Com­pose like a pro

Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

We ex­am­ine what makes some im­ages just jump off the page

It’s the fine de­tails that el­e­vate a good com­po­si­tion to a great one. The main aims of com­po­si­tion are to ar­range the el­e­ments in the frame to cre­ate a bal­ance and, cru­cially, to give the im­pres­sion of three di­men­sions on a two-di­men­sional sur­face.

Most pho­tog­ra­phers quickly un­der­stand the con­cept of the rule of thirds and the golden sec­tion as ways of achiev­ing har­mony. Us­ing lead­ing lines to guide the eye around the com­po­si­tion, and mak­ing use of fore­ground in­ter­est to cre­ate the il­lu­sion of depth, also soon be­come sec­ond na­ture.

More com­plex – but crit­i­cally im­por­tant – is the con­cept of ‘visual bal­ance’. Visual bal­ance is com­pa­ra­ble to phys­i­cal bal­ance. If we place two ob­jects of equal weight on a see­saw, they need to be equidis­tant from the ful­crum to achieve bal­ance. Trans­lated to visual bal­ance, this cre­ates sym­me­try – har­mo­nious, but per­haps some­what static. With ob­jects of dif­fer­ent weights, the lighter ob­ject needs to be fur­ther away from the ful­crum in or­der to bal­ance them. In visual terms, this cre­ates asym­met­ric bal­ance, usu­ally per­ceived as more dy­namic.

Un­der­stand­ing this prin­ci­ple can help us when it comes to plac­ing the main el­e­ments in the frame. It’s com­mon to have a main fo­cal point and a ‘coun­ter­point’ in a com­po­si­tion, so we need to know where to place them to achieve bal­ance. Clearly, we can’t con­sider the phys­i­cal weight of our fo­cal points, so what con­trib­utes to ‘visual weight’? The main fac­tors are size, colour and bright­ness (bright, sat­u­rated colours have more ‘weight’), con­trast, tex­ture and shape – with high con­trast, com­plex tex­ture and com­plex shapes hav­ing greater weight. It’s also worth not­ing that ob­jects placed to­wards the top of the frame have more visual weight than those near the cen­tre.

Closely re­lated to this is visual sep­a­ra­tion. Make sure that the main el­e­ments in your com­po­si­tion have visual sep­a­ra­tion from each other and the right amount of space around them – too lit­tle and depth per­cep­tion is de­creased, too much and the eye will not travel smoothly from one point to the next. The same is true for the fore­ground, mid­dle dis­tance and back­ground planes.

“Make sure that the main el­e­ments have visual sep­a­ra­tion from each other and the right amount

of space around them”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.