How Are Engravings Copied By Using Photography

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In that location are no unbreakable rules when it comes to how you should etch your photographs. Afterward all, who likes rules except for your old school master or heads of H.R. departments? There are, however, several photography composition guidelines you can utilise to aid improve the composition of your photos.

Last updated: January 18th, 2022.

Some of the ideas presented in this commodity have been around for millennia and have been used in fine art and architecture by some of the most famous names in history.

Here’southward the thing about these ideas; they constantly contradict each other. And that’s ok. No one idea presented hither is “ameliorate” than some other. They can exist used on their own, combined, or completely disregarded depending on what you are trying to attain in your photograph. You won’t get sent to the master’due south part for ignoring them. I promise. After all, there is more than than one way to cook an egg. Poached egg is patently the best way though, and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise.

In this tutorial, I’ve listed 28 of these guidelines along with examples of each. I’ve started with the nearly bones ones and finished with some of the more advanced limerick techniques.

Photography Composition Defined

Outset of all, we have to define what is meant past ‘composition’. Composition refers to the style the diverse elements in a scene are arranged within the frame. Every bit I’ve already mentioned, these are not hard and fast rules but guidelines. That said, many of them have been used in art for thousands of years and they really do help achieve more attractive compositions. I discover that I usually have one or more than of these guidelines in the back of my mind as I’m setting upward a shot.

At a Glance

Here is an index of the 28 composition techniques covered in this article:

Nosotros’ll start with probably the most well-known composition technique: The Rule of Thirds.

#1. Dominion of Thirds

So I’ve just told you that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to composition and so the beginning thing I write most is the ‘rule’ of thirds. In my defence, I didn’t come up with the name. The rule of thirds is very unproblematic. You separate the frame into 9 equal rectangles, 3 across and 3 downward equally illustrated below. Many camera manufacturers have actually included the capability to display this grid in alive view fashion. Check your camera’s transmission to run into how to plow on this characteristic.

The idea is to place the important element(south) of the scene along one or more of the lines or where the lines intersect. Nosotros take a natural tendency to want to identify the main subject area in the middle. Placing it off-center using the rule of thirds will generally lead to a more attractive composition.

A photo of a tree with a rule of thirds grid overlaid

In this photo, I’ve placed the horizon roughly along the lesser 3rd of the frame and the biggest and closest trees along the line to the right. The photo wouldn’t have the aforementioned bear on if the larger trees had been placed in the middle of the frame.

A photo of city with a rule of thirds grid overlaid

In this photo of the One-time Town Square in Prague, I’ve placed the horizon forth the meridian 3rd of the frame. Most of the buildings sit in the center third and the square itself occupies the bottom third of the frame. The spires of the church are placed nearly the horizontal line to the right of the frame.

A photo of a Dublin street with a rule of thirds grid overlaid
Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland

In this street photograph taken in my home metropolis of Dublin, I’ve placed the woman in red walking along the street on the indicate where two of the grid lines intersect. The cobbled street roughly occupies the lesser third of the frame; the edifice ground floors frontages occupy the middle tertiary and the upper floors of the buildings occupy the meridian third. Having the dominion of thirds grid activated in live view on my camera really helped me with limerick when I took this photograph.

#2. Centered Limerick and Symmetry

Now that I’ve told you not to place the primary subject in the center of the frame, I’m going to tell you to do the exact reverse! There are times when placing a discipline in the center of the frame works actually well. Symmetrical scenes are perfect for a centered composition. They expect really well in square frames too.

A photo of Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin, Ireland
Ha’penny Bridge, Dublin, Ireland.

This photo of the Ha’penny Bridge in my home metropolis of Dublin was the perfect candidate for a centered composition. Architecture and roads often make great subjects for centered compositions.

A photo of a tree with a symmetry grid overlaid

Scenes containing reflections are also a great opportunity to apply symmetry in your composition. In this photo, I’ve actually used a mix of the rule of thirds and symmetry to etch the scene. The tree is positioned off-heart to the right of the frame but the perfectly however water of the lake provides the symmetry. You tin can often combine several composition guidelines in a unmarried photo.

A photo of Maynooth University with a line down the middle showing symmetry
Maynooth University, Republic of ireland

Square cropped frames can be a suitable option for centered compositions. A square is completely symmetrical after all. I actually studied French and history at this university over twenty years ago. I had very picayune time for photography though as I was just then busy
drinking beer
discussing eighteenth-century French poetry and the merits of enlightened absolutism in Prussia with my fellow scholars.

A photo of Dublin Docklands with a horizontal line showing symmetry
Dublin Docklands, Ireland

Symmetry doesn’t always have to be vertical in nature. Reflections tin create the perfect opportunity to capture some horizontal symmetry. Early morning and evening times oft nowadays skilful opportunities for reflections like this every bit the air cools and the current of air drops.

#3. Foreground Involvement and Depth

Including some foreground involvement in a scene is a great manner of adding a sense of depth to the scene. Photographs are 2D by nature. Including foreground involvement in the frame is 1 of a number of techniques to give the scene a more 3D feel.


