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Digital Photography Composition For Dummies

Digital Photography Composition For Dummies

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by Tom Clark Commercial photographer 

Learn to:

• Master the craft of composing a
photograph, whether film or digital
• Develop your eye for composition
by exploring lots of techniques
• Apply and practice new skills as you
learn them

IN FULL COLOR!


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Book Details
 Price
 2.50 USD
 Pages
 372 p
 File Size
 14,095 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 ISBN
 978-0-470-64761-5
 Copyright  
 All photos Copyright 
 2011 by Wiley Publishing, Inc 
 2011 by Tom Clark

About the Author
Tom Clark is a successful commercial photographer in Miami. After receiving
a Bachelor of Arts in Commercial Photography, he moved to Miami and
began his career by assisting local photographers on fashion, editorial, and
portrait assignments. Tom also assisted some of the city’s top architectural
and interior photographers and worked on set with many of the top photographers
in New York, Los Angeles, and Europe for fashion, editorial, and
celebrity portraiture. With the combination of his experience on set and his
education, Tom successfully made the move from photo assistant to photographer.

Today he shoots for a number of local and international publications
on a freelance basis, and he provides commercial advertising services to clients
of all sizes.
What aren’t discussed in Tom’s commercial success but are possibly the root
of his inspiration are the long trips into the wilderness, up mountains, and to
the seas where getting the perfect shot is an exploration and nights are fi lled
with campfi res, starry skies, and long exposures. To check out Tom’s work
and see his Photo of the Week (which highlights his most interesting recent
captures), visit his Web site at www.tomclarkphoto.com.

Introduction
If you want to create interesting and aesthetically pleasing photographs,
you need to understand great composition. You have rules (which can, of
course, be broken) to guide you, decisions to make, and techniques and tools
to get the job done. Put all these together, and you give purpose and meaning
to your photographs.

After you realize why some photographs look better than others and more
successfully tell their stories, you can create amazing images wherever
you are and in any conditions. You can approach any scene in many ways,
and each photographer will do so differently. You want to be sure that you
approach a scene with the confidence of a person who understands how to
compose great images — and has fun doing so.

Whether you’re an amateur, pro, semipro, hobbyist, scrapbooker, traveler,
artist, or someone who just received a camera as a gift, knowing more about
composition will make your photographs better. Besides, if you’re going to
take pictures, they may as well be good ones.

About This Book
Photographic composition is a complex topic that covers a wide range of
theories and competing schools of thought. Many photographers carry
separate opinions when it comes to defining what’s most important in creating
great compositions. Some feel that following the rules is essential, and others
feel that to be unique you need to break the rules. In this book, I provide a
thorough coverage of the rules (because in order to break the rules successfully,
it helps to know what they are). I also do my best to give you the information
necessary to determine when to go with the rule book and when to go with your gut.

In this book, you find information that covers composition from all angles. I
designed each chapter to present valuable information that can improve your
ability to see potential in what you’re photographing and to capture that
potential with your camera. Combining ideas from multiple chapters makes
you a more dynamic photographer, but you certainly can take one chapter at
a time, focusing on one skill or technique until you’re moved to expand your
compositional repertoire.

Ultimately, you make the decisions about what good composition is. Use this
book to introduce new ideas to your creative thought process, to enhance
your decision-making skills, and to understand the technical information you
need to achieve the results you want
And remember that this book isn’t designed to be read from cover to cover.
You can jump in wherever you need the most help without feeling like you’ve
skipped a beat. No chapter relies on your knowledge of any preceding chapter
to make sense. You may want to practice the ideas in one chapter before
you move on to the next, but you’re going to find everything you need (or
directions to further information) anywhere you start reading.

