Tuesday, July 4, 2000

Learn to Find, See, & Then Follow The Lines For Better Photographs

Hello Everybody,

Saying-Goodbye-To-WinterIMG_5020-Edi What a great time we had in Banff, Alberta, Canada this past April at Canadian Imaging.  I have to tell you – it was about the most beautiful place on earth I’ve ever seen.  And, I mean it!  I’ve been asked to do a guest blog post so that’s what I have for you today.  It’s a post about composition.  Let’s get right to it.

Learn to Find, See, & Then Follow The Lines For Better Photographs

OK, here’s what the scene looks like – an outdoor auditorium, blazing sun, and 100 degrees – what are you going to do?  And, you better do it quick before you fry your subjects in the hot Tampa heat.

0001-Comp TP1-IMG_8111-Edit

I like the lines, I like the curves – I think I can work within this space.   First thing to do will be to isolate on just the curves – let’s try framing up the shot vertically.0001-Comp TP2-IMG_8113-EditNot bad, the isolated curves now give us a nice foreground with graceful curving elements.  I also like how the curves converge to the top left corner of the frame. We now have some motion in the scene.  The curves are entering the frame from the top left and spreading through the frame.  It looks kind of cool.  Now how about I bring my subject into the frame.

0001-Comp TP3-IMG_8123

The subject’s position is important.  Notice how I have her framed up within the largest curve in the scene.  She’s framed up by the curve to the left of her right elbow.  She’s also framed by another curve just above her left elbow.  The widening two curves seem to “swoop” right in behind her.

What happens if I’m not so careful and she falls out of the framing elements?  In the following image, we just miss the mark.  I’m just not compositionally comfortable with her arm hanging over the curve to her right.  I like the previous composition better.  It’s a subtle difference but still important.

0001-Comp TP4-IMG_8124

What happens if I position her in the opposite side of the composition – the top left corner?  For me, it doesn’t quite work.  The foreground seems to dominate the scene and pull viewer’s attention away from the subject.

0001-Comp TP6-IMG_8113-Edit

Are the curves critical to the compositional possibilities?  Is there any other subject placement that would work?  How about a closer crop?  I love it.  We no longer have a fixed identifiable structure behind her.  Now it’s pure graphic design which seems to just reach out and surround her.

0001-Comp TP5-IMG_8121

As you can see, it’s a matter of learning how to see differently.  For me it’s about pre-visualizing the scene and then determining just where I want to place the subject.  This lesson also points up the subtleties of different positions of the subject showing how I evolve into the final subject placement for the best result.  My favorites – Image #3 and #6 above.

Hey gang, I hope you enjoyed the lesson on composition today.  Looking at a scene without the subject is always my top strategy in composing a photograph.  First, I’m always looking for the lines, how do they roam through the scene, where do they lead? The lines determine how the viewer’s eye will travel thru the image compositionally . Bottom line – find out where the lines are leading and place the subject at that spot.

By the way, lighting for all these images was coming from my Quantum strobe camera left at full power triggered by Quantum FreeWire radio triggers.  Camera specs for the images was as follows: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200m  IS lens at various zoom settings, F11 @ 1/250 second, ISO 200.

Don’t forget to check out my daily blog, DigitalProTalk.com [link] for more tutorials, business building ideas, and Lightroom and Photoshop tips and tricks.  Hope to see you soon.

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