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The Big Picture – Photographic Composition Techniques

written by: •edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 8/15/2010

The term “composition" simply refers to the act of putting together certain pieces or elements to form the “big picture". It’s the general make-up of the whole. In photography the term still holds true. This is the first article in a series that discusses photographic composition techniques.

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    Intro to Photographic Composition

    Photo by paolo màrgari

    Photographic Composition 

    Anyone can pick up a camera, aim it at a subject and take a picture. That doesn’t mean the picture will turn out to be anything spectacular. To take a brilliant photo, there are many different aspects you need take into consideration. All of the following composition techniques are just that – techniques. There are no rules that require you use these techniques, nor does it mean your photo will be awful should you not use them. They are guidelines to help teach you the various elements of composing a photograph.

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    Photographic composition used in advertising

    Photo by filtran

    Photographic composition techniques 

    “Use every weapon within the rules and stretch the rules to breaking point, I say." Fred Trueman

    After you’ve read this series of articles, turn on the TV or open a magazine, take a look at the advertisements, or for that matter, even programs on TV. You’ll soon discover that these tricks and techniques are used all the time – with digital photography as well as video. It’s quite interesting to see, once you have a trained eye.Photographic composition in advertising 

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    Master your photography skills by practising!

    Above all, take loads of pictures and practise, practise, practise! After all, do you think Claude Monet became the famous Impressionist he was by only doing one or two paintings?

    Photo by The Wolf

    Practise photographic composition 

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    Photographic composition techniques

    Learning photographic composition techniques has never been easier. The following articles will help better your photography skills by supplying you with guidelines for better photographic composition, including photography tips and tricks.

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    Active Space

    Whether you plan on taking action shots or portraits, one rule of thumb is to give your subject or point of interest space or room to move. To learn more about this photographic composition technique, please read Give Them Space.

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    Taking pictures from different angles can alter a photographs perspective considerably. This photographic composition technique may have you getting down and dirty, but will definitely help in taking better photos. Click here to learn more.

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    A common mistake and something a lot of people don’t consider when taking photographs is their subject’s background. People tend to focus on their subject, making sure that it is exactly the way they want it, while ignoring the background. This can be a recipe for disaster. To learn more about this photographic composition technique, please read Don't Forget to do a Background Check.

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    The photographic composition technique of creating contrast to enhance an image is certainly not a new approach. But how do use contrast to capture attention-grabbing photos? What are the different forms of contrast? Click here to learn about contrast and how to apply contrast to your photographs.

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    Fill Your Frame

    One of the most effective and simple photographic composition techniques is to fill your frame with your point of interest. Doing so will greatly enhance your digital photographs and eliminate all that background clutter. Click here for tips on how to fill your frame effectively.

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    Framing is a photographic composition technique used to enhance the overall result of a photo and to draw attention to the subject. Framing does not refer to physical frames you put your photos into. Compositional framing consists of using natural or man-made objects within the photo itself. Take a look at Framing Your Subject to learn more.

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    In terms of photographic composition, the use of lines can have significant impact on your photographs. This article will describe the various forms of lines, how to use lines to compliment your photograph and how lines can form a specific atmosphere or feeling.

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    Rule of Thirds

    Rule of Thirds sets best practice for positioning the elements of a picture in order to achieve the best results. Following this photographic composition technique will assist a photographer in producing a more aesthetically pleasing photo. To learn more about what the Rule of Thirds is and how to use it effectively, please click here.