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