A Couple Of Composition Tips

A few things work very well in composing images. I shall reiterate a few of them here, using recent photos:

First, framing. It is often a good idea to frame the object you are shooting. Use overhanging trees. A window frame. Or get even more creative, like here:

Not that every frame leads to a good picture – but some do, so learn to spot them.

Another technique that we often like: use reflections. Like here, since water is often a good source.

What did I use in the picture above? Yes, my speedlight. On camera, and zoomed in to 125mm, even though the lens is wide. And as you see, I did not use the rule of thirds in the vertical sense: because I wanted to get the reflection in.

There there’s “close-far”. Use a wide lens and get close to something in order to show depth:

And one more picture just for fun:

That images uses the above, plus it uses the background in order to tell a story.

There’s more – like the use of colour, and simplifying. A bit of thinking goes a long way in composing your shots!

 

Tell the story

Here’s an image from a 2007 trip to Jerusalem:

Jerusalem 2007 (Photo: Michael Willems)

A typical “B-roll” picture – a picture that helps…

  1. …set the scene – where we are;
  2. Tell something about the environment;
  3. Make the viewer “work it out”;
  4. Provide a visually interesting image.

In this case, elements are: the blurred scene in the background (people eating and drinking, the waiter, the umbrellas); the Hebrew on the coke bottle; the menu including shoarma; the sunny background; and the three-dimensional feeling created by the “close-far” technique.

When you next travel, try to take lots of images like this. You’ll be amazed how much easier it is to tell the story.

 

 

Safe shots

Those of you who ever shoot events (indoors or outdoors, from weddings to parties, from sports to graduations) will be glad that I have developed a special course in “Event Photography”. You will see this marketed in various places soon (check out Henrys: link soon).

One quick tip from that course here: Develop your own “safe shots” and always include those.

Here is one of mine.

Cheers! (Safe party shot, photo Michael Willems)

Cheers! (Safe party shot, photo Michael Willems)

Cheers! (Safe party shot, photo Michael Willems)

Cheers! (Safe party shot, photo Michael Willems)

Cheers! (Safe party shot, photo Michael Willems)

Cheers! (Safe party shot, photo Michael Willems)

Why is that a cool shot?

  • It shows depth.
  • It blurs faces  -ladies especially love this.
  • It is fun and everyone lives that fun.

Develop your own, and always get that. There, you’re on your way to developing a style!

Guess what.

Two techniques today that I have pointed out before, and I will do it again until everyone uses them regularly.

  1. Close-Far
  2. Selective focus with supporting background elements

Like here:

Food, and food

Food, and food

And here:

Cigar and person

Cigar and person

These pictures:

  • Make the foreground subject really stand out
  • Achieve perspective (close-far: get close to your close object!) and
  • Provide environment, or context, where theuser has to put two and two together to create the story. The eye goes to close object – background – back to close object.

One more example – then go out and shoot some!

Cheers (Teen with orange juice)

Cheers (Teen with orange juice)

Instuctions, should you need them:

  1. Wide lens, often the wider the better
  2. Get close!
  3. Focus on the close object.
  4. Use the largest aperture (smallest “f-number”).

Have fun!

Scale and grandeur

It is important to add both a sense of scale and a sense of grandeur to landscape photos.

You add grandeur by using a wide lens and getting close to something (even the ground). That shows the size.

And you add scale by helping the viewer. Adding people is a common technique, as I did in this image of Sedona, AZ, in December last year:

Sedona, AZ

Sedona, AZ

You need to see that image real size to really see it (click through, then select full size). And that brings me to today’s last tip: make it big. Large prints are sooo much better than 4×6 prints.