-Framing and Viewpoint- Framing is the most basic part of a well composed image, and acts as a larger category for the other rules. Framing has to do with how you contain all the elements you hope to capture. Good framing includes just the key elements of your image while omitting objects that detract from the larger picture. Also, keeping the horizon perfectly parallel and straight is a fundamental framing strategy that most should observe. Often times, to get the best framing you must change perspective, move around, and crop out objects using a magnified lens. Although framing is a basic principle of composition it's harder to master than you think.
-Rules of Thirds- The rule of thirds is based on the idea of a photo being divided into three imaginary horizontal and vertical sectors. Placing a subject along the dividing points of these lines creates alluring imagery because the main subject is placed off-center. This creates more visually interesting photos because of the way it naturally draws the eye.
-Patterns- Patterns can be approached in two unique ways: keeping a pattern consistent and undermining a pattern by putting something out of place. The ultimate goal with patterns is to trick the eye into seeing more then what is really present. In some cases, patterns also serve as a visual line from the foreground to the background, pushing the eye to inspect every inch of the composition. Undermining a pattern, on the other hand, is also very effective. This means having one out of place item in the middle of an otherwise consistent pattern. This unique approach adds contrast to your image and has certain qualities that can connect with the viewer.
-Simplicity- Simplistic framing can often times be the most artistic way to shoot because when concentrating on basic elements your story can be told successfully without any other distractions. By focusing on one given thing you can attract your viewer's attention on exactly what you want them to see. To accomplish this you must have plainly colored backdrops (generally, black is the best), and subjects that strongly contrast with the clean background. This supports the idea of the power of"negative space," or an empty area of an image.
-Symmetry- Symmetry makes the eye wander all across an image, which is pleasing to the mind of your viewer. Symmetry also often echoes your scene, giving emphasis to the story you're trying to tell. In the image to the right, symmetry is also acting as leading lines that attract the eye upward.
-Lines- Using converging, diagonal, horizontal, and vertical lines in your photographs makes for an interesting composition. Lines act as a director of traffic for your viewers' eye. This helps your viewer focus on the key points of the image and in doing so you're also adding an amusing component to your shot. Remember a line can be the tracks of a train, the fencing on a hill, a cloud formation, or a fallen tree branch, whatever forms a line in your image can be used to your artistic advantage.
-Texture- Texture is the incorporation of a unique surface to an image. Texture helps your images really come alive and make your viewer feel like they are there.
-Depth of Field and Backdrop- Depth of field is the field or space within an image that is in focus. So, a wide depth of field, means that nearly everything, if not everything, is in focus. On the other hand, a small depth of field means that elements only a very specific distance from the camera's lens are in focus. Depth of field helps direct attention to the elements of your choice. Remember depth of field is dependent on lens (wide angle lenses have a greater depth of field than a telephoto lenses) and the aperture you shoot at.
I hope everyone had a merry Christmas and happy new year! Images are copyright Chase Guttman and Peter Guttman.
Are you still interested in learning about composition? Read these guides by Digital Photography School: http://bit.ly/hPRws