Photographic themes - Composition

A well-composed photograph should have visual balance plus a focal point to which our eye is naturally drawn. Often this will be the main subject, such as a person, but with a scenic subject, a focal point is usually included to add scale and give the eye something to hold on to. There are several tools to creating a 3-dimensional feel.

Lead in lines add direction and perspective to a shot by helping to carry the viewer's eye through the scene. Roads, walls, fences or rivers all make for powerful lines to lead our view. Wide-angles are ideal for emphasizing lines as the way they stretch perspective exaggerates the effect.

The rule of thirds was discovered by painters to create a visual balance. You mentally divide up your image into six sections by drawing vertical and horizontal lines a third of the way in from each corner. Your main subject should then be positioned on one of the four intersection points created by the lines.

Framing a scene can improve composition by hiding distracting details or filling unwanted space. Overhanging branches from a tree or arches and doorways concentrate attention on the subject. Keep both frame and subject in sharp focus by using a small aperture.

Finally break the rules by experimenting. Take a couple of images from several different viewpoints and find out what works best with your subject.