In this photo of a waterfall in Kingdom of the netherlands, the rocks in the river provided a perfect source of foreground interest.

A photo of Sonsbeek Waterfall in Arnhem with the foreground interest indicated
Sonsbeek Waterfall, Arnhem

Calculation foreground interest works peculiarly well with wide-angle lenses.

A nighttime photo captured at Dublin Docklands of a dock cleat in the foreground

I took this photograph in the Dublin Docklands. The dock cleats along the quay provided the foreground interest in this shot. I think it adds a real sense of depth to the composition. The dock cleat in this scene was simply a few meters in front end of me when I took this shot. Including it in the frame portrays a sense of depth in the scene past including an element that I was quite close to too as the bridge and buildings in the distance and everything in between them.

A friend who was with me that evening tripped over i of the cleats and most ended up getting a very shut-up view of the River Liffey. That’s one way of adding depth to the scene I guess.

#4. Frame Within the Frame

Framing Scene with Arch – Photographic Composition

Including a ‘frame inside the frame’ is another constructive mode of portraying depth in a scene. Expect for elements such as windows, arches, or overhanging branches to frame the scene with. The ‘frame’ does not necessarily have to surround the unabridged scene to exist effective.


In the photo above taken on St Mark’south Square in Venice, I used the entrance to frame St Marks Basilica and the Campanile at the far stop of the piazza. The use of scenery viewed through arches was a mutual feature of Renaissance painting as a way of portraying depth. As y’all can see, the square was completely empty when I took the shot. This is one of the benefits of getting up at 5 am. Early morning is one of my favorite times to get out and nearly with the camera.

Frames don’t take to be man-made objects such as arches or windows. The photo below was taken in County Kildare in Ireland. This fourth dimension, I used the tree trunk to the right and the overhanging branch to create a frame around the scene containing the bridge and boathouse. Notice that even though the ‘frame’ doesn’t actually environs the whole scene in this case, it still adds a sense of depth.

Maynooth, Canton Kildare, Ireland

Natural features such as copse tin can also be used to frame a scene. In this example, the Autumn copse frame the stone bridge. In this example, I likewise used a centered limerick with the bridge in the middle of the frame. Notation that the frame doesn’t necessarily have to completely surround your subject. It could be copse on either side, every bit is the case here.

Using a ‘frame inside a frame’ presents a bully opportunity to utilise your surroundings to be creative in your compositions.


#v. Leading Lines

Leading lines help lead the viewer through the paradigm and focus attention on of import elements. Anything from paths, walls, or patterns can be used equally leading lines. Take a expect at the examples below.


In this photograph of the Eiffel Tower, I used the patterns on the paving stones as leading lines. The lines on the ground all lead the viewer to the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Y’all’ll likewise notice that I used a centered composition for this scene. The symmetry of my surroundings made this type of composition work well.


Leading lines do non necessarily have to exist directly as illustrated past the picture to a higher place. In fact, curved lines can be very attractive compositional features. In this case, the path leads the viewer to the correct of the frame before swinging in to the left towards the tree. I also made use of the dominion of thirds when composing the shot.

#6. Diagonals and Triangles

Information technology is oft said that triangles and diagonals add together ‘dynamic tension’ to a photo. My mother-in-law too does an splendid job of adding tension to whatever scene. What do nosotros mean by ‘dynamic tension’ though? This tin can be a tricky one to explain and can seem a bit pretentious. Look at information technology this way, horizontal lines and vertical lines propose stability. If you see a person standing on a level horizontal surface, he will appear to exist pretty stable unless he’s stumbling out of a pub at 2 am. Put this human being on a sloping surface and he’ll seem less stable. This creates a sure level of tension visually. We are not and then used to diagonals in our everyday life. They subconsciously propose instability. Incorporating triangles and diagonals into our photos can aid create this sense of ‘dynamic tension’.

Incorporating triangles into a scene is a peculiarly good constructive way of introducing dynamic tension. Triangles can be actual triangle-shaped objects or unsaid triangles. I’ll explicate this in more than detail in a moment.


This film of the Samuel Beckett Span in Dublin incorporates plenty of triangles and diagonals into the scene. The span itself is an actual triangle (It’s actually supposed to represent a Celtic Harp on its side). There are also several ‘implied’ triangles in the scene. Notice how the leading lines on the right of the frame are all diagonal and course triangles that all come across at the same point. These are ‘implied triangles’. Having diagonals going off in dissimilar directions adds a lot of ‘dynamic tension’ to the scene. Over again y’all can see how I have combined 2 techniques to compose the image: leading lines and diagonals.


In this photograph of the Hotel de Ville in Paris, the implied triangles and diagonals create a sense of dynamic tension. We are not used to seeing buildings leaning at such angles in our everyday life. It is slightly jarring to our sense of residuum. This is what creates the visual tension. You can also talk about dynamic tension to sound intelligent (or annoyingly pretentious) in front of your friends.

