This is the first of three posts that I will be doing over the next three Tuesdays sharing some of the rules of composition that guide me when crafting my images. Today I want to focus on composition rules related to space. Next week we will talk about composition rules related to subject. Then I will end up the series with a discussion on composition rules related to style. Of course these rules aren’t exhaustive. I also don’t think I’m breaking any amazing new territory but hopefully these rules will be something to stimulate your thinking and give you some insight in what goes into my thinking when I’m crafting the images you see before you. Hope you all enjoy
Let’s start off with one of the first rules we are taught when we start thinking about composition – the rule of thirds. So in this rule I divide the image up along a grid broken into nine sections with three vertical lines and three horizontal lines. You can draw interest to the image by placing your subjects along any of the lines on the grid. Another option is to divide your seascape up among the three sections of either the vertical or horizontal line. As we look at my blue skies reflected image I think we see both of these things. If you look at the horizontal section we see the clouds in the top third, the pier in the second third and the reflection in the bottom third. Also we see the life guard tower (tower zero) and its reflection running down the far right vertical third line.
Moving on next let’s talk about the idea of – leading lines. In this rule we can use lines leading into or out of the image to bring our eye to the focus point of the image. We see this in the image of the tropical plant taken in Maui last summer. You see the curved line leading from the back of the image up to the front where the focal point is at.
Next is the idea of – filling the space. Don’t be afraid to use all of your space with your subject. When looking at this color photograph of what I’m referring to as the sea urchin flower (mostly because I don’t know what it really is so if any of you are botanists and you want to share what it really is called please do) you can see the subject takes up probably 90% of the image and is even spilling off the edges.
The final spacial rule that I have to share with you is the idea of – cropping your image. Florin Constantinescu says, “Everywhere is something which could be beautiful. You must only to see and to know what and how to take off, to crop from the infinity”. When we crop we can get rid of extraneous stuff we don’t need. Another thing that cropping does is let you draw your focus into the significant details of an image and make an interesting image out of an ordinary scene. We see this idea here in my image of the top of a barbed wire fence. the original image was of a long section of barbed wire and by cropping it down to the cross of two circles we created a great image from what would have been a very boring original image.
As a final few words I want to encourage all of us to remember that we are the ones in control of what we do with our images. So don’t be scared to use the rules or break them or even mix and match multiple of them in the same images. Good luck and happy composing.