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Three Essential Ways To Improve Composition


With the image divided into a 3-by-3 grid, try placing the horizon so that it runs across one of the dividing lines, or position the subject or important detail at a point where the lines cross. You don’t have to be precise; try using the off-centre autofocus points in the viewfinder as a rough guide. You should avoid following this ‘rule’ religiously, otherwise you run the risk of all your pictures starting to look too similar.

Using-the-rule-of-thirds Three Essential Ways To Improve Composition

Decide whether the sky or the land has the more interesting features, then use your imaginary grid to frame the shot accordingly.


Many subjects will work equally well in both landscape and portrait, although tall, thin objects often work better in a vertical shot because there’s less ‘dead’ space left in the image. A horizontal orientation is usually better if you want to show a subject moving across a scene. Also consider the aspect ratio. Most digital cameras shoot in 3:2 or 4:2 format, although you can switch to 1:1, 16:9 and other aspect ratios. Shoot in raw and crop the image when you process it if you need to.

Orientation-Matters Three Essential Ways To Improve Composition

Choose whether to compose with the camera held horizontally (for a landscape-format photo) or vertically (for a portrait-format photo).



How much space do you need to leave for the principal subject in a photo? Well, it’s often far better to leave a little bit too much than not enough, as it’s a straightforward job to crop an image in software to create a tighter composition later. This is particularly true with action shots; a cramped frame where the subject is pushed up against the edge of the picture is unlikely to be successful. If you find that can’t get close enough to a subject, such as the hot air balloon in this image, then try using large areas of blank space, contrasting colours or natural frames to make the subject stand out.

Use-space-to-improve-composition Three Essential Ways To Improve Composition

Use a framing device to hide featureless or distracting areas. Try shooting through a man-made frame such as a window, or use natural frames such as the branches of a tree.

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