#7. Patterns and Textures

Human beings are naturally attracted to patterns. They are visually attractive and suggest harmony. Patterns can be human being-made like a series of arches or natural like the petals on a flower. Incorporating patterns into your photographs is always a good way to create a pleasing limerick. Less regular textures can likewise exist very pleasing to the center.


The photo above was taken in Tunisia. I’ve used the blueprint in the paving stones to lead the eye to the domed building. The building itself incorporates a pattern in the form of a series of arches. The domed roof too compliments the rounded arches below.


In this second photo, also shot in Tunisia, I really liked the texture of the stonework on the ground. This is less regular than the design in the showtime photograph but the play of light and shadow on the surface is very pleasant. There are as well interesting textures to be on the walls and roof of the passage. You may besides accept noticed that the arch creates a ‘frame within a frame’ effectually the homo and cafe on the other side of the entrance.

#8. Suspension the Pattern

Sometimes using a pattern in your composition means breaking the pattern. This was really suggested to me in ane of the comments of the last commodity I wrote on composition.

Odd One Out | Adobe Stock

I’ve already said that some “rules” are there to exist broken. The same goes for patterns. Breaking the pattern can really make your photo pop. In this case, the unmarried ruby-red candle really stands out amidst the vanilla-colored ones. It’s likewise slightly taller than the others which is another mode of breaking the blueprint. Observe how the photograph however follows the rule of thirds.

#ix. Rule of Odds

In the world of photography, there are certainly plenty of ‘odds’ but the ‘rule of odds’ is something different entirely. The dominion suggests that an image is more visually appealing if there are an odd number of subjects. The theory proposes that an even number of elements in a scene is distracting as the viewer is not certain which 1 to focus his or her attending on. An odd number of elements is seen as more natural and easier on the centre. To be honest, I think at that place are plenty of cases where this is non the instance just information technology is certainly applicable in certain situations. What if yous accept 4 children? How do you determine which one to leave out of the shot? Personally, I’d go by future earning potential.


The photo to a higher place is an example of the dominion of odds. I deliberately framed the scene to include three arches. I think that two arches would not have worked every bit well and may have divided the viewer’s attending. It also so happened that there were three people in the scene. This composition besides makes use of patterns and ‘frames within a frame’.


In the photo of two gondoliers in Venice above, you lot will come across that I’ve completely ignored the rule of odds. It is true that your attention may shift back and forth between each gondolier. However, this is exactly what a conversation between two people is like, a back and forth. For this reason, I call up the even number of subjects works in this case.

St. Mark’southward Foursquare, Venice

This photograph was also taken on Saint Mark’southward Square. This time, it completely ignores the “rule of odds” several times in the frame. In that location are
primary human subjects,
street lamps, and
ornate columns, all even numbers.

It would also be a lot of trouble to become out my angle grinder to cut down one of the street lamps. As for the columns, I don’t know where I’d start. I’d need a very strong rope and a heavy truck at least. In Venice, that would have been a challenge. I could always ask ane of the subjects to leave the scene or enquire somebody else to join them I guess. Or I could only ignore the rule of odds.

#ten. Fill the Frame

Filling the frame with your field of study, leaving little or no infinite around it tin can be very constructive in certain situations. It helps focus the viewer completely on the main subject without whatsoever distractions. It as well allows the viewer to explore the detail of the subject that wouldn’t exist possible if photographed from further abroad. Filling the frame often involves getting in so close that you may really ingather out elements of your subject. In many cases, this can lead to a very original and interesting limerick.


In the photo of my pet cat on the left, you’ll discover that I filled the frame completely with his face, even cropping out the edges of his caput and mane. This allows the viewer to actually focus on details such as the eyes or the textures in his fur. You lot may also notice that I used the rule of thirds in this composition. He is a lovely pet merely you should run across the land of our article of furniture. He also loves children but he couldn’t eat a whole one.

In the second shot of Notre Matriarch Cathedral in Paris, I have left very little infinite effectually the edges of the building. the point of this photograph is to showcase the architectural particular of the front façade of the building.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

In this photo, Notre Dame Cathedral and the adjacent buildings almost completely make full the frame. This allows us to explore details such as the flight buttresses, the stonework, or the ornate balconies on the building next door. It is a scene where the heart wanders effectually the frame.

#11. Leave Negative Space

In one case once more, I am going to completely contradict myself! In the concluding guideline, I told you that filling the frame works well every bit a compositional tool. Now I’m going to tell you that doing the exact opposite works well as well. Leaving a lot of empty or ‘negative’ space effectually your subject can exist very attractive. Information technology creates a sense of simplicity and minimalism. Similar filling the frame, information technology helps the viewer focus on the main discipline without distractions.


This photo of a giant statue of the Hindu god Shiva in Mauritius is a good instance of using negative space. The statue is obviously the master subject simply I have left plenty of space filled only past sky around it. This focuses our attention on the statue itself while giving the main subject ‘space to breath’ then to speak. The limerick also creates a sense of simplicity. At that place is nothing complicated nearly the scene. It is the statue surrounded past heaven, that is all. I too used the rule of thirds to place the statue to the right of the frame.

Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland

This simple landscape photograph makes utilise of negative infinite. The misty morning actually helped obscure some of the groundwork elements making the tree on the left really stand out with piffling to distract from it.

#12. Simplicity and Minimalism

In the last guideline, nosotros saw how leaving negative space around the master subject field can create a sense of simplicity and minimalism. Simplicity itself can be a powerful compositional tool. It is ofttimes said that ‘less is more than’. Simplicity oftentimes means taking photos with uncomplicated backgrounds that don’t distract from the master bailiwick. You can also create a simple composition past zooming in on role of your field of study and focusing on a particular detail.


In this first photo, I zoomed in on some water droplets on a leaf in a garden. It’south such a uncomplicated subject but is also very beautiful because of its simplicity. A good macro lens can be a very useful tool for creating these types of photos.


In this second photo of a tree at dawn, I made use of a very simple and uncluttered groundwork to focus attention on the tree. This photograph makes use of ‘negative infinite’ to create a sense of simplicity and minimalism. I’ve also used the rule of thirds and leading lines in the limerick.

#13. Employ Black and White

Converting a photo to blackness and white can exist a very effective method of simplifying your composition. In some ways, color itself can be a distraction. Blackness and white photography oft allows us to focus on the textures, lite, shadows, and shapes in the frame. Take a look at the following photographs taken along the Copper Coast in County Waterford, Ireland.

Copper Declension, County Waterford – Color Version

The lite in this version actually isn’t all that interesting. It’s that harsh daytime low-cal that is rarely conducive to spectacular mural photography. The location itself has potential though. Let’s see what happens when we convert this image to black and white.

Copper Coast, Canton Waterford – Black and White Version

With the “lark” of color removed, I think this becomes a much stronger shot. That harsh lite now helps to highlight the textures on the tree, in the grass, on the cliffs, and in the sky. The bold shape of the tree stands out against the sky and the scattered clouds in the sky look more dramatic. The color was hiding much of this in my opinion. Non every shot is suited to a black and white conversion just in this case, I recall information technology was.

#14. Isolate the Subject

Using a shallow depth of field to isolate your field of study is a very effective way of simplifying your composition. By using a wide aperture, you lot can blur the background that might otherwise distract from your main field of study. This is a particularly useful technique for shooting portraits. Y’all tin can learn more most how to employ dissimilar aperture settings in my tutorial on Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.


In this photo of a cat hiding in a box, I set an discontinuity of f/3.five which is very wide and results in a very blurred groundwork. This focuses attending on the true cat as the blurred background is now less distracting. This technique is an excellent mode to simplify a composition. You may have noticed that I besides used this technique to focus attention on the water aerosol on the leaf in the last guideline.

#15. Shoot from Beneath

The vast bulk of photographs are taken from caput peak. That’s not very loftier in my case as my experience with the borrowed Dutch bicycle demonstrates. Getting down low or upwardly high can be a keen way of capturing a point of view that is more dynamic or interesting. I have frequently seen wildlife photographers lying on their bellies to get that special shot.

Eiffel Tower, Paris

I took this photo of the Eiffel Tower while standing at its base and pointing my camera upwards. This was also a perfect occasion to use a centered limerick due to the symmetrical field of study. Information technology means I take a photo that’s a footling unlike from the bulk of shots of this Parisian landmark.


Sometimes finding that perfect signal of view means getting your feet wet. Above is a shot I took while standing in a stream in Ballyhoura, Canton Limerick, Ireland. I actually had to wait quite a while for a rain shower to pass and the sun to come dorsum out. It was worth it though to get low down and capture the motion of the water as if flowed over the rocks. I needed several hot whiskeys afterwards to warm myself back up though.


#xvi. Shoot from Above

Whenever I visit a new location, I like to get high at least once. I also like to take photographs from a high vantage point at some betoken during my trip. Before my trip, I always research the possibilities to take some bird’s heart photos. Nigh cities and towns ordinarily have a loftier edifice or bell tower you lot can climb to go some shots from loftier above your environs. Just make sure they allow tripods if you programme to bring one.

Markt from the Tower of Bruges

I had to work extremely hard to get this shot of Markt Foursquare in the heart of Bruges. For a start, I had to lug my camera gear up 366 narrow steps to the top of the Belfry. Now thankfully I’k in shape. Well I hateful, round is a shape, isn’t information technology? Every bit I wheezed my way to the tiptop, I think some of my fellow climbers were worried I might require medical attention. I actually met a guy whose office was right at the pinnacle of the belfry. He told me that he made the trip upwards and down the tower several times a solar day in a adjust and clothes shoes. Whereas I looked like I’d simply climbed Everest; he barely broke a sweat.

Paris from the Montparnasse Tower. This shot of Paris at night was taken from the roof of the Montparnasse Tower in the 15th Arrondissement. Whenever I visit a city, I e’er effort to see if there are any buildings with viewing platforms to allow me to photo the urban center from above. Getting high upward gives yous the chance to capture spectacular views of a city, especially at night.

