Key for great compositions: take your time and take in the scene…

great compositions

As I was catching up on Steve Arnold’s email newsletter this afternoon (sorry I could not find the topic of his email on any of his web sites), I was reminded of how I have changed as a photographer. Especially when it comes to making great compositions.

His email started with the following quote:

Do you ever look back at a photo you’ve taken and think to yourself:

“If only I’d just [ ___ Insert Blank ___ ]”

He then goes on to show a picture that would have been better had the subject been placed in the right third of the image rather than in the center.

That happens to me as well. I too go back through my old photos to see what I can learn from it, and every now and again I look at stuff and say “Had I just done ___that___, this would have been a much better photo.”

Here is one such example. The picture of this school was taken last fall. The sky over the Adirondack Mountains in the background was spectacular. But if only I had taken the photo from the other side of the school, I would have avoided that distracting building next to the school.

Granted, I did not expect to take this shot. It was one of those cases where we were tired from shooting all day and all we wanted to do was to get home. When I saw the scene, however, I could not resist and had to pull over to take the shot. So I jumped out of the car, took the shot, and continued on my merry way.

Had I taken an extra minute to take in the scene, and walk around, evaluating all the possible angles, this could have been a great shot, not just a good one.

That is something that all aspiring photographers have to work on. Take your time to take in the scene. What is it that you want to pop out? What emotions do you want to convey? What is distracting in making that shot? Are there big distractions, such as buildings, or small distractions, such as a branch or a piece of trash? Find ways to work around them, remove them if you can — it will make for a much better shot.

Patience to take in the scene does not mean that you have to linger in the same spot for hours. Sometimes, a few extra minutes will do the job!

Let us know what you think.

PS: Of course, had I taken the time to get my tripod out, I could have shot at a lower ISO and eliminate a lot of the noise while making my image sharper. But I thought this was a good example to explain the composition aspect of the photo.

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