Con­sider com­po­si­tion

Learn how to use pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive space

Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

Good com­po­si­tional skills are par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant when work­ing from a hide as you of­ten have a lim­ited field of view. Use the rule of thirds to help you frame your shots by imag­in­ing that your im­age is di­vided into nine equal parts by two ver­ti­cal and two hor­i­zon­tal lines. Po­si­tion the most im­por­tant el­e­ments in your scene along these lines, or at their in­ter­sec­tions. Aim to keep your sub­ject away from the mid­dle of the frame.

A pic­ture can be di­vided into four spa­tial el­e­ments: pos­i­tive space, neg­a­tive space, ac­tive space, and dead space. The pos­i­tive space is the main sub­ject and neg­a­tive space fills the rest of the scene; they must be bal­anced to cre­ate a suc­cess­ful com­po­si­tion. The pos­i­tive space or main fo­cal point gives the eye a place to rest as it moves over an im­age, and the neg­a­tive space pro­vides breath­ing room.

Typ­i­cally you have more space in front of a sub­ject so that it looks into the scene. The rea­son for this is that when we view an im­age with a per­son or an­i­mal look­ing one way or the other, our eyes are drawn in that di­rec­tion. The space in front of a sub­ject is ac­tive space and the space be­hind is of­ten called dead space.

Try to look for nat­u­ral sym­me­try and pat­terns as you frame your im­ages and keep the hori­zon level. Use lead­ing lines to guide the eye through the scene or to­wards the main fo­cal point. Our vi­sion is ex­cel­lent at dis­tin­guish­ing be­tween dif­fer­ent el­e­ments, whereas a cam­era has a ten­dency to flat­ten the im­age. Fram­ing your shots against an un­clut­tered back­ground will help to iso­late the sub­ject and make it stand out.

I of­ten try to pre-vi­su­alise my im­ages, es­pe­cially when I am able to plan or an­tic­i­pate where a sub­ject will be. A good ex­am­ple of this is set­ting up props for birds to land on and then us­ing AF point se­lec­tion to pre-com­pose the scene.

“Try to look for nat­u­ral sym­me­try and pat­terns”

THE OWL AND THE BEE A beau­ti­ful wild lit­tle owl, Athene noc­tua, on an old gate with wild­flow­ers and a lit­tle bee. Cap­tured from a wooden hide by a field of sum­mer bar­ley RULE OF THIRDS I used the rule of thirds to help me com­pose this im­ageLEAD­ING LINES The old gate leads the viewer into the pic­ture to­wards the main sub­jectNEG­A­TIVE SPACEI in­cluded lots of nice neg­a­tive space to helpbal­ance the sceneAC­TIVE SPACE The owl is fac­ing into theframe cre­at­ing a more har­mo­nious com­po­si­tion

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