When yous think of places in Paris to climb up high, you immediately think of the Eiffel Tower. The problem with shooting from the height of Paris’ most iconic structure is that you tin’t include the Eiffel Tower in your shot! This is why the viewing deck of the Montparnasse Tower in the southward of the city is a much meliorate location to capture a bird’due south eye view of the City of Lite. The tower itself is a pretty ugly edifice, to exist honest, so being on tiptop of it has the added reward that y’all can’t see it while you are upwardly in that location.

This photograph was taken just after sunset while in that location was nonetheless some color in the heaven. I waited for the “decisive moment” the Eiffel Tower sparkled as it does for one infinitesimal on the hour, every hour throughout the night. If I had waited some other hr, even so, the beautiful purple tones in the heaven would have been gone.

#17. Look for Detail Color Combinations

The utilize of color itself is an often overlooked compositional tool. Color theory is something that graphic designers, fashion designers, and interior designers are all very familiar with. Certain color combinations complement each other well and can exist visually very hitting.


Accept a look at the color wheel higher up. You tin run across that the colors are arranged logically in the segments of a circle. Colors that are opposite each other on the colour wheel are said to be ‘complimentary colors’. As photographers, we can await for scenes that comprise complementary colors every bit a way of creating attractive and striking compositions.

Have you ever noticed how many moving picture posters have blue and yellow/orange color schemes? This is done quite deliberately to create middle-catching adverts.

Customs Business firm, Dublin.

I made use of the striking bluish/yellowish color combination myself in this photograph of the Custom House in Dublin. The yellow hues of the illuminated building contrast beautifully with the deep blue of the blue hr sky.

Stephen’southward Green, Dublin.

Cherry and blue are also costless colors on the color bicycle. The Stephen’due south Green Shopping Center in Dublin was lit up crimson for Christmas final yr. This was very hitting against the deep blue of the early night sky. I beloved photographing cities during blue hour. The deep blue of the sky at this time provides a very attractive backdrop to the city’due south architecture and lights. The pure blackness of the late-night sky is not every bit striking and contrasts too sharply with the lights of the urban center.

#eighteen. Rule of Space

The rule of space relates to the direction the subject field(s) in your photo is facing or moving towards. If yous are taking a photograph of a moving machine, for example, there should be more space left in the frame in front of the automobile than backside it. This implies that there is infinite in the frame for the car to motion into. Take a look at the example of the gunkhole below.


In this photo, the gunkhole is placed on the left-hand side of the frame as it moves from left to right. Observe how there is a lot more space for the boat to move into in front of its management of motion (to the right) than behind information technology. We can mentally imagine the boat moving into this space every bit it sails along the river. We also have a subconscious tenancy to look forward to where an object is heading. If the boat was right up at the right-manus side of the frame, this would lead us out of the photograph!


This can also be used for pictures of people. The rule of space suggests that the bailiwick should exist looking or facing into the frame rather than out of it. Take a look at the musician in the photo above. I equanimous the shot with him sitting on the left-manus side of the frame. He is facing to the right (as we expect at him) into the area of infinite between him and the right-hand edge of the frame. If he had been facing the other way, he would be looking out of the frame and this would look odd. By looking into the infinite in the frame, he leads our center past the human being leaning on the railing and to the couple dancing on the correct-manus side.

The Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Admittedly, I’1000 not much of a sports lensman but I quite similar this shot I snapped with my photographic camera phone during a rugby match featuring the mighty Leinster. Notice how the kicker (Johnny Sexton) is placed to the left of the frame and the ball is traveling into the space on the correct. He made the kick by the way.

When I was a kid, the modern stadium you see in the photograph hadn’t been congenital yet. Instead, there was a rather basic and decaying sometime ground called Lansdowne Route. Back and so, my dad used to lift me over the turnstiles to go in for costless. We tried doing this again recently merely with less success. I’g now 41 years erstwhile, have put on a few pounds since I was a kid and my dad has had a hip replaced.

#19. Left to Right Rule

There is a theory that says we ‘read’ an image from left to correct in the same fashion we would read text. For this reason, it is suggested that any movement portrayed in a photograph should flow from left to correct. This is all very well simply it assumes the viewer is from a country where text is read from left to right. Many languages are read from right to left such equally Arabic for example. To be honest, I’ve seen plenty of fantastic photographs that ‘menses’ from right to left.

I was once criticized by a judge for the fact that a adult female in a photo I took was walking from right to left. He told me it didn’t follow the ‘left to right’ rule. I reminded the judge that the photograph was taken in Tunisia where people read from right to left. I didn’t win.


The photo above follows the ‘left to right’ rule. The woman walking her dog in the Tuileries Garden in Paris is walking from the left to the right of the frame.

Tuileries Gardens, Paris

This photo as well adheres to the ‘rule of space’. You will notice that at that place is much more than space in front end of the adult female than behind her. She has plenty of ‘infinite’ to walk into in the frame. I also used the dominion of thirds and a ‘frame within a frame’ to compose this photo.

