Composition - Making Your Subject Stand Out

February 18, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Light is a very important component of good composition. The first thing you need to know is where is the light coming from and what direction is it falling on your subject. Most of the time when the light is coming from the front and at a 45 degree angle your subject will look its best. 

Make sure you do not place light shining directly into the face of your subject. This will cause harsh shadows. If light is behind your subject it will create a silhouette, which can be very pleasing depending on the look you are going for.

Once you understand how light will affect your subject you then need to find the best area in the frame to place your subject. Centering a subject in a frame is not something you want to do - most of the time. There are rare instances where centering your subject works, but generally you want to avoid centering your subject in the frame. When you watch TV notice how the subject is usually in 1/3 of the frame. This off center placement makes it visually interesting. TV shows do it all the time. It's called the "rule of thirds."

Rule of ThirdsRule of ThirdsRule of Thirds Look at the illustration above. It is divided into thirds. The red circles indicate where the intersection of the thirds meet. It is within this area that your subject will be well placed for viewing. The area within the red circles are called the "sweet spots" when it comes to composition. Here is an example of a photograph using the rule of thirds.

Rule of ThirdsRule of ThirdsRule of Thirds Notice how the dog is placed in the bottom 2/3 of the frame and the head is placed at the intersection of first and second third of the frame. The eye is placed directly in the "sweet spot." This creates visual interest. 

While the "rule of thirds" is not a hard and fast rule, it does work most of the time.


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