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Techniques

Composition

Composing an image is not hard, but there are the techniques one may use to get better or the "wow" factor in their pictures. I'm going to go beyond the basics this time, so none of the "rule of thirds" or "frame within a frame" thing going on. I'll also explore some of my personal techniques for taking that "wow" picture.

There are two main types of professional photographers out there, neither is better than another, it's just the way the photographer is used to getting his/her job done. Some photographers shoot like mad, frame after frame, and pick out the few pictures that are good. Others take time to shoot every single frame and use most of their shots. I find that the ones that are shooting like mad, are digital users, since they are not limited to the expense of paying for 24 exposures per roll of film. People that have migrated from the film world, take a very careful approach to composing every picture. I'm not against the fact that they shoot so much at once, but in my opinion, most of what the outcome is, is not as well composed as the people who try composing the picture properly to begin with. So, this is the reason I am showing you some of my techniques for composition.

Here's a great tip for portraits. Most shots are taken with the subject facing you, while that can be interesting, try having the subject look away from you, or looking at someone or something. This gives the picture a sort of candidness or photojournalistic approach. It's also a good way to tell a story or give relationship between the two subjects and adds a second point of interest. For example, a mother looking down on her baby, instead of the mother carrying her baby and both facing the camera.

Forget the rule of thirds. Take it as more of a guideline. Placing the subject dead on or near center can sometimes produce a dramatic effect, especially when it's a wide shot. There are lots of other creative ways to place a subject in the center. Try out different methods, and break the rule of thirds.

Using different light sources or shadows. Shadows and lighting is the key to producing interesting photos. Another idea is to shoot purely the shadows. For example a couple standing on a hill in the sunset, you can expose the background nicely, and leave the subjects completely black. Another idea is to use interesting light sources such window light or through grates.

Exaggerate colour. Natural colour is nice sometimes, but drastically changing the contrast and adding deeper color can have a very dramatic effect to an image. When exaggerating colour be sure not to over do it. This is useful for almost any application.

Take a part of a subject, not the whole. When shooting portraits or anything in this matter, get close to one part of the subject, such as the legs of a person, or the side of an apple or head. This adds much more interest than the whole subject.

NEVER, EVER use the automatic, one push of a button, black and white conversation on your photos, never use the in camera effects either. Processing your images on your computer is much more powerful and can create the type of black and white conversation and customization that black and white film can. Try to capture all your images in colour, as the processor and conversation can be poor on camera compared to your computer.

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