Composition Notes

Taking a good picture is just not about subject or colors, there is a very important aspect of any image called “Composition”. This is how the various items in an image are arrange or how images are arranged. Artists have worked out various “tricks” in the past to aid with composition. There is using part of the foreground as a border to help focus the eye on the subject, you can use the rule of thirds where there are four point on an image where the subject can look it’s strongest, you can use curves and lines to help guide the eye to the subject and more. The number one composition error that most photographers make is the “bulls eye” composition where the subject is dead center in the frame. An additional error is that people tend to take pictures all from their eye level either tilting the camera up from their eye or down from their eye. This is very problematic when taking pictures of children who are much smaller than the photographer.

But I really want to talk about composition and how it  applies to how you arrange your prints. What? it’s true, you can use more than one image on a given print. When you do this, you can really make a nice print by paying attention to composition within the images and how they are arranged on the mat. 

Consider the image below, three images of the same field of flowers, boring by themselves but with some simple layout tricks, it becomes a very different image.  Remember what I said about using lines to help guide the eye?

Summer Glow



When you look at the image, the eye wants to start at the top left and go right.. so you see the wide angle of the flowers. Then the next line down starts at the right and draws the eye back to the left side with bigger flowers and then back to the left again. Finally, you stop on the bottom with a close up of the flowers.

This simple trick of cropping and arranging the strips of flowers makes for a pleasing picture for the eye and allows for the eye to follow the path how it would naturally move.

Layout composition also can work with size of images used.  In the following example, I used three images from the tea house in the Chinese Gardens located in Portland, OR. The image on the left is the smallest and it goes left to right with the right being the largest of the three. I also used a muted image for the background to help tie all three together.

Tea House

These two samples are just a couple of ways to use composition in your layouts of multiple images.

Try arranging multiple images next time you have a set of  images you like. Play with them and see if you can combine them using layout and cropping to build a stronger overall picture.

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