Table of Contents
Introduction ................................................................. 1
About This Book ..............................................................................................1
Conventions Used in This Book .....................................................................2
What You’re Not to Read ................................................................................3
Foolish Assumptions .......................................................................................3
How This Book Is Organized ..........................................................................3
Part I: The Basics of Composition........................................................3
Part II: Elements of Photographic Design ...........................................4
Part III: Arranging the Key Elements to Compose
a Successful Shot ................................................................................4
Part IV: Composition in Action .............................................................4
Part V: The Part of Tens ........................................................................4
Icons Used in This Book .................................................................................5
Where to Go from Here ...................................................................................5
Part I: The Basics of Composition
Chapter 1: Photographic Composition: The Overview
Getting a Grasp on Good Composition .......................................................10
Defi ning photographic composition ..................................................10
Leading the eye to important elements ............................................12
Achieving balance ................................................................................13
Gaining Control of Your Compositions .......................................................15
Working your basic camera settings .................................................15
Choosing the lens that fi ts your message .........................................16
Using perspective to enhance your message ...................................16
Pulling together the elements of composition .................................18
Chapter 2: Developing an Eye for Composition
Studying What the Eye Sees .........................................................................22
Contrast.................................................................................................23
Distance.................................................................................................23
Patterns .................................................................................................23
Relationships between subjects and supporting elements ............24
Seeing What the Camera Sees ......................................................................26
Revealing three dimensions in a two-dimensional medium ...........27
Paying attention to everything in the frame .....................................29
Finding and Creating Effective Compositions ............................................31
Chapter 3: Getting to Know Your Equipment
Making the All-Important Lens Choice ........................................................34
Working with a fi xed lens ....................................................................34
Saving time with a zoom lens .............................................................35
Exposing Your Images Properly ..................................................................36
Taking a closer look at aperture, shutter speed, and ISO ..............37
Using a histogram to check exposure ...............................................40
Discovering your camera’s light meter .............................................42
Relying on your camera’s automatic modes ....................................43
Putting Together an Effective Toolkit .........................................................44
Finding a camera that fi ts your photography style and budget ....45
Looking for a lens to suit your needs ................................................46
Selecting memory cards ......................................................................46
Getting the right external fl ash ..........................................................47
Trying a tripod .....................................................................................47
Part II: Elements of Photographic Design
Chapter 4: Introducing the Elements of Photographic Design
Grasping the Point about Points ..................................................................52
Following Lines, Real and Imagined ............................................................54
Looking at literal lines .........................................................................55
Tracking implied lines .........................................................................57
Bringing More to the Mix with Shape and Form ........................................58
Distinguishing between shape and form...........................................58
Emphasizing shape or form in a composition ..................................61
Adding Scale or Depth with Texture ...........................................................62
Considering Pattern Types ...........................................................................63
Adding interest with sequence patterns ...........................................63
Leading your viewer by using repetition ..........................................64
Breaking patterns to grab attention ..................................................66
Chapter 5: Arranging Visual Elements in a Frame
According to the “Rules”
Looking at Foreground, Background, and the Space Between ................68
Enlivening Your Images with the Rule of Thirds .......................................69
Dividing your frame to conquer composition ..................................70
Using the thirds to their fullest ..........................................................71
Interpreting the rule of thirds to make it work for your scene ......73
Taking Advantage of Space to Get Your Message Across ........................76
Giving your subject more (or less) space .........................................76
Allowing shapes room to breathe ......................................................77
Staggering objects within your frame ...............................................78
Containing lines inside your frame ....................................................79
Keeping an Image Simple or Unleashing Controlled Chaos .....................80
Balancing Your Compositions .....................................................................82
Chapter 6: Paying Attention to Color in Composition
Discovering Color Basics ..............................................................................85
Using complementary colors for contrast ........................................87
Maximizing monochromatic color schemes ....................................88
Creating harmony with analogous colors .........................................90
Drawing the eye with color .................................................................91
Shooting for Black and White .......................................................................94
Being aware of how your digital sensor sees light ..........................94
Exposing your photo for black and white.........................................96
Converting an image to black and white using
the three channels ...........................................................................97
Color or Black and White? How Your Decision
Impacts Your Message ..............................................................................99
Part III: Arranging the Key Elements to Compose
a Successful Shot
Chapter 7: Using Focal Points to Tell a Story
Finding Your Focal Point and Helping It Take Center Stage ..................103
