Composition Design (Part 7)

Earlier in this discussion I mentioned how important it is to "keep it simple" and how we must lessen the amount of unwanted elements and clutter from our images to achieve a better result.
In photographic terms an image with too much clutter is usually described as being "busy" or "too busy".
I also mentioned 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 and also consist of other secondary elements that will guide the eye into and around the picture toward the main subject matter.

As an exercise, Hand a bunch of photos to a friend and ask the friend 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. Now we can look at "point of view", or "viewpoint".
If you were attending a concert, you wouldn't select a seat with a ruddy great pillar standing in front of you, would you? 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 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 of 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 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 polariser, it should be used at right angles (90 degrees) to the sun. In other words, from a northerly or southerly aspect.
The best times are between just after sunrise and mid morning and mid afternoon and just before sunset. Be aware you will lose about two stops of light using a polariser.

So, just to recap:-
In part (1) we looked at "equipment". I didn't talk about lenses, because I have a chapter devoted entirely to the subject here.
In part (2) we talked about "horizon lines" and "rule of thirds" and the use of the camera in both "landscape" (horizontal) and "portrait" (vertical) modes.
Part (3) we did some more of that, and "keep it simple". Then we went on about composition design elements. 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.
In part (5), we discussed "shape" and "form" and how to emphasize texture.
Then in part (6), we touched on "lines". "Framing" was also discussed and the use of "people" to provide a sense of scale to an image.
And of course, in part (7), we talked about "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. Says I.

"Here's another bright idea!" . . .

For SLR users...A couple of tips on how to minimize vibration when you camera's shutter opens; you could use a cable release . This is a shutter release switch attached to a cable that activates the shutter remotely. You could use the self timer and/or mirror lock-up. Some cameras are now equipped with a 2 second timer for this sole purpose.

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