04/09/2006

Composition Design (Part 6)


So, to the last of our elements - framing, people and lines. Framing, that is, not to be confused with the framing we use for mounting our pictures. No, this is the framing we might 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 
It 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 focal point or centre of interest, but we have to be careful how we use framing, otherwise, it can actually 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.

Using people in composition.
A lot of photographers use people for one reason or another, but one obvious reason is that if framing can be used to show depth, people can be used to provide that 'human' element and/or a 'sense of scale' to our images.
Have you ever taken a photograph of a high waterfall, only to find later on the bigger screen that the waterfall doesn't look as high as it appeared when you saw it with your own eyes?
Imagine photographing a very tall person. If you didn't have another person of regular height standing alongside the tall person, the taller person wouldn't really look as tall at all.
So, people can be used to provide that 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. Or for that human element, such as in street photography or for example, having someone sitting on an otherwise empty park bench or people in a beer garden, etc.


Lines:
Leading lines are another of those important compositional elements or tools we can use to draw or guide the eye of the viewer to the main subject matter, focal point or centre of interest in a photograph.
When we talk about 'guiding lines' in photography, we are referring to such things as pathways, roads, fences, a line of trees, tree branches, a queue of people, streaky clouds, railway lines, piers and jetties, bridges, tunnels, 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 subject's eyes.
If you were photographing a farmhouse or barn, a roadway or fence line could perhaps 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 away from and right out of the picture.
Another example could be a long, curving road, winding up a hillside and disappearing around 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.
Other lines of interest, are train lines and those that disappear off into the distance. The ends of which are seen as infinity points. 
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 the ones I have covered are in my opinion 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 viewpoint. Two more very important topics we need to cover before we can finally take that long-awaited shot.

Take this link to part 7