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Old May 5th, 2009, 09:17 PM
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Scott111184 Scott111184 is offline
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Assignment #6: Composition (part 1)

Composition (part I)

In this assignment we are going to cover composition which is one of the most important elements of taking
interesting photographs. Since there is a lot to explain about composition, this assignment will
be broken up in two parts (maybe more if needed)...

"Getting Horizons Level"

Very often when composing a shot, many people forget one of the most important parts, making
sure the horizon is level. I will admit that it happens to me pretty often, there is a lot going through
your mind on how you want to capture a certain scene and completely forget about leveling it.
Yes, it is possible to correct in PP (post processing) but the most efficient way is getting
it right "in camera" and here is why...

1) You buy a 10mm UWA (Ultra Wide Angle) for that exact reason, you want an ultra wide image but if
not of your horizons are level and you have to straighten in PP than you are not using your UWA effectively
because after straightening and cropping, your shot is no longer a true 10mm.

2) You don't have to worry about it in PP so it saves you time to go out and shoot more.

Getting the horizon level does not only pertain to landscape shots either, so lets say you want to photograph
a building. 99% of the time the foundation on a building will be level and the the street will not be, so keep that
in mind when you want a building level. Now here are a few ways you can help to get it all straight "in camera"...

1) They make bubble levels that attach to your cameras hot shoe, they work great if used on a tripod.

2) Use your far left focus point and your far right focus point when looking through your VF (viewfinder) as a level.

In this image I used the widest focus points to level out the horizon and recomposed...



"Interesting angles"

It is very doubtful that you will attain an image from a different angle that has not been done before
but when you see the image in your head, step back and think about the placement of
the subject, try shooting it from a lower or higher perspective and everywhere in between
to get the result you are looking for. Always be aware of the foreground, background and
other parts that can be a distraction from the subject but that is also where DOF can come into play
(you can read about DOF HERE).



Image courtesy of David (RogersDA)


"Rule of thirds"

When looking through your viewfinder, imagine what you are seeing is split into 9 parts
using vertical and horizontal lines as so...





The theory is that placing parts of a subject (points of interest) allows the viewer to interact/be drawn in
more easily and helps give the image balance. For example: your job is to photograph the lead
singer in a band, your first image has the singers head directly in the middle of the frame which normally
will lead to a boring image. Now lets say you crop the image using the "rule of thirds", now you have the
singer on one side of the frame singing into the mic and the other side is left open to allow the viewer
to visualize on their own what is beyond the frame.


Now go out there and incorporate some of these into your photographs and share them here. This is a great way to learn with others walking you through step by step so don't be afraid to post. If anyone has anything else to add on those 3 subjects please do so. Thanks for taking the time to read an looking forward to everyone participating.


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Old May 5th, 2009, 09:52 PM
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Kevin Griffin Kevin Griffin is offline
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Re: Assignment #6: Composition (part 1)

super i love practicing different comps on a subject. great write up Scott
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Old May 5th, 2009, 11:09 PM
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newlove newlove is offline
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Re: Assignment #6: Composition (part 1)

Really great stuff Scott! Hoping to see lots and lots of participation on these, this is the true grit in photography...master composition and you are 3/4 of the way there!
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Old May 6th, 2009, 04:29 PM
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Re: Assignment #6: Composition (part 1)

Assignment (aka: Challenge) #6!

Thanks for your time & effort in posting a new assignment!

I look forward to participating in these.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 08:56 AM
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Re: Assignment #6: Composition (part 1)

I'd just like to reiterate how important these are:

Get your horizons straight!

Try different angles by getting down on your knees, standing on a ladder, tilting your camera, laying on the floor and getting in closer!

Work with the rule of thirds, it will bring a lot more interest to your subject and overall image!

I'm surprised I haven't seen any participation yet on these, these are the most important composition rules out there! Following them will get you closer to an award winning photo!

I'm working on these myself to get in the extra practice...I'll post when I'm done...
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Old May 10th, 2009, 03:09 PM
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Re: Assignment #6: Composition (part 1)

Thank you all, glad to be able to help and as Lise said I was hoping for a little more participation also. Don't be shy on posting anything, that is why Lise started these, the Corner is all about helping each person grow into a better photographer.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 10:36 AM
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squirl033 squirl033 is offline
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Re: Assignment #6: Composition (part 1)

this image illustrates the "rule of thirds". the cedar waxwing in this photo is looking to the right side of the frame, and placing the subject off center gives the bird "space" to look into. the bird's gaze and the upswept branch both serve as leading elements to invite the viewer to imagine what might have caught the waxwing's eye...

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Old May 15th, 2009, 10:42 AM
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Re: Assignment #6: Composition (part 1)

using a different angle, or a different lens to "create" an unusual perspective, is one of the more interesting elements of composition. in this image, a wide-angle lens was used from a spot low to the ground and relatively close to the building. the result is a perspective that emphasizes the building's height and angular design much more than a shot taken from farther away with a standard lens.

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Old May 15th, 2009, 11:00 AM
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Re: Assignment #6: Composition (part 1)

a tilted horizon is one of the most common problems i see in many photos, especially those involving water. it's not as obvious with landscapes, but if there's a lake or shoreline in the photo, that waterline better be level. it's not hard to do... it's one of the most basic elements of setting up your shot... but many people seem to have difficulty with the mechanics of doing it. it's easy enough on a tripod, but often more difficult shooting freehand. as Scott said, using the camera's AF points as a guide is a good, easy way to align your images when shooting handheld. the only drawback is that you have to be careful not to line those far-left and far-right points up directly on the horizon, or you'll have the horizon splitting the image right across the middle, which does not make for a good composition. in these images, you can see how placing the "waterline" above or below horizontal center adds to the interest and artistic appeal of the compositions...





this last photo shows the importance of keeping things "on the level" even when you're not shooting water scenes. urban photography demands that your camera be level, otherwise all your buildings look tilted. fortunately, alignment is even easier in this kind of shooting... simply line up one side of your viewfinder so it's parallel to the wall of a building, and you're pretty much good to go. if you're using a UWA lens, it may introduce some distortion so that the actual image looks a little odd, but if you've aligned your camera correctly, that distortion will be symmetrical. in this photo, the edges of viewfinder were aligned with the vertical lines in the buildings, ensuring that the resulting image would be straight...

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Old May 15th, 2009, 11:23 AM
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Re: Assignment #6: Composition (part 1)

Thanks for posting and awesome examples Rocky.
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