Break the rules

James Pater­son lib­er­ates him­self from the con­straints of con­ven­tional com­po­si­tion…

NPhoto - - Contents -

Six com­po­si­tions that break the nor­mal ‘rules’ for land­scape shots

When it comes to com­pos­ing a land­scape photo there are a mul­ti­tude of rules we’re in­structed to fol­low. There’s the rule of thirds, which states that we should place in­ter­est­ing ob­jects on the ‘third’ lines within the frame. Then there’s the ‘fore­ground in­ter­est’ rule, which has us all scram­bling around to find an at­trac­tive rock or plant to in­clude in the fore­ground of our shot. We must also keep our hori­zons straight, elim­i­nate ‘dead space’, and avoid plac­ing our sub­ject dead-cen­tre.

Of­ten, by fol­low­ing these rules we’ll end up with a great photo. But if we sim­ply ap­ply them by rote to ev­ery scene we come across, we run the risk that all of our im­ages will start to look very sim­i­lar, and prob­a­bly very sim­i­lar to other pho­tog­ra­phers’ shots as well. So here’s a chal­lenge for you. Go out and look for six to­tally dif­fer­ent com­po­si­tions in one lo­ca­tion. Look for un­con­ven­tional an­gles, and ma­noeu­vre your sub­ject around the frame in in­ter­est­ing ways.

It can be rather lib­er­at­ing to shoot what feels right for that par­tic­u­lar lo­ca­tion, in that light, at that mo­ment, rather than squeez­ing the scene in front of you into a con­ven­tion­ally ‘good’ com­po­si­tion. It might lead to a killer shot or a com­plete dud, but one thing it cer­tainly won’t lead to is a se­ries of pho­to­graphs that were pre-planned in your head be­fore you even set eyes on the lo­ca­tion.

We went to Strum­ble Light­house in Pem­brokeshire on a mis­sion to look for new and in­ter­est­ing an­gles at a pop­u­lar pho­tog­ra­phy spot. Here are the re­sults, and a few sug­ges­tions to get you started on your own chal­lenge. And re­mem­ber, the only rule is: there are no rules!

Here’s a chal­lenge for you. Go out and look for six to­tally dif­fer­ent com­po­si­tions in one lo­ca­tion. Look for un­con­ven­tional an­gles, and ma­noeu­vre your sub­ject around the frame

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