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How to Create Pleasing Triangle Symmetry Photo Compositions

written by: Larry M. Lynch•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 9/14/2009

Photo composition is far more than simply applying the rules of thirds. Pleasing triangle symmetry photo compositions can be created using pyramids as well. In this article we examine the use of triangle based digital image compositions.

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    How the Pyramids of Egypt Can Improve Your Photo Compositions

    cholo and children IMG 3777 In effectively composing digital images, there are several useful schemes. Like the rule of thirds, another highly effective photo composition scenario is creating a triangle within your digital images. The Pyramids of Ancient Egypt represent one of the more dramatic examples of effectively using a triangle composition for best visual effect. You don’t need to visit Cairo to learn to create pleasing triangle symmetry photo compositions though. Your local surroundings, these how-to tips and your vivid imagination will suffice quite nicely, thank you.

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    Effective Placement of Triangle Symmetry in Photo Compositions

    AJAZZGO September 2009 062 You’ll need to arrange or organize your subjects or points of interest in your image into a triangle which can be situated:

    - From foreground to background

    - From background to foreground

    - From left to right

    - From bottom to top

    - From top to bottom

    - Visually sweeping left to right while going from bottom to top

    - Visually sweeping left to right while descending from top to bottom

    - Visually sweeping from center foreground to left background, then across to the right background as in this Cuban Jazz ensemble example

    The purpose of a triangle composition is to gently lead the viewer’s eye from one part of the image to another providing a fluid flow from one picture element to another to create a "visual experience" for the viewer. In this way you can hold the viewer’s attention for a longer period of time and generate more emotional or visual impact for the person viewing the image. Have you ever seen a photo that held your attention by capturing an emotion or generating visual impact through leading through a series of elements in a digital image? An image you looked at over and over again, even returning to view the image multiple times? Using a triangle composition to guide your viewer’s eye through the digital image elements accomplishes exactly that. Using a triangle photo composition allows you to add visual depth, visual height, simulates 3D effects and enhances symmetry of photo compositions.

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    When to Use a Triangle Composition

    James Daniel Steele 079 This composition type can be highly effective when there are multiple visual elements or multiple subjects in a digital image, such as a small group portrait as shown. With the three subjects standing, sitting or a combination thereof as in this example image of three men in a plane with one clearly in the foreground, the middle person in the background and the third person, as your eye flows from left foreground to the middle background to moving right again towards the foreground.

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    Symmetry Composition Photo Shooting Tips

    firing squad pose IMG 3891 If you'll start looking around at photo opportunities, you'll notice natural triangle symmetry photo compositions all over the place. Musical groups of virtually all genres, even when there are more than a trio of performers, often naturally form triangles of composition. Position small groups in a composition with a floor-seated or kneeling front row and a back row of standing subjects for more dramatic visual effect. Give your small group subjects props or "something to do" and you'll have a far more pleasing composition than the more commonly seen "firing squad" small group compositions as illustrated here. Foreground, mid ground and background subject positioning also allows you to potentially create a primary, secondary and tertiary interest group of subjects or focal points inside a digital image. You can even extend the composition to a third row if you layer and build your subjects from front to rear and left to right with the front group of subjects sitting on the floor (or pillows), squatting or kneeling, a second group sitting in chairs, on a stairwell, low wall or other structure with a back row of standing, upright subjects. Remember that you can use a triangle symmetry photo composition to guide and sweep the viewer's eyes across, up down and around the image for added visual impact.

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    Creative Triangle Symmetry Photo Compositions

    Start letting the power of the pyramids work for you in your digital images. Use your imagination and creativity with your photographic subjects to create an infinite variety of triangle symmetry photo compositions that will add richness, depth and visual interest to your digital photography and say goodbye forever to the "firing squad".