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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Conquer Composition

How to create depth and dimension for dynamic photographs

This Article Features Photo Zoom

A barrel cactus lights up with the last rays of sunlight outside of Tucson, Arizona. Creating a near-far dynamic in your wide-angle images will help to parlay a feeling of realism to viewers.
Perhaps the most useful tool we have when constructing an unforgettable image is simple contrast. Our world is filled with contrasts—in color, texture, tone and subject matter. These contrasts engage our senses and cause us to explore that which finds itself in our frame of view. Search for contrasts, and craft ways to implement them in your imagery.

We also have a useful guide in how we arrange the elements within our frame. The rule of thirds is an elementary guide for arranging elements within the frame. Divide your frame into horizontal and vertical thirds, and you have a virtual overlay for placement of key elements within your frame. Generally, it's best to stay away from the static approach of dividing your frame in half, or placing primary subject matter smack-dab in the center of your frame. For landscape photography, pay extra attention to where you place your horizon. Even just the slightest positioning of your horizon line above or below the halfway mark will make a huge difference in the overall look and feel of your image. Try it!

The exclusion of distracting elements is a big part of maintaining focus on the important parts of your image. Pay special attention to the edges of your frame. Look for intruding elements and clutter like stray rocks, sticks, trees, bushes or even strange areas of contrasty light or color that feel out of place compared to the image as a whole. After shooting, take a moment to review it on your camera's LCD display and look for the minor distractions that you miss when looking through the viewfinder. Additionally, take care not to overtly clip or cut off anything of significant importance in your frame.

Glassy reflections and mountain peaks are two of the main attractions at Beavertail Ponds Overlook in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Give your images proper balance with proper primary and secondary subject matter.
Think of your photographic frame as the party you've been planning for months. Your one and only desire is to have people attend—and stay—at your party, enjoying all it has to offer. By carefully assessing the edges of your frame, you'll be holding the attention of those party guests until they're ready to leave instead of watching their eyes drift elsewhere, yearning for something more.

Tackling Wide-Angle
As landscape photographers, the wide-angle lens has long been one of the sharpest arrows in our quiver. It's an indispensable tool in translating expansive, all-encompassing vistas into meaningful photographs. It's exactly that trait of all-inclusion, however, that also makes the wide-angle lens such a challenge to use successfully.

When done correctly, there's no better tool in conveying the sense of realism that we strive for in scenic imagery. Perhaps the most important aspect of wide-angle shooting is that you must engage the viewer immediately. With so much space within the frame to wander about, it's the photographer's job to direct traffic and literally guide the viewer through our image.


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