Photography Club of India

Learn Photography & Knowledge base => Tips, Tutorials & Interviews => Topic started by: theqca on April 25, 2014, 12:35:15 AM

Title: Basics of Composition
Post by: theqca on April 25, 2014, 12:35:15 AM
Basics of Composition



Feel free to add your own tips or photographs which can be shared as examples for this post.

I?ve noticed I?ve shot a lot of photos which I look at and think ? nice pic?would have been a great pic but something is missing. This ?missing? bit very often is a compositional error which results in the image looking good?but not great.

I?m the sort of person who?s interested in results rather than getting into technical discussions so I?m not going to get into things like ?why do photos which adhere to these rules look better than photos that don?t?.

Trust me, in most cases, photos which follow these rules will look better than ones which don?t.

There always is an exception to the rule, however the rules will hold true for most of the photos you would usually take.

There also are some rules on how to break the rules ? will cover these in the next session.

   Keep the horizon off-centre
   Keep the subject off centre


(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7432/11902513094_78c595d6cd_z.jpg)


Learn the rule of the thirds.



(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7323/11902335653_0eff03493f_z.jpg)


Leading lines ? The human eye tends to move along the lines in a photograph. Learn to identify these lines and use them in your photos to enhance the composition. These lines could be formed by roads, objects, etc.


(http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2855/9050472262_9a04db7e06_z.jpg)

   Contrasting colours


(http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8054/8394975753_1b415377ab_z.jpg)




(http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8044/8148116343_3d3a8d8a5b_z.jpg)

Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: somnath goswami on April 25, 2014, 10:15:21 AM
Very fine and concise note Ayaz. Congratulations bro , you surely have the aptitude to write these instructive pieces.

regards

Somnath
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: PixelHunter on April 25, 2014, 12:44:48 PM
Brilliant write up as usual Ayaz. May I add the following-
Don't clutter an image by having too many elements
Having too many elements or points of interest in an image will confuse  the viewer. Its better to have a single or two strong element(s) that draws the viewer's attention rather than a number of element fighting for the viewers attention

Keep the camera straight This is not exactly a compositional advice, but in general keeping the camera perfectly straight oftens makes the final image look better. A slightly crooked horizon or subject never looks good.

Look at the corners of the viewfinder This happens the most while we are starting out. We carefully compose our image but ignore the corners. As a result there is often a twig or building or human element in the corners that spoil the whole image. So while composing,  also be careful what is in the extreme edges or corners of the frame.

Foreground, Mid ground and Background This applies specifically to Landscapes. Generally the landscapes look better if they have a foreground,  mid ground and background. The anchore point preferably should be placed by following the rule of thirds in any one of these three places. It can be anything like a tree, a rock , the sun etc.

Aspect Ratio We should compose our image keeping in mind the aspect ration that we are using. A composition that is working beautifully in a 4:3 aspect ratio may not look good in a square composition.
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: Jasii on April 25, 2014, 12:51:06 PM
Great bit of write up Ayaz ji and Binoy ji those were valid updates as well.

A Q here ( I hope I am allowed to ask Q's here?

If one is shooting a landscape with a FG and BG say the sky, the mountains and green fields, where does one focus? The BG's are the objects of interest but are more or less at infinity. 
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: theqca on April 25, 2014, 01:50:39 PM


A Q here ( I hope I am allowed to ask Q's here?

If one is shooting a landscape with a FG and BG say the sky, the mountains and green fields, where does one focus? The BG's are the objects of interest but are more or less at infinity.

What aperture are you shooting this landscape at?
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: Jasii on April 25, 2014, 02:09:38 PM


A Q here ( I hope I am allowed to ask Q's here?

If one is shooting a landscape with a FG and BG say the sky, the mountains and green fields, where does one focus? The BG's are the objects of interest but are more or less at infinity.

What aperture are you shooting this landscape at?

Well! you taught me to shoot at > F8 more like F11!  :)
It is not DOF that I am after, It is a generic Q in case of Landscape where BG is at infinity where does one focus? how to apply the 1/3rd rule here?
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: theqca on April 25, 2014, 02:53:44 PM
U should focus at a point that's a little bit lower than the half way mark

Unless if the story in ur landscape shot is not about the "landscape" but about foreground object - in that case focus on the foreground object.
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: Jasii on April 25, 2014, 04:37:58 PM
point me to a tutorial on this please......
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: saiki on April 25, 2014, 04:46:03 PM
Excellent Ayazbhai..... waiting 4 the rule breaking session.... :)
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: theqca on April 25, 2014, 06:32:06 PM
@Jasii - I dont have a link handy but just to explain what i mean - you need to focus a little bit below the centre of the image...

Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: Jasii on April 25, 2014, 11:43:08 PM
 :like:
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: sehgalatul on April 26, 2014, 07:35:44 AM
 Dear All,
               I loved reading this piece and i am smiling  smiling smiling....Jassi Sir You Know why. Anyways my Interest lies in the fact that supposedly there is nothing intresting at the point little below the midline where focus has to be done...Do we still focus there and assuming i have anchor right in my foreground that i want in sharp focus...My question is how to get all elements sharp....Any Answers?. :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: LightWave on April 26, 2014, 08:34:41 AM
If there is a Foreground object that is subject of the picture, then by all means focus on that as mentioned above. For the more generic landscape, where you want maximum possible area to come sharp, you stop down to F8 or F11 and focus where Ayaz mentioned. The DOF will ensure that most of the objects in your picture are sharp. Focussing at infinity by comparison leaves forground more blurred than one would desire. To discuss this in depth you have to read up about DOF and Hyperfocal distance. The effects of the aperture, distance of point focussed on from you and focal length of the lens on the DOF are very important basics that should be learned.
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: somnath goswami on April 26, 2014, 09:45:28 AM
A bit of study of '' hyperfocal distance'' may be of help. But to get the '' entire ''  frame of a landscape in acceptable focus for a reasonably big print, I have seen many to employ focus stacking with success. I, personally, am too lazy to go that way and for me it's small aperture and focusing just below the middle and prayers :-P
Cheers
Somnath
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: Jasii on April 26, 2014, 11:50:15 AM
Dear All,
               I loved reading this piece and i am smiling  smiling smiling....Jassi Sir You Know why. Anyways my Interest lies in the fact that supposedly there is nothing intresting at the point little below the midline where focus has to be done...Do we still focus there and assuming i have anchor right in my foreground that i want in sharp focus...My question is how to get all elements sharp....Any Answers?. :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

Grrrr....... You pulling my leg here Doc?  ;)
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: sehgalatul on April 26, 2014, 11:32:45 PM
Ok Guys Lets me present my views on this...whatever Ayaz was saying is correct but technically partly correct...I use Depth of field in my pictures...Not that i shoot at f/16 and that way all the picture appears sharp...I employ what you all named hyperfocal distance. I know many of you have read about it and know that technically. I also understand many of you wont be carrying measuring tapes with you for focusing on hyperfocal distance. So How exactly do you focus on the hyperfocal distance...Thats what my question is to all,  using your Camera...and without a measuring tape . Let me see what Methods some of our Colleagues employ...It will become interactive and We all will mutually benefit from each other.  ;)
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: Sandeep on April 27, 2014, 09:49:59 AM
Ok Guys Lets me present my views on this...whatever Ayaz was saying is correct but technically partly correct...I use Depth of field in my pictures...Not that i shoot at f/16 and that way all the picture appears sharp...I employ what you all named hyperfocal distance. I know many of you have read about it and know that technically. I also understand many of you wont be carrying measuring tapes with you for focusing on hyperfocal distance. So How exactly do you focus on the hyperfocal distance...Thats what my question is to all,  using your Camera...and without a measuring tape . Let me see what Methods some of our Colleagues employ...It will become interactive and We all will mutually benefit from each other.  ;)

I use the distance scale on my uwa lens and focus just behind my foreground object. While for kit lens I autofocus to 1/3 rd of the scene approximately.  Initially it's trial and error,  hit and miss.,  but after couple of years I know what distance to focus for a particular scene. Still learning though.

What is your approach?
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: theqca on April 27, 2014, 11:41:17 AM
Im not really into calculations / numbers to be very honest and shoot without thinking about them so im not a very technical sort of a photographer.

Would however be keen on knowing details on the technique you've mentioned...do share them here...
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: sehgalatul on April 27, 2014, 10:06:57 PM
 Good Evening Guys....I was expecting this answer of focusing into 1/3 rd of the scene from someone and one friend did post this...Great he is Right thats the most common cheat code what everyone would direct you to employ....But my question persists how do you find whats the 1/3rd the distance is in Camera...Fellows wide angle lenses have great depth of field that is their intrinsic property but than once you would learn how to employ DOF you guys would be amazed by the size and sharpness you would achieve in a big sized print...?

So many members would be reading this but not participating.....Guys try...I promise to reveal the secret very soon. Earlier lens were having DOF scales and they allowed you to use hyperfocal distance..LARGE FORMAT LENSES still have these features. Current lenses dont have these markings so the technique is must....
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: Sandeep on April 28, 2014, 08:12:05 AM
Hello Atul,
Good morning.. I approximate.

