fine swing [deleted] 9:08pm, 13 July 2009
Photography composition skills mark the difference between a photograph and a snapshot. Point and click shots are taken without considering basic composition. In these cases, you usually wind up with a confusing picture with either a blurry or a distracting photo. Basic photography composition is easy to learn and apply to your photographs. The resulting improvement will delight you.

What the Camera Sees
Although basic photography composition can be figured out in minutes, mastering it takes a bit longer. One of the most important tips is to look carefully through the viewfinder each time you take a photo.

While your eyes may be focused on your intended subject, the camera doesn’t act like a human eye. It will record everything in the viewfinder.

Basic photography composition requires you to see as the camera, taking in foreground, background and everything surrounding your intended subject. You can alter what is included within the viewfinder’s frame by changing the angle at which you shoot your pictures.

Points of Interest and Basic Photography Composition
Before you take a photo, examine the environment. A large part of basic photography composition is an awareness of your subject’s surroundings. A well-composed photo has only one point of interest, meaning that the eye is drawn to one area of the photo. Whether the point of interest is a group of people or a train, it shouldn’t have to compete for the viewer’s attention.

Examine the foreground and background before you shoot: if you’re taking a picture of Grandpa, will that rose bush in the foreground draw the eye away from your subject? If so, move until Grandpa isn’t competing with the bush to be the center of attention.

Also, make sure that your subject can be seen. If your subject is too far away from the camera or dwarfed by a building or large object, you will not effectively capture the subject in your photo.

Basic Composition in Thirds
A simple guideline for bringing your point of interest to the foreground of a photo is to mentally divide the camera viewfinder into a three by three grid. You can then use the intersection points of the grid to experiment with different angles for the photograph.

The imaginary grid is used differently depending on whether you’re shooting a portrait or a landscape:

portrait : Use the vertical lines to position a portrait. Choosing to center your subject in the middle third or one of the side thirds can radically alter the feel of your photo.

landscape : Center a landscape photo on the horizontal gridlines. Using the upper thirds will give you a picture that focuses on the foreground, while centering the landscape in the bottom grids will give you a photo with a focus on the horizon and sky.

Group Photos
When taking a photo of a group of people, try the shot from different viewpoints to get the most interesting shot. Many photographers have a “rule of three” when it comes to group photos: avoid straight lines in any group containing more than three people.

One rule for composing a picture that features a large group of people is to avoid “high school band” photos: people at the back of such photos often have their faces obstructed by the people in front of them. Experiment with different angles. Try taking the shot from both high and low angles to see which is more effective for your purposes.

Action Shots
Basic composition of action or sports photos can be tricky because of the movement in these shots. Because you can’t “pose” these photos, the often appear blurry or out of focus if done incorrectly.

The best action shots are taken as close to the action as possible. Of course, this rule does have its limitations. Security officials and safety risks are some of the main roadblocks to capturing action shots. The key is to get as close as possible without intruding on the action or risking your own safety.

Action shots are easiest to take when the action can be predicted ahead of time. For example, a hockey player on a breakaway will try to shoot the puck; the horses at a horse race will explode out of the gate at the beginning of the race. Anticipating such action helps you set up and capture the photograph you want.

Angles and Basic Composition
The angle at which you take the shot is the key to crafting a photo’s composition. Basic photography composition usually holds that a subject shot diagonally makes a more dynamic photo. Look for imaginary diagonal lines when trying to take a more dramatic, intense photo.

For a full body shot or portrait shot, don’t be afraid to turn the camera sideways. If you take portraits with a straight on angle, these shots will have a lot of wasted space on either side of your subject.

Playing with the angle of a shot can make all the difference in basic photography composition. As you get more familiar with photography composition, experiment with low and high angle shots, as well as shots taken from below or above your subject.

Breaking the Rules
Finally, remember that the rules of basic photography composition aren’t set in stone. Instead, use them as guidelines for your own creative ideas. Follow the guidelines of basic composition until you’re comfortable with them and then start experimenting. Sometimes ignoring the guidelines produces a unique, striking photograph. Yet, be sure to understand the basics before you play with the rules of basic photography composition

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