regular height standing along side the tall person, then the taller person wouldn't really look as tall at all. Sorry about that!
But anyway, people can be used to provide a sense of scale to a lot of things you wish to take photographs of, including trees, canyon walls, etc., or they can tell a story in travel photos if they are wearing their national dress.

Lines: 

Leading lines are one of those compositional elements or tools used to guide the eye of the viewer to the main subject matter, focal point or centre of interest in a photograph.
By lines, we are referring to such things as pathways, roads, fences, a line of trees, tree branches, a queue of people, clouds, railway lines, piers and jetties, bridges, even power lines. They can be straight, curved, circular, angular or jagged.
They can be used as the main subject, or take on a secondary or directional role; like the bow of a boat or the direction of sight of a person’s eyes.
If you were photographing a farm house or barn, a roadway or fence line could be used to guide the eye to the main subject. But you also have to be aware of any unnoticed lines, because they may direct the eye right out of the picture.
Another example could be a long, curving road, winding up a hillside and disappearing round a bend. This sort of shot brings on a sense of inquisitiveness as the eye wants to go further to find out what is hidden around the bend.
There are also those, not so obvious lines that you may not be aware of and sometimes these can have a distracting influence; such as the strings from a bunch of balloons drawing the eye up and away from the subject.
From lines can also emerge strong emotions; such as heavy, strong lines from shadows of people or trees, etc., portray power and strength in a photograph; as with bridge girders and tall straight trees, whilst diagonal lines express movement and straight, flat lines are seen to be more static or recumbent.

There are I suppose many more elements we can use to better our composition, but I think I have just about covered the main ones, so I hope that you will be able to make good use of them.
Next I will talk about angle of view and view point. Two more very important topics we need to cover before we can finally take that long awaited shot. It should be a beauty after all this!

Take this link to part 7