Photography Tip #11:
COMPOSITION - Get Away From the Middle!
Most amateur photographers see the rectangle or bracket outline in the middle of their viewfinder and assume that this is a centering guide. This has never been the case, because from the aesthetic point of view, centering your subject is a really bad idea.
"Composition" is another word for framing. First of all, think about where the focal point is (in other words, the most important element of the image). Where do you think it should be placed within the frame? If you're serious about creating some visually compelling images that are worthy of being printed and framed, it's not just chance.
Here are some things to consider about framing. First of all, in most cases, you should try to avoid symmetry. This means that you should not center your subject (neither horizontally nor vertically), nor should you put two subjects or objects across from one another. This means that horizons should never be placed along the middle of a photo, thus effectively and dreadfully dividing the sky or skyline from the foreground. Doing so cuts your photo in half and makes for a very uninteresting photo.
Hopefully you've decided what's important in your frame, in advance of pressing the shutter button. Moreover, you need to pin-down the one part of your overall content that you feel, and that others looking at your photograph would feel, is the MOST important element. This is your focal point and it deserves a special place (and that is almost always not in the middle of the frame).
Getting the proper composition is always easiest if you've avoided "content clutter" and, instead, have opted for content simplicity. If your focal point or main subject is effectively separated from the rest of the image simply because the image is uncluttered, then you can very easily move yourself or your camera in order to get that main subject in just the right spot.
If you have two large or highly noticeable objects in your frame, one of them will be your focal point. Imagine a human subject and a large tree trunk in the same frame. While you want to avoid putting your subject in the middle of the frame, it's just as wrong, photographically, to place each the person and the tree on each side of the frame, thus creating a bowling-split type of appearance. From a horizontal perspective, don't put a content element on the left and another one on the right. This is a REALLY BAD IDEA! Similarly, from a vertical perspective, avoid placing a content element on the top and another one on the bottom.
It's all about proper balance and in photography, it's better to have your balance weighted a bit more toward the left or right (and a bit more toward the top or bottom).
Visit again, because we are currently working on a NEW LESSON on COMPOSITION, where you'll learn more about Rule of Thirds and other important ways to increase the "eye candy" in your images.
See how the horizon in the photo below cuts the image in half?
The photo has the potential to be awe inspiring, but its improper
horizon placement does not engage the eye.
However, in the example below, shifting the horizon toward the
top of the frame is a much better idea. The interesting
content now takes-up more of the frame, leaving less of
the plain blue sky. In addition to avoiding splitting the photo
into two equal horizontal slices (which is visually dull), this
correct composition places the focal point (the pier and
little tiki hut at the end) in a more interesting spot than
it previously sat, straddling the middle.
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