Will be awaiting to know your technique.. always good to know a better solution.
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: somnath goswami on April 28, 2014, 09:09:39 AM
I approximate.

Will be awaiting to know your technique.. always good to know a better solution.
Same here :)
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: Jasii on April 28, 2014, 10:50:40 AM
@ Atul Sehgal: All eyes on you, it better be a good solution, else get ready for crucification doc!!  ;)
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: somnath goswami on April 28, 2014, 11:14:28 AM
@ Atul Sehgal: All eyes on you, it better be a good solution, else get ready for crucification doc!!  ;)
Easy man easy. No such pressure. Forum welcomes discussion on all topics related to photography, no holes barred :D.
Cheers
Somnath
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: saiki on April 29, 2014, 12:58:37 PM
Normally i take a  hint from the DOF calculator App, then guess,click and pray ;D..... eagerly waiting for ur solution....

N:B: Atulji you better reveal fast for your own good.... plz refer  ;D

@ Atul Sehgal: All eyes on you, it better be a good solution, else get ready for crucification doc!!  ;)
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: Hot Shoe on April 29, 2014, 02:27:38 PM
I join the rest awaiting with bated breath !!   :D
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: kaushik_s on April 29, 2014, 04:41:57 PM
I'm not sure if SehgalAtul is talking about this technique, but I'll still try to explain a simple technique that I've learned,
1. Set your desired aperture and compose your frame.
2. Focus at infinity
3. Press DOF preview button
4. Check the closest point in focus when DOF button is still pressed. Live view  and magnification helps a lot here.
5. That point you've found in step 4 is more or less your hyperfocal distance for that aperture. Now move the the focus to that point.
6. Take your pic :)

I've tried using this technique during film days and it used to be difficult to find the nearest point in focus in that darkened out viewfinder. So almost stopped using it because of that. But with Live view it's kind of easier now and it really helps. Although I've not yet tallied the result with the DOF chart but I think it works.

Regards,
Kaushik
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: sehgalatul on April 29, 2014, 05:45:40 PM
 Well guys!!!!!!  I know you have wiated long enough...Mr Kaushik followed  CORRECT APPROACH PARTLY... hERE IS how i do that. Ideally set the camera in aperture priority mode. Dial the aperture f11 or lower but not below f 16( diffraction sets in). Now frame the shot in the viewfinder......Now most important question where to focus....See guys you dont carry measuring tapes with you neither you have assistants who would measure that distance for you...Many a times you are at a point where there is a valley or you are on a cliff and you can go ahead. so now next part of the story is main point and one of my reason why i shifted to nikon from Canon....now please dont start this age old debate what system is better. In all Nikon s there is a viewfinder with a grid system. when you are shooting horizontally than you see in the viewfinder there are three lines in grid top , middle and lowest running horizontally and there are similar lines going vertically....Depicting rule of third.
now when we see through the viewfinder we can approximate whatever is 1/3rd distance as we read from whatever is present on the line that is lowest ...see guys three horizontal lines would divide the frame into 3 parts and any subject on lower third of the line tells you you are 1/3rd into the scene at that focal length and aperture...so focus on a particular object that is lying on the lower third line passing and thats the approx hyperfocal distance. you can use live veiw as well to focus on this and magnify to accurately focus. ..than lock the focus...reframe the shot...and it might appear in the viewfinder that infinity or midground is not sharp but when you click the pic and zoom you will be jumping with what you got....But most useful tip Please shoot on a tripod and once focussed on that last grid line running horizontally...fix tripod sternly after refarming the shot so that there is no shake...so this is how you do it...now Enjoy fellaws...I have revealed you what took me 1 year to understand...its simple yet difficult to make sense of ...if you donot think over....Enjoy and Cheers
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: kaushik_s on April 29, 2014, 06:19:31 PM
Atul, usage of grid-lines has been a pretty well known trick from a long time. Canon guys have to use the Live view or replace the focusing screen with grid-line focusing screen (Ef-D).. But again, it gives you a approximation not the exact hyperfocal distance. But it also works as the hyperfocal distance lies somewhere near that (but not always).
Anyway, nowadays you can anyway use one of those android/iphone apps to find out the hyperfocal distance. Only caveat is that your lens must have the distance scale atleast.
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: Jasii on April 29, 2014, 06:21:27 PM
Cheers and a clap your way kaushik ji and Atul ji.....  :)

