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Photography & Photography Editing

Photography & Photography Editing

1st step tell about how to catcher photo from camera.

Before you start the photography one thing notice that you have a good quality camera which make your photo good work.



Read the camera’s manual. Learn what each control, switch, button, and menu item does. Learn the basic actions, such as using the flash (on, off, and auto), zooming in and out, and using the shutter button. Some cameras come with a printed beginner’s manual but also offer a free larger manual on the manufacturer’s website.



Set the camera’s resolution to take high quality photos at the highest resolution possible. Low-resolution images are more difficult to alter later; it also means that you cannot crop as enthusiastically as you could with a higher-resolution version (and still end with something printable). Upgrade to a bigger memory card. If you don’t want to or can’t afford to buy a new one, then use the “fine” quality setting, if your camera has one, with a smaller resolution.



Start with setting your camera to one of its automatic modes, if you have a choice. Most useful is “Program” or “P” mode on digital SLRs. Ignore advice to the contrary which suggests that you operate your camera fully manually; the advances in the last fifty years in automatic focusing and metering have not happened for nothing. If your photos come out poorly focused or poorly exposed, then start operating certain functions manually.



Take your camera everywhere. When the camera is in your possession, you will start to see the world differently; you will look for and find opportunities to take great photographs. Because of this, you will end taking more photographs; and the more you take, the better a photographer you will become. [1] Furthermore, if you’re taking photographs of your friends and family, they will get used to you having your camera with you all the time. Thus, they will feel less awkward or intimidated when you get your camera out; this will lead to more natural-looking, less “posed” photographs.

Remember to bring spare batteries or charge it if you are using a digital camera.



Go outside. Motivate yourself to get out and take photographs in natural light. Take several normal ‘point and shoot’ pictures to get a feel for the lighting at different times of the day and night. Go outside, especially when most people are eating, watching television, or sleeping. Lighting is often dramatic and unusual to many people precisely because they never get to see it!



Keep the lens clear of caps, thumbs, straps and other obstructions. It is basic, yes, but any of these (often unnoticed) obstructions can ruin a photograph. This is less of a problem with modern live-preview digital cameras, and even less of a problem with an SLR camera. However, people still make these mistakes, especially when in a rush to take the image.



Set your white balance. Put simply, the human eye automatically compensates for different kinds of lighting; white looks white to us in almost any lighting. A digital camera compensates for this by shifting the colors certain ways.

For example, under tungsten (incandescent) lighting, it will shift the colors towards blue to compensate for the redness of this lighting. The white balance is one of the most critical and underused settings on modern cameras. Learn how to set it, and what the various settings mean. If you are not under artificial light, the “Shade” (or “Cloudy”) setting is a good bet in most circumstances; it makes for very warm-looking colors. If it comes out too red, it’s very easy to correct it in software later on. “Auto”, the default for most cameras, sometimes does a good job, but also sometimes results in colors which are a little too cold.[2]



Set a slower ISO speed, if circumstances permit. This is less of an issue with digital SLR cameras, but especially important for point-and-shoot digital cameras (which, usually, have tiny sensors which are more prone to noise). A slower ISO speed (lower number) makes for less noisy photographs; however, it forces you to use slower shutter speeds as well, which restricts your ability to photograph moving subjects, for example. For still subjects in good light (or still subjects in low light, too, if you’re using a tripod and remote release), use the slowest ISO speed that you have.



Compose your shot thoughtfully. Frame the photo in your mind before framing it in the viewfinder. Consider the following rules, but especially the last one:

  • Use the Rule of Thirds, where the primary points of interest in your scene sits along “third” lines. Try not to let any horizon or other lines “cut the picture in half.”[3]
  • Get rid of distracting backgrounds and clutter. Move positions to avoid trees looking like they are growing out of heads, when they are in the background. Change angles to avoid window glares from across the street. If you are taking vacation photographs, take a moment to get your family to put down all the junk they may be carrying around with them and to remove backpacks or hip packs as well. Keep that mess well out of the frame of the picture, and you will end with much nicer, less cluttered photos. If you can blur the background in a portrait, then do so. And so on.


Ignore the advice above. Regard the above as laws, which work much of the time but are always subject to judicious interpretation — and not as absolute rules. Too close an adherence to them will lead to boring photographs. For example, clutter and sharply focused backgrounds can add context, contrast, and color; perfect symmetry in a shot can be dramatic, and so on. Every rule can and should be broken for artistic effect at times. This is how many stunning photographs are made.



Fill the frame with your subject. Do not be afraid to get closer to your subject. On the other hand, if you are using a digital camera with plenty of megapixels to spare, you can crop it later in software.



Try an interesting angle. Instead of shooting the object straight on, try looking down to the object, or crouching and looking up. Pick an angle that shows maximum color and minimum shadow. To make objects appear longer or taller, a low angle can help. You may also want to make the object look smaller or make it look like you’re hovering over; to get the effect you should put the camera above the object. An uncommon angle makes for a more interesting shot.



Focus. Poor focusing is one of the most common ways that photographs are ruined.[4] Use the automatic focus of your camera, if you have it; usually, this is done by half-pressing the shutter button. Use the “macro” mode of your camera for close-up shots. Don’t focus manually unless your auto-focus is having issues; as with metering, automatic focus usually does a far better job of focusing than you can.



Balance in ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. ISO is how sensitive your camera is to light, shutter speed is how long it takes for your camera to take a picture (which in turn alters the amount of light coming in), and aperture is how dilated the lens of your camera is. Not all cameras have this, mostly only digital photography cameras. By balancing these and keeping them as close to the middle as possible, you can avoid the noise caused by high ISO, the blurriness caused by low shutter speed, and the depth of field side effects caused by low aperture. Depending on how your picture should be, you should change these settings accordingly to keep light at a good level but still have the effects you want on your picture. For example, say you are taking a picture of a cool bird coming out of the water. You will need a high shutter speed to get it in focus, but you will also need a low aperture or high ISO to compensate for the lighting. A high ISO will make it look grainy, but a low aperture is perfect because it also creates a cool blurry background effect that draws attention to the bird. By balancing these elements, you can make the best image possible.



Keep still. Many people are surprised at how blurry their pictures come out when going for a close-up, or taking the shot from a distance. To minimize blurring: If you’re using a full-sized camera with a zoom lens, hold the camera body (finger on the shutter button) with one hand, and steady the lens by cupping your other hand under it. Keep your elbows close to your body, and use this position to brace yourself firmly. If your camera or lens has image stabilisation features, use them (this is called IS on Canon gear, and VR, for Vibration Reduction, on Nikon equipment).



Consider using a tripod. If your hands are naturally shaky, or if you’re using large (and slow) telephoto lenses, or if you’re trying to take photographs in low light, or if you need to take several identical shots in a row (such as with HDR photography), or if you’re taking panoramic photos, then using a tripod is a good idea. For long exposures (more than a second or so), a cable release (for older film cameras) or a remote control is a good idea; you can use the self-timer feature of your camera if you don’t have one of these.



Consider not using a tripod, especially if you do not already have one. A tripod infringes on your ability to move around, and to change the framing of your shot rapidly. It is also more weight to carry around, which is a disincentive to getting out and taking photographs.

For shutter speed and the difference between fast and slow shutter speeds, you only need a tripod if your shutter speed is equal to or slower than the reciprocal of your focal length.[5]. For example, if you have a 300mm lens, then you want a shutter speed faster than 1/300th of a second. If you can avoid using a tripod by using faster ISO speeds (and, consequently, faster shutter speeds), or by using image stabilization features of your camera, or by simply moving to somewhere with better lighting, then do that.



If you are in a situation where it would be nice to use a tripod, but you don’t have a tripod at the time, try one or more of the following to reduce camera shake:

Turn on image stabilization on your camera (only some digital cameras have this) or lens (generally only some expensive lenses have this).


Zoom out (or substitute a wider lens) and get closer. This will de-magnify the effect of a small change towards the camera, and increase your maximum aperture for a shorter exposure.


Hold the camera at two points away from its center, such as the handle near the shutter button and the opposite corner, or toward the end of the lens. (Do not hold a delicate collapsible lens such as on a point-and-shoot, or obstruct something the camera will try to move on its own such as a focusing ring, or obstruct the view from the front of the lens.) This will decrease the angle, which the camera moves for a given distance your hands wobble.


Squeeze the shutter slowly, steadily, and gently, and do not stop until shortly after the picture has taken. Place your index finger over the top of the camera. Squeeze the shutter button with the second joint of the finger for a steadier motion; you are pushing on the top of the camera all along.


Brace the camera against something (or your hand against something if you are concerned about scratching it), and/or brace your arms against your body or sit down and brace them against your knees.


Prop the camera on something (perhaps its bag or its strap) and use the self-timer to avoid shake from pushing on the button if the item is propped on is soft. This often involves a small chance the camera will fall, so check that it does not have a far drop. Avoid it with an expensive camera or one with accessories such as a flash that could break or rip off parts of the camera. If you anticipate doing this much, you could bring along a beanbag, which would work well for it.

Purpose-built “beanbags” are available, bags of dried beans are cheap, and the contents can be eaten when they begin to wear through or are upgraded.



Relax when you push the shutter button. Also, try not to hold the camera up for too long; this will cause your hands and arms to be shakier. Practice bringing the camera up to your eye, focusing and metering, and taking the shot in one swift, smooth action.



Avoid red eye. Red-eye is caused when your eyes dilate in lower lighting. When your pupils are big, the flash lights the blood vessels on the back wall of your eyeball, which is why it looks red. If you must use a flash in poor light, try to get the person to not look directly at the camera, or consider using a “bounce flash”. Aiming your flash above the heads of your subjects, especially if the walls surrounding are light, will keep red-eye out. If you don’t have a separate flash gun which is adjustable in this way, use the red-eye reduction feature of your camera if available. The red-eye reduction feature flashes a couple of times before opening the shutter, which causes your subject’s pupils to contract, thus minimizing red-eye. Better yet, do not take photographs which require a flash to be used; find somewhere with better lighting.



