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Saturday, May 1, 2004

Compose Like The Pros

Practice these 10 tips for creating stronger and more dramatic photographs

compose like the pros 7) Defining By Textures
Creating contrasts in a composition helps to define and structure an image. The obvious contrasts are those of light and

color, yet the natural world abounds with a huge variety of textures that can be used to define and refine compositions.

Photograph a scene where low-angled light skims the surface of a landscape or other scene. Often occurring when the sun is low in the sky, but not below the horizon, this type of light reveals texture that you can use as an element in your photographs.

Frequently, you'll find that this low light changes the texture as fast as the light itself changes. Remember to expose for the bright parts of the scene to avoid overexposing your highlights.—RS
8) Space For Movement
When composing wildlife shots, particularly of subjects moving horizontally, leave room in the composition for the subject to move in the direction of its motion. The viewer logically wants to see where the subject is headed.

compose like the prosWhen panning to follow a fast-moving subject, this extra space also provides a buffer zone to ensure that you capture the entire subject in the frame. When using autofocus, set your camera for its continuous focus setting. Lock in focus before you take your picture, as the camera's autofocus system will track your subject as it moves by.—WP

compose like the pros 9) Contrasting Tones
Compose your shot with opposing light and dark areas to create dramatic tension in your images. Look for a subject that's sunlit on one side and shadowed on the other. The exposure difference between two areas should be at least three to four stops, enough to create a vivid contrast.

The line separating the light and dark is a strong design
element. Vertical and horizontal boundaries work well, but search out curving lines and strong diagonals separating the light and dark areas, too.

Look for foreground objects in sunlight standing out against a shadowed background or vice versa. A tall mountain with an adjacent valley can provide this, as will staggered cliff faces. You'll also get powerful contrasts during stormy weather, when sunlight beaming through clouds selectively illuminates areas while leaving others in shadow.—ZS
compose like the pros
10) Dramatic Wide-Angles

For many landscapes, wide-angle lenses help capture a more dramatic scene. They work well in creating perspective effects that show a big, bold foreground contrasted with a small background.

The perspective characteristics of a wide-angle lens can be used to make a strong foreground. Wide-angles force you to look at the foreground anyway and sometimes they challenge you by showing too much foreground. Use this quality to create a brilliant and exciting photograph.

Get down low to make the foreground stand out. Use a small lens opening; ƒ/16 is ideal, but you might not have that choice on a small digital camera. Use the smallest you can (even if it's ƒ/8) for increased depth of field. Focus on something close, but not the closest part of the scene; you'll have more depth of field toward the back of the image.—RS



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