Lesson For Assignment #2 - Composition
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    Buddysmom's Avatar
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    DefaultLesson For Assignment #2 - Composition

    JL Photography Class
    Lesson Ė Composition Tips

    In this lesson Iím going to give you some tips for making your pictures more interesting from a composition viewpoint. Some people call these Rules of Photography. Everyone should learn what goes into making a nice snapshot into a great photo. Once youíve mastered these rules, just remember that rules are made to be broken. Sometimes a great photo will break all the rules. Before you can successfully break the rules though, you have to master those rules.

    1. The Rule of Thirds Ė Draw an imaginary tic-tac-doe board on your picture dividing it into thirds on the top, bottom and sides. A strong element of your picture should fall along one of these lines and preferably where the lines cross. Unless youíre filling the photo with your subject, this rule of thirds makes for a much more interesting photo.

    In this photo notice that the wave line is on the upper 1/3 line. Buddy's rump is near the line where the upper 1/3s come together and leads nicely on the diagonal into the picture. There is nice room in front of him so he doesn't appear to be swimming out of the picture.


    2. Subject Should Face Into the Photo - Place the subject in the frame so it appears to be looking into the picture. When you look at a photo, your eye should follow a line into the photo and not out of the photo. Along this same line, donít have your subject appear to be running out of the photo. Leave some room in front of a running dog/person so it looks like the subject is running through the picture and not out of it.

    Again, in the above photo, your eye follows a nice line from the left side of the picture into the picture.
    In this picture, which I cropped this way to illustrate a point, even though I've followed the Rule of Thirds,notice that Buddy's rump starts part way into the picture and his head is near the side. Your eye wants to follow the line of his back toward his head and out of the picture. Also, he is going straight across which isn't as pleasing as the diagonal of the previous picture.



    3. Get down on the same level as your subject. A picture is much more interesting if the viewer feels a part of the scene rather than towering over the scene. If youíre going to take pictures of puppies in a whelping box, get down on their level. Isnít more fun to feel like youíre right in there with them? Once youíve mastered this, you can begin learning how to take perspective shots. We had a class assignment where we had to pretend to be an eagle and a mice, or something similar. We were to take the pictures from their perspectives. Basically, we took high and low pictures. It was fun, and I got some great shots. But unless you know the rule, itís hard to break this one and get a good picture.

    To get this picture, I literally threw myself on the ground in front of Buddy. Notice that even though he is centered left to right because I filled the frame with him, his eyes and the treeline in the back are on the upper 1/3 line and his feet are on the lower 1/3 line. I left some room in front of him so he didn't appear to be running out of the frame. He appears to be running toward me.


    4. Fill the frame with your subject. Unless itís a landscape photo, your subject should take up most of the room in a shot. Just watch out and donít make the fit too tight. There should be a little breathing room around the subject. If youíre going to break this rule break it big time. In a couple pictures posted last week for the assignment, parts of the dogs were cut off. If youíre going to do this, to it big. Instead of cropping off a little part of an ear or the top of the head, get right up in their face and make it so just the eyes, nose and lips show.

    5. WATCH YOUR BACKGROUNDS. Nothing ruins a shot more than a cluttered background or a pole growing out of someoneís head. Before you take a picture, try putting up your thumb and index finger on each hand together to form a rectangle and compose your picture. Check out the background. Start to ďseeĒ the finished picture before you shoot it. Yes, your dog is in the cutest pose ever, but will that pile of trash behind him add or distract from the cute pose? Try this experiment this week. Set up your dog if he will stay, or pick a stationary subject and take a photo of it. Now move a step to either side and take another picture. Take another step in the same direction and shoot again. Keep doing this until youíve gone in a complete circle around the subject. Now look at the pictures on the computer and notice how the change in background changes the look of the pictures.

    This picture illustrates #4 and #5.
    Here I filled the frame with Buddy's head and neck. He is looking away from me and slightly upward so this isn't a straight on shot. The background is nicely blurred and doesn't distract from the picture.


    This shot is a larger crop of the last picture. NOTICE THE BACKGROUND. In the last picture, Buddy's eyes were the center of attention. You want the subject best feature to dominate the photo. Here the chain link fence, rock, flag, lower part of Buddy's chest and legs, the fence toprail, and dead space detract from the shot. You don't know what to look at first. Nothing captures your attention to make you say wow.


    6. 1-2-3 Portrait Rule - Several of you took pictures of your dog this week straight on. This really makes for a very uninteresting photo. You should learn to set your subject up facing 3 different directions. Ya right. How do I do that? Think of each part of your subjectís body as a separate entity. Letís look at a person not an animal for this. First sit your subject in front of a nice background so that theyíre knees are bent and facing straight to your left (1). Now tell them to turn their upper body as far to your right as possible (2). They can put their arms behind them and lean on them or clasp them around their knees. Now tell them to turn their head back toward you a little (3). This will feel so strange and uncomfortable to them, but it will give a nice portrait.