Making your focal point stand out ...................................................105
Using your camera’s focus control to select your focal point .....106
Determining how much of the frame your focal point
should cover ...................................................................................107
Enhancing Your Message with Selective Focus .......................................109
Getting creative with your focal points ..........................................110
Controlling depth of fi eld ..................................................................112
Adding a Secondary Focal Point to Your Composition ..........................115
Chapter 8: Finding Your Perspective
Looking at Things from a New Perspective ..............................................117
Understanding how perspective impacts your message ..............118
Making choices about perspective ..................................................120
Selecting perspective according to light ........................................121
Considering Techniques to Get the Shot ..................................................123
Moving the subject or yourself ........................................................124
Zooming in to reveal details .............................................................125
Using focal length to achieve your goals ........................................127
Rotating Your Camera to Create Unusual Angles ....................................128
Putting the subject off center ...........................................................129
Placing the subject in the top or bottom of the frame ..................130
Changing your camera’s orientation ...............................................132
Chapter 9: Backgrounds: As Important as the Subject
From Great Outdoors to Crawlspace: Considering Types
of Backgrounds ........................................................................................136
Working with wide-open spaces ......................................................137
Handling tight spaces ........................................................................138
Using solid backgrounds ...................................................................139
Recognizing Problem Backgrounds ..........................................................143
Badly lit backgrounds .......................................................................143
Distracting backgrounds ...................................................................144
Backgrounds that merge with your subject ...................................145
Preventing and Fixing Problems ................................................................146
Identifying poor backgrounds by reviewing
your work as you go ......................................................................147
Creating your own backgrounds to avoid problems .....................148
Using Background Elements to Support Your Subject ...........................149
Chapter 10: Using Light to Tell Your Story
Recognizing Sources of Light .....................................................................153
Understanding Light Quality and Intensity ..............................................155
Considering hard light versus soft light .........................................156
Controlling your contrast .................................................................159
Modifying the quality and contrast of light ....................................159
The Relationship between Light Source and Subject .............................163
Seeing how distance makes a difference ........................................163
Positioning your light source to create lighting patterns.............164
Adding a third light source ...............................................................167
Breaking the patterns and creating your own look .......................169
Manipulating the Direction of Natural Light ............................................170
Giving yourself the time of day ........................................................171
Appreciating different results in different seasons .......................174
Setting Light in Motion ................................................................................174
Accounting for the Color of Light ..............................................................177
Chapter 11: Adding Interest through Framing and Formatting
Making the Most of Framing .......................................................................180
Giving your image a sense of depth ................................................181
Adding interest by getting creative with your
compositional frame ......................................................................183
Keeping a viewer in the frame ..........................................................183
Choosing between the Horizontal and Vertical Formats .......................185
Understanding how your message infl uences
which format to use .......................................................................186
Determining format based on the subject ......................................188
Letting the environment dictate format..........................................190
Chapter 12: Exploring Other Compositional Ideas
Creating Harmony with Balance and a Sense of Scale ............................193
Keeping the elements balanced and properly weighted ..............194
Including a sense of scale .................................................................197
Using Rhythm and Repetition of Elements ...............................................200
Pulling harmony out of chaos ..........................................................201
Shooting simple compositions .........................................................202
Reinforcing your subject or intended message
with repeating elements ................................................................204
Creative Ways to Break the Rules or Cheat the System .........................205
Experimenting with the tilt-shift lens ..............................................205
Taking multiple digital exposures ...................................................208
Crafting soft, dream-like compositions ...........................................210
Part IV: Composition in Action 
Chapter 13: Showing People in Their Best Light
Showing a Person’s Essence in Portraits ..................................................216
Capturing genuine expressions ........................................................216
Choosing your angle and your lens .................................................217
Adding interest by integrating your subject’s hands
into the photo .................................................................................218
Taking advantage of a person’s surroundings ...............................218
Getting Great Results from Both Candid and Posed Portraits ..............220
Making a case for candids ................................................................221
Taking control with posed shots .....................................................222
Photographing People Together: Showing Connections ........................224
Overcoming the technical challenges of
photographing groups ...................................................................224
Composing portraits of couples ......................................................225
Setting up group portraits ................................................................226
Fabulous Darling, You’re Gorgeous: Shooting Fashion Photography ...227
Chapter 14: In Nature: Landscapes and Wildlife
Recognizing Compositional Elements in Nature .....................................232
Expansive landscapes: Basking in your surroundings ..................232
Narrowing in on intimate landscapes .............................................234
Exploring fi ne detail through macro photography ........................236