Use your flash judiciously, and do not use it when you don’t have to. A flash in poor light can often cause ugly-looking reflections, or make the subject of your photo appear “washed out”; the latter is especially true of people photos. On the other hand, a flash is useful for filling in shadows; to eliminate the “raccoon eye” effect in bright midday light, for example (if you have a flash sync speed[6] fast enough). If you can avoid using a flash by going outside, or steadying the camera (allowing you to use a slower shutter speed without blur), or setting a faster ISO speed (allowing faster shutter speeds), then do that.


If you do not intend the flash to be the primary light source in the picture, set it up to give correct exposure at an aperture a stop or so wider than that which is otherwise correct and which you use for the exposure (which depends on the ambient light intensity and the shutter speed, which cannot be above the flash-sync speed). This can be done by choosing a specific stop with a manual or thruster flash, or by using “flash exposure compensation” with a fancy modern camera.



Go through your photos and look for the best ones. Look for what makes the best photos and continue using the methods that got the best shots. Don’t be afraid to throw away or delete photos, either. Be brutal about it; if it doesn’t strike you as a pleasing shot, and then ditch it. If you, like most people, are shooting on a digital camera, then it would not have cost you anything but your time. Before you delete them, remember you can learn a lot from your worst photos; discover why they don’t look good, and then don’t do that.



Practice, practice, and practice. Take many photos — aim to fill your memory card or to use up as much film as you can afford to have developed. Avoid messing with film until you can get decent pictures often with a simple digital camera. Until then, you need to make many glaring mistakes to learn from them. It is convenient to make them free and find out immediately, when you can figure out exactly what you did and why under the current circumstances it is wrong). The more pictures you take, the better you will get, and the more you (and everyone) will like your pictures.


Shoot from new or different angles, and find new subjects to take pictures of, and keep at it. You can make even the most boring, everyday thing look amazing if you’re creative enough about photographing it.


Get to know your camera’s limitations, too; how well it performs in different kinds of lighting, how well auto-focus performs at various distances, how well it handles moving subjects, and so on.


Write a statement of purpose about focused topic.

(I focused this topic in professional level to learn about photography and take some tips or main steps).



















Here More Information about Photography & Photography Editing.


Today, photography is characterized by a rapid growth in the development of technology and ideas. Each year, millions of pictures are taken and an astonishing array of new films, cameras and imaging systems enter the market. One of the great attractions of the photography field is the ease with which basic skills can be learned.

Unlike some of the older arts that take years of training to produce an acceptable product, anyone can quickly learn how to take a picture; however, photographic techniques must be mastered before you can become an accomplished photographer; therefore, mastery of the basic fundamentals is the foundation upon which you will build your photographic and professional skills as a Navy Photographer’s Mate. The photographic techniques presented in this chapter are essential in producing quality photographs, and you can apply each of these fundamentals, to some extent, each time you take a picture.


Photographic composition is the pleasing arrangement of subject matter elements within thepicture area. Creative photography depends foremost on the photographer’s ability to see as the camera sees because a photograph does not reproduce a scene quite the way we see it. The camera sees and records only a small isolated part of the larger scene, reduces it to only two dimensions, frames it, and freezes it. It does not discriminate as we do. When we look at a scene we selectively see only the important elements and more or less ignore the rest. A camera, on the other hand, sees all the details within the field of view. This is the reason some of our pictures are often disappointing. Backgrounds may be cluttered with objects we do not remember, our subjects are smaller in the frame or less striking than we recall, or the entire scene may lack significance and life.

Good pictures are seldom created by chance. To make the most of any subject, you must understand the basic principles of composition. The way you arrange the elements of a scene within a picture, catch the viewer’s attention, please the eye, or make a clear statement are all qualities of good composition. By developing photographic composition skills, you can produce photographs that suggest movement, life, depth, shape, and form, recreating the impact of the original scene.

How are photographic composition skills developed? You look, you study, you practice. Every time you take a picture, look all around within the viewfinder. Consider the way each element will be recorded and how it relates to the overall composition. You must become thoroughly familiar with the camera and learn how the operation of each control alters the image. Experiment with the camera and look at the results carefully to see if they meet your expectations. With experience and knowledge of your equipment, you begin to “think through your camera” so you are free to concentrate on composition. Devote serious study to the principles of good composition. Study books and magazine articles on composition. You should analyze various media: motion pictures, TV, magazines, books and newspapers, and evaluate what you see. What is good about this picture or that TV image? What is bad about it? What principles of good composition could you apply in a different way to make the picture better.

Good or correct composition is impossible to define precisely. There are no hard-and-fast rules to follow that ensure good composition in every photograph. There are only the principles and elements that provide a means of achieving pleasing composition when applied properly. Some of these principles and elements are as follows:

  • Center of interest
  • Subject placement
  • Simplicity
  • Viewpoint and camera angle
  • Balance
  • Shapes and lines
  • Pattern
  • Volume
  • Lighting
  • Texture
  • Tone
  • Contrast
  • Framing
  • Foreground
  • Background
  • Perspective

As you study these principles of composition, you should soon come to a realization that some are very similar and overlap one another a great deal.

Because all or most of these principles must be considered and applied each time you take a picture, it may all seem quite confusing at first. With experience you can develop a sense of composition, and your consideration and application of the principles will become almost second nature. This is not to suggest that you can allow yourself to become complacent or careless in the application of the principles of composition. Doing so will be immediately obvious because the results you produce will be snapshots, not professional photographs.

The principles of composition that follow apply equally to both still and motion media photography.


Each picture should have only one principal idea, topic, or center of interest to which the viewer’s eyes are attracted. Subordinate elements within the picture must support and focus attention on the principal feature so it alone is emphasized.

A picture without a dominant center of interest or one with more than one dominant center of interest is puzzling to a viewer. Subsequently, the viewer becomes confused and wonders what the picture is all about. When the picture has one, and only one, dominant “point of interest,” the viewer quickly understands the picture.


“Point of interest,” as used here, has the same meaning as center of interest; however, using the term point of interest prevents giving the impression that the center of interest should be located in the center of the picture.

The specific topic, idea, or object to be portrayed must be set in your mind as you prepare to take a picture. When there is nothing in the picture to attract attention to a particular area or object, the eyes wander throughout the scene. The center of interest may be a single object or numerous ones arranged so attention is directed to one definite area

When the center of interest is a single object that fills most of the picture area or one that stands out boldly, such as a white sail against a background of dark water, attention is attracted immediately to it. As may be expected, not all subjects are as simple to arrange or as bold and impressive.

A photographer usually has at his or her disposal many factors or elements that can be used and arranged within the picture area to draw or direct attention to the primary idea of the picture. Some of these elements are lines, shapes, human figures, tone, and texture.

Human figures attract attention more strongly than almost any other subject matter and unless they are the main object of the photograph should probably be kept out of the picture; for instance, a photograph showing a person standing at some distance in front of a building may leave the observer wondering whether the person or the building is the primary subject. When people are included in a scene for comparative size of objects or just for atmosphere, keep them from looking directly at the camera. When people look at the camera and therefore at the viewer of the picture, the viewer tends to return their gaze by looking directly back into their eyes. When they are not the intended point of interest, we miss the statement and purpose of the picture. When people are subordinate elements within the picture and they are looking in a direction other than at the camera, the viewer’s attention is directed from the people to what they are looking at, which should be the center of interest; for example, when people are grouped around a piece of machinery that is the center of interest of the picture, have them look at the machine, rather than the camera.


SUBJECT PLACEMENTSometimes good composition is obtained by placing the center of interest in the geometrical center of the picture; it is generally not a good idea to place it there. Too frequently it divides the picture into equal halves and makes the picture uninteresting and difficult to balance. By dividing the picture area into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, and locating the center of interest at one of the intersections of the imaginary lines, you can usually create a feeling of balance to the composition (fig. 5-5).
In photographic composition there are two general guides for determining the best location for the center of interest. The first is the principle of thirds. The other is dynamic symmetry. In the principle of thirds, the intersection of lines that divide the picture area into thirds are marked by O’s. These intersections are good locations for the center of interest in most photographs. Notice we said THE center of interest. Remember, have only one center of interest to a picture-keep it simple. The principle of dynamic symmetry is a similar idea. A good location for the center of interest is found by drawing or imagining a diagonal line from one corner to an opposite corner. Then, draw a second line perpendicular to the first from a third corner (fig. 5-6). The intersections of the lines are the location for the center of interest.



Simplicity is the key to most good pictures. The simpler and more direct a picture is, the clearer and stronger is the resulting statement. There are several things to be considered when we discuss simplicity. First, select a subject that lends itself to a simple arrangement; for example, instead of photographing an entire area that would confuse the viewer, frame in on some important element within the area. Second, select different viewpoints or camera angles. Move around the scene or object being photographed. View the scene through the camera viewfinder. Look at the foreground and background. Try high and low angles as well as normal eye-level viewpoints. Evaluate each view and angle. Only after considering all possibilities should you take the picture. See beyond and in front of your subject. Be sure there is nothing in the background to distract the viewer’s attention from the main point of the picture. Likewise, check to see there is nothing objection in the foreground to block the entrance of the human eye into the picture.

