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Understanding Basic Composition

Updated: Jan 12

Composition is the one thing that I can't teach. You can either see it, or you can't.

With that in mind, understanding the basic structure of an image can help you along the way.

We've broken down some of the basic "rules" of composition. However; rules, like art, are subjective.

We've broken this down into sections if you want to skip through any parts:

Understanding Composition

Arranging the subject within the field of view is what is known as “composition.”

Effective composition can draw the attention of the viewer to the parts of an image deemed important.

Mastering composition will add a dramatic effect to a photographer's overall image.

Photographs will cease looking like a simple picture and will engage the senses of your audience, capturing their imaginations. Remember that it's best to keep your composition simple. Don't unnecessarily complicate things.

When considering your composition, keep these things in mind:

  • If you are trying to create an evocative piece of art, less is quite often, more.

  • Along those lines, keeping your frame and your image can be difficult.

  • Sometimes, even more difficult than trying to produce a complicated, thought-provoking image.

  • Your ability to effectively simplify a piece will quite often show your skill and quality.

  • Keep your focus on the elements that add to the frame you've constructed and strip out those that take away from it.

The Rule of Thirds

One general tip to keep in mind when you arrange your subjects is the rule of thirds.

You should learn the rule of thirds because it adds a sense of balance and increase the interesting points within your image.

Following along with the rule of thirds, by using two horizontal and two vertical lines, you'll effectively split your frame into three horizontal and three vertical sections.

The points in which your image will carry its maximum impact and effectiveness are called the “power points.” The points where the four lines on your image intersect.

To draw attention to certain elements, place those subjects along any of the horizontal or vertical lines, or if it's a subject of great important, along the junction point of any of these lines.

The Horizontal Split Thirds

The skyline is a stunning visual. It offers a clean, sharp image that gives a very clear line of distinction between the Mountains, the sky, and a moorland, all divided into horizontal thirds.

It's easy to see the rule of thirds in action.