Composition basics matter even in snapshots

These two images are an example of why little things matter when we compose and create images. I selected these images because in many ways they are based on a  just so-so image. I think they are good sketches of what might come from my work with motion, land and water, but they are not what I would normally consider strong imagery. However, they are a good example of how even so-so images are impacted by not paying attention to the basics of composition and structure.

In images, we are drawn to things that are in focus verse out of focus, light before dark, and things sitting on the edge of the frame can completely distract the viewer from the subject of the image. In this first image, I do experience the image as motion. The blurring of the water and the lightness of the water draw me into the frame, but I quickly look up at the tiny branches in the upper left corner. This plant a significant distraction. Not only is the position at the edge of the frame an issue,  but it is in focus so I am drawn to look at that part of the image once it catches my attention. Because it holds no purpose in this image, I a left wondering what those branches are about and my attention span is lost.

In the second image we have a change in focal depth, darkening of the corners and a removal of the twigs from the corner. This composition moves me into the center of the image and allows me to spend time experiencing the motion of the water as it swrils around the eddy. If my eyes float around the image, I have removed the distractions to help pull you back to the center. The image is now completely about the movement of the water by allowing the soft focus and darker corners to help push your eyes to the center of the frame. I think this is a good example supporting the notion that even a so-so image can be improved if we shoot images that keep in mind the basics of image composition.


All images taken on a Nikon D300s with Lexar Media.

June 1, 2011

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