10 MORE Quick Composition Tips

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A Guest post by Amar Ramesh.

Composition Tips 00.jpg

Here’s 10 more composition tips following last week’s article 10 quick tips for composition illustrated with Eastern Washington pictures. Practice these quick and simple tips constantly. They will quickly become a natural part of your routine leading to consistently better and better photography.

Balance and Symmetry

Composition Tips 11.jpg

Symmetry makes for a simple, straightforward, balanced composition. Strive for balance by adjusting your composition to establish symmetry with lines, shapes, objects, and color. Balanced and symmetrical pictures are pleasing to the eye.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

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Repetitive objects make great subjects. Whenever you see a series of similar objects repeated over and over, you have found a winning composition. Repetition never fails to impress and create a unique frame.

Keep it Sweet and Simple

Composition Tips 33.jpg

There is a reason why simple is king. Cut the frills, cut the distractions, cut the clutter. The more objects you remove from the picture, the clearer and sharper your story and subject will be to the viewer.

Magnify and Focus

Composition Tips 44.jpg

This is something you should remember in all types of photography. Emphasize your main subject. Frame your subject making it larger, taller, or in sharper focus than other objects.

Add Depth

Composition Tips 55.jpg

Foreground objects add depth to the picture and brings out the subject in the background more effectively. Include objects at 1/3rd the focus to enhance your subject.

Add Nature

Composition Tips 66.jpg

When you are in the field, city or country, look for new ways to add nature to your composition. Scout around and look for natural elements like water, earth, or vegetation to include in the frame. This technique will enhance your picture and make it more effective. I included stagnant water in this picture to bring out reflection of the tulips and add interest.

Portrait or Landscape?

Composition Tips 77.jpg

Use your judgment when shooting horizontal or vertical for every shot. Shoot vertically when you want to enhance tall objects to emphasize height. Shoot horizontally to emphasize width. When in doubt, shoot both. You can decide later which one to keep during post processing. In this picture below an horizontal framing made more sense while a vertical shot would have completely ruined the feel.

What’s My Story?

Composition Tips 88.jpg

One of the most important tips for any shot is to know your story. Ask yourself what you are telling your viewers with your pictures. Are you sharing a feeling, sensation, moment, or theme? If you don’t know the story when you frame the shot, neither will your viewer. Rethink about clicking that shutter until you see it.

You’re Not Done Till You Do it Again

Composition Tips 99.jpg

When you think you are done taking pictures, think again. See what happens when you change your angle, lens, or distance. Surprisingly, in no time you will have whole new perspective.

Cropping is a Good Thing

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Cropping is photographer’s best friend. Today’s prevalence for digital photography and wide range of editing tools lets you crop pictures to correct mistakes or reframe your composition sitting at home. Be sure to keep cropping in your tool bag when taking and editing pictures.

Give these quick tips a try and watch your skills improve. Don’t over think or over analyze, just go try it. Check back for the third installment of composition tips coming soon. Check out my portfolio to see how I have applied these tips to a variety of photography styles and subjects.

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  • What about – divide?

    http://www.ilanbresler.com/2009/04/dimensions.html

    This is an image I took in Barcelona. It’s ONE! image (honest!) – Dare you to guess how it was done πŸ™‚

  • Thanks for the post Amar, you covered all the main areas of composition that I try to consider when looking through my camera’s view finder. Great examples too, well done!

  • Nice post. Very thought provoking and inspirational. The illustrative photos are great. My goal in composition is to look for interesting perspectives, literal or metaphorical, of a scene that the causal observer would overlook. It is the unexpected perspective that makes the photo compelling to a viewer.

  • Nice explaining article about composition…

  • Very nicely written. Love reading about how you think when you shoot a image.

  • monish

    hey llan: ref to yr link: the section on the left is a mirror reflection

  • I agree with the “If you think you’re done do it again.” statement! Yesterday I shot a car show and ended up going around the entire show just one more time to see what had changed, what new shots appeared, and capture things a second time.

