Questions tagged [composition]

Composition is the placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art, as distinct from the subject of a work. It can also be thought of as the organization of the elements of art according to the principles of art.

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102
votes
22answers
19k views

Why do breathtaking views turn into “boring” photos, and how can I do better?

I recently purchased a Canon 700D with a 18-135 IS lens to get into photography. I'm trying to improve, but my photos seem 'boring'. Let me give some examples: I took these today. The scenery looks ...
101
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22answers
21k views

I know what a bad photo is, so why do I keep taking them?

9 out of 10 photos that I take are boring, and this is immediately apparent when I look at a new batch on my computer screen. Since I'm fully capable of identifying a bad photo, why can't I stop ...
70
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9answers
68k views

What is the 'Golden Ratio' and why is it better than the 'Rule of Thirds?'

Somebody recently told me that I will be able to compose more pleasing pictures if I use the Golden Ratio instead of the Rule of Thirds, and that the Rule of Thirds was an inferior way to compose ...
68
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6answers
19k views

How to make female chest look bigger?

When photographing women they often want the chest to appear as big as possible. I tried with light coming from different positions but was not satisfied with the results. Are there any tricks to ...
66
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5answers
4k views

How to compose flowering plants?

Consider the following image: Now this is a golden opportunity! A cherry tree in full bloom! And it has pink blooms, not those boring white ones. And today it's a bright, sunny day, the sky is a ...
48
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16answers
9k views

Can anyone suggest books/resources on the artistic side of photography?

I am a relatively new photographer. I have no problem understanding the technical side of photography (I am an engineer by trade), but I do struggle with the more 'artistic' side of photography (...
46
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4answers
18k views

How can I get photos showing the “shaft of light” effect?

I would like to be able to capture a photo which shows light shafts coming through the window. A famous example is this: I'm guessing this involves a tripod, a long exposure and strong sunlight, but ...
46
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2answers
31k views

What is the Rule of Odds?

In furthering my reading on photographic composition I came across a compositional technique called the "Rule of Odds." What is the "Rule of Odds"? Why is it important? How do I apply it to my ...
45
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3answers
9k views

What is the “Rule of Thirds”?

Please can someone explain the "Rule of Thirds"? What is it? What does it tell me? Why is it important? What can I do with it?
38
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3answers
4k views

How can I show a slope? Even mountain roads appear flat in my photos

During a bicycle trip, I wanted to take a pic to show how sharp the slope was (about 20%). The same applies downhill. See below, the viewer can't really tell whether it is downhill or flat or uphill: ...
36
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6answers
7k views

Why take diagonal photos?

In the "old days" I sometimes composed my photos diagonally, but I've not had success doing that in the "modern" era, because there's not really any nice way to present it digitally. Is there a ...
33
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9answers
13k views

Why do people like square photos?

Cameras used to make rectangle photos all the time, but now I see as a trend square photos. Is that because of mobile phone screens, or is it something else?
33
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8answers
10k views

How do I keep the horizon straight when taking a photo (without a tripod)?

I use a DSLR and I very often find that when I shoot without a tripod, and with my eye to the viewfinder (as opposed to using LiveView), my photos end up slightly crooked: lines that should be ...
33
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4answers
7k views

What is the 'Diagonal Method' and should I use it instead of 'The Rule of Thirds?'

I recently was in a discussion with a photography mentor who asserted that over the years he has composed most of his award-winning and/or 'most popular' photographs using the 'Diagonal Method,' and ...
33
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3answers
5k views

What makes a strong wide-angle composition?

A simple, effective way to improve most compositions is to crop (or zoom) more tightly. Cut out the "distractions", and boom, powerful composition. I usually shoot with a slightly-long lens in the ...
28
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2answers
2k views

What is Bakker's Saddle?

I was perusing a book called "Success in Print Competition for Professional Photographers" and one section referred to a composition technique called Bakker's Saddle. Three related questions: What is ...
27
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6answers
11k views

Is it better to have light come from the left side?