Capturing Wildlife ........................................................................................238
Finding animals to photograph ........................................................238
Getting the best-composed shot ......................................................239
Developing a Respect for Nature’s Elements ...........................................241
Photographing the Forest ...........................................................................243
Determining what you want to photograph ...................................243
Factoring in light when in the forest ...............................................243
Taking advantage of night in the forest ..........................................245
Chapter 15: Shooting Still-Life Photography
Making Everyday Objects Interesting .......................................................248
Seeing objects as fi ne art ..................................................................248
Selling objects with photography ....................................................249
Photographing Flowers in Studio and in Nature .....................................252
Producing images in the studio .......................................................252
Capturing fl owers in their natural environments ..........................254
Cooking Up Beautiful Food Photos ............................................................255
Working with Architectural and Interior Photography ..........................258
Crafting images of building exteriors ..............................................259
Taking a look inside: Composing interior shots ............................260
Chapter 16: Capturing (Or Stopping) Motion
through Photography
Following Compositional Principles When a Subject
Isn’t Stationary .........................................................................................264
Focusing on moving subjects ...........................................................264
Composing subjects in motion.........................................................265
Deciding whether to freeze or show motion ..................................266
Up for the Challenge: Photographing Subjects
Constantly on the Move ..........................................................................273
Taking successful images of children .............................................273
Catching shots of the family pet ......................................................274
Tackling sporting events ...................................................................275
Chapter 17: Artsy Photos: Fine Art, Composite Pictures,
and Abstracts
Classifying Photography as Fine Art .........................................................280
Lighting your subject ........................................................................281
Making the best of your situation ....................................................283
Composing Abstract Photos ......................................................................284
Keeping the effects of color in mind................................................285
Using shapes and lines to create meaning .....................................285
Playing with tonality ..........................................................................285
Putting it all together.........................................................................286
Combining Multiple Shots to Create a Single Photo ...............................287
Mimicking a made-up scene with multiple exposures ..................287
Creating collages ................................................................................289
Chapter 18: Improving Composition through
Postproduction Editing
Cleaning Up Your Composition .................................................................294
Removing unwanted elements and fl aws ........................................294
Changing your perspective ...............................................................300
Editing Your Images to Draw the Viewer to Your Subject .....................304
Adjusting contrast in the scene using Curves Layers ...................304
Enhancing an image’s light ...............................................................305
Sharpening your photos ...................................................................306
Part V: The Part of Tens
Chapter 19: Ten Ways to Improve Composition
Reveal Contrast with Complementary Colors .........................................311
Harmonize with Monochromatic Colors ..................................................312
Make a Subtle Statement with Analogous Colors ....................................312
Use a Shallow Depth of Field to Tell a Story ............................................313
Shoot Until You’ve Exhausted the Possibilities .......................................313
Choose a Background That Says Something ............................................314
Tackle Transparent and Refl ective Elements ..........................................314
Treat Light as the Subject ..........................................................................315
Incorporate a Compositional Frame .........................................................315
Create a Composite Image ..........................................................................316
Chapter 20: Ten Tips for Finding Photographic Inspiration
Take a Walk, Take Photos, and Take Notes .............................................317
Try Something Completely New ................................................................318
Emulate Your Favorite Shots by Other Photographers ..........................319
Watch a Good Movie ...................................................................................320
Visit a Museum .............................................................................................320
Compile a Wall of Inspiration .....................................................................321
Purchase a New Lens ..................................................................................321
Head Out for a Nighttime Photo Shoot .....................................................321
Reveal the Lapse of Time in a Scene .........................................................323
Join a Photography Forum .........................................................................323
Chapter 21: Viewing Ten Compositions of One Scene
Choosing a High Angle to Show the Scene ...............................................325
Selecting a Low Angle to Emphasize the Subject ....................................326
Highlighting the Subject and the Scene with a Wide-Angle Lens ..........327
Showing More Scenery with a Wide-Angle Lens ......................................328
Narrowing In on Your Subject with a Long Lens .....................................329
Creating an Intimate Portrait by Using a Long Lens ...............................330
Paying Attention to the Foreground Elements in Your Scene ...............331
Giving Your Photo a Compositional Frame ..............................................332
Finding Negative Space ...............................................................................333
Backlighting Your Subject to Emphasize Shape ......................................334
Index ....................................................................... 335

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What You’re Not to Read
If you’re in a hurry to start taking amazing photographs, you may want to
skip around this book to areas that most appeal to you. No problem. If you
are in a big hurry, here’s a tip: You can skip the sidebars (those gray-shaded
boxes) and any text marked with the Technical Stuff icon. The information
you find in these places may interest you and add something to your work,
but it isn’t necessary for understanding how to compose beautiful photographs.

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