Composition using different techniques – week 7.

Composition using different techniques.


Composition: The most important aspect of creating a good photograph. We all remember those holiday snaps where heads are cut off, or the important aspect of the photograph is missing or confused.

So how to improve on this?

First identify the object, or feature that is the image. Remember the Rule of Thirds. Imagine your viewfinder/LCD screen divided into 9 equal portions. The top portion consists of the horizon or distant objects, the middle portion is the mid ground, while the bottom is the foreground, then there is left, centre and right viewing vertically.

Left: The Palm House with the Hercules and Aeschylus fountain to the left
Top right: Male peafowl, known as a peacock – Pavo cristatus.
Bottom right: A view across the Palm House lake.
Once the object has been identified, decide it’s Position. Many exceptional photographs don not have the subject in the centre, but offset, still following the rule of thirds. Checking different angles and positioning the camera will change the composition. Is it better closer or further away? Taking the shot with the camera higher up, or at ground level? Using Leading Lines  draws the viewers eye towards the subject. Using a number of lines, such as a zigzag effect will enable the viewer to look at different aspects of the photograph.  Leading lines do not need to be straight. A spiral staircase is a good example, as is a hill footpath.

Left: Wooden steps from the Rhododendron Dell.
Left centre: Stairs in Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush.
Right centre: Escalator, Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush on a very slow shutter speed.
Right: Path to the Pavilion restaurant.

Another tool to use is Framing, or using a Frame within Frame. The former is where the subject is framed by what is at the edges of the photograph. An example would be a village church, in a valley, framed by trees on either side, or seen through an arch. There are many different ways of doing using framing. Look for things like the crook of a tree, maybe a fence with circle that can frame the subject, utilising buildings etc. Frame within frame is using something to frame the subject, that is itself framed. Adding the leading lines aspect will enhance the image, so a footpath leading to the church, framed by the trees, with the church offset to the right would make an interesting composition. Unfortunately I don’t have such an image to show, but hopefully the photographs that follow may give examples.

Clockwise from top left:
Queen Ann church, Kew Green.
View through the ruined arch (folly).
Daffodils and an Eucalyptus framing another with a strange root boll.
A close up of the above.
A close up of the Hercules and Aeschylus fountain.
A bench viewed through conveniently shaped branches.

Another compositional technique is Repetition. This could be using straight lines, spirals. Usually the frame will be filled, and will lead the eye to the subject.

Clockwise from top left:
Another Bromeliad.
A Cactus.
A mirrored wall, Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush.
Tiles forming a repeat pattern on the wall of the lift lobby, Westfield, Shepherds Bush.
Tiles on one of the stores, Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush.
Wood block stairs in a Gents clothing store, Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush.
Make-up brushes on a pop-up store at Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush.
Make-up pots at the same store.
A wooden ceiling, Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush.
Tomatoes at Waitrose, Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush.
Centre: Glasses display, Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush.

There is one other composition tool that some are unaware of. The Golden Ratio, often referred to as the Fibonacci sequence, after Fibonacci who worked out the equation for this sequence. It is regularly found in nature, and I have used photograph of ferns as examples below:

Here is a schematic of the Golden Ratio.

ցցցThe structure of the photograph involves many other techniques that have been mentioned in previous blogs, such as depth of field, aperture settings, exposure compensation etc.

Top left: Another view of the Hercules and Aeschylus fountain.
Right: Path towards the ruined Arch.
Bottom left: A swathe of daffodils

It is a good idea to use Live View when composing a photograph as it enables the photographer to see the potential resultant image. Most cameras also feature a grid overlay that can assist in the Rule of Thirds technique.

One other feature on the camera that can often be overlooked is the dioptre. This is a small wheel usually situated close to the viewfinder, which by rotating it clockwise or anticlockwise will fine tune the viewed image through the viewfinder or via liveview. It is particularly useful for photographers who wear glasses. It is particularly important when shooting in full manual mode, as the autofocus will be switched off. Even when AF is on, the image may still appear blurred.

So what is Manual setting?

In a previous blog I went through Aperture Priority. When using this, there is a sequence to go through. Bear in mind, the camera is controlling the shutter speed.

Aperture Priority sequence:
Compose: As mentioned previously, this is the most important part of creating a photograph. A poorly composed photograph will be a poor photograph.
Aperture: A small aperture, such as f/2.8, will give a shallow depth of field. It also gives a faster shutter speed so good for action shots and movement. A large aperture, such as f/36, will give a deep depth of field.
Evaluative compensation: The camera is stoopid, as mentioned previously. It will assess what light is reaching the sensor and adjust accordingly. If the image has a predominantly light aspect then the resultant photograph could be underexposed. If predominantly dark, then overexposed.
ISO: Check the ISO is right for the shot. The lower the ISO the sharper the image, the higher the grainier. Increasing the ISO will give. Faster shutter speed.

So how does Manual differ. In Manual mode the photographer is in control of all aspects of the camera. Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO and often focusing.

Manual Sequence:

Compose: This is essential, whatever mode is being used.
Aperture: As above.
Shutter Speed: When using live view adjust this function until the perfect feature is obtained. Live View is Manual function’s friend. Caution: It does drain the camera’s battery quickly!
ISO: Again as above.

And here is a selection of photographs taken over the weekend.

Clockwise from top left:
A view across the restaurants, Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush.
Stromanthe sanguinea.
Snow capped Rhododendron flower.
A snow dusted Rhododendron.
A Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) eating snow.
The Pam House in a light flurry of snow.
The Pagoda which is under renovation by Historic Palaces.
An inquisitive greylag goose – Anser anser.
The Peafowl family –  Charlotte, the peahen, Junior, a peacock, and George. They have those names out of respect for George III who resided at Kew.
A jackdaw (Corvus monedula) and a herring gull (Larus argentatus) squaring up.
A snow dusted Helibore.
A view towards the Hive, with visible lines where the new turf was mown.




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