Photography Tips & Tricks: Composition

Forums Resources Photography Photography Tips & Tricks: Composition

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    Having a good eye for natural aesthetics is essential to good photography. There are also composition tricks that can be used to produce more interesting results. Leading lines will guide the viewer’s eye towards a subject. Framing and mattes can be used to direct the viewer’s attention to one specific area. Reflections, trompe l’oeil, and optical illusions create unusual and interesting effects. The art of photography is so much more than just pressing a button on a camera. Photography is taking shots that reflect the photographer’s understanding of technique and purposeful stylistic choices.

    BorrowLenses: 47 Essential Photography Tips for Beginners

    Expert Photography: How to Use Leading Lines to Improve Your Composition

    BoredPanda: 20 Composition Techniques That Will Make Your Photos Look Better

    Rule of Thirds

    The rule of thirds is an aesthetic principle similar to the golden ratio. It isn’t a set rule that is necessary for every shot, but in some instances the proportions can provide a nice asymmetrical balance to a shot.

    Steve McCurry


    Anyone who has experienced bad yearbook photos and driver’s license mug shots can attest that portraits are difficult to get right. Many portraitures involve elaborate staging and posing. Fashion photography beauty shots typically involve taking lots of pictures in a variety of poses to get one perfect picture. Makeup, Photoshop, and carefully placed fans don’t hurt either.

    One important principle that professional photographers and artists stress is that a portrait should say something about the subject. If the portrait doesn’t capture personality or embody who the person is, it’s just a nice looking picture. There’s a difference between a picture of a dog and a portrait that conveys that loyal canine is somebody’s best friend in the whole world. The photograph needs to look beyond the external appearance. Eyes are said to be the windows to the soul, and even subtle expressions also can convey a lot of meaning.

    National Geographic: A Life Revealed

    Ansel Adams

    B/W Photography

    Black and White photography is great for capturing detail and texture. It is recommended to shoot in RAW format. Shadows and an even range of contrast generally help add depth to the composition. Shoot with as low of an ISO as possible to prevent noise.

    TutsPlus: Mastering the Art of Black and White Photography

    Improve Photography: Tips For Stunning Black and White Photography

    Worm’s Eye View

    This is a low angle shot that is generally used to make objects appear even taller. It is frequently used for architecture, trees, and plants. It can also be used for dramatic shots.

    The opposite shot is the Bird’s Eye View, which looks down and makes subjects appear smaller.

    Night Photography

    Camera sensors have difficulty picking up details in low lighting levels, which can produce artifacts called noise in a photo or video. The best way to avoid getting undesireable artifacts is to adjust the ISO settings.

    Fenchel and Janisch: How to shoot a DSLR at night without getting lots of noise

    Motion Blur

    Usually when an object is moving and you try to take a picture, you’ll end up with photo that is an unusable blurry mess. However, motion blur can create some really interesting effects. Dynamic action shots or experimental ghostly after-images are some popular examples. The exposure time is the main factor.

    Graphic Design Junction: Amazing Motion Blur Photos for Inspiration


    Timelapse photography uses a long exposure to capture time passing. It generally works best if movement is confined to one area of the composition while a focus area remains still. Timelapse photography works well with city traffic, the sky, and light painting. Long exposures can also be used to capture action so that it looks like staggered frames or slow motion.


    Bokeh effects are created by out of focus points of light, usually seen in the background

    Photo Extremist: Bokeh Photography Tutorial

    Aneta Ivanova

    Double Exposure

    Double Exposure is a technique used to capture two images on one photograph. Many photographers use it to create surreal black and white portraits. Multiple exposure can be used to create clones of the same person. It is relatively simple to achieve the same effect with Photoshop.

    Spoon Graphics: Double Exposure Effect Photoshop Tutorial

    Howard Pinsky: How to Create a Double Exposure in Adobe Photoshop

    PHLEARN: How To Create a Double Exposure in Photoshop

    Inverting Images

    Film negatives were used in the development process of photographs as a means of transferring the image from filmstrip to photo paper. Digital sensors don’t need to do this, but photo editing software makes it easy to invert colors to produce an interesting effect. Humans tend to turn a weird blue color due to blue being the complementary color of orange, which is the most dominant pigmentation in the skin. The soft glow is caused by subsurface scattering of light passing through the outer layers of the skin and hair.

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