A last point of simplicity-tell only one story. Ensure there is only enough material in the picture to convey one single idea. Although each picture is composed of numerous small parts and contributing elements, none should attract more of the viewer’s attention than the primary object of the picture. The primary object is the reason the picture is being made in the first place; therefore, all other elements should merely support and emphasize the main object. Do not allow the scene to be cluttered with confusing elements and lines that detract from the primary point of the picture. Select a viewpoint that eliminates distractions so the principal subject is readily recognized. When numerous lines or shapes are competing for interest with the subject, it is difficult to recognize the primary object or determine why the picture was made.


The proper viewpoint or camera angle is an important factor in good composition. Repositioning your subject within the viewfinder frame and changing the camera viewpoint or camera angle are two simple ways of controlling composition.

Photographing from a different viewpoint or camera angle can often add drama and excitement or even bring out an unusual aspect of a subject. Most of the subjects you photograph are three-dimensional and should be photographed from an angle (to the right or left of and/or from higher or lower than the subject) that allows the viewer to see more than one side of the subject. The photographer should study the subject from different sides and angles. Walk around the subject and look at it from all viewpoints. See it from elevated and low positions as well as from eye level to find the best composition. This greatly assists in composing the subject for the best balance and helps to select a background that compliments, not distracts from the subject.

The terms viewpoint and camera angle are often used in conjunction with one another and sometimes used interchangeably. They can also have different meanings depending on how they are applied. Viewpoint” is the camera position in relationship to the subject. “Camera angle” is the angle in which the camera lens is tilted; for example, a picture of sailors marching, made from ground level with the camera held horizontal with reference to the ground, may be referred to as a “low viewpoint” (or camera position); however, when this picture is made, again from ground level, but with the camera pointed up, it may be referred to as a “low camera angle.” Likewise, a picture made from an elevated or high position, with the camera again held horizontal with reference to the ground, or even pointed straight down, can be referred to as a “high viewpoint”; however, if the camera is not held horizontal to the ground or pointed straight down, but pointed at some angle between horizontal and vertical, the camera position could be referred to as a “high camera angle.”

Eye-Level Shots

With the camera held horizontal, eye-level shots are usually made at a height of about 5 1/2 feet, the height from which the average adult sees, and with the camera horizontal. With the camera held at eye level but pointed up or down, the camera position changes and you have either a low or high camera angle, respectively.

Low Viewpoint and Low Camera AngleLow viewpoints and low camera angles can add emphasis and interest to many ordinary photographs. A low viewpoint can be used to distort scale or add strength to a picture or to emphasize certain elements within the picture. A low camera angle is achieved when the camera angle is located below the point of primary interest and pointed upward. Low angles tend to lend strength and dominance to a subject and dramatize the subject. Low angle shots are used when dramatic impact is desired. This type of shot is very useful for separating the subject from the background, for eliminating unwanted foreground and background, and for creating the illusion of greater size and speed (fig. 5-7).
High Viewpoint and High Camera AngleHigh viewpoints and high camera angles help orient the viewer, because they show relationships among all elements within the picture area and produce a psychological effect by minimizing the apparent strength or size of the subject (fig. 5-8).



Balance in photographic composition is a matter of making pictures look harmonious. Each element in a picture has a certain amount of value in respect to all the other elements. Every tone, mass, shape, tree, rock figure, building, line, or shadow contributes a certain amount of weight that must be arranged correctly in the composition to give the impression of balance. The subject placement within the picture area is the factor that must be carefully considered.

Composition is kept in balance by two different methods: symmetrical, or formal, balance and asymmetrical, or informal, balance.

Symmetrical, or Formal, BalanceSymmetrical, or formal, balance in a photograph is achieved when elements on both sides of the picture are of equal weight (fig. 5-9A). The idea of formal balance can be related to a seesaw, When there are two equally weighted objects on the seesaw and they are equidistant from the pivot point, or fulcrum, the board will be in balance.Pictures with formal balance may look static and unexciting; however, they do present an air of dignity. Formal balance does not always mean a picture has to the seesaw in perspective. The forces or weights are be symmetrical. Symmetrical pictures, in which both presumed to be approximately equal; but, the imaginary sides are exactly the same, are produced only when you pivot point is set deep into the picture space. With this want a special effect; therefore, they are not often variation to symmetrical balance, a more interesting produced. A variation of symmetrical balance deals with photograph is usually created (fig. 5-9B).

Asymmetrical, or Informal, Balance

Asymmetrical, or informal, balance is usually much more interesting than symmetrical balance. In asymmetrical balance the imaginary central pivot point is still presumed to be present; however, instead of mirror images on each side of the picture area, the subject elements are notably different in size, shape, weight, tone, and placement. Balance is established by equalizing the element forces in spite of their differences.

Asymmetrical balance is introduced when the presumed weight of two or more lighter objects is equalized by a single heavier object placed on the other side of the imaginary pivot point (fig. 5-10). Asymmetrical balance is more difficult to achieve than symmetrical balance, because of the problem of establishing relative weight values for dissimilar elements within the picture area as well as presenting some form of stability.


Aspects of Balance

There are many other factors to consider in order making pictures appear balanced. Some of these are as follows:

  • An object far from the center of the picture seems to have more weight than one near the center.
  • Objects in the upperparts of a picture seem heavier than objects of the same size in the lower part of a picture.
  • Isolation seems to increase the weight of an object.
  • Intensely interesting objects seem to have more compositional weight.
  • Regular shapes seem to have more weight than irregular shapes.
  • Elements on the right side of an asymmetrical picture appear to have more weight than elements of the same size on the left side of the picture.
  • The directions in which figures, lines, and shapes appear to be moving within the picture area are important to balance; for example, a person may be walking in a direction, or his eyes may be looking in a direction, or the shape of some element creates a feeling of movement. When the feeling of direction is present within a scene, it tends to upset the balance if judged on the size of the subject alone.

Understanding the factors required to create pictorial balance is essential for you to produce good pictures. To gain this understanding, you can continually test your feelings for balance as you look through your camera viewfinder. Once you gain an understanding of the



Shapes and lines are important elements in photographic composition. When properly used, shapes and lines can create a desired effect. As a photographer, you usually have control over the way shapes and lines are used in your pictures.ShapeShape is a two-dimensional element basic to picture composition and is usually the first means by which a viewer identifies an object within the picture. Form is the three-dimensional equivalent of shape. Even though shape is only two-dimensional, with the proper application of lighting and tonal range, you can bring out form and give your subjects a three-dimensional quality. Lighting can also subdue or even destroy form by causing dark shadows that may cause several shapes to merge into one.Shapes can be made more dominant by placing them against plain contrasting backgrounds; for example, consider again the white sail against the dark water background. The greatest emphasis of shape is achieved when the shape is silhouetted (fig. 5-11), thus eliminating other qualities of the shape, such as texture and roundness, or the illusion of the third dimension.
LinesLines can be effective elements of composition, because they give structure to your photographs. Lines can unify composition by directing the viewer’s eyes and attention to the main point of the picture or lead the eyes from one part of the picture to another. They can lead the eyes to infinity, divide the picture, and create patterns. Through linear perspective, lines can lend a sense of depth to a photograph. (Linear perspective causes receding parallel lines to appear to converge in the picture. This allows you to create an illusion of depth in your pictures.)The viewer’s eyes tend to follow lines into the picture (or out of the picture) regardless of whether they are simple linear elements such as fences, roads, and a row of phone poles, or more complex line elements, such as curves, shapes, tones, and colors. Lines that lead the eye or direct attention are referred to as leading lines. A good leading line is one that starts near the bottom corner of the scene and continues unbroken until it reaches the point of interest (fig. 5-12). It should end at this point; otherwise, attention is carried beyond the primary subject of the photograph. The apparent direction of lines can often be changed by simply changing viewpoint or camera angle.Vertical, diagonal, horizontal, and curved lines create different moods. Vertical lines communicate a sense of strength, rigidity, power, and solidarity to the viewer. On the other hand, horizontal lines represent peace, tranquillity, and quietness. A generally accepted practice is to use a vertical format for pictures having predominantly vertical lines and horizontal format for pictures having predominantly horizontal lines. Again, this is a generally accepted practice, NOT a rule.
Diagonal lines represent movement, action, and speed. A picture with diagonal lines conveys a feeling of dynamic action even when the subject is static (fig. 5-13). Curved lines present a sense of grace, smoothness, and dignity to a photograph (fig. 5-14). The most common curved line is the S curve.[Click here to see Figure 5-14]Lines are not only present in the shape of things but can be created by arranging several elements within the picture area so they form lines by their relationship with one another.





Creating your pictures around repeating elements or patterns provides picture unity and structure. Pattern repetition creates rhythm that the eyes enjoy following (fig. 5-15). When lines, shapes, and colors within a picture occur in an orderly way (as in wallpaper), they create patterns that often enhance the attractiveness of photographs. Pattern, like texture, is found almost everywhere. It can be used as the primary subject but is most often used as a subordinate element to enhance composition. When pattern is used as a supporting element, it must be used carefully so it does not confuse or overwhelm the viewer. Pictures that are purely pattern are seldom used, because they tend to be monotonous. Patterns should be used to strengthen and add interest to your subject.

Shape is the most common and powerful pattern element. Repeated lines, tone, and color can also provide unity to your composition and combinations of these create interesting pictures. Triangles, squares, and circles are the basic shapes to look for in a pattern. Triangles and squares are usually static but can be placed to create a tension-filled, dynamic effect. Circles and curves are pleasing pattern shapes.


