Ever look at your photographs and find you are not happy with them? Me Too. Most of the time, for us non professionals it’s becasue we are taking snapshots. Snapshots are photos that we take with our mind and not with our eyes. We see something and think, Oh! I want a picture of that and so we grab a camera and snap away. The problem is that we forgot to compose what “that” was. I’ll explain, we see something we like, edit out the street signs powerlines and other extraneous stuff in our mind and snap away. When we look at the finished product we “see” all the stuff we edited out in our mind, the camera puts it all right back in. The solution is in composition and seeing like the camera sees. Everything you see in the viewfinder or on the LCD of your camera will be in the final product. You can sometimes fix things after the fact in Photoshop but that takes extra time and the results aren’t always what you wanted. I must also say there is nothing “wrong” with taking snapshots, they are what they are. If however, you wish to go to the next level we must look at composition.
In this photo what was supposed to be the glow of the setting sun behind the buildings is cluttered with the foreground objects such as street and traffic lights.
Composition is to some degree subjective but the idea is to get what you want, into the picture and everything you don’t want, out. To do this involves a few simple steps but they may not always be easy steps.
- Step 1: Carefully look at the subject you are about to photograph. Where is the sun or other light source and what kind of lighting choices do you need to make.
- Step 2: Check the viewfinder/LCD and adjust your positon, amount of zoom etc. so that you have only what you want in the picture. If you are going to crop later make sure you have enough room around the subject to do so.
- Step 3: Adjust the camera position to fit the shot. You may have to move around, get higher, lower or just get closer. When people started to take pictures with their Kodak box cameras they would rarely get close enough to get the detail or expression of their subject. Years later when you want to see your aunt Harriet’s sweet face you can’t see the detail because the camera was twenty feet away. Don’t be afraid to move in.
Once these things are accomplished the idea will more resemble the photograph you wanted to take. We will cover the role of the camera and perhaps as important, how to plan the shot. In the upcoming posts.