Beginner Photography Tips

Top 14 Composition Techniques To Enhance Your Photos

Written by Tim on . Posted in Composition

SHOT WITH: Nikon D300S and Tokina 11-16mm lens at ISO 200, f/11, 20 seconds

To truly make the most out of composition techniques, it is important to understand the photography basics first. What is photo composition?

Why Is Composition Important?

Composition is the arrangement of the elements in the photo. Composition doesn’t just exist in photography. Any field of visual art highly values composition. The way color, line, shape, space, value, form, and texture are combined in a picture affects the photo as a whole. Composition is a main element in visual arts. To ignore composition is to forget about becoming a good photographer.

Listed below are 14 effective composition techniques that beginners and advanced photographers can practice over and over again to achieve beautiful photos.

Tip 1: Know the Rules before Breaking Them

While composition techniques are not rocket science, every craft has a set of rules that one should always run to for foundation. The best works of art are produced by bending the rules but if you don’t know the rules, then there are no rules to bend. For example, patterns may be very common in many photographs but they are really striking when highlighted. Beginners can practice on looking for these patterns to practice on composition. Another composition technique that advanced photographers give to beginners is to master symmetry. Many beautiful photographs are asymmetrical but mastering symmetry will make it easier to experiment with asymmetry.

Tip 2: Simplicity is beauty.

When in doubt, leave it out. One of the timeless composition tips involves simplicity. This is very much applicable in photos for photo journalism. In photo journalism, most tips on photo composition technique will tell you not to include any element that does not unify the supposed theme the photo. While wide angle lenses are awesome , they tend to include too many elements in a photo. Get rid of elements that do not support your subject or the entire photo.

Tip 3: Rule of Thirds

Top 14 Composition Techniques To Enhance Your Photos

SHOT WITH: Nikon D300S and Tamron 17-50mm lens

The rule of thirds is one of the classic composition techniques that both beginners and professionals will find absolutely useful. The rule of thirds involves dividing the whole frame into thirds. What will come is a box of 9 squares, similar to a tic-tac-toe box. You are going to block of parts of the images in the boxes. Meanwhile, the points where the box lines intersect will be where the interesting elements should be. This is considered one of the most basic photography composition techniques because this can be used for landscape and portrait photography .

Tip 4: Balance of Elements

Balancing elements is considered a huge rule in composition technique. The most well-known rule in photography is to put the subject in the center and make one side symmetrical to the other side. This is otherwise known as formal balance. However, this is not the only way to balance elements in the photo. You can still achieve asymmetrical balance and make a photo look interesting. However, remember to balance the other side with something if you put the main subject off center. It doesn’t have to be symmetrical but you can put a less important subject on the other side.

Tip 5: The Importance of Composition in Landscape

Top 14 Composition Techniques To Enhance Your Photos

Had I taken this shot just 15 minutes earlier (or later) the natural light from the sun wouldn’t have given me the shadows or reflections off the rocks I was looking to for.

Composition techniques are highly effective in landscape shots because these shots are usually dramatic. Aside from the rule of thirds, you have to know what the photo should be about. Is it about the vast expanse? The sparkling blue waters? This you have to know so you have an emphasis. Also, layers in the landscape shots are very important. There’s the foreground, middleground, and the background. Fill these levels harmoniously.

Tip 6: Don’t Underestimate Lines

Top 14 Composition Techniques To Enhance Your Photos

SHOT WITH: Nikon D300S and Tamron 17-50mm lens

The simplest composition techniques tackle the use of lines because it is the best way to add drama to your photo effortlessly, especially in architecture photography. Straight horizontal and vertical lines have immense strength while curved lines lend a soft touch to the photo. Use lines to lead the eyes to the photos primary subject too.

Tip 7: Use Shapes to Your Advantage

Learning how to use shape in your photographs is also crucial. Shapeless photos tend to look awkward. composition tips explain that austere shapes like diamonds, squares, and triangles are easier to work with than soft, round shapes. Position your primary subjects in such a way that they form a recognizable shape.

Tip 8: Experiment with Various Viewpoints

Top 14 Composition Techniques To Enhance Your Photos

SHOT WITH: Nikon D300S and Tokina 11-16mm lens

This is one of the more challenging composition techniques because the ideal viewpoint varies from subject to subject. The best advice for this aspect is to keep experimenting and venture outside shooting from eye level. This explains why many good photographers go as far as lying down on the ground. They walk an extra mile to find the best viewpoint.

Tip 9: Playing with Contrasts

Interesting photographs don’t always have complementary colors, shapes, or textures. While it’s easy to work with subjects that have a prominent relationship with each other, working with contrasting objects is very rewarding because the proper use of compositional techniques will highlight the contrasts wonderfully.

Tip 10: Learning how to Frame

Framing is an important element of photography composition. The perceived safe rule of most beginners is to put the focal point in the center but doing this often is dangerous because not all focal points look good when framed in the center. Centering subjects works for portraits but for other photos, experimenting with off-center framing may enhance the photo quality. Combine framing techniques with other composition techniques (e.g. lines, shapes) to find the right fit.

Tip 11: Appreciating Depth of Field

The depth of field is the area where focus is the sharpest. The general rule is the depth of field will have a more even distribution if the the camera is closer to the subject. This is one of the more studied composition techniques  because it is affected by things like focal length of the lens , size of the image, and the aperture.

Tip 12: Employment of Negative Space

Top 14 Composition Techniques To Enhance Your Photos

SHOT WITH: Nikon D300S and Tamron 17-50mm lens

Composition tips regarding negative space is one of the more in-demand pieces of advice because there is a tendency to fill in objects to fit the frame . However, there are times when the negative space is needed for a dramatic effect. Budding photographers are advised to take an object and take several shots in a negative space or a busy space and see which one looks better.

Tip 13: Learn What to Crop

Some photographers almost always get the right shot, until a portion of an object comes out. Not the entire object, just a portion of it. Nothing is more distracting in a photo than a random arm dangling on the side of the frame. Photographers should be cautious of these things.

Tip 14: Experiment and Practice

Whats an invaluable composition tip? Learn when to bend some composition techniques. The only way you can figure this out is to practice more and experimenting with various shots. There are no set rules in photography, only guidelines. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be qualified as a creative field. Practice on the basic techniques first and once you get the feel of photography, you can start breaking them a little. Use the tips to enhance your creativity, not limit it.

Top 14 Composition Techniques To Enhance Your Photos

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