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Tips On Using Tight Composition In Your Photographs

Do you have a shot that just doesn't look quite right and lacks emphasis? Well have a look at this article for tips on how you can improve it.

|  General Photography
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This article was updated July 2013.

Sometimes an image can be improved with a little more consideration to the framing of the main subject as if there's too much space surrounding it the emphasis can be lost.You should always try and get the framing right in-camera, especially if you wanted to produce dramatic photos and make the most of your frame. However, it's often difficult to get what you want in the frame without including surrounding detail, either because you don't have the right lens or the subject is too far away. But we can tweak things using the computer and the Crop tool to improve the balance of elements within the frame. So before you delete your images because you think they're boring, have a play around with the Crop tool and see if you can turn something uninteresting into a photo you'd like to hang on the wall.

Crop Tool

Most editing programs have a Crop tool which lets you click and drag out a box which you can change the size/orientation of to create the crop you're trying to create. It's quite a simple tool to use but it's very effective and something you'll find you'll use quite a lot.

Here are a few examples that could look better if cropped:

Shoot with tight composition

The first example is a landscape. There's a Derelict building to the left with a tree balancing the right hand side, but the 28mm lens that was used to take the photo was just too wide so there's additional details to the left and right that doesn't really add anything to the photograph.

By selecting the Crop tool then clicking on the top left corner of the image and dragging the tool out to the bottom right, the image can be adjusted to give the shot more impact. You can continue to tweak any adjustments by dragging the corners or the edges until the crop is how you want it.

The result is a tighter composition, showing all the necessary details enlarged in the frame.

Shoot with tight composition Shoot with tight composition

Now we look at a photograph of a statue in the grounds of Bolsover Castle. It's taken from a raised point on the castle wall using a wide-angle. The high viewpoint was used so the wall in the background could be used at the backdrop for the shot.

There are two ways we can crop the image but the most obvious way is to take out the sky and wasted space left and right. This allows the whole statue to fill the frame. You could also crop the sides out altogether to place more emphasis on the statue and not the whole structure around it.


Next we have a typical shot you take at a theme park when you can never get close enough with a compact camera or a DSLR with a short zoom. But by taking the shot anyway we can use the Crop tool to remove what we don't want to see.

Shoot with tight composition

The temptation when cropping this shot would be to crop so the boat ends up in the centre of the frame. But why not try something different?

You can crop the top and bottom of the shot of to change it from portrait to landscape (as shown to the right).
Other options include cropping from the bottom to show the boat near the end of its course, cropping from the top to make it look as though there's still further to go or try rotating and cropping to make the ride look a little more daring.


Another option is to change the format of an image so it appears as a panorama. This is done by removing a large chunk off the top and the bottom of an image to create an elongated shot. This is perfect for landscape photography, but can also be used to great effect in upright architectural or portrait pictures. Do note you may need to remove more from the left or right of the shot (see image) to improve the composition.

Shoot with tight composition Shoot with tight composition
Cropping more off from the right than the left has ensured that the tree is positioned along one of the thirds, applying the rule of thirds composition technique.
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Well that was worth reading. Never thought I could learn so much from one article.

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