    Look at this picture of Kaitlyn. She is facing the wall (1), her head is at 90 degree angle to her body (2), and her eyes are turned more toward me (3). With animals and young children getting 3 positions is near to impossible, but you can at least get 2 positions without too much trouble. Check out my siggy picture of Buddy. What are the 2 positions that his body is in?


    These are just a few of the many rules of photography. This is enough for one week. Study this lesson this week and try taking pictures using these rules. Also take some before and after shots. Take a picture of your dog in the center of the photo with a lot of room and take one with the dog filling the fame or using the Rule of Thirds. See which one you like best.

    ASSIGNMENT Ė Due by noon on Tuesday, January 30th.
    1. Locate your cameraís manual. Read it, and then read it again. By next week know what each of the automatic settings on your camera is, and how and why it is used. Feel free to ask any questions about the manual you need to. Iíll do my best to answer them.
    2. Using these rules above, submit one (1) picture that uses one or more of the rules to make an interesting picture. Tell which rules you used and how it affected the photo. Again, you can ask me any questions that you would like. Iíll be glad to answer them.

    POST YOUR QUESTIONS IN THIS THREAD. POST ASSIGNMENT PHOTO IN THE ASSIGNMENT - COMPOSITION THREAD.

    After the lesson closes, the instructors will critique how well you followed these rules, and offer suggestions for improving the shots.


    Eiderdowns That's My Buddy
    CDX, RE, WC, CGC, TDInc.
    Monnie

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    Linda1's Avatar
    Linda1 is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Lesson For Assignment #2 - Composition

    Are we to use our labs as subjects or can the picture be of anything? Indoor or outdoor?

    Brookville, Pa.

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    Buddysmom's Avatar
    Buddysmom is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Lesson For Assignment #2 - Composition

    I personally don't care if you use something other than your Labs. I'll leave that up to each of you. You can take the pictures wherever you want. No post processing please. I would rather you didn't use flash. I'm not as concerned about exposure this week as I am composition. Sometimes it's hard working on more than one thing at a time. Let's master each aspect then go to another. The first lesson was just to see where everyone was at. Now we'll break the lessons down into smaller pieces and learn to take well exposed and properly focus pictures with great composition. It's hard to learn everything at once. We won't leave anything out. Just be patient and we'll get to it all.
    This was more than you asked, but just thought I'd throw it out anyway.


    Eiderdowns That's My Buddy
    CDX, RE, WC, CGC, TDInc.
    Monnie

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    chocco_23 Guest

    DefaultRe: Lesson For Assignment #2 - Composition

    So to sum it up, is compostiton basically focussing on where your subject is and making sure the subject isn't in the centre as it is best to the sides.

    Sorry, I need to be sure, that lesson was a lot to take in.

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    Buddysmom's Avatar
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    DefaultRe: Lesson For Assignment #2 - Composition

    Quote Originally Posted by chocco_23
    So to sum it up, is compostiton basically focussing on where your subject is
    This is a little too simplistic of an answer. Composition is everything in your picture that makes up the whole, and how it's arranged to make a pleasing picture.

    and making sure the subject isn't in the centre as it is best to the sides.
    Again, a little too simplistic. It's knowing how place a subject to its best advantage.

    Try looking at pictures in magazines or books and trying to figure out what you like and don't like about them and why. Composition isn't as easy to learn as you might think.


    Eiderdowns That's My Buddy
    CDX, RE, WC, CGC, TDInc.
    Monnie

  8. #6
    chocco_23 Guest

    DefaultRe: Lesson For Assignment #2 - Composition

    I know my 'summing' up maybe a little simplistic and i realise there is more to it than what i said, but i was just trying to get an overall idea about what i was meant to do.

    Thanks for your time in answering my questions.

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    Buddysmom's Avatar
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    DefaultRe: Lesson For Assignment #2 - Composition

    Hope you didn't think I was blowing you off. I just hate to say, "Ya, that what it is." When there really is so much more to it. For now, that's a starting place. As you begin to learn and use the "rules", you'll develop a style of your own that you like.


    Eiderdowns That's My Buddy
    CDX, RE, WC, CGC, TDInc.
    Monnie

  10. #8
    chocco_23 Guest

    DefaultRe: Lesson For Assignment #2 - Composition

    I didn't think you were blowing me off at all

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    MyLabsMom is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Lesson For Assignment #2 - Composition

    I'm feeling a little lost on this one.
    Brenda from Connecticut

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    Buddysmom's Avatar
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    DefaultRe: Lesson For Assignment #2 - Composition

    That's what this is for. It is overwhelming. I'll help if I can. Just post your questions or problems or you can PM me if you would rather. I'll help you out.


    Eiderdowns That's My Buddy
    CDX, RE, WC, CGC, TDInc.
    Monnie

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