In this comment to a question about composing landscape photographs, Esa Paulasto says About the direction of light, whenever you have a choice in it, have the light come from left side. I have ...
27
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3answers
12k views

What is Lead Room?

Continuing to educate about basic compositional techniques, What is "Lead Room?" Why is it important to consider Lead Room when taking pictures? When do I apply it to my photography?
26
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5answers
2k views

How to create an eye-path?

Reading about photography, I have now and then stumbled on recommendations to "create a path for viewer's eye", or to "lead it through the picture" without any specific guidelines how to achieve that. ...
24
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9answers
3k views

What can I do to take better/more interesting photographs of tabletop games?

I do a lot of writing about tabletop games, some of it paid, professional work. Often, editors ask that I also supply photographs of the games in play to illustrate the articles. I know very little ...
23
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10answers
5k views

Is composition after capture against any traditional photography rules?

I use my mobile phone for photography. Normally when I notice anything interesting, I take a picture with the point of interest somewhere near the region I want it to be. But I do this with the clear ...
23
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8answers
4k views

Does every interesting photograph have a story to tell?

Should a photograph with an interesting composition necessarily have a story to tell? I have been told that if you can't tell a story behind a photograph, it is not worth pressing the shutter button. ...
23
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5answers
2k views

How to capture the scale of a scene?

My framing in the following photo completely failed to capture the sheer height of the waterfall. If you don't know I was standing at the top of the waterfall, and the "splinters" at the bottom are ...
23
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4answers
6k views

How can I best pose myself for a headshot self-portrait?

I need to do some headshots of myself for a gig I have coming up. My initial thought was to use a plain light background (as you see in many studio shots), but I've had some advice to use a dark ...
22
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4answers
9k views

When is it OK to place the subject in the middle of a picture?

When is it OK to place the subject in the middle of a picture? I took this picture and feel very compelled to put the subject in the centre rather than on the sides.
22
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3answers
3k views

How to reposition subject in the same place and pose in a series of images over time

I am going on a lengthy road trip this summer, and I wanted to have some fun with the pictures I take. I thought it would be cool to take pictures of my girlfriend in various locations, but have her ...
20
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16answers
17k views

Why is this child portrait not compelling? What went wrong and what could have been done better?

I am new to photography. I want to improve my pics, so I need some input from you all. [![][1]][1] Please look at this pic and guide me on what went wrong. How could I have improved this picture? I ...
19
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6answers
5k views

How do I make my photos have more impact?

I'm a new photographer and so I decided to start out with a relatively cheap, easy to use DSLR: the canon rebel t6 (EOS 1300D). With the camera, I also have the standard 18-55 and 75-300 mm lenses; ...
18
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4answers
4k views

What does it mean when something is “distracting”?

I asked for opinions on a photograph I took, and someone told me that an object in the background is "distracting". I wasn't sure exactly what this means, so I did some searching. I found many ...
18
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4answers
717 views

What things should one take into account when looking at cropping a photo?

When looking at cropping a photo: How do you decide whether to crop it or not (for starters)? What things should you take into account - both practical and artistic? I guess that this question is ...
17
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7answers
2k views

How to compose such that the context does not overpower the subject?

Intention was to shoot a kid from a upper class family playing with bricks and sand in a not so clean area. I have purposely not blurred the background. I think adding context is important in this ...
16
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5answers
709 views

How can I make interesting photographs of interesting things found on the streets?

I was walking through streets of San Francisco and found this interesting advertisement: The subject is obviously interesting, but the image here is very straightforward and feels comparatively ...
16
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5answers
5k views

Tricks for a good “jumping” picture?

Too many jumping pictures can be annoying, but I would like to once in a while be able to make a good one. Here is a bad one: What characteristics make a jump picture impressive? How to reach these ...
16
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4answers
19k views

How can I improve my photographs taken on overcast or cloudy days?