Campo in Venice, Italy

In this photograph, I completely ignored the left to right rule. Does the photograph suffer as a result? I don’t think so. What interested me was the woman walking across the cute campo while staring at her phone (as we then often do these days) as well equally the colorful buildings bathed in the evening light. Frankly, I don’t really care what direction she is walking in. I suppose I could accept asked her to walk dorsum from where she came from.

Once during a club contest, a judge docked points from I photograph I took in Tunisia for non adhering to the left to right rule. I argued that as the photograph was taken in an Arab country where people read from right to left, this should not apply. Unsurprisingly, I did not win.

#20. Balance Elements in the Scene

The kickoff compositional guideline we looked at in this tutorial was the Rule of Thirds. This of course means that we often place the main subject area of the photo to the side of the frame forth ane of the vertical filigree lines. Sometimes this can lead to a lack of rest in the scene. It tin exit a sort of ‘void’ in the rest of the frame.

To overcome this, you can compose your shot to include a secondary subject of lesser importance or size on the other side of the frame. This balances out the composition without taking too much focus off the chief subject area of the photograph.

Take a wait at this photograph of the ornate lamppost on the Pont Alexandre III in Paris.


The lamppost itself fills the left side of the frame. The Eiffel Tower in the altitude counterbalances this on the other side of the frame.

Y’all may have remarked that this seems to go confronting the thought of negative space mentioned in guideline number 10. Information technology as well contradicts the ‘rule of odds’ equally nosotros now have an even number of elements in the scene. Equally I said at the very beginning of this tutorial, in that location are no unbreakable rules in photographic composition. Some of these guidelines contradict each other and that’s ok. Some guidelines work well for certain types of photographs and not others. It’due south a question of judgment and experimentation.


The photo higher up was taken in Venice. In one case once again, a decorative lamppost dominates one side of the frame. The church tower in the altitude provides balance on the other side of the frame.

This besides has a secondary event on the limerick. The church building tower in the distance is manifestly much bigger than the lamppost in real life. Information technology appears smaller in the photograph as it is far abroad. This helps add a sense of depth and scale to the scene.

#21. Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition is a very powerful compositional tool in photography. Juxtaposition refers to the inclusion of 2 or more elements in a scene that can either contrast with each other or complement each other. Both approaches can work very well and play an important function in enabling the photograph to tell a story.

Mauritshuis, the Hague

In this photograph, there is a juxtaposition between the beautiful older buildings of the Hague in the bottom one-half of the frame and the modern skyscrapers that rising up behind them. The handsome building in the center is the Mauritshuis Museum which houses paintings such equally “The Daughter with the Pearl Earring” and “The Beefcake Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp” by Rembrandt.

I spent a few days cycling around the Hague on a borrowed bicycle fabricated for a 6 foot four Dutchman. I am a 5 foot v Irishman and so that was fun and quite terrifying equally I dodged trams on the uneven cobbled streets. On several occasions, I got my bike wheels stuck in a tram line. In this case, y’all basically have two choices: autumn to the left or to the right. I tried both on multiple occasions.


Take a await at this photograph taken in Paris. In the bottom one-half of the frame, we have the slightly rough and ready book stands full of clutter and posters hanging from the tops. Rising above all of this, however, is the magnificent medieval Notre Dame Cathedral. This architectural precious stone is the epitome of order and construction different the unsophisticated but bonny bookstalls below. They seem to be in direct contrast with each other even so they work well together. They both stand for the urban center of Paris in different ways. They tell a story about two different elements of the city.

Dealul Mitropoliei – Bucharest

Contrasting the natural and built environments is another style of using juxtaposition, In this instance, the delicate pink roses contrast with the solid man-made building in the groundwork. In this case, I blurred the background but not so much that nosotros can’t make what is in that location. We saw this in the section on letting the groundwork provide context.


The photo above was as well taken in France, only this time in the picturesque petty village of Meyssac in the South West. In this shot, the sometime Citroen 2CV auto looks perfectly at home in front of the typical French buffet in the background. The ii elements complement each other perfectly. The man with his dorsum to us in the cafe is the owner of the car and he seemed surprised when I asked if information technology was ok to take a motion picture of his car. He asked why I’d e’er desire to have a photo of ‘that erstwhile thing’. He didn’t seem to realize that he had unwittingly fix a quintessentially French scene by parking in forepart of that item cafe.

#22. Golden Triangles

The golden triangles composition works in a very like way to the rule of thirds. Instead of a grid of rectangles, all the same, we divide the frame with a diagonal line going from one corner to some other. We then add two more lines from the other corners to the diagonal line. The two smaller lines meet the big line at a right angle as is illustrated beneath. This divides the frame into a series of triangles. Equally you can see, this way of composing helps usa introduce an chemical element of the ‘dynamic tension’ nosotros learned near in guideline number six. Every bit with the dominion of thirds, nosotros utilize the lines (of the triangles in this example) to help u.s.a. position the various elements in the scene.


