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Learning To See

A Few Compositional Dynamics

One of the greatest lessons I received in my early years learning photography was that of Compositions Dynamics.

The true art of photography doesn't lie in pointing and shooting. In lies in seeing not only the subject but the entire scope of the subject and the coexisting elements of the scene.

What I'm about to show you are some of my thought processes and the things I see when shooting. You will also get a glimpse into my post production and image selection. Yes luck does play it's part as some of you call it. I prefer to define it as God's touch.

Photographing any animal can be difficult. Sometimes your efforts pay off and other times you leave exasperated and defeated. In the end when all of the time spent and all of your determination pay off the final outcome can be breathtaking.

I recently took my first trip to the Davis Mountain Region of Texas. It was my first visit and the first of what I hope to be many.

Understanding your equipment, understanding exposition and understanding light and the direction of light is one of only a few lessons that need to be learned.

However the most important lesson in my book is Composition! You can know all of those other elements and nail them but what creates life to your image is composition through the use of viewer eye control.

As photographic artists the hope should be to create an image that reflects the intent of the creator. The moment you snap the shutter the creation has begun.

Finally, the and most importantly, it comes down loading your images and editing and selecting.

On any given day I might shoot thousands of shots. As a shoot develops I watch my subject intently. I observe and record the transitions of the scene. The direction of the light, the placement of subject elements (Note: Subject elements don't just include the animal or the bird but anything and everything included with them.)

The end result is to achieve perfection. An image that includes the subject.....the pose.....and the arrangement of elements that result in an image that is transformed from a snapshot into a work of art.

Rules of composition include some of the following:

Depth of Field to control where the viewer goes first.

Point of Focus to help speed the viewer to the main subject.

Framing which includes using sub-objects in the scene to help isolate and direct the viewer to the subject.

The use of the Diagonal Lines to create the feeling of motion.

Vertical Lines.

Horizontal Lines.

White Areas.

Dark Areas.

Subject Size to help support the main subject.

Geometric Shapes in photography.

The Rule of Thirds.

Believe it or not I look for some, if not all, of these Compositional Elements into every shoot I do.

Using the rules of thirds for proper subject placement is one of the most important lesson to learn in composition. Your main subjects(s) should be placed in one of the intersections areas when using this technique. In this image notice that are main subject is in the lower main third. Placing you main subject in the lower third will make the subject appear larger and closer.

Positioning the main subject in the upper third will make the subject appear smaller and further away even though in fact there is no difference in the physical distance on in the actual subject size. It's simply a psychological effect.

The next thing I consider is the other compositional elements which aid and strengthen the image.