There are many elements of good photography that can enhance the composition of a photograph and create a new perspective that you might have never seen before. These elements are the principles of the Rule of Thirds, Depth of Field and the use of Leading lines. Today we are also going to look at some photography that I have taken and compare it to a couple professional’s photos.
Rule of Thirds
Here is a photo I took a year ago out in a park at my hometown. Let’s put a grid over it and see how well my composition follows the rule of thirds.
As you can see the majority of my subject falls within the right-most third of the grid. Although a small portion is sticking out into the middle. The right line does line up with his hands but the corners on that line don’t seem to line up with interesting points on the photo. If I were to do this again I would crop out a little more of the area behind the subject so that it would line up a little better to the grid. But for a rookie it isn’t too far off.
Now lets compare my photo to a professionals
As we can see it has some similarities. Both subjects are located off center and happen to be sitting looking at the landscape. Now lets put the same grid over it.
As you can see a lot is similar. This time the entire subject is in the left third with nothing sticking out. Additionally his head lines up with bottom of the upper third. While the lower left corner is on a more visually interesting object, I still wouldn’t call that area a major focal point though. The overall quality of the photo is nicer but in terms of the rule of thirds they are very similar.
Depth of Field
This is a picture that I took of one of my close friends while in the same park as the previous photo of mine was in.
Notice how only my friend is detailed while everything else is blurry. That because of depth of field. I made it so only the subject was in focus, which in turn makes him stand out against the background. I did this because it was a very visually interesting background that would steal focus from the true subject. Depth of field is a great way to direct the viewers eye to what you want them to see.
Now lets look at the use of depth of field in a professional photo
While there is a drastic difference between the subjects in the photo, depth of field is still used in a similar way.
In a similar way the background is blurred again. Our eyes instantly focus on the dog because it is the most detailed thing in the photo. However, in this photograph you can see the detailed to blurry transition much easier. Which I think adds to the quality of the photo because it gives a better perception of depth.
This is a highly edited photo I took during the day at the same park, that I wanted to look like night. While I don’t think this photo has very many leading lines, I think it uses them efficiently.
Leading lines are supposed to draw your attention to the subject of the photo and I think in this case the two lines at the right do a good job, they both seem to point to the tree which is the main focal point. The leading line of the tree brings perspective into the photo. The slight diagonal makes it seem like we are looking at the tree from below, maybe several feet away. While that jet stream made by a passing airplane was unintentional, I believe it adds to the photo making it much more than the original.
Lets compare this to a Professional Photograph
At first glance this photo already has many more leading lines. It is hard for your eyes to not follow them.
This is a rough draw over but I believe it suits the purpose. All of the leading lines are very prominent and easy to follow, however in this case I couldn’t determine where they bring the focus to. I think the lines are supposed to bring focus to the rock in the circle, however because there are more of the same lines on that rock it causes my eyes to follow them right into the empty sky. To be fair the photo is a beautiful picture of a naturally made rock formation, it’s not like the photographer could alter the scenery. In this case I believe that the subject matter is the entire rock area with the leading lines not leading to anything specific, but guiding your eyes through the photo. However, This photo is a great example of prominent leading lines and how they cause your eye to follow them.
These photography techniques add a lot to the composition of a photo. The rule of thirds lets us figure out how to frame our subject so that we can avoid the overused centered photos and create a unique composition. Depth of field allows us to draw attention away from distractions and direct it at the subject. Lastly, leading lines create pathways for our eyes to follow that lead us through the photo.