When photographing most subjects, you face the problem of how to symbolize three-dimensional objects in a two-dimensional picture. The solution becomes simple when a distinction is made between the two different ways three-dimensional objects appear: as positive, or occupied space (volume) or as negative, or unoccupied space.

unit placed at the camera, you only symbolize empty or negative space; however, a sense of depth is provided because of increasing darkness toward the back of the shop. Occupied or positive space (the machines) is If you make a picture to show the entire machine front-lighted and appears shadowless and flat. On the shop aboard a repair ship using only one powerful flash other hand, if you use a series of lights along the sides of the machine shop to sidelight the machines, shadows are cast at their sides and occupied or positive space appears three-dimensional; however, since all the machines, both near and far, are now lighted the same, you do not create a sense of depth, and empty or negative space appears flat. For the best picture of the machine shop, you should light the machines in a way that the three-dimensional form is represented, while creating a sense of depth by reducing the intensity of illumination toward the back of the shop.


Lighting is also an important creative element of composition. By controlling the light and directing it where you want it, you can subdue objects or distracting elements in the scene to give more emphasis to the main point of interest.

For good picture composition, you must develop an awareness of how changes in lighting can affect the appearance of things around you. Light and shadows can be used in composition to create mood, to draw attention to an area, to modify or distort shape, or to bring out form and texture in the subject.

Shadows are a key to apparent form in photographs. Without shadows, the subject records without form, curvature, or texture, is appearing flat and lifeless. This does not mean that shadows must be harsh and black to achieve the effects of form, curvature, and texture. They may be soft, yet of sufficient density to show the most delicate roundness and form. Generally, harsh, black shadows are undesirable in a photograph due to the loss of detail in them. From a compositional standpoint, black shadows can be very useful in balancing a scene and directing attention to the point of interest. Harsh shadows can also be excellent for emphasizing texture and form, for creating interesting patterns, and for directing attention to the main point of interest; however, the same elements can also obscure detail and reduce form. When the lighting is harsh, such as on a clear, sunny day, shadows have sharply defined edges and are probably very dark, sometimes to the point that they appear stronger than the primary subject and attract attention to themselves.


Texture helps to emphasize the features and details in a photograph. By capturing “texture” of objects being photographed, you can create form.

When people observe a soft, furry object or a smooth, shining surface, they have a strong urge to touch it. You can provide much of the pleasure people get from the feel of touching such objects by rendering texture in your pictures. Texture can be used to give realism and character to a picture and may in itself be the subject of a photograph. When texture is used as a subordinate element within the picture, it lends strength to the main idea in the photograph. It usually takes just a little different lighting or a slight change in camera position to improve the rendering of texture in a picture. When an area in a photograph shows rich texture, the textured area usually creates a form or shape; therefore, it should be considered in planning the photograph (fig. 5-16).


Tone is probably the most intangible element of composition. Tone may consist of shadings from white-to-gray-to-black, or it may consist of darks against lights with little or no grays. The use of dark areas against light areas is a common method of adding the feeling of a third dimension to a two-dimensional black-and-white picture. The interaction of light against dark shades in varying degrees helps to set the mood of a composition. A picture consisting of dark or somber shades conveys mystery, intrigue, or sadness. When the tones are mostly light and airy, the picture portrays lightness, joy, or airiness.




Contrast in photographic composition is an effective means of directing the viewer’s attention to the center of interest. Positioning of subject elements to create contrast gives them added emphasis and directs the viewer’s attention.

When we speak of contrast as it relates to composition, we are referring to both tonal contrast, as in black-and-white photography, and color contrast as it relates to color photography. In black-and-white photography, contrast is the difference in subject tones from white-to-gray-to-black or from the lightest tone to the darkest tone. In color photography different colors create contrast.

Tonal Contrast

In black-and-white photography, contrast is considered high, normal, or low. A high-contrast scene or photograph consists primarily of white and black with few or no middle gray tones. A black sailor in a white uniform against a light background is an example of a high-contrast (contrasts) scene. Most scenes you photograph have normal contrast. There will probably be elements within the scene that are very light or white, some that are very dark or black, and many tones or colors that reproduce as various tones of gray.

A low-contrast (flat) scene has colors or tones in which highlights and shadows have very little difference in densities. In other words, all colors or tones within the scene are very similar in appearance. A white sailor in a white uniform against a light background is an example of a scene with low contrast.

In black-and-white photography, high contrast conveys a sense of hardness and is characteristic of strength and power. Low contrast conveys a sense of softness and is characteristic of gentleness and mildness.

Color Contrast

Color contrast is an effective compositional element in color photography, just as tone is in black-and-white photography. Colors with opposite characteristics contrast strongly when placed together. Each color accentuates the qualities of the other and makes the color images stand out dramatically. Color contrast is enhanced when you create the contrast of detail against mass. An example is a single, bright, red flower in a clear, glass vase photographed against a bright, green background.

Cold colors (bluish) and warm colors (reddish) almost always contrast. Cold colors recede, while warm colors advance. Light colors contrast against dark ones, and a bold color offsets a weak color.

LOW- AND HIGH-KEY SCENES.–When a scene contains mostly dark tones or colors, it is low key (fig. 5-17). When the scene contains mostly light tones, it is high key (fig. 5-18). Low-key and high-key pictures convey mood and atmosphere. Low key often suggests seriousness and mystery and is often used in horror pictures, such as a dark-granite castle in a thunderstorm. High key creates a feeling of delicacy and lightness. A photograph of a fair-skinned, blond-haired mother dressed in a white gown against a light background nursing her baby is a good subject for a high-key picture.


.–High-key color pictures contain large areas of light desiderated colors (pastels) with very few middle colors or shadows. Intentionally overexposing color film (exposing for the shadows) helps to create a high-key effect.

A low-key effect is created when the scene is dominated by shadows and weak lighting. Low-key pictures tend to have large areas of shadow, few highlights, and degraded colors. Naturally dark subjects are best for low-key pictures. Low-key color pictures can be induced by exposing color film for the highlights.


Framing is another technique photographers use to direct the viewer’s attention to the primary subject of a picture. Positioned around the subject, a tree, an archway, or even people, for example, can create a frame within the picture area. Subjects enclosed by a frame become separated from the rest of the picture and are emphasized. Looking across a broad expanse of land or water at some object can make a rather dull uninteresting view. Moving back a few feet and framing the object between trees improves the composition.

An element used as a frame should not draw attention to itself. Ideally, the frame should relate to the theme of the picture; for example, a line of aircraft parked on the flight line framed by the wing and prop of another aircraft.

Not only is framing an effective means of directing the viewer’s attention, it can also be used to obscure undesirable foregrounds and backgrounds. The illusion of depth can be created in a picture by the effective use of framing (fig. 5-19).


A large percentage of otherwise good pictures is ruined, because they include unnecessary or distracting foreground. This common fault can result from the photographer standing too far away from their subject when they take a picture, or the fact that normal focal length or standard lenses cover a relatively wide angle of view.

Undesirable foreground can be eliminated by moving in closer to the subject, by making pictures with a longer than standard focal-length lens, or by changing viewpoint or camera angle. Many already existing pictures can be improved by enlarging only a section of the negative and by cropping out meaningless or distracting foreground. In most cases, the foreground should be sharply focused and of sufficient depth to furnish substantial support for the subject. No object in the foreground should ever be so prominent that it distracts from the subject. You should clear the foreground of items that have no connection with the picture. The ultimate example of carelessness on the part of the photographer is to leave his or her camera case where it shows in the picture. Generally, the foreground contains the leading line that is the line that leads the eye into the photograph and toward the point of interest. Whether this line is an object or series of objects or shadows, it should be sharply focused. A fuzzy, out-of-focus foreground usually irritates the senses and detracts from emphasis on the subject matter.


The background is almost as important an element in good composition as the camera angle. Too often it is overlooked when composing a scene since the photographer normally gives so much attention to the subject. Be particularly observant of the background to see that it contains nothing distracting. A tree or pole that was unnoticed in the distance behind a person when composing the scene may appear in the photograph to be growing out of his or her collar or supporting his or her head.

The background should be subordinate to the main subject in both tone and interest. It should also make the subject stand out and present it to best advantage. Unsharpness and blur are effective ways for separating the subject from the background. Unsharpness can be accomplished by using a relatively large f/stop to render the background out of focus. In the case of subjects in motion, the subject can be pictured sharply and the background blurred by panning the subject (fig. 5-20). Occasionally, you may want to reverse these effects and record the subject unsharp or blurred and the background sharp. This is done to create the impression of the subject being closer to the viewer or to express motion by holding the camera still as you use a shutter speed that is too slow to “stop” the motion.




Perspective refers to the relationship of imaged objects in a photograph. This includes their relative positions and sizes and the space between them. In other words, perspective in the composition of a photograph is the way real three-dimensional objects are pictured in a photograph that has a two-dimensional plane. In photography, perspective is another illusion you use to produce photographs of quality composition. When you are making pictures, the camera always creates perspective. Because a camera automatically produces perspective, many novice photographers believe there is no need to know much about it. This attitude is far from correct. When you know the principles of perspective and skillfully apply them, the photographs you produce show a good rendition of the subject’s form and shape, and the viewer is given the sensation of volume, space, depth, and distance. Additionally, the photographer can manipulate perspective to change the illusion of space and distance by either expanding or compressing these factors, therefore providing a sense of scale within the picture.

Linear Perspective

The human eye judges distance by the way elements within a scene diminish in size, and the angle at which lines and planes converge. This is called linear perspective. The distance between camera and subject and the lens focal length are critical factors affecting linear perspective. This perspective changes as the camera position or viewpoint changes. From a given position, changing only the lens focal length, and not the camera position, does not change the actual viewpoint, but may change the apparent viewpoint.

The use of different focal-length lenses in combination with different lens-to-subject distances helps you alter linear perspective in your pictures. When the focal length of the lens is changed but the lens-to-subject distance remains unchanged, there is a change in the image size of the objects, but no change in perspective. On the other hand, when the lens-to-subject distance and lens focal length are both changed, the relationship between objects is altered and perspective is changed. By using the right combination of camera-to-subject distance and lens focal length, a photographer can create a picture that looks deep or shallow. This feeling of depth or shallowness is only an illusion, but it is an important compositional factor.

