The composition of your photos with different techniques of framing can help you to get the most out of your photographs. Generally speaking, composition is the placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a photo. This involves trying to achieve a balance among elements that makes the overall photograph more pleasing to the eye. There are a number of rules of composition, all flexible, which can help you become a better photographer.
Don’t center your subject – Centering your subject in the viewfinder seems logical, but that technique often produces boring photos. When you are looking at a scene, mentally divide your viewfinder into a 3 x 3 grid of equal rectangles. Place your subject in one of these rectangles, or at the intersections of two rectangles, instead of in the center. Allow the rest of the area to balance the subject, such as using 2 or 3 of the rectangles for your subject and 6 or 7 of rectangles for surrounding scenery.
Angle of view – Don’t always take your photos from the front and center. A lot of subjects, including people, are more interesting when shot from a different angle: partially from the side, from below, or above. Think about the angle you want, and whether that angle would look best as a portrait or landscape photo. Really really LOOK through the viewfinder, seeking interesting points of view when framing your subject.
Use the viewfinder for cropping – Make good use of the viewfinder for cropping your shots. Look at the entire shot to make sure that your subject is well framed. Look into the corners of your viewfinder to make sure than there is nothing there that will detract from your shot. Use your zoom, or change the angle from which you are shooting to remove unwanted elements and objects from your photos.
Foreground / background – Generally, you will use objects in the foreground (closer to the camera) to frame the subject farther away from the camera, such as a close fence at the bottom or a building at one side framing your subject, a person or an animal, perhaps, further away in the background. Do not lose sight of the fact that you are recording the subject, and be careful to just add the framing elements to lead the eye to or enhance the subject.
Lead your viewer into the frame – Whenever possible, use foreground elements to draw the viewer’s eyes deeper into the photo, towards the subject. For example, row of fence posts down the side of a photo, leading the viewers eye to the subject of the photo, be it a person, an animal, a tree or a house is almost always a more compelling photo with the fence than without. The same technique can be used with a row of trees, a line of people, or any other such geometric features.
Balance – Never forget that what you see in your viewfinder should represent balance. This may be the balance of light and dark, the balance of colors, the balance of clutter and clean, and so on. You can almost always find a way to balance your subject with its surroundings by changing your viewing angle or direction, just by walking around your subject.
The digital touch – The use of a digital camera gives you a number of advantages over a film camera. You don’t have to buy film or pay for processing, so feel free to experiment with different angles, lighting, and foreground and background elements, always seeking that perfect balance. Feel free also to experiment; take more shots and sort out the best one later.
Remember too that you can more easily remove the sides, top, or bottom of a photo when you are back at your computer. Don’t use this as a crutch. Always try to frame the perfect shot the first time. But remember that you can also look for the perfect shot within a shot when you are reviewing your photos. Don’t be afraid to try more daring crops, always on copies of the original shot. You might find something better from your armchair with the luxury of time than you found in the field.