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- Bryan Peterson's Understanding Composition Field Guide
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- The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos
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- Basics Photography 01: Composition, Second Edition (Basics Photography 1)
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Family and friends and Facebook guests who view your pictures want to be led and guided through dynamic images that tell a story. Actually, that is what pleases their minds on a subconscious level and motivates them, on a conscious level, to want to look at your future pictures because they know it will be a fulfilling experience. To do that, you must be more aware of how you are composing your photos before you release the shutter. The tips and techniques in this two-part PhotographyTalk.com article will help you develop the photographer’s eye you need to give your viewers a path to follow (Part 1)and a self-contained photographic story to enjoy.
Staring Off the Frame.
When you compose a photo with a subject at one side of the frame and looking across the frame off the other side, viewers’ minds will force the eyes to follow the subject’s gaze. There may be no final destination, but just an object off camera that has caught the attention of the subject, which will compel viewers to use their imaginations to create one. You could also incorporate another subject or object at the other side of the frame at which the primary subject is looking. This will also draw the eyes of the viewers to the secondary object, thus creating a complete story without guessing what might be off frame.
You can also try the technique of positioning the subject and the object of his or her attention at different focus points. Your subject could be holding a flower, but you’re framed tight enough to exclude his or her arm and hand. Instead of being held parallel to the subject, he or she is holding it 45 degrees further from the camera, so the subject is in focus, but the flower isn’t. You can also reverse the focus to create another interesting image.
Placing the Subject within the Frame.
The Rule of Thirds also applies to where you place the subject in a photo to lead viewers’ eyes. If your kayak picture was of only one kayaker, then you would want to place the boat at one of the four intersection points, which puts more space in front of the direction of travel than behind. If the boat were headed off the frame at one side or the other, then there wouldn’t be anywhere to guide viewers’ eyes. The action, or story, was finished before it started.
Give Them a Line to Follow.
You must also be aware of lines and patterns because they are compositional elements that will lead viewers through your pictures. Imagine an isolated person sitting on one of a long line of park benches. Shooting from one end of those benches and at an angle creates a line that leads to the single subject in the distance. You can shoot him or her in focus or not in focus, but the lines created by the benches will still compel the eyes to follow them.
Composing more dynamic digital photos with the tips and techniques in this two-part PhotographyTalk.com article can be a major step forward in image quality and interest for hobbyists or enthusiasts.