Ps. Live-view on my canon has grid lines, need not shift to Nikon ;)
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: sehgalatul on April 29, 2014, 06:43:21 PM
 Kaushik Sir...WHATEVER I HAVE MENTIONED IS AN APPROX WORKUP AS MOST OF THE TIME YOU WILL BE IN A SITUATION WHEREBY IF YOU DONT HAVE GLASSES WITH HYPERFOCAL DISTANCE ON THEM AND YOU HAVE CURRENT TYPE OF LENSES YOU HAVE TO USE THIS METHOD...uSING EXACT HYPERFOCAL DISTANCE IS NOT PRACTICAL IN MANY A SITUATIONS...yES YOU ARE RIGHT AS I HAVE SAID ITS APPROX HYPERFOCAL POINT BY THIS WAY....bUT WHAT I WAS ASKING EVERYONE WAS WHEN YOU SEE THROUGH A VIEWFINDER HOW DO YOU ESTIMATE AND POINT AT 1/3 OF THE SCENE. I HAVE GIVEN ANSWER FOR THAT...I BET 99.9 % PEOPLE JUST USE GRIDS FOR COMPOSITIONS BUT THE GRID HAS THIS BIGGEST ADVANTAGE THAT NO ONE USES AND TAKES GUESSWORK OUT OF YOUR PICTURES REGARDING ACHIEVING ACCEPTABLY SHARP PICTURES.

As you are well aware hyperfocal distance defination mentions claerly that its approximately the distance where you focus and scene one half in front of the point of focus to infinity is in accetably sharp focus.... I have simplified the chaet code but just highlighting that use the lowest of the grid line and focus on it...it takes you exactly into 1/3rd of the scene what you see in the viewfinder and takes guess work out where to focus. :)
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: sehgalatul on April 29, 2014, 06:52:11 PM
   I would also like to highlight that if your DOF calculator says that hyperfocal distance for a particular focal length & aperture is say 7 feet but using the method told above even if you focus at 8.5 feet using what you use using grid it doesnt matter. yes if if difference in focusing distance becaomes 11- 12 feet ceratinly you lose the edge..... ;)
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: Sandeep on April 29, 2014, 07:01:38 PM
Hi Atul,

What you have proposed is one way to approximate 1/3rd distance into the scene.

Focusing on 1/3rd in your viewfinder(using grid-lines or by judgement) does not necessarily mean you are focusing on 1/3rd of the actual scene in front of you. It depends on the terrain of the landscape and at what vertical angle you are framing it.
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: LightWave on April 29, 2014, 09:10:56 PM
Hi Atul,

What you have proposed is one way to approximate 1/3rd distance into the scene.

Focusing on 1/3rd in your viewfinder(using grid-lines or by judgement) does not necessarily mean you are focusing on 1/3rd of the actual scene in front of you. It depends on the terrain of the landscape and at what vertical angle you are framing it.
+1.
That was my first thought. Scenes will not always be linear where point at bottom of frame is closest to you and the point at the top farthest. And everything set in perfect ratio in between.
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: sehgalatul on April 29, 2014, 11:03:20 PM
 Rightly said sir...you have to choose a subject passing in front of you on the lowest grid line...Reframe the scene after locking focus on the point closest to you that passes through the bottom line of the grid. you are at 1/3 rd into the scene...Yes terrains are never linear and never according to your desires and  design...more so even if you have manual focus lens with depth of field scale...the basic principle reamins the same you need to focus than on the nearest object at that very hyperfocal distance...so using grid is a simple and easier way than to make things complicated...Hope you guys agree 8) :) :D ::)...Believe me guys at this moment you all might be thinking what's so special in what i have told you but just sit back and think have you ever employed  this method ever and have you ever thought about it....what i have told you is correct in principle subject to a particular focal length you use and considering what is infinity for that focal length...i hope you all guys know that every focal length has a different Infinity ....So being a science guy i have concluded that what i discovered and applied in correct in principle and in practice as well.....
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: Sandeep on April 30, 2014, 03:29:52 PM
Atul..Yes, as long as one is aware of its limitations , this technique is an effective and easy way to get good DOF at different focal lengths.

Btw this tutorial was about composition, and we have drifted off to a completely different topic..Ayaz must be cursing us all  :D

Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: theqca on April 30, 2014, 09:19:28 PM
Btw this tutorial was about composition, and we have drifted off to a completely different topic..Ayaz must be cursing us all  :D

Nopes...its been a healthy discussion and I've enjoyed going through everyones inputs :)
Title: Re: Basics of Composition
Post by: theqca on April 30, 2014, 09:20:20 PM
Btw this tutorial was about composition, and we have drifted off to a completely different topic..Ayaz must be cursing us all  :D

Nopes...its been a healthy discussion and I've enjoyed going through everyones inputs...im always happy to read stuff if there is some element of "learning" that takes place :)