07/09/2006

Composition Design (Part 7)


Previously, I mentioned how important it is to 'keep it simple' and how we must lessen a number of unwanted elements and clutter from our images in order to achieve a better result.

In photographic terms, an image with too much clutter is usually described as being 'busy'. 

Also mentioned was that the eye is generally lazy and if it has to wade through various 'busy' parts of an image without finding any particular spot to settle on, it will promptly become disinterested and want to move on. 
An image must have good 'eye-flow'. This is why we must have a prominent centre of interest but the image must also contain other subordinate or secondary elements to guide the eye into and around the picture but that the eye should still be drawn back to the main centre of interest or focal point.

As an exercise, hand a bunch of photos to a friend and ask them to select the one they like best. Take a look, I think you'll find it's the one with the least amount of distractions and one which has the most simplistic composition.
Your images must also convey a message to evoke emotion in the mind of the viewer. They may do that for you, but don't be disheartened if that doesn't happen when others view them. Everyone will see the same image in a different way. It's called, 'subjectivity'.

Now we can look at 'point of view', or 'viewpoint'.
If you were attending a concert, you wouldn't select a seat that has a great pillar or something obstructing your view. Nor would you want to take a photograph like that either. So, as you are sizing up the scene, check thoroughly through the viewfinder for any (frame-side) intrusions, obstructions or unwanted matter. If there is something that you wish to exclude, simply pick up your camera and move it either left or right from where you are standing, till the obstruction is cleared from view. And vice-versa, the same applies if there is something you find that you would like to include in the scene, as long as it doesn't detract from the overall image.
The 'viewpoint' also relates to the angle at which a photograph is taken. You can generally say, a landscape photograph would normally be taken in the normal standing position looking straight ahead, but there could be times when you may be taking a shot from a low or a high angle. Try, if you can, several shots of the same scene at different angles - you will be surprised with some of the results.

Polarising filters 
Polarising filters are very popular and can be very useful in landscape photography. They deepen blue skies, make clouds appear whiter, enhance or 'saturate' colours, as the term implies and can make glare or reflections simply disappear from surfaces such as glass, water, foliage, etc.
To get the best from your polarizer, it should be used at right angles (90 degrees) to the sun. In other words, from a northerly or southerly aspect.
The best times for polarisers are between just after sunrise and mid-morning, in the height of the day, mid mid-afternoon and just before sunset. Be aware you will lose about two stops of light using a polarizer.

So, just to recap
Part (1) related to 'equipment'. I didn't talk about lenses because I have a chapter devoted entirely to the subject here.
Part (2) 'horizon lines' and 'rule of thirds' and the use of the camera in both 'landscape' (horizontal) and 'portrait' (vertical) modes.
Part (3) more of that, and 'keep it simple'. Then the discussion was about composition design elements and the first of these was 'light' and best times of day for landscape photography. 
Part (4), a little more on 'light', then on to 'colour', attraction or distraction and the right placement of colour.
Part (5), 'shape' and 'form' and how to emphasize texture.
Part (6), 'lines'. 'Framing' was also discussed and the use of 'people' to provide a sense of scale and that human element in an image.
Part (7), 'viewpoint', or 'viewing angle' and the use of the 'polarising filter'.
With all that firmly fixed in your mind, you can now go out and compose your shots with the utmost confidence.


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