Composition… how I view things…

It’s quite fascinating that when you give two different persons a camera each & ask them to stand literally next to each other & shoot something, both end up producing very different results even right out from the camera. All things come into play… point-of-view, framing, your camera settings & even how you are envisioning the final print when you are post processing the image. Each person has his or her own way of seeing things & projecting how we see it in our own unique way. No one has the same vision, unless of course you are imitating someone else or just learning composition & are just following the rules of composition.

How I view composition

Many of us who started learning about photography have at one time or another done a google search on the term composition & photography. You will never find a shortage of articles about Rules of Thirds, shooting in threes & to not place the subject in the middle. Some folks have to work really hard to shoot something at is visually acceptable by the photography community, else others just have a knack for it!
Why is it that it’s so simple & easy for some people yet is absolutely crazy difficult for others?
I have a personal opinion on this…

How do I see things?

Let’s use an example of something I shot recently while I was out in the middle of the night trying out some night street photography.

Depending on how you look at the image above, you either see a window with the reflection of a lamp above it on the outside. You’ll see the glass & perhaps the grills on the inside of the window.
Sad to say to you, that’s not what I see. LOL!
I see squares, rectangles, circles, semi-circles & a lot of diagonal lines! To me everything is abstract & is never about the details that folks normally see. To me composition is about putting together what seems chaotic in the modern sense & arranging it so that it makes sense to me at least. It’s not about Rules of Thirds or anything of that sort. To me it is about the general arrangement of shapes which makes an image.
Let’s try another image…

When I took this shot in a church while I was in Barcelona, I had a problem. I only had an ultra-wide angle lens & a 50mm on my 5Dmk2. I was too lazy to swap lenses because I knew I was going to be shooting more ultra-wides that day once I left the building. So I zoomed all the way in to 40mm & shot what you see here with my exposure dropped all the way down by 2 stops.
Again what I saw was roughly the shape of Mary, straight lines behind accentuated by soft light behind. Remember that when you put an image onto a photo, everything reverts to 2D.
Technically everything about this photo was wrong! When composing usually you leave some space in front of the subject. You also don’t usually leave such a big gap in front of the statue & worse still behind it! The shot was also way underexposed…
But somehow through some unknown intervention, I decided to break all that & went with what I felt was right to me. Giving the subject space in the obvious place would have made many people happier… but I don’t shoot for other people’s pleasure but for mine alone. Call me selfish but that’s the way aha-aha, I like it! The empty space at the bottom is what we call negative space. My intention was to leave it there & not crop it out of the photo. The purpose of this image was also as a demonstration that you don’t need a superzoom lens for your travels. Think out of the box a little & you can shoot just about with any lens, anywhere.
What do you think?

What else?

If you haven’t yet noticed, the best composition is one with the fewest things for you to see! Less is better! A wise guru once said that composition is about Simplification & EXclusion… or SEX! So technically if you force yourself to think about SEX all the time, you’ll be a much better photographer lol!


Although framing adds to a composition, it isn’t composition per say. Framing is simple, you either use a zoom lens or crop using Photoshop during post processing. Sadly folks fail to understand that this rarely improves an image. The need to crop just screams that you weren’t careful when you clicked the shutter.
Switching to a telephoto lens only let’s you get closer to the subject. It doesn’t help you get a better looking photo.
What you need to be changing is the point-of-view… that means the position of your camera in relation to the subject you are trying to shoot. Move closer with a wide-angle lens to make an image seem larger than reality… or move closer to the ground to get a different perspective. Roll over & shoot upside down… climb over things… even move the object around you to get the best angle that you can. Simply pointing the camera in different directions with different lenses isn’t going to get you good pictures! It on the other hand is the best way to make bad photos!


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