    And that cropped shot of the plane is perfect. It seems perfect for a little boy’s bedroom.

    Cabin Fever in Vermont

    NEK Photo Blog

  • I am not one to be critical, but I am one who thinks outside the box. Most of these concepts are for the photographer’s rule book. I don’t think that the greatest photography is captured by rules. A great photographer creates images in his/her own style, the uniqueness will set this photographers work apart from others.

  • Shannon Petrosky

    I agree that some of the best photographers break the rules…that is probably what makes them stand out. But I also think you need to not only KNOW the rules but understand them before you can break them. That for the refresher course. πŸ™‚

  • klaus

    Nice post with some good suggestions. But “Include objects at 1/3rd the focus to enhance your subject” means what, exactly?

  • Ryan (@Bill Kaufman)

    But you gotta know the rules to be able to break ’em.

  • Nakvisha

    Bill, but first you have to know the rules to break them.
    Amar, thanks for the tips πŸ™‚

  • Scott

    A slightly different perspective:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/4724542477/

  • I have to agree with all these idea’s. I’ve actually been trying lately to work more on the idea, keep it simple (the sweet is not as much an objective at the moment). I’ve been using more DOF to isolate the subject.
    here are some examples.

    http://lafango.com/fortunato_uno#/media/794472-dpp-1014-little-guy
    http://lafango.com/fortunato_uno#/media/644550-dpp-0673-by-jamie-smith-pictures-of-lilly
    http://lafango.com/fortunato_uno#/media/632234-dpp-0630-what-lies-below

    It’s a cool thing when you can keep someones attention with just a little subject.
    I’ll be looking foward to more articles like this.

  • Loved all of your shots and the tips. Thank you.

  • All very good composition tips.

    I love to crop my photographs, but then again it will make it hassle to print out in the standard sizes.

    Here’s an example of one my crops~

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/glimjo/4789907624/

    Looks nicer viewed in full size.

  • Good tips and photos. I especially like the first close up of the flower and the repetition photo of the buildings.

    This is why it always useful to participate in challenges, whether the ones here on DPS or the Daily Shoot which I do or both or any out there. You learn to think outside the box.

    I love to angle photos if I think it will work (last tip).

    Here is one of a gladioli. Had I shot it straight up, I would have had either a long flower in the center or to the sides of the frame. Not a lot of other options except to crop and lose pixels.

    So I angled it across the frame and deliberately blew the background which was gray trailer siding.

    Gladioli

    Here is another one I angled. I remember thinking that straight on, it was just a kind of blah photo. You can decide if you think it works or not.

  • @monish – Right on πŸ™‚

  • A Learner

    For the ‘Repeat’ picture, where did you take the picture from? There is almost no parallax that one sees while taking a picture looking up a tall building.

  • Shannon, Ryan, Nakvisha…….I don’t think I ever intended to break the rules, I know little of them starting at age 14. I have had no schooling in photography, but I teach photography, and it is a subject I do not touch on, I encourage my students to Capture what they feel good about. The premises of photography is capturing light. this is what I teach. I am 52 years old now, and I have a camera by my side for 38 years.

  • @a learner I took that in SFO

  • David Genac

    While “angles” was covered in the last tip, I think the opportunity was missed to make the case for angles in the “portrait or lanscape” tip. Portrait gets the top of the building, but little of the interesting background. Landscape gets the background, but cuts off the top of the building. Turn the camera 45ΒΊ, and you can get both (plus a lot of leading diagonal lines). I often take a diagonal second shot of whatever I am shooting, and sometimes the angle allows me to zoom in on the subject and still fit it into the frame – leaving me with 2 unique shots.

  • Sry forgot this
    one for Repeat,Repeat,Repeat
    http://www.zerolight.net/pixelpost/index.php?showimage=10

  • Banana

    where is that place w/ the waterfalls???