The photograph above contains stiff diagonals that follow the lines of the ‘aureate triangles’. The light trails from the traffic perfectly follow the diagonal line running from the top correct-mitt corner to the bottom left-hand corner. The tops of the buildings on the left are close to the smaller diagonal on the left. The small line on the right meets the larger line at the meridian corner of the buildings.


The photo above makes utilise of the ‘rule of triangles’ in a more subtle way. The heads of the statues create an ‘unsaid triangle’. This line leads u.s.a. to the Eiffel Tower in the distance. The smaller line on the left meets the longer line right at the halfway point of the Eiffel Tower. The smaller line on the correct goes correct between the ii statues. The rule of triangles can seem like a complex mode of arranging a photograph simply it can consequence in some really striking compositions.

#23. Golden Ratio

What is the golden ratio? Well, it’s really very simple: two quantities are in the gold ratio if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the 2 quantities. Wait, what now? Ok, if that sounds as well complicated, perhaps this mathematical formula will help:


What do you hateful you’re even more than dislocated at present? Is this form clearer?

Ok, that seems to take only fabricated things worse. Forget all that.

I often describe the gold ratio as being a slightly more complicated version of the rule of thirds with a lilliputian bit of the golden triangles method thrown into the mix. Have a look at the image beneath.

The Golden Ratio / Phi Grid / Fibonacci Spiral | Adobe Stock

Rather than dividing the frame into equal rectangles, information technology is instead divided into a serial of squares as in the case above. This is known as a “Phi Grid”. These squares are then used as a guide to add a spiral that looks like a snail’southward beat out — this is known as the “Fibonacci Spiral”.

These squares, lines, and spiral are then used to lay out the elements in the frame as with the rule of thirds and gold triangles. The screw is supposed to lead the center around the frame and evidence u.s.a. how the scene should flow. It’s a bit like an invisible leading line. We will look at leading lines in more detail shortly.

Adobe Stock

The similarities with the dominion of thirds and golden triangles go clearer once nosotros add a few lines to the diagram. The gilded ratio also divides the frame into ix parts although this time they are not even so size and shape. The diagonals we saw in the golden triangles examples can also be added hither.

It is believed that the aureate spiral method of composition has been in existence for over 2,400 years having been devised in Aboriginal Greece. Information technology is widely used in many types of art too as architecture as a manner of creating aesthetically pleasing compositions. It was particularly well employed in Renaissance fine art.

The Parthenon, Athens | Adobe Stock

Ok, I have to admit something hither. I have never actually purposely set out to compose a photograph using the golden ratio. When I looked back through my photographs, I did notice that I had unintentionally used it a few times.


Here is a perfect example of one of my accidental uses of the golden ratio. I took this photo in Venice. The bridge and steps on the left occupy the large square to the right. The Fibonacci Spiral then leads usa from here across the superlative of the bridge and downward to the ii women sitting side by side to information technology. It may accept been a lucky accident simply it seems to work!


The gold ratio tin can exist set in different directions. In this photo taken in Prague, the spiral leads us across the span to the castle on the far bank. Some other lucky accident!

Paris, France

In this instance, the Fibonacci Spiral starts in the pinnacle correct-hand corner, passes under the couple dancing and finishes on the street musician’s face up. The fact that I accidentally stumbled upon the golden ratio a few times shows how many of these composition “rules” may actually be manifestations of our internal aesthetic preferences that come naturally to the states. Woah. Deep. It reminds u.s. that these should be used as ideas and not strict rules.

#24. Let the Background Give Context to the Subject

Now information technology’southward time to contradict myself again. There are times when I like to employ a busy background. In these cases, I desire to background to provide some context to my subject.

Dublin Seagull

This photo doesn’t contain any old seagull. This is a Dublin seagull! The slightly blurred O’Connell Street in the background gives the subject area some context. The fact that he was eating a bowl of coddle and drinking Lyons Tea when I spotted him also lets me know that he was indeed a Dublin seagull. Notice, how the background is still blurred only non so much that the seagull doesn’t stand up out. It’s about getting a remainder between not distracting from the subject and providing background context.

Dealul Mitropoliei – Bucharest

I took this photograph of a rose at a monastery complex on the outskirts of Bucharest, Romania. One time once again I blurred the groundwork just enough to let the rose stand out. At that place is still all the same enough item to show the viewer the context that the rose was photographed in.

#25. Let the Eye Wander Around the Frame

And for my next trick, I will once again completely contradict myself. This is the antithesis to the concept of simplicity and minimalism. There are some occasions I like to take photographs with plenty happening in the frame. Take a look at the paintings of Pieter Bruegel to meet an fantabulous example of fine art with plenty of dissimilar characters and activities going on in the frame.

Temple Bar, Dublin

This photograph was taken in the Temple Bar area of Dublin City. The frame is total of different characters and activity. In this case, the eye can wander around the frame noticing all the little details such as the flowers, the building details, and diverse people walking, exiting a edifice, or checking their telephone outside a pub. There is no ane main subject.

