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The Basics of Photo Composition

Our eyes and brains tend to prefer images that are set up in a certain way and dislike others and this is often not just about the subject of the photo. This is what we're talking about when mentioning 'composition', arranging the subject of the photo (whatever it may be...a tree, a rock, a person, etc.) in such a way that it is pleasing to the eye.

Sometimes this is easy, other times not so much. There are a number of 'rules' that can help make this more easy, particularly when starting out. Obviously, photography is partly about creativity and freedom to be artistic which is why these rules are often broken...and quite rightly so! Perhaps, rather than rules, I should call them guidelines...guidelines which can be ignored when appropriate!

The Rule of Thirds

This is such a basic rule that it underpins a lot of photography composition and that of artwork in general. If you've not heard of the rule of thirds, it involves splitting the frame up into thirds vertically and horizontally and placing the subject or subjects at or around the intersections of these lines. This is an especially good idea when taking your typical landscape photograph. It generally looks much better to have either the land take up the bottom two thirds of the frame and the sky the top third or to have one third land and two thirds sky...rather than the horizon splitting the frame across the centre.

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