  • A Learner

    @amar: i meant to ask, where exactly were you standing when you took that photo. were you in a building next to it, on some high floor or were you standing on the road and took the photo looking up (which I doubt, because of the lack of straight lines merging). Nice photos and explanation. Thanks!

  • Pure and simple tips. Thank you

  • Glen

    i have this strange feeling that some of the pictures are not real..i mean they are not actually one photo but a composite of different photos merged into one..looks so unnatural to me..maybe it’s because i’m new to photography…my eyes are not yet trained to see a photograph..

  • @a learner I took the picture from the road pointing up

  • Jim

    Great tips, and good article. It always helps me to get tips from good photographers! Thanks!

  • “YOUR NOT DONE TILL YOU DO IT AGAIN” simple but life changing. It will force you to see things from a totally different perspective. Great tips!!!

  • Mark

    @http://www.ilanbresler.com/-
    I’m going to say the right hand side of the photo is a reflection. It makes more sense than the left since the right hand side is an image of an interior space, while the left is an exterior space with shadows on the ground at the lower part of the image suggesting a canopy or roofline over the opening to an interior space.
    Nice tips as always DPS! πŸ™‚
    I like the cropped image of the plane over the field. I will sometimes compose an image to get just a slice like this, in case I want a tall and narrow image to hang in a small space!

  • renato molina

    thanks for the tips. photographers do a balance with set of rules and the improvisation of the heart. there’s no absolute in art, i guess, if one sees photography as art. it’s how a photo impacts on the viewer, any viewer. i’m grateful for your insights and for pointing out the reasons for them.

  • R.B.Pednekar.

    Always the arrangements of the elements in the picture made attractively without disturbing the center of interest, picture makes impressive eventhough subject is simple or soso.

  • Saud Tushar

    Another nice post……thanks for sharing the ideas….hope, you would keep them coming…thanks.

  • Awesome work Amar – I’m inspired! Love the smoke photography.

    Great selection of tips as well, in both of your articles. Really enjoyed them.

  • all photos shares a good & nice idea

  • lohit kohli

    i like your tips & gve me some more tips

  • Love the cropped picture of the plane and love the simplicity of the tips. Thx.

  • Thank you for the tips. Please keep on sharing

  • Nice tips. You can never stop learning about getting a good composition in photography. Thanks for sharing.

  • jane

    I love all the tips but wish they would tell me what settings to put my camera on to get some of these marvellous photos.

  • I am a big fan of repeat. Really enjoyed your tulip pictures! That depth of field was amazing! http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/

  • jenn

    its not possible to tell someone what settings to use. study the basics of photography and you will see why that is.

  • Keith Starkey

    Love it! Very much. Thank you.

  • sunshine808waikiki@yahoo.com

    I saw a post from DPS that had ‘cheat sheets’ for settings..

Some Older Comments

  • Mihut April 14, 2012 06:13 pm

    Nice tips. You can never stop learning about getting a good composition in photography. Thanks for sharing.

  • Neil October 26, 2010 10:56 pm

    Thank you for the tips. Please keep on sharing

  • grace August 26, 2010 08:58 am

    Love the cropped picture of the plane and love the simplicity of the tips. Thx.

  • lohit kohli August 23, 2010 05:43 pm

    i like your tips & gve me some more tips

  • bobtan August 12, 2010 02:33 pm

    all photos shares a good & nice idea

  • PROFusioNZ August 12, 2010 05:22 am

    Awesome work Amar - I'm inspired! Love the smoke photography.

    Great selection of tips as well, in both of your articles. Really enjoyed them.

  • Saud Tushar August 11, 2010 12:46 am

    Another nice post......thanks for sharing the ideas....hope, you would keep them coming...thanks.

  • R.B.Pednekar. August 9, 2010 02:17 am

    Always the arrangements of the elements in the picture made attractively without disturbing the center of interest, picture makes impressive eventhough subject is simple or soso.

  • renato molina August 6, 2010 04:31 pm

    thanks for the tips. photographers do a balance with set of rules and the improvisation of the heart. there's no absolute in art, i guess, if one sees photography as art. it's how a photo impacts on the viewer, any viewer. i'm grateful for your insights and for pointing out the reasons for them.

