Composition Techniques – Part 1

Welcome back. Today were going to be talking about basic composition rules.  Like pirate codes, these rules are really just guidelines that help you take more interesting photographs.

Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is one of the most common rules for setting up photographs, to use it you split the frame into 9 equal sections with two vertical and two horizontal lines. You then use the lines to split up the scene and place your subject(s) on the points where the lines meet. This will help you create more balanced and interesting shots.  Peoples eyes usually go to these intersection points more naturally than the center of an image.


In landscapes, it’s often more interesting to place the horizon on one of the horizontal lines, as shown below, rather than the center.



When you’re using the rule of thirds you need to think about what your subject is and where it’s going to be placed.

Leading Lines

Leading lines are all about creating an easy path for the eye as it makes it’s way through the photograph. The most common subject for leading lines are roads or other man made structures, but as a photographer, if you look hard enough you can find them anywhere. The lines in an image will lead your eyes into the frame. Lines that lead to infinity will pull you all the way through the photo.

In the photo below, the lines naturally fallow the path, drawing you into the picture.


Here it’s the railings and the doors that draw your eyes through the photo.


Common Lines

  • Roads
  • Fences
  • Bridges
  • Bricks
  • Rows of Objects
  • Rivers
  • Rocks
  • Sunlight
  • Grass

Fill the Frame

Fill the Frame is pretty straightforward. If you have a subject, make it fill the entire frame of the image rather than being just one element in the image.  Sometimes negative space can be used to great effect, but most of the time it’s better if you’re entire photo is the subject you want to show.  There are many ways to accomplish filling the frame. With zoom lenses you can zoom in, sometimes you also need to walk closer, or you can crop the image down in post processing.

The Photos below show how stepping closer makes the subject more interesting.




My next few blog posts will be covering some shots that I particularly liked while I was on vacation in Philly with part two of the Composition techniques arriving next Saturday.



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