Monday, March 28, 2011

Elements of Composition - Part II

This is a continuation of my Elements of Composition discussion--Part I of this entry was posted on February 24, 2011. In Part I, I discussed the first six of twelve elements of composition and I continue that discussion with the second six elements.
  1. PRINT PRESENTATION - The image should be able to stand on its own. Ask your self, "Would I hang this image on my wall?" If not, you need to find another subject, better light, more elements of composition, etc. to move your answer to yes. Not to say you should not take a shot that you won't hang on your wall, as there are many reasons to do so. I often take what I call documentary shots or snap shots as a means of noting a location that I plan to return to in more favorable conditions.
  2. CENTER OF INTEREST - This is where the photographer wants the viewer to concentrate the eye. You will use many of the elements of composition discussed here to help the viewer move through your image and land on and stick to your center of interest. That interest may or may not be a specific subject within your composition but it may be the light, a pattern or color of the image.  All can be strong centers of interest and every thing you do should direct the view to this center.
  3. SUBJECT MATTER - Is your subject clean and distinct? What you exclude from your image maybe just as important as what you include. Keep it simple and do not include conflicting subjects. The simpler the scene the easier it is for the viewer to see your subject. A shallow depth of field is often used to isolate the subject in a scene.
  4. COLOR BALANCE - does the image accurately reflect the colors you saw when you snapped the shutter? Good harmony between colors will enhance your image.  An orange sun against a blue sky adds a warm/cool color contrast which appears to darken the blue sky and intensify the orange glow of the sun.  This is no accident as these colors are exact opposites (complementary) on the color wheel as are green/red and yellow/violet combinations. If your image includes a person, their skin tone should be the focus of your color balance efforts. People know what good skin tone looks like and when its off its an immediate distraction.
  5. TECHNIQUE - or the approach used to create the image.  Were the art principles adhered to when creating your composition.  You must first know the rules of good composition if you plan to break them and succeed. In most cases breaking the rules results in a less desirable composition, but their are occasions where a better image can be created by breaking one or more of these rules.  A good example of this may be a reflection where you place your horizon line across the center of the image to emphasis the symmetry of the scene.
  6. STORYTELLING - is your images' ability to evoke the viewer's imagination. Flowing water is often shot at slow shutter speeds to evoke a sense of motion. The viewer can easily imagine water running through a stream or down a water fall and evoke the imagination into hearing what the scene may have sounded like. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what words do you want your viewer to hear?
Put these element to work for you in your photography and you will be pleasantly surprised at their ability to enhance your imagery. Again, I hope you found this information useful and I encourage you to leave your comments below. Also, should you have suggestions on future discussion topics, please feel free to leave those in the comments as well.

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