Using a short-focal-length lens from a close camera-to-subject distance, or viewpoint, produces a picture with greater depth (not to be confused with depth of field) than would be produced with a standard lens. Conversely, using a long-focal-length lens from a more distant viewpoint produces a picture with less apparent depth.

Rectilinear Perspective

Most lenses produce rectilinear perspectives that are typical of what the human eye sees. This is to say that lines that are straight in the subject are reproduced straight in the picture. Most pictures are made with rectilinear lenses.

Fisheye lenses and the lenses used on panoramic cameras produce a false perspective. A panoramic lens produces panoramic or cylindrical perspective. In other words, all straight horizontal lines at the lens axis level are recorded as straight lines and all other straight horizontal lines either above or below the lens axis level are reproduced as curved lines. The other false perspective is produced by a fisheye lens in which all straight lines in the subject are imaged as curved lines toward the edges of the picture.

Vanishing Point Perspective

In vision, lines that are parallel to each other give the sensation of meeting at vanishing points. When parallel lines, either horizontal or vertical, are perpendicular to the lens axis, the vanishing points are assumed to be at infinity. Other lines, those which are parallel to the lens axis, and all other parallel lines at all other angles to the lens axis meet at definable vanishing  points. Thus lines that are parallel to the lens axis, or nearly parallel, start in the front of the picture and meet at vanishing points within the picture or at finite points outside the picture (fig. 5-21).

Height Perspective

The place where the base of an object is located on the ground in a picture is a clue to its distance from the camera viewpoint; for example, in a landscape scene, the ground or ground plane rises toward the horizon. The higher up in the ground area of the picture (up to the horizon) that the base of an object is located, the further away it seems from the viewpoint and the greater its height perspective.

Overlap Perspective

Another clue to distance in a photograph is overlap perspective. When subjects within the picture are on about the same line of sight, those objects closer to the camera viewpoint overlap more distant objects and partially hide them. It is obvious to the viewer that the partially obstructed object is behind the unobstructed object. This overlap is repeated many times within the picture and gives the viewer a sense of depth and a perception of the relative distance of objects.

Dwindling Size Perspective

Through the experience of vision, you are aware of the size of many common objects, such as people, trees, cars, buildings, and animals; for example, you are aware that most adults are about 5 to 6 feet tall; therefore, when two people are shown in a picture and one appears twice as tall as the other, you cannot assume that one is in reality taller than the other. Instead you assume the taller person is closer and the shorter person farther away from the camera viewpoint. In this same manner, you make a size relationship evaluation of all familiar objects. Thus you can make a distance determination from this size relationship evaluation. The farther away an object is from the viewpoint, the smaller it appears; therefore, when subjects of familiar size are included in a photograph, they help to establish the scale of the picture (fig. 5-22). Scale helps the viewer determine or visualize the actual size or relative size of the objects in the picture.

Volume Perspective

When a subject is lighted with very diffused light, the three-dimensional form or volume of the subject is difficult to perceive because of the lack of distinct shadows. If, on the other hand, subjects are lighted with strong directional light from angles that cause part of the subject to be fully lighted and other parts to be in shadow, a visual clue of the subject’s form or volume is provided When a number of such objects are included within the picture area, the perception of form, volume, and depth is increased. When front or side lighting is used, the length, depth, and shape of the shadows cast on the ground provide a perspective of each object’s volume. Also, the distance between shadows cast on the ground helps you to perceive the overall depth of the scene.

Atmospheric Perspective

For all practical purposes, air is transparent. For most photography, this is fundamentally true; however, when pictures are made of subjects at great distances, the air is actually less than fully transparent. This is because air contains very fine particles of water vapor, dust, smoke, and so on. These particles scatter light and change its direction. The presence of scattering shows distant subjects in pictures as having a veil or haze. The appearance or effect of this scattering is proportional to the distance of the objects from the viewpoint. The greater the distance, the greater the amount of veiling or haze (fig. 5-23). The effects of this scattering of light are additive, but vary with atmospheric conditions. In atmospheric perspective several factors must be considered:

  • Contrast–The luminance of each object in a scene is a direct result of the objects reflective quality and the amount of light falling on it. When objects are far away, light from highly reflective objects is scattered; therefore, when viewed from a distance (or imaged on a print), the darker portions of these distant objects do not appear as dark and the contrast is reduced. When there are objects both near and far from the camera, the difference in contrast provides a perception of distance.
  • Brightness–The particles in air that scatter light are also illuminated by the sun. This causes an increase in the overall brightness of the objects seen. This increase in luminance, coupled with a loss of contrast, causes objects in the distance to be seen and photographed as lighter in color than they would be at a closer distance.
  • Color saturation–The scattering of light not only affects contrast and brightness but also color saturation.

Color is defined by three qualities: hue (the actual wavelength), saturation (intensity or chrome), and brightness (reflective). A pure hue is fully saturated or undiluted. When a hue is desiderated or diluted, it is no longer pure but has gray intermingled with it. The actual colors of a distant scene appear to have less color saturation, because the light is scattered and also because of the overall presence of the desiderated (diluted) blue light of aerial haze. The original scene colors appear less saturated or pure when seen or photographed from a distance than from close-up; therefore, color saturation or desideration allows the viewer to perceive distance in a color photograph.

  • Sharpness–Because of atmospheric haze, there is a loss of image sharpness or definition in distant objects.
  • This loss of sharpness is caused both by the lowering of contrast and the scattering of light. The loss of sharpness contributes to a sense of distance. This can be enhanced by setting the far limit of the lens depth of field just short of infinity. This procedure throws the most distant objects slightly out of focus. This combined with the other effects of aerial perspective intensities the




In this discussion of lighting, the basic lighting techniques used by photographers are presented. Lighting used primarily with a certain segment of photography, such as motion picture, TV, portrait, and studio, are discussed in the chapters relevant to that particular subject.


As a photographer, you work with light to produce quality pictures. The color, direction, quantity, and quality of the light you use determine how your subjects appear. In the studio, with artificial light sources, you can precisely control these four effects; however, most of the pictures you make are taken outdoors. Daylight and sunlight are not a constant source, because they change hourly and with the weather, season, location, and latitude. This changing daylight can alter the apparent shapes, colors, tones, and forms of a scene. The color of sunlight changes most rapidly at the extreme ends of the day. Strong color changes also occur during storms, haze, or mist and on blue wintery days. The direction of light changes as the sun moves across the sky. The shape and direction of shadows are altered, and the different directions of sunlight greatly affect the appearance of a scene.

The quality of sunlight depends on its strength and direction. Strong, direct sunlight is “hard” because it produces dark, well-defined shadows and brilliant highlights, with strong modeling of form. Sunlight is hardest on clear summer days at noon. Strong sunlight makes strong colors more brilliant, but weak colors pale. Sunlight is diffused by haze, mist, and pollution in the air. This diffused or reflected light is softer; it produces weak, soft shadows and dull highlights. Directionless, diffused sunlight is often called “flat” lighting because it produces fine detail but subdues or flattens form. Weak, directionless sunlight provides vibrant, well-saturated colors.

Front lighting

The old adage about keeping the sun at your back is a good place to continue our discussion of outdoor lighting. The type of lighting created when the sun is in back of the photographer is called front lighting. This over-the-shoulder lighting was probably the first photographic advice you ever received. This may seem to be a universal recipe for good photography. But it is not. The case against over-the-shoulder lighting is it produces a flattened effect, doing nothing to bring out detail or provide an impression of depth. The human eye sees in three dimensions and can compensate for poor lighting. A photograph is only two-dimensional; therefore, to give an impression of form, depth, and texture to the subject, you should ideally have the light come from the side or at least at an angle.

Side Lighting

As you gain experience with various types of outdoor lighting, you discover that interesting effects can be achieved by changing the angle of the light falling on your subject. As you turn your subject, change the camera viewpoint, or wait for the sun to move, the light falls more on one side, and more shadows are cast on the opposite side of the subject. For pictures in which rendering texture is important, side lighting is ideal.

Look at a brick wall, first in direct front sunlight and then in side lighting. Direct, front sunlight shows the pattern of the bricks and mortar in a flat, uninformative way, but side lighting creates shadows in every little crevice (fig. 5-24). The effect increases as the light is more parallel with the wall until long shadows fall from the smallest irregularity in the brickwork This can give an almost 3-D effect to a photograph.

Side lighting is particularly important with black-and- white photography that relies on gray tones, rather than color, to record the subject. Shadows caused by side lighting reveal details that can create striking pictures from ordinary objects that are otherwise hardly worth photographing in black and white. Anything that has a noticeable texture-like the ripples of sand on a beach, for example-gains impact when lit from the side. Landscapes, buildings, people, all look better when side lighted.

This applies to color photography as well. Color gives the viewer extra information about the subject that may make up for a lack of texture in front lighting, but often the result is much better when lit from the side.

Pictures made with side lighting usually have harsh shadows and are contrast. To lighten the shadows and reduce the contrast, you may want to use some type of reflector to direct additional skylight into the shadow areas or use fill-in flash, whichever is more convenient.


When the sun is in front of the photographer, coming directly at the camera, you have what is referred to as backlighting; that is, the subject is backlit. This type of lighting can be very effective for pictures of people outdoors in bright sunlight. In bright sunlight, when subjects are front-lighted or even side lighted, they may be uncomfortable and squint their eyes. Backlighting helps to eliminate this problem. Backlighting may also require the use of a reflector or fill-in flash to brighten up the dark shadows and improve subject detail. Backlighting is also used to produce a silhouette effect.

