Composition Tips - Finding

Composition is a very personal thing. What interests one photographer might not set another on fire and that’s OK. The trick is to find a composition that interests you in the first place and that can be tricky when you’re beginning.

There are images all around us in all directions just waiting for us to come along and find them, sometimes they are obvious and others we might have to liberate them from their surroundings. We have to have the visual awareness to separate the good stuff from the clutter that surrounds them.

In part one of this series we looked at how to disassociate ourselves from the surroundings. This time we’re going to look at how to spot the image in the first place and at the end of this video I’ll have a chat with you about how I do it. As always, repeated action is what leads to mastery.

As we use our creative muscles they become stronger and compositions start to pop out at us from our surroundings. Our brilliant brains get our subconscious mind to notice things around us, forging new pathways in how we think as photographers.

One day whilst running my Lanzarote photo workshop we all came out of a bakery after an coffee break and ‘BOOM’ ­ there was an image leapt out at me from amongst the clutter of a car park so I thought it worth sharing with you how I composed the shot, the experiments I did to find the composition I wanted to keep.

Cameras don’t take photos, photographers take photos and they use the camera to do it. Alone your camera isn’t capable of anything other than just sitting there being useless so it’s up to us to practise and train out minds to see compositions in our surroundings. That’s why composition is the 3rd of my 7 Building Blocks of Photography, only superseded by our own brains and appropriate light for the subject.

The first step is to learn how to use the tools of photography, your camera and lenses. Then master the techniques of light, focal length, exposure and creative use of shutter and aperture to make the composition look how you want it to. We have to bridge the gap between creative and technical.

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3 Landscape Tips

vietnam-txt-streamLandscape photography is one of those areas where patience, thinking it through and taking your time pays dividends.  We have all seen a scene we want to capture but sadly we’re in a hurry, so we leap out the car and just grab a shot without giving it too much thought.

This may or may not result in a great shot. But have you thought to ask yourself if there’s more to be had from a location than the obvious? You have to build upon an initial idea. Explore possibilities.

I was in Vietnam driving through the mountains when we came upon this amazing view of rice terraces. We stopped so the film crew could shoot some aerial shots with their drone so Simon and I took the opportunity to look around and shoot this video.

As we drove up the hill I’d noticed one of the little paths that wind their way through the paddies so we went for a walk to see what it would yield.

Almost straight away we came upon some greenery we could use as foreground, which can frame a scene and give it more depth. In some cases just finding a bit of foreground can make or break an image.

But don’t forget to look around you. It’s all to easy to miss a beautiful detail of the landscape that’s right next to you because you’re absorbed by what’s in front.

You have to concentrate and really look at a scene. In the first shot of the last scenario there’s a stick poking up on the left. I didn’t really notice it to begin with. It wasn’t until I checked the shot in the LCD it became apparent.

So how do we remove it? Well obviously there’s Photoshop but I’m lazy. A few steps to the side will change the geometry of the image. It makes things align differently so you can lose unwanted clutter from the composition.

So besides making sure the light is appropriate for the scene, here are 3 landscape photography tips to consider.

  1. Take time – think of other possibilities for the location
  2. Find some foreground. It could make a world of difference
  3. Look to the side as well as in front. You might have missed something

These things are not functions of your camera. They are functions of you thinking like a photographer.


3 Landscape Tips

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