  • Mark August 6, 2010 03:17 pm

    @http://www.ilanbresler.com/-
    I'm going to say the right hand side of the photo is a reflection. It makes more sense than the left since the right hand side is an image of an interior space, while the left is an exterior space with shadows on the ground at the lower part of the image suggesting a canopy or roofline over the opening to an interior space.
    Nice tips as always DPS! :)
    I like the cropped image of the plane over the field. I will sometimes compose an image to get just a slice like this, in case I want a tall and narrow image to hang in a small space!

  • Dave Lapham Photography August 6, 2010 01:20 pm

    "YOUR NOT DONE TILL YOU DO IT AGAIN" simple but life changing. It will force you to see things from a totally different perspective. Great tips!!!

  • Jim August 6, 2010 12:34 pm

    Great tips, and good article. It always helps me to get tips from good photographers! Thanks!

  • Amar Ramesh August 6, 2010 11:23 am

    @a learner I took the picture from the road pointing up

  • Glen August 6, 2010 10:28 am

    i have this strange feeling that some of the pictures are not real..i mean they are not actually one photo but a composite of different photos merged into one..looks so unnatural to me..maybe it's because i'm new to photography...my eyes are not yet trained to see a photograph..

  • Photohike August 6, 2010 07:31 am

    Pure and simple tips. Thank you

  • A Learner August 6, 2010 05:48 am

    @amar: i meant to ask, where exactly were you standing when you took that photo. were you in a building next to it, on some high floor or were you standing on the road and took the photo looking up (which I doubt, because of the lack of straight lines merging). Nice photos and explanation. Thanks!

  • Banana August 6, 2010 03:59 am

    where is that place w/ the waterfalls???

  • Zerolight August 6, 2010 03:23 am

    Sry forgot this
    one for Repeat,Repeat,Repeat
    http://www.zerolight.net/pixelpost/index.php?showimage=10

  • Zerolight August 6, 2010 03:08 am

    here is some DOF usage
    make me happy with your comments
    http://www.zerolight.net/pixelpost/index.php?showimage=6
    http://www.zerolight.net/pixelpost/index.php?showimage=8

  • David Genac August 6, 2010 03:01 am

    While "angles" was covered in the last tip, I think the opportunity was missed to make the case for angles in the "portrait or lanscape" tip. Portrait gets the top of the building, but little of the interesting background. Landscape gets the background, but cuts off the top of the building. Turn the camera 45ΒΊ, and you can get both (plus a lot of leading diagonal lines). I often take a diagonal second shot of whatever I am shooting, and sometimes the angle allows me to zoom in on the subject and still fit it into the frame - leaving me with 2 unique shots.

  • Amar Ramesh August 5, 2010 06:19 am

    @a learner I took that in SFO

  • Bill Kauffman August 4, 2010 04:16 pm

    Shannon, Ryan, Nakvisha.......I don't think I ever intended to break the rules, I know little of them starting at age 14. I have had no schooling in photography, but I teach photography, and it is a subject I do not touch on, I encourage my students to Capture what they feel good about. The premises of photography is capturing light. this is what I teach. I am 52 years old now, and I have a camera by my side for 38 years.

  • A Learner August 4, 2010 08:31 am

    For the 'Repeat' picture, where did you take the picture from? There is almost no parallax that one sees while taking a picture looking up a tall building.

  • Ilan (@ilanbr) August 3, 2010 11:32 pm

    @monish - Right on :)

  • Karen Stuebing August 3, 2010 09:20 pm

    Good tips and photos. I especially like the first close up of the flower and the repetition photo of the buildings.

    This is why it always useful to participate in challenges, whether the ones here on DPS or the Daily Shoot which I do or both or any out there. You learn to think outside the box.

    I love to angle photos if I think it will work (last tip).