When you use backlighting, avoid having the sun rays fall directly on the lens (except for special effects). A lens hood or some other means of shading the lens should be used to prevent lens flare.


Existing light photography, sometimes called available or natural light photography, is the making of pictures by the light that happens to be on the scene. This includes light from table, floor, and ceiling lights, neon signs, windows, skylights, candles, fireplaces, auto mobile headlights, and any other type of light that provides the natural lighting of a scene-except daylight outdoors. (Moonlight is considered existing light.) Existing light then is that type of light found in the home, in the office, in the hangar bay, in the chapel, in the club, in the sports arenas, and so on. Outdoor scenes at twilight or after dark are also existing light situations.

Photography by existing light produces pictures that look natural. Even the most skillfully lighted flash picture may look artificial when compared to a good existing light photograph. With existing light photography, the photographer has an opportunity to make dramatic, creative pictures. Existing light allows the photographer greater freedom of movement because extra lighting equipment is not required. Subject distance, when not using flash, has no effect on exposure; therefore, you can easily photograph distant subjects that could not otherwise be photographed using flash or some other means of auxiliary lighting. With existing light, you can make pictures that could not be taken with other types of lighting; for example, flash may not be appropriate during a change of command ceremony or chapel service. Not only can the flash disturb the proceedings, but it may not carry far enough to light the subject adequately.

For existing light pictures, your camera should be equipped with a fast lens-at least f/2.8, but preferably about f/1.4. The camera shutter should have a B or T setting, and for exposures longer than about 1/60 second, you need a tripod or other means of supporting the camera.

Because the level of illumination for many existing light scenes is quite low, you may want to consider using a high-speed film. When making pictures with plenty of existing light or when you particularly want long exposures for special effect, you can use a slower film; however, the advantages of high-speed film are as follows:

  • Allows you to get adequate exposure for hand-held shots.
  • Allows you to use faster shutter speeds to reduce camera and image motion.
  • Permits the use of longer focal-length lenses when the camera is hand-held.
  • Allows the use of smaller f/stops for greater depth of field.

When you are making existing-light color pictures indoors of scenes illuminated by tungsten light, use a tungsten type of film. When the light for your indoor color pictures is daylight from a window or skylight, use a daylight type of color film or use tungsten film with a No. 85B filter. Always use an exposure meter to calculate your indoor existing light exposure. When a bright window is included in the background, take a close-up meter reading of the subject to prevent the meter from being overly influenced by light from the window.

Pictures made indoors by existing daylight are pleasing to the viewer, because of the soft diffused light and the squint-free expression of your subjects. Open all the window drapes in the room to get the highest level of illumination possible. Pose your subject to allow diffused daylight to fall on the front or side of their face. Try not to pose your subject in a position where too much of the facial features are in shadow, unless you are trying for a special effect, such as a silhouette. When you photograph your subject in direct no diffused sunlight coming through a window, you have more light to work with, but the light is contrasts and your subject has a tendency to squint.

Indoor existing light, artificial or otherwise, may be quite contrasts; for example, when your subjects are close to the source of light and well-illuminated, while other areas of the scene are comparatively dark. By turning on all the lights in the room, you can make the illumination more even and provide additional light for exposure and at the same time reduce the scene contrast. The contrast created by some artificial lighting can also be reduced in an average size room by bouncing auxiliary light off the ceiling or by using reflectors. Adding auxiliary bounce lighting or reflectors means you are not making true existing light pictures, but this extra light helps to reduce contrast without spoiling the natural appearance of the scene.

Fluorescent Lighting

Indoor scenes illuminated by fluorescent lights usually appear pleasing and natural in real life; however, color pictures of these same scenes often have an overall color cast that makes them appear unnatural. Fluorescent light emits blue and green light primarily and is deficient in red light. Most color pictures made without a filter under fluorescent light are also deficient in red and have an overall greenish appearance. Used correctly, fluorescent light has some advantages over other types of available light. A room illuminated by fluorescent lamps is usually brighter and more evenly lighted than a room illuminated by tungsten lamps. This higher level of light makes it easier to get enough exposure for your existing light photography and helps record detail that may have been lost in the shadow areas with other types of existing light. When photographing people, however, fluorescent lighting often causes dark shadows under the subject’s eyes. These shadows cause the eyes to appear dark and sunk in.

For making color pictures under fluorescent lighting, a negative color film with the appropriate filter is most often your best bet. Color negative film has a wide exposure latitude that permits, to some extent, a variation in exposure without detracting from the quality of the finished print. The greenish effect caused by fluorescent lighting can be partially corrected when the color negatives are printed..

For color slides with fluorescent light, a daylight type of film with the appropriate filter is best. Tungsten film usually produces slides with too much blue or green when made with fluorescent light.

As discussed in chapter 3, the use of filters for color photography helps to overcome the deficiency of red light in fluorescent lamps. Always consult the Photo-Lab Index for the best film filter combinations to use.

Pictures Outdoors at Night

Outdoor night scenes usually include large areas of darkness broken by smaller areas of light from buildings, signs, and streetlights. Pictures of outdoor scenes are quite easy to make because good results are obtainable over a wide range of exposures. Using short exposures emphasizes well-lit areas by preserving the highlight detail, while the shadow areas are dark because of underexposure. Long exposures help retain the detail of the dark areas, while highlight detail is lost because of overexposure.

Large, dark areas in night scenes make it difficult to make accurate exposure meter readings from your camera position. The best meter reading results are obtained when you take closeup readings of important scene areas.

Color outdoor pictures at night can be made on either daylight or tungsten-type films. Pictures made on daylight film have a warm, yellow-red appearance. Those made on tungsten film have a colder more natural look; however, both films provide pleasing results, so it is a matter of personal preference which you use. A good time to make outdoor night color pictures is just before it gets completely dark. At this time, some rich blue (or even orange) is in the sky. This deep color at dusk gives a dramatic background to your pictures. Neon signs, streetlights, and building lights make bright subjects for your pictures. At night, right after it stops raining and everything is still wet, is another good time to make outdoor pictures. The lights in the scene produce many colorful reflections on the wet pavement, adding interest to what may otherwise be a lifeless, dull picture.

Many buildings look rather ordinary in daylight, but at night, they are often interestingly lighted. Try photographing the hangar at night, with the lights on and the hangar doors open. Also, your ship at night, especially a rainy night may make a very striking picture.

Outdoor events that take place at night in a sports stadium are usually well-lighted and make excellent subjects for existing light pictures. Most sports stadiums (as well as streets) are illuminated by mercury-vapor lamps that look blue-green in color when compared to tungsten lamps. Your best color pictures made under mercury-vapor lighting will be shot on daylight color film, although they will appear bluish green because the lights are deficient in red.

  • Tips for existing light photography are as follows:
  • Carry a flashlight so you can see to make camera settings.
  • If you do not have an exposure meter or cannot get a good reading, bracket your exposure.
  • Focus carefully; depth of field is shallow at the wide apertures required for existing light photography.
  • When you have a scene illuminated by a combination of light sources, use the type of color film recommended for the predominant light source.
  • For pictures of fireworks, support your camera on a tripod, focus at infinity, and aim the camera toward the sky area where the display will take place. Open the shutter for several bursts.




Video images, like still photographs, are subject to the aesthetic rules of picture composition. There are, however, factors peculiar to video that more or less influence television composition. These factors are as follows:

  • The small monitor requires objects to be shown relatively large so they can be seen clearly on a small screen. You must shoot more extreme close-ups (ECU), close-ups (CU), medium shots (MS), few long shots (LS), and very few extreme long shots (ELS).
  • The 3:4 aspect ratio of the picture cannot be changed so all picture elements must be composed to fit it. The aspect ratio is the ratio of picture height to width. There is no vertical format in television. You must always think horizontal format.
  • The video camera is the eyes of the viewer. Therefore, camera movement, as well as the static arrangement of elements within the frame, must be considered.
  • When shooting uncontrolled action, you may not be able to predetermine composition. Sometimes all you can do is correct certain compositional errors.

In motion media, the picture on the screen is referred to as a shot. A shot is one continuous camera run from the time the recording starts to the time the recording stops. A shot may last a few seconds, several minutes, or the entire program. A motion-video cameraperson must always think in terms of shots.

Most rules of composition in still photography apply equally well to composition in motion media. Composition was covered earlier in chapter 5. The simple line drawing examples of TV framing (fig. 13-9) indicates how to stage and show elements within the confines of the small 3:4 fixed aspect ratio of a television picture.


Use high- and low-camera angles with caution. High angles tend to shorten the legs of a person. Low angles may distort the body and face of the subject. Of course, watch for objects that seem to be growing out of or are balanced on a person’s head.

Area of Talent Included

Most motion-media assignments involve people. You may find it convenient to identify people shots by the section of the body that is included in the frame. The person’s head is usually in the top of the picture; therefore, shots vary according to the lowest part of the talent shown at the bottom of the screen. Thus the terms used to describe various people shots are as follows: full figure shot, knee shot, thigh shot, waist shot, bust shot, head shot, tight head shot.

Number of People Included

The shot designations that are easiest to remember are the ones that refer to the number of people included in the picture. When only one person is to be shot, it is a one-shot. Obviously, a shot that shows two people is a two-shot, three people make a three-shot, and so on; however, when five or six people are pictured it is called a group-shot. A crowd-shot is when a large group of 20 or more people is being framed.


During motion-media recording, you can change the image size by changing the camera-to-subject distance or by using a zoom lens (which also changes the field of view).

