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Photography Tips – Composition

Hi all,

A little while ago I was asked by Digital Photography Magazine to write up a small article on how photographers can improve their photography with some photography composition tips. It was a little challenging sitting down coming up with the tips as most of these composition tips are things you begin to naturally incorporate into your photography workflow without realising.

In the end I provided Digital Photography Magazine with 6 different styles of composition that I try to rely on upon arriving at a scene and feeling slightly unsure what I’ll be photographing. Keeping an eye out for reflections, leading lines, colour in the sky, simple compositions or even compositions that would benefit from being placed in the middle of a frame, gives me some variety in how I might photograph the scene on the day.  They’re not rocket science but are a common theme across all my photographs which have got me to where I am today.

Be sure to catch the tips in the next edition of Digital Photography Magazine.


– Alex

Using twilight to your advantage

Twilight – Sometimes having a good composition isn’t enough.  This is why I like to find a good composition and return to the scene on sunset. The twilight colours add an extra element to the photograph making your composition stand out and look more appealing than if photographed during the day against a grey sky.

Keep an eye out for lead in lines

Lead in lines – Using lines in a scene is a great way to lead the viewer’s eye into the scene.  I’ve used the technique with this photograph captured at Mortimer Bay, Tasmania by using the jetty ruins to lead the viewer into the frame.  When composing try look for natural lines in the scene and frame the shot so they start of the side of the frame and gradually work their way in. This will gradually lead your viewer’s eye into the scene and make a more appealing photograph.

Natural reflections create a great composition

Reflections – Not all locations I come across have something that instantly jumps out at me like an interesting rock formation or beautiful mountain backdrops. Instead I try to keep my eyes open for less obvious things like reflections which when used well can add an interesting element to your photograph. Try get down low so you can get the best angle for the composition.

Sometimes simple is best

Focal point (tree) – Simple is best. When looking for compositions try not to over complicate things by trying to include too many things in your photograph. Sometimes having too many objects in your photograph can make your photograph appear too cluttered. Instead try to keep things simple by looking for 1 to 3 key objects. This will give your viewer a focal point to quickly draw their eyes on.

Composition in the middle

Composition in middle  –  Some photographers rule against placing a composition in the middle of the frame but rules are supposed to be broken right? I like to compose some shots with a middle object to give a sense of the subject being isolated and surrounded by emptiness. In this self-portrait I wanted to give the sense of that emptiness by composing myself in the middle of the frame.

Dramatic skies can add the perfect final touch to an image

Dramatic sky – Miserable overcast days aren’t necessarily a bad thing for landscape photographers. On occasion they can result in beautiful and dramatic sunsets as the clouds begin to disperse. Don’t be put off by miserable conditions as anything is possible especially if the rain is forecast to clear the next day. These conditions create the best and most dramatic sunsets.

7 thoughts on “Photography Tips – Composition

  1. Alex, composition is something I found very difficult at first, but I’m gradually getting my head around it, and this article has made it that much easier. Great pictures and great composition. One thing that I am never sure of is that when photographing a bird should the bird be further to the left in the frame if it’s facing left and vice versa if it’s facing right, or doesn’t it matter? Cheers, Ron.

    1. Hi Ronald,

      Firstly thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you appreciated the tips. Personally I don’t think it matters and try to do whatever feels right at the time. I’m an advocate of composition rules but at the same time, rules are meant to be broken. Generally if I was shooting a bird (I haven’t much experience so bare with me) If it was facing to the left I’d probably position it left to the frame though. Good luck shooting them 🙂

    2. Thanks Alex. Wherever possible I try to stick with the rules, but as you have shown with the self portrait on the jetty rules are made to be broken, and in your case it works very well. What you have said regarding the positioning of a bird, I do what you suggested for no other reason than it seemed to be the logical thing to do. It’s nice to know that in this case my logic has been backed up by you:-)

    3. You’re welcome Ronald! Try not to get too caught up in the rules when starting out. Just get out there and enjoy it and try to refine things later down the track once you get the hang of what’s what. Happy shooting and merry Christmas! 🙂

    4. Get out there and enjoy it are wise words indeed Alex, and I’ll make sure I do just that. Merry Christmas to you too 🙂

  2. Great blog on composition. I really like your approach at the beginning when you arrive on a scene and how to look for your composition. Too often I find my best shots by luck rather than a more methodical approach. Pretty sure I have left many good shots untaken because of lack of process. Thanks for tips and wonderful photos. Take care.

    1. Hi Eric! Thanks for the warm words and for stopping by.

      I think sometimes it’s easy to get a little caught up when you arrive on a scene and just want to start photographing so you don’t miss out on the nice colours in the sky or light. I’m guilty of this and always try to just slow things down and take a good look of what’s surrounding me so I can make sure I don’t miss out on the ‘good stuff’.

      Thanks again for stopping by.

      – Alex

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