    Here is one of a gladioli. Had I shot it straight up, I would have had either a long flower in the center or to the sides of the frame. Not a lot of other options except to crop and lose pixels.

    So I angled it across the frame and deliberately blew the background which was gray trailer siding.

    Gladioli

    Here is another one I angled. I remember thinking that straight on, it was just a kind of blah photo. You can decide if you think it works or not.

  • Jonathan Lim August 3, 2010 06:42 pm

    All very good composition tips.

    I love to crop my photographs, but then again it will make it hassle to print out in the standard sizes.

    Here's an example of one my crops~

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/glimjo/4789907624/

    Looks nicer viewed in full size.

  • Kushal August 3, 2010 08:15 am

    Loved all of your shots and the tips. Thank you.

  • Venki August 3, 2010 07:33 am

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/venki-freaks-out/4852318443/

  • fortunato_uno August 3, 2010 05:04 am

    I have to agree with all these idea's. I've actually been trying lately to work more on the idea, keep it simple (the sweet is not as much an objective at the moment). I've been using more DOF to isolate the subject.
    here are some examples.

    http://lafango.com/fortunato_uno#/media/794472-dpp-1014-little-guy
    http://lafango.com/fortunato_uno#/media/644550-dpp-0673-by-jamie-smith-pictures-of-lilly
    http://lafango.com/fortunato_uno#/media/632234-dpp-0630-what-lies-below

    It's a cool thing when you can keep someones attention with just a little subject.
    I'll be looking foward to more articles like this.

  • Scott August 3, 2010 04:32 am

    A slightly different perspective:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/4724542477/

  • Nakvisha August 3, 2010 02:52 am

    Bill, but first you have to know the rules to break them.
    Amar, thanks for the tips :)

  • Ryan (@Bill Kaufman) August 3, 2010 01:55 am

    But you gotta know the rules to be able to break 'em.

  • klaus August 3, 2010 01:24 am

    Nice post with some good suggestions. But "Include objects at 1/3rd the focus to enhance your subject" means what, exactly?

  • Shannon Petrosky August 3, 2010 01:19 am

    I agree that some of the best photographers break the rules...that is probably what makes them stand out. But I also think you need to not only KNOW the rules but understand them before you can break them. That for the refresher course. :)

  • Bill Kauffman August 3, 2010 01:10 am

    I am not one to be critical, but I am one who thinks outside the box. Most of these concepts are for the photographer's rule book. I don't think that the greatest photography is captured by rules. A great photographer creates images in his/her own style, the uniqueness will set this photographers work apart from others.

  • Jen at Cabin Fever August 3, 2010 01:04 am

    I agree with the "If you think you're done do it again." statement! Yesterday I shot a car show and ended up going around the entire show just one more time to see what had changed, what new shots appeared, and capture things a second time.

    And that cropped shot of the plane is perfect. It seems perfect for a little boy's bedroom.

    Cabin Fever in Vermont

    NEK Photo Blog

  • monish August 3, 2010 12:54 am

    hey llan: ref to yr link: the section on the left is a mirror reflection

  • Enduring Promise August 3, 2010 12:51 am

    Very nicely written. Love reading about how you think when you shoot a image.

  • Bengt August 3, 2010 12:35 am

    Nice explaining article about composition...

  • J. King August 3, 2010 12:29 am

    Nice post. Very thought provoking and inspirational. The illustrative photos are great. My goal in composition is to look for interesting perspectives, literal or metaphorical, of a scene that the causal observer would overlook. It is the unexpected perspective that makes the photo compelling to a viewer.

  • Ed O'Keeffe August 3, 2010 12:23 am

    Thanks for the post Amar, you covered all the main areas of composition that I try to consider when looking through my camera's view finder. Great examples too, well done!

  • Ilan (@ilanbr) August 3, 2010 12:22 am

    What about - divide?

    http://www.ilanbresler.com/2009/04/dimensions.html

    This is an image I took in Barcelona. It's ONE! image (honest!) - Dare you to guess how it was done :)

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