When recording an event on motion media, there are three basic shots or sequences you must use: long shots (LS), medium shots (MS), and close-up shots (CU) (fig. 13-10). The type of shot being used can limit or increase the amount of visual information presented to the viewer. Long shots generally establish a location. A medium shot is used primarily as a transition between a long shot and close-up shot. Close-up shots create impact and provide more detail and less visual information pertaining to the subject’s surroundings.

Shot classifications can be broken down into five categories: extreme long shots, long shots, medium shots, close-up shots, and extreme close-up shots.

Extreme Long Shots

An extreme long shot (ELS) is used to portray a vast area from an apparently very long distance. An ELS is used to impress the viewer with the immense scope of the setting or scene. An ELS is best usually when made with a stationary camera. Camera panning for an ELS 13-15.should be avoided unless panning is needed to show more of the setting or to help increase audience interest in the film. An extreme long shot can be used to give the audience an overall view of the setting before the main action is introduced The use of an ELS is an effective way to capture audience interest from the start. Extreme long shots should normally be taken from a high vantage point, such as from a tall building, a hilltop, or an aircraft. Extreme long shots are used primarily in films and are seldom used in video productions.

Long Shots

A long shot (LS) shows the entire scene area where the action is to take place. The setting, the actors, and the props are shown with LS to acquaint the audience with their overall appearance and location within the scene. An LS is used to establish all elements within the scene so the audience knows who and what is involved and where they are located An LS, therefore, tells where. It establishes where the action is taking place.

The subject’s entrances, exits, and movements within a scene should normally be shown with an LS when their locations in the scene are significant.

Following actors from location to location within a scene area with closeup shots confuses the viewer about the location of the subject within the scene.

The composition for an LS is usually ‘loose,” giving room for the subject to move about. While this may make identification of actors somewhat difficult, LS is usually short and the subjects will be identifiable in closer shots.

Medium Shots

A medium shot (MS) is usually used between a long shot and a close-up shot. After the scene location has been established with an LS, the camera is moved closer to the main subject or a longer focal-length lens is used to bring the main element of the scene into full frame or near full-frame size. A medium shot tends to narrow the center of interest for the audience and answers the question “what.” In an MS, actors are usually photographed to show them from the waist up. An MS is normally sufficient to show clearly the facial expressions, gestures, or movements of a single actor or a small group of actors.

With an MS, movement of the subject can be followed with a pan or other camera movement while still showing enough of the surroundings so the audience does not become disoriented. Motion-media coverage should normally progress from a long shot, to a medium shot, to a close-up, then back to a medium shot. This reestablishes the scene location or the actors within the scene.

Close-up Shots

The close-up shot (CU) fills a frame with the most important part of a scene. The CU should include only action of primary interest The portion selected of an overall scene, such as a face, a small object, or a small part of the action, may be filmed with a close-up shot. Close-ups give the audience a detailed view of the most important part or action within a scene. Close-ups also help to build audience interest in the film. The CU shot can be used to “move” the audience into the scene, eliminate nonessentials, or isolate a significant incident.

As a motion-media cameraperson, one of the strongest storytelling devices you have are close-ups. Close-up shots should be reserved for important parts of the story so they deliver impact to the audience.

Extreme Close-up Shots

Very small objects or areas or small portions of large objects can be photographed with an extreme close-up shot (ECU), so their images are magnified on the screen. Small machine parts, such as calibrations on a ruler or a match at the end of a cigarette, can be very effective when shown on a full screen in an ECU.

Do not forget, you must change camera angles between shots within a shot sequence.



Film for Portraits

For black-and-white portraits, black-and-white panchromatic film is generally used. With a pan film, the appearance of any red spots, veins, or redness in the subject’s skin is apparently reduced in the final print, because of the sensitivity of the film to red. Conversely, an orthochromatic film can be used when the texture of a man’s skin, especially an older man, is to be emphasized.

When you select a color film for portrait photography, there are two important considerations: What type of product is to be produced and what is the color of the light source?

Another factor to consider in selecting a film for portraiture is the ISO film speed in relation to the intensity of the light source. A slow film can be used successfully with a light source that has relatively high intensity, such as an electronic flash unit. When the same slow film is used with a light source that has relatively low intensity, an extremely wide aperture must be used. When a fast film is used with a high-intensity light source, a smaller aperture is required, increasing the depth of field which may not be desirable for portraiture.

When you are shooting portraits, do not be stingy with film. With a medium-format camera, you have 9 to 15 frames to work with. When you have the commanding officer or the admiral in the studio for a portrait, shoot at least the entire roll. Never shoot just three or four frames. Film is cheap and you want to provide the customer with a variety of poses and expressions to choose from.


When possible, portrait times should be made by appointment. Using an appointment system gives you a.good start towards making a successful portrait. By using an appointment system, it tells your subject that he or she is important and will not be wasting time waiting to get into the studio. This brings the person to the studio with a positive attitude, and that is half the battle. An appointment also helps you. When an appointment system is used, you know how much time you have to work with each subject, and you do not have to rush through a sitting because someone else is waiting prematurely. Between appointments you have time to straighten up the studio, load film, complete job orders, screen processed portrait film, and so on.

Appointments should be made at least 15 minutes apart. This way you have time to take care of other business that may come up. If one customer is a few minutes late, you can also use this time to catch up.

When appointments are made, suggest to the person that they come in early in the day. Most people look their best and their clothes are fresher early in the day. Men, particularly those who develop a heavy beard (five-o’clock shadow), need to have their portraits made at the beginning of the day. However, they should not shave then come right in to be photographed. This provides time for facial blemishes, caused by shaving, to disappear.

Men should have a haircut and look sharp, but the haircut should be a day or two old. Uniforms should be pressed and well fitted with all awards, grade, and rating insignia properly placed. A chart of military awards and decorations is helpful in settling differences regarding the proper placement of ribbons and metals.


When someone comes to the photo lab for a portrait, that person usually feels uncomfortable (like going to the dentist). Your attitude can help make the person feel relaxed. The secret to your success in putting the subject at ease is to convey a genuine and sincere attitude. Let the person know by your words and actions that you plan to do your best to produce a portrait that anyone would be proud to display.

Your attitude will leave a lasting impression on the subject and set the tone for the portrait setting. Greet the customer warmly, with a smile on your face as well as in your voice.

You, as the portrait photographer, should make it your business to know something about the subject. What is his job? Where does she work? How long has he been on board? What was her last duty station, and so on? The more you know about your subjects, the easier it is to work with them. Train yourself to gather a quick impression of the subject’s intellect, taste, and aspirations. Talk to each of them and gather information regarding their special interests.

Conversation sooner or later strikes a responsive chord and the subject’s face comes to life and gives you that natural expression so necessary to the finished portrait. Since the success of the portrait depends greatly on a natural expression, your task is to create a friendly situation whereby the subject feels he has an equal part. The making of a good portrait depends on cooperation. Do not rush a sitting and avoid getting flustered. You must always control the situation.

Invite your subject into the studio in a casual way. Have a bright light on, usually the main or modeling light. This way the shock of turning on a bright light in a dark studio is avoided. Ask the subject to be seated; a motion with your hand may be enough. A person who is treated in a friendly yet respectful manner, and kept in casual conversation, usually strikes a natural pose better than one who is not. If this fails, you must skillfully direct the subject. At times you may have to touch the subject to adjust a hat, sleeve, necktie, coat, and so on. Before touching the subject, explain to the person what action you are about to take.

Talk to your subject and direct movements, from in front of the camera, within the circle of light. It is disturbing for the subject to hear a voice from a dark void trying to direct his or her movements.

Posing is the most unpredictable part of a portrait session. The subject is at a mental disadvantage because he has to follow your directions. This requires subtle handling on your part and an understanding of human behavior.


The best average camera height for a head-and-shoulders type of portrait is slightly above the subject’s eye level. This places the subject’s eyes well above the center of the picture space. Slightly above eye level then is a good place to start. Most portraits are made from this camera viewpoint, but individual features and characters of the subject often dictate a higher or lower camera position.

For three-quarter portraits, either sitting or standing, the camera height may need to be changed. For example, you may want to start with the camera level at the upper chest or even at the eye level of the subject. Other factors that should be considered when selecting the camera height (especially with a head-and-shoulder portrait) include the shape of the subject’s face and facial features, such as a long nose and the length of the subject’s neck By changing the height of the camera in relation to the subject, you can make corrections to emphasize or de-emphasize features of the subject.

For full-length portraits, you should start with the camera height about waist level and the lens parallel to the subject. When the camera height is too high or too low and the camera lens is tilted, distortion of the subject occurs. When the camera is too low, the subject’s feet appear large and the head small. When the camera is too high, the subject’s head and upper body appear large and top heavy.

A camera position below the eye level of a subject can produce a side effect that may be distracting; that is, showing the nostrils more prominently and causing them to appear as two black holes. To help remedy this situation, you should place the modeling light higher to cast a shadow beneath the nose, so the nostrils appear to blend in with the shadow area.


The posing bench should be set at an angle to the camera. When the bench is square to the camera, people tend to sit on it with their shoulders square to the camera This puts their shoulders straight across the picture and such a pose exaggerates the width of the shoulders. This pose is obviously inappropriate for a woman. When your subject is a male dignitary (VIP), a pose like this enhances those qualities. Very few people have positions that demand such a pose. Having the posing bench at an angle to the camera before the sitter arrives should automatically suggest to the subjects that they sit with their shoulders turned slightly from the camera. With the shoulders turned slightly from the camera and the head turned back toward the camera, a sense of motion is created. Even more motion and alertness can be suggested by having the subject lean slightly forward.

Eye DirectionTo create an intimate portrait, the subject appears to return a glance to the viewer. The subject’s eyes should look near the camera lens (just above or to the side of it). When the subject looks directly into the lens, a stare will result (fig. 7-1). When the eyes are looking too far away from the camera, a vague, faraway look results (fig. 7-2). The eyes also lose their brilliance and sparkle, and too much white shows when the subject’s eyes are looking away from the camera.

