There are many different components that help to create a great image. It’s all about tying different factors together and finding a balance. This varies from photographing different subjects, adjusting camera settings, utilising lighting as well as composition. Each are hugely important and although settings, focus and exposures are critical, I think that it is the composition that really makes or breaks a great image.
As with anything, it is great to push your own boundaries and try new things, which is something I always attempt to do with my photography but also remember not to overwhelm yourself. My advise is to take one thing at a time and to keep practising until you feel comfortable. In this blog I cover my thought process and my aim for each photograph and although there are general rules I follow, I also try not to be constantly bound by them. Photography is a creative art form and should be an expression of your own style. However, let us start with one of the most important rules in composition, ‘the rule of thirds’.
It is applied by aligning a subject with the guide line and their intersection point, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allowing linear features in the image to flow from section to section. Below is an example, which may make it easier to understand.
We often get nervous to cut part of our subject out so the initial thought is to put our subject dead centre and snap away. However one can create movement, feeling or emotion through using the rule of thirds. For example, in wildlife photography, movement can be created by giving the subject space to move into. It can also create a mood or a different angle on a still subject. You certainly don’t have to be bound by it or use it in every photograph but it does give a very good framework from which to start.
Using different angles can also make a huge difference to an image. For example, you can create intensity through eye level images. This does not mean lie on the ground at every chance to get the shot but do be aware of your subject and your surroundings. Being out in the field with varied terrain means there are always opportunities to get a low angle, whether it be a leopard lying on a termite mound at eye level to the vehicle or you lying on your stomach while dung beetles crawl through elephant dung. Low angles can create power or make your subject look larger and are interesting because they are not the way we usually see the world.
Apart from low angle shots, you could also use side angles to highlight your subjects attributes. Don’t be afraid to experiment, as this can sometimes produce surprising results and give the viewer a unique view.
I also like to use a shallow depth of field to create intensity and really enhance an image. Using a shallow depth of field can draw the viewer’s eye straight towards your focal point. Having said this, the same can be done by increasing your depth of field and attempting to have more in focus depending on the situation. This works very well for landscape images or when there is more than one subject in your image.
I have played with this at any chance I found, even practising on random subjects in my garden. Taking photographs doesn’t always require an exciting subject. Get your camera out and use it to learn, test your ability and push yourself.
It is also a good idea to vary your images between close up and wide angle shots depending on the scene and subject. Below are a few examples.
Something I really enjoy doing is looking at other photographer’s work and trying to understand what their thought process was in capturing a specific image. It can often open our eyes to seeing something from a new and different angle, which we may not have thought about otherwise. The beauty of photography is that we all see the world differently and take different images and if you practise using your own style, more often than not you will surprise yourself with what you can achieve. For me, the number one rule is to always shoot with emotion. Try to capture your subject or scene in a way that can portray how you felt in the moment. Identify the key area of your image and think about how you can enhance it for the viewer. Not every photograph has to be an award winning image but if you keep practising you can learn from each one you take and I can promise you that you will end up bettering yourself as a photographer and produce better images on a regular basis.
Photography really is something I am passionate about and I would love to help with anything you may be struggling with. Are there any techniques or technical aspects you battle with in particular and would like to like to learn more about in the future?