Ophrys Photography

Wildlife photography by John Devries, Kent UK. Inspirational images from nature.
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Wildlife and nature photography hints and tips


Composition part 2

Here are some more tips on composition to make your images look more interesting.

1.0 Less is more

The background is just as important in creating a good image as the subject itself. A busy background with lots of crossing twigs or blades of grass is very unattractive and will compete with the subject for your attention.

It is just as important to decide what to leave out of a picture as what you leave in. In other words, find a way to make your image simpler - Less is more !

Here are some pictures of two wild orchids in Greece. The first image is of Anacamptis morio- it is growing amongst a tangle of vegetation and looks pretty unattractive thanks to the busy background. In the second image of Orchis Italica, I have chosen to isolate the flower head and I carefully selected an aperture which both blurred the background and also left the flower in focus.

As I was in pretty close, the depth of field was limited, so the background blurred nicely despite the smallish aperture of f9. I settled on f9 after checking the image in the viewfinder with the camera's depth-of-field preview button.


This doesn't mean to say that you should try to exclude background detail in every shot, as this image of Cephalanthera Longifolia (again in Greece) demonstrates. Here the background has been allowed to be in focus as it is very attractive and allows the plant to be seen growing in it's natural habitat among pine trees. I used a small aperture of f16 to increase depth of field to intentionally show the background in this shot. Although the pine cones look very natural, they were strategically placed by me to achieve a more interesting compost ion !


2.0 Don't over-crop

In this shot of a fallow deer at sunset, the wonderful sky is a much a part of the picture as the deer itself ( which is quite small in the frame). To crop it any more would be sacrilege.

I used the rule of thirds to place the horizon, but broke it again by centering the deer's head rather than using another thirds point intersection- sometimes rules are made to be broken!


3.0 Don't always shoot in landscape format

It is easy to forget that the camera can be held upright into portrait format as well as landscape format.

Choose the orientation that best suits your image - and don't forget that if your aim is to sell your images, then magazine front covers will require portrait format, and double-page spreads demand landscape !

At the time of image capture, I frequently have this in the back of my mind, and try to allow for these possibilities. I don't try to over-fill the frame - which allows for an editor's text in the image - like this:



4.0 Allow your subject space to move into

Images of animals and birds always look better when you allow some space for the subject to either look into, or move into. The space behind the subject usually becomes unimportant to the image and you can crop fairly hard on that side.

Here are two images of a black-headed gull which have been cropped with and without leaving much space for the bird to fly into. Which do you prefer?

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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