Portrait Composition and Subject Placement

As in every type of photography, in portraiture there must be one, and only one, principal point of interest. Naturally, in a portrait, this is the subject’s face. You can emphasize the point of interest in a portrait by doing the following:

  • Having it contrast with the background
  • Giving it the strongest lighting
  • Posing the subject and arranging the props so all elements point to it
  • Locating it at a strong point within the picture area
Where are the strong points within a portrait picture space? The principle ofthirds, as discussed in chapter 5, applies to portraiture as well. These are the areas within a portrait that attract eye attention and are the preferred locations for the center of interest (fig. 7-3). In a portrait, when the main point of interest is located at Point A, the secondary point of interest should be at Point D. If B is the point of interest, C becomes thesecondary interest point. Such an arrangement obviously balances the composition.As stated earlier, the subject’s face is the point of interest in a portrait and, of course, covers a considerable area in the picture space. Usually in portrait composition, the eyes fall close to Points A or B. But these positions are approximations only. The final adjustment of the head depends upon several factors: the eye direction, the shape of the body, and the leading lines. No rule can be given for best portrait composition. Rules only give guidance to a rough approximation of good placement. You can only arrive at the best composition for each portrait through the feeling for balance and subject position.


When the head and shoulders are placed high in the picture frame, a sense of dignity and stability is gained. Such placement is particularly appropriate when the subject is a person of importance, such as the CO. However, when the head is too high (fig. 7-4), viewing the picture is uncomfortable because there is a feeling that if the subject stood up he would bump his head. Also, when the head is too high, the proportion between head and body areas becomes awkward. Most inexperienced photographers place the head too low, rather than too high. This is usually the result of the photographer’s desire to show as large a head as possible. When the head is too low, there is not enough body to support it (fig. 7-5).


When the head is turned toward the side, avoid having the tip of the nose from coinciding with the outline of the cheek or projecting only slightly beyond the cheek line. In either case, the far eye will be divided by the nose. When the tip of the nose sticks out only a little beyond the cheek line, it appears as a lump on the cheek

Before you seat a subject, suggest that the subject may like to check his or her appearance in a mirror. Combing the hair, straightening a tie, setting a hat at the proper angle, and smoothing out the lay of the clothes should ensure a neat, well-groomed appearance. When the subject is in military uniform, be sure that medals, ribbons, insignia of grade or rate, and other accessories are worn properly. These minor details are easily overlooked and failure to correct a discrepancy may make it necessary to retake the portrait.

When a military subject is seated, one particularly important point to consider is the lay of the coat collar. The collar has a tendency to separate from the back of the subject’s neck and project outward resulting in the impression of a hump. The coat should be pulled down to make the collar fit properly and make the line of the subject’s back appear free from slouch or slump. When the portrait includes only the head and shoulders, the drape of the coat can be improved by unbuttoning the lower button and pulling the bottom of the coat down.

The sleeves of a coat are another problem, particularly when you photograph a seated subject. There is a tendency for the sleeves to work up and wrinkle at the elbows, allowing either too much wrist or too much shirt cuff to show. To help remedy this, have the subject pull the sleeves of the coat down and straighten out the wrinkles as much as possible. Wrinkles, folds, and unwanted creases in a uniform detract from a neat appearance. When the subject is wearing a long-sleeved shirt under a coat and the hands will appear in the portrait, both shirt cuffs should be visible or both should be out of sight. Do not have one cuff visible and the other not.

Stay near the camera and tell the subject what to do. You are obligated to give directions regarding the pose. A subject is not able to see all posing aspects for the portrait. Whether the subject is an admiral or seaman, you are expected to detect and correct any discrepancy in pose, uniform, gestures, or actions, and so on. One of the greatest obstacles to successful portraiture is the tininess of some photographers and the way they handle the subject. Never take a portrait when something about the portrait is wrong because of fear or timidity to speak and act in the presence of high grade. The results will be disappointing and embarrassing.

When the military subject is to be photographed uncovered, be sure that the hat is removed far enough in advance so any impression on the forehead caused by the hatband has time to disappear.

When the subject shows a tendency to squint or blink, suggest that he rest his eyes by closing them for a moment. The facial expression is an important element to a good portrait. Unless some method is used to induce a pleasant expression, the subject will generally appear bored and uninteresting. Telling a subject to look this way or smile is not enough to cause the subject to smile. A forced smile sometimes looks more like a frown. A good method to get a pleasant expression is through conversation. Talk about a recent incident, a funny story, the weather, or any other topic that will cause the subject to concentrate on something other than the business of making a portrait. With most people, a smile is contagious. When you smile at a person, the person usually responds with a smile. Beware of a broad smile 7-8.because it rarely looks attractive, and it is usually not appropriate for a person in a military uniform. While you are trying to induce the expression that will show off the subject to the best advantage, be particularly observant of the details necessary to maintain a neat appearance and good composition.




Here Some Information About Photography Editing Rules.

10 Top Photography Composition Rules


There are no fixed rules in photography, but there are guidelines which can often help you to enhance the impact of your photos.

It may sound clichéd, but the only rule in photography is that there are no rules. However, there are are number of established composition guidelines which can be applied in almost any situation, to enhance the impact of a scene.

These guidelines will help you take more compelling photographs, lending them a natural balance, drawing attention to the important parts of the scene, or leading the viewer’s eye through the image.

Once you are familiar with these composition tips, you’ll be surprised at just how universal most of them are. You’ll spot them everywhere, and you’ll find it easy to see why some photos “work” while others feel like simple snapshots.

Rule of Thirds

Imagine that your image is divided into 9 equal segments by 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines. Therule of thirds says that you should position the most important elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect.

Doing so will add balance and interest to your photo. Some cameras even offer an option to superimpose a rule of thirds grid over the LCD screen, making it even easier to use.

Notice how the building and horizon are aligned along rule-of-thirds lines. Image by Trey Ratcliff.

Balancing Elements

Placing your main subject off-centre, as with the rule of thirds, creates a more interesting photo, but it can leave a void in the scene which can make it feel empty. You should balance the “weight” of your subject by including another object of lesser importance to fill the space.

Here, the visual “weight” of the road sign is balanced by the building on the other side of the shot. Image by Shannon Kokoska.

Leading Lines

When we look at a photo our eye is naturally drawn along lines. By thinking about how you place lines in your composition, you can affect the way we view the image, pulling us into the picture, towards the subject, or on a journey “through” the scene. There are many different types of line – straight, diagonal, curvy, zigzag, radial etc – and each can be used to enhance our photo’s composition.

The road in this photo draws your eye through the scene. Image by Pierre Metivier.

Symmetry and Patterns

We are surrounded by symmetry and patterns, both natural and man-made., They can make for very eye-catching compositions, particularly in situations where they are not expected. Another great way to use them is to break the symmetry or pattern in some way, introducing tension and a focal point to the scene.

The symmetry of this chapel is broken by the bucket in the bottom right corner. Image by Fabio Montalto.


Before photographing your subject, take time to think about where you will shoot it from. Our viewpoint has a massive impact on the composition of our photo, and as a result it can greatly affect the message that the shot conveys. Rather than just shooting from eye level, consider photographing from high above, down at ground level, from the side, from the back, from a long way away, from very close up, and so on.

The unusual viewpoint chosen here creates an intriguing and slightly abstract photo. Image byronsho.


How many times have you taken what you thought would be a great shot, only to find that the final image lacks impact because the subject blends into a busy background? The human eye is excellent at distinguishing between different elements in a scene, whereas a camera has a tendency to flatten the foreground and background, and this can often ruin an otherwise great photo. Thankfully this problem is usually easy to overcome at the time of shooting – look around for a plain and unobtrusive background and compose your shot so that it doesn’t distract or detract from the subject.

The plain background in this composition ensures nothing distracts from the subject. Image byPhilipp Naderer.


Because photography is a two-dimensional medium, we have to choose our composition carefully to conveys the sense of depth that was present in the actual scene. You can create depth in a photo by including objects in the foreground, middle ground and background. Another useful composition technique is overlapping, where you deliberately partially obscure one object with another. The human eye naturally recognises these layers and mentally separates them out, creating an image with more depth.

Emphasise your scene’s depth by including interesting subjects at varying distances from the camera. Image by Jule Berlin.


The world is full of objects which make perfect natural frames, such as trees, archways and holes. By placing these around the edge of the composition you help to isolate the main subject from the outside world. The result is a more focused image which draws your eye naturally to the main point of interest.

Here, the surrounding hills form a natural frame, and the piece of wood provides a focal point. Image by Sally Crossthwaite.


Often a photo will lack impact because the main subject is so small it becomes lost among the clutter of its surroundings. By cropping tight around the subject you eliminate the background “noise”, ensuring the subject gets the viewer’s undivided attention.

Cut out all unnecessary details to keep keep the viewer’s attention focused on the subject. Image by Hien Nguyen.


With the dawn of the digital age in photography we no longer have to worry about film processing costs or running out of shots. As a result, experimenting with our photos’ composition has become a real possibility; we can fire off tons of shots and delete the unwanted ones later at absolutely no extra cost. Take advantage of this fact and experiment with your composition – you never know whether an idea will work until you try it.

Digital photography allows us to experiment with different compositions until we find the perfect one. Image by Jule Berlin.

Composition in photography is far from a science, and as a result all of the “rules” above should be taken with a pinch of salt. If they don’t work in your scene, ignore them; if you find a great composition that contradicts them, then go ahead and shoot it anyway. But they can often prove to be spot on, and are worth at least considering whenever you are out and about with your camera.

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