Rules of Composition Followup

(Repost – first posted Sept 2009)

So I posted my Rules of Composition post in a couple of photography blogs I hang out in, and got some really interesting responses, and some new ideas and concepts.

Big SHOUT OUT to the folks on the Fred Miranda Nature and Wildlife forum and HelloPhoto Nature Forum. Many people took a lot of time to write thoughtful and interesting responses in answer to my question – you guys ROCK !

And the main theme of the replies was along the lines of ‘break the rules’ or ‘not rules but guidelines’ or ‘don’t be defined by the rules’. Excellent stuff and I agree totally. Once I have a better feel for how the rules are supposed to work, and see an improvement in my photography, then I might feel brave enough to start asserting myself creatively.

Here is a summary of the ideas and concepts and advice that were given me:

– to get a better feel for good composition, look at paintings by the Masters (and I extend that out to photography by the Masters as well)


– shoot what you find interesting and try and make it aesthically pleasing

– some people post only perfect images, some people are accepting that the world is not perfect, and sometimes thats just the shot you got

– keep it simple (avoid clutter)

– frame the shot well – pay attention to all of the image, not just the point of interest

– learn to see in 3D as well as 2D

– have some foreground interest

– don’t always shoot from standing, get down low or up high – either way, change your angle or viewpoint in some way

– give the image a solid grounding, either by shadow placement or area of tone


Lots of new concepts to think about! And good ideas that hadn’t occured to me before.

Here are a couple of my personal goals to keep in mind immediately:

1. Look in all 4 corners and along the edges when framing up the image. Is there better positioning, stuff I want to exclude, have I chopped something off. Look at *all* of the image before going ‘click’

2. Do the different heights and angles and viewpoints. I have seen the benefit already with some duckling shots, and I tried it today with some daffodil shots, and I quite like it.

Note: this requires wearing rough and tumble clothes, and probably taking something waterproof/ protective to lie on

I hope that if I concentrate on these two until they become automatic, then that will help my photos improve in quality.

Update in 2013 – here is a photo taken in Hanmer back in Aug 2009

And here is a similar shot taken Dec 2012

Does it look like from these shots that I *have* learned something about composition?


About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
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7 Responses to Rules of Composition Followup

  1. I think that applies to writing too. But I’ll try to keep these ideas in mind for my own amateur efforts at pics. The nice thing about SLRs is that you don’t have to worry about using up film. Keep Shooting can mean just keep shooting different angles and positions and see what works best.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hi Raven

      I visited your website, and your photos are AWESOME!! And your poetry was interesting but deserved more time spent on it that I had at the time.

      I loved the photo of the two geese flying just above the water and also the whirlpooly effect in another stream photo.

      I couldn’t see a links section on your page, would love to exchange links, if you dont, would you mind if I put your site in mine?

  2. Great, I did not know about that until now. Thanx.

  3. Pingback: So I got Freshly Pressed! | Learning to See Light

  4. Bill Grover says:

    I think you covered the topic of composition quite well for the beginning photographer. composition really does make the difference between a good photo and a great one.

  5. Pingback: Up for Discussion – Composition | Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY

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