It is not a question of simplicity being preferable to complexity or vice versa. I isn’t inherently “ameliorate” than the other. It all depends on what you lot are trying to achieve with a detail photograph.

#26. Use Layers in the Frame

A very effective fashion to add together a sense of depth to a photograph is to shoot a scene that contains layers of elements at varying distances from your vantage point. These layers can lead the eye through the scene from the foreground, through the middle distance to the groundwork.

Groenerei Canal, Bruges

In this photo of a canal in Bruges, the span acts as foreground interest. The buildings forth the culvert provide the next layer in the middle distance. These buildings then atomic number 82 the viewer through the paradigm towards the more afar elements. Finally, the bong tower from a afar church rises from behind the other buildings in the groundwork. In this case, I did the reverse to the photos with foreground interest; I used a zoom lens to compress the perspective.

#27. Add Human Interest

Including some human interest in a scene can make a photograph far more engaging as well equally adding a sense of calibration. this is something I sometimes forget as a mainly urban landscape photographer. I’ve noticed that most of my best urban photographs include people somewhere in the frame.

Ponte Romana, Tavira

The quondam bridge in the large town of Tavira in Portugal is a very attractive photography location in itself. This photograph would have been quite skilful without any human interest but I think the lonely figure actually makes this shot. The person adds life to the scene as well equally giving a sense of calibration to the surroundings. I had to look a while for the right person to enter the scene and click the shutter at the correct moment. We volition see more about capturing these “decisive moments” next.

#28. Wait for the “Decisive Moment”

The idea of the “decisive moment” in photography is of course most associated with the groovy French street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. But what did Cartier-Bresson mean past the “Decisive Moment”? The bang-up man himself said the following photography quote:

Your middle must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers y’all, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. —Henri Cartier-Bresson

In the example of Henri Cartier-Bresson, this meant clicking the camera at the exact moment a human being leaped over a puddle backside Gare Saint Lazare or capturing the fleeting cheeky expression of a French boy as he joyfully carried a bottle of wine in each hand through the streets of Paris.

Carmersstraat Span, Bruges

This is actually 1 of my personal favorite photographs from my portfolio. I took information technology on an atmospheric misty morning in the picturesque Belgian city of Bruges. The location for this photo was certainly interesting but for me, it is the man crossing the bridge on his cycle that makes this photograph special.

This was ane of those occasions when I had to look for that verbal right moment to printing the shutter. I crouched beside a canal sidewall, composed my shot, and waited…. and waited…. and waited some more than. Every and so often, someone would bike across the bridge but the shot would be ruined by a car coming in the opposite direction or mayhap the cyclist would look too mod for the mood I was trying to create in the final photograph – very inconsiderate in my stance!

Finally, subsequently about 45 minutes, I saw the gentleman you can see in the photograph budgeted the bridge. I waited until he was right in front of the calorie-free-colored building you run into correct backside him so he would stand out and pressed the shutter.

It was one of those moments I knew straight abroad that I’d gotten the shot I wanted from this location. I recall it was worth the wait. I was quite lucky every bit at that place was a car coming from the opposite direction fix to spoil my shot. Thankfully for me the cyclist merely crush him to the bridge. I think he should consider taking part in the Tour de France this year.

Phoenix Park Tearooms, Dublin

Sometimes capturing the “decisive moment” can be a case of beingness in the correct place at the right time. In this instance, I had already set up my camera to photograph the former tea rooms in the Victorian Era Phoenix Park in Dublin. As I was waiting, a young couple entered the frame and said farewell with a tender buss in front of the doors to the tea rooms. Patience and luck both play a function in capturing the “decisive moment” in your photographs.

Applying These Limerick Tips to Your Photography

I have told you that it is often possible to combine ii or more of the composition ideas I’ve covered in one photo.

Arcade du Cinquantenaire, Brussels

This shot taken in Brussels combines several of the ideas we covered in this section: centered composition, symmetry, rule of thirds, leading lines, rule of odds, frame within a frame, and color theory.

Obviously, information technology would be incommunicable to have all of these compositional guidelines in your mind every bit you are out shooting. Your brain would melt! However, a good exercise is to make an effort to use one or two of them each time you get out. You could do a photo session where you look for situations to use a ‘frame within a frame’ for case.

After a while, yous’ll find that a lot of these guidelines become ingrained. Yous will brainstorm to apply them naturally without having to think about them. As yous can see from the golden ratio, I even used one of them without fifty-fifty realizing it!

I hope you found this tutorial useful and that it volition aid you bring your photography to the next level.

Another practise y’all could do is to look at some of the photos in my galleries or any collection of photos and try to see if you tin tell which compositional techniques have been used.

Nearly the author: Barry O Carroll is a Dublin, Republic of ireland-based lensman specializing in landscape photography with a particular emphasis on urban landscapes, street scenes and architecture photography. You can find more of his work on his website or past following him on Facebook and Twitter.


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