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Tips to Improve Image Composition

March 24, 2015 8:00 am

A key element that elevates the images of photographers is having a good eye for composition. By applying the basic ideas of quality composition one at a time, you’ll improve your photography technique and capture impressive images. It’s important to remember as you hone your craft, that it takes persistence, practice, and patience to improve your composition skills. With some essential concepts to help you get started, you’ll soon see the world in a completely new way through the lens of your camera.

Understand your lenses

While you may have multiple lenses in your gear bag, if you’ve never taken the time to understand their use individually, you’re missing the bigger picture. Spend time learning one lens at a time so you can discover the exact affect they each have on a photo’s appearance. A fixed lens is a good place to start, but a zoom lens can work too if you can set it to a specific focal length. When you use a single focal length without the ability to zoom in and out, you can fully appreciate its characteristic and learn how to apply it during shoots.

Remove the distraction of colors

A great way to gain a better understanding of composition is to shoot in black and white. Without the distraction of multiple colors, you’re better able to notice composition elements including pattern, texture, tonal contrast and lines. Color is an important and powerful element in images, but without understanding composition through black and white first, your photos may always feel like they’re missing something or that they’re too busy. Find balance in black and white before returning to color photography and the results will surprise you.

manhattan bridge black and white

Look for repeating shapes and patterns

Once you’ve worked in black and white for a while, you should be able to recognize repeating shapes and patterns easier. Honing that skill will have you seeing repeating elements everywhere and it then becomes your job to capture them in an image with an engaging, unique and effective composition. When you find a repeating shape and pattern, try shooting from a different angle to change the way the lines play across the image.

bricks by Central Park

Find the lines

Even in nature photography, there’s usually lines somewhere in the image and finding them before you take the shot can improve your composition. Each type of line evokes different feelings from the peacefulness of horizontal lines to the energetic dynamics of diagonal lines. Vertical lines form a middle ground between straight and diagonal and curved lines give a sense of relaxation. Seeing these lines in your images and understanding how they interact and work together helps you select the best composition for each shot.

central park bridge

Embrace the empty space

Sometimes an image improves when you embrace the empty space, the negative space you see through the lens. While getting closer to certain subject matter can improve your shots, try moving back from the subject to see what it reveals. Incorporating elements such as an expanse of open landscape with human figures reveals the scale and sense of the negative space and creates a sense of distance in the shot. You don’t need to fill your image from edge to edge with busy subject matter to achieve great composition, sometimes the less in the shot, the more dynamic the photo.

Part of improving the composition of your images is learning through trial and error so you shouldn’t feel discouraged if you don’t achieve perfection in every photo. Examine your mistakes to help realize what worked and what failed in your desired composition and then head back out for another round. Celebrate your beautifully composed images by displaying them with custom framing, mounting, or unique metal prints from Baboo Digital.