I'm interested in filters, flash & lighting options, composition, and post processing. Is it possible to get really vibrant colors or should I give up on that and focus on dreary, muted, or black ...
16
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4answers
1k views

How does histogram shape affect the aesthetics of a picture?

For having more contrast in an image, it's good to have a wide range (i.e. difference between highest and lowest) of light intensities in a picture; and for keeping details, neither highlights nor ...
16
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5answers
1k views

How to make transparent liquid on white porcelain visible?

I made a picture for the cooking.SE blog: If you look very hard, in the middle, below the vanilla bean tip, is a small spill of synthetic vanilla essence (which is almost colorless, not dark like ...
15
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10answers
34k views

What is the best approch to photographing a mirror or other highly reflective surface?

I have been asked by a client to take some product photographs of some vintage mirrors that they would like to sell and I am struggling with getting good clear shots of the mirrors. As such, what is ...
15
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7answers
28k views

What are the advantages of shooting a particular aspect ratio?

My camera can shoot in 4 different aspect ratios (4:3, 3:2, 16:9, and 1:1). Aside from personal preference of composition are there any advantages to choosing one over the other? Is there an industry ...
15
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5answers
919 views

What color combinations indicate that a photo represents the future?

Black and white or sepia-toned photographs can be used to represent the past — or faded color-shifts for prints from the 1970s or 1980s. Which color or color combination can we use for the future?
15
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1answer
442 views

How to plan the composition of astrophotography?

I want to shoot the Milky Way, some constellations, and planets. I want to include some natural landscapes in these photos, similar to these: http://www.flickr.com/photos/35492781@N08/4665431960/in/...
15
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2answers
2k views

What is headroom as it relates to photographic composition?

With photographic composition I often hear people talk about 'leaving enough headroom' for portrait photographs. What is headroom? How can I properly apply it to my photographs? What are the ...
14
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2answers
2k views

When does “Fill the frame” become “Too tightly framed”?

Many times I have noticed people critiquing other people's pictures, saying either - "It is too tightly framed" or "you haven't filled the frame". Below are two photographs taken by me. I don't know ...
14
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4answers
2k views

Can photographic composition rules be used in cinematography?

We all know that photographic composition has certain rules like the rule of thirds, diagonal lines, etc. I am wondering whether those same rules can be applied in cinematography. Can they? I ...
13
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4answers
3k views

Why doesn't auto-focus work with an all-white subject (like a wall)?

I am trying to compose a shot using my Nikon D60 and 18-55mm lens towards a white wall in a auto-focus mode. It looks like I am not able to take the photo. I feel the camera is not able to find any ...
13
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6answers
3k views

What's wrong with portrait orientation?

When I first showed my photos to relatively wide audience online, several photographers commented about the amount of portrait-oriented shots. The essense was that I should take more landscape-...
13
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6answers
1k views

What are the main things to avoid in photographic composition?

Considering only the frame and it's content, putting the issues of color rendering, sharpness, exposition, brightness, contrast, optical aberration, unpleasant flash/noise aside. I think of: ...
13
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4answers
1k views

How can I get people to take an expression which fits the scene?

I have heard that there are specific indirect questions that can be used to get people to be more natural in front of a camera. Many people, who have many expressions to offer, when put in front of a ...
13
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5answers
848 views

Where could I find a detailed reference on all composition rules?

I am looking for a good advanced reference about photographic/cinematographic composition rules. I have already checked this post: Good books to learn photographic composition from? but it doesn't ...
13
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0answers
862 views

Good books to learn photographic composition from?

One of the tough things to learn in photographie is composition. What good books (or other sources) can you recommend to learn and hone your compositional skills?
12
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3answers
1k views

When should the negative space not be used to bring attention to a subject?

Considering https://photo.stackexchange.com/a/21378/5205 I tried to bring attention to this bud by leaving a lot of space on the right, but nearly everyone told me to crop that space off. http://www....

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