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Photography tutorial: Composition

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Category: General Photography

Finding and creating effective composition - Tips on how to improve the composition of your shots.

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Digital Photography Composition for Dummies Book
This tutorial is an extraction from the
Digital Photography Composition for Dummies book by Tom Clark. Visit Wiley Press for more information.

David Clapp Burano Italy
Photo by David Clapp - www.davidclapp.co.uk

The more you pay attention to and look for beauty in your surroundings, the more motivation you have to create photographs. After you take the images, go through them and determine what was successful and what wasn't – and why. Experience is the key to being good at anything, especially at creating excellent photographic compositions.

Here are a few ideas that you can use to enhance your skills as an observer and photographer:

Corner yourself
Choose a place or specific scene and force yourself to take as many pictures of it as you can think of. Change your camera angles and your distances to the different elements. Focus on different things in the scene and pay attention to the qualities of light, colour, and textures in the area. By sticking to that one scene, you may start to notice things about it that you would normally overlook. Starting to notice those things is how you develop your eye. You could probably create an entire body of work just from shooting in your own backyard. You just haven't seen the potential there yet.

Limit your shots
Approach a scene and allow yourself to take only one photo. Before you take the shot, make sure you've observed the entire scene and know that you've found the composition that best suits your outlook at that time. Pay attention to how the light is affecting your scene. If it seems like things will get better as the sun moves through the sky to the west, wait to take the shot. If clouds are rolling in, and you feel that you may lose your good light, take the shot before the clouds set in. Be aware of all compositional elements present in a scene so you can make wise decisions. Later, if you revisit the same scene, take another single image and compare the differences between how you felt about the scene the first time and how you felt the second time.

Limit your time
Approach a scene and allow yourself only a specific amount of time to get as many great shots as you can. This exercise helps you think on your toes and waste little time in getting the shot you want.

Look for inspiration in the work of other photographers. Sometimes looking at another artist's work helps you realise a brand-new approach to photography and better equips you to see the potential of elements all around you. Most professional photographers have websites that display their best works. If you like a particular photographer's style and know his name, you can perform an online search to find his portfolios. Otherwise, you can search for nature photographers, portrait photographers, fashion photographers, travel photographers and so on based on what kind of inspiration you're looking for.

Whether you're a beginner looking for a compact camera or a pro in the market for a high-end DSLR visit Nikon – the company who has photographic gear to suit everyone.

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