Red_Rock_Dam_in_January.jpgComposition is the plan or placement of elements in a photograph. Just as an architect plans out and studies his house before he begins building it, so, too, should a photographer plan out his/her photo before shooting. To practice this technique of planning, try this simple exercise: Find a location that has potential for producing one or two good photo opportunities. Sit quietly in one place for 10 minutes before taking out your camera. While you sit, observe the area around you, then pick out a photo opportunity you'd like to tackle. Now that you've picked your opportunity, plan out your photo. Think about different angles you could shoot from, examine the lighting potential or problems, identify possible distractions and figure ways to eliminate them, determine your focus areas and desired depth of field. Once the 10 minutes is up, begin shooting while keeping the plan in mind. The more you practice this exercise, the better you'll become at planning your shots. After a while, you will discover that planning a shot will come naturally and your photos will reflect your planning diligence.

Below are links to the various rules for good composition. As you experiment with each of these rules, click on the link that corresponds with the rule, then post your best photo representation of that rule. For instructions on uploading a photo, please refer to the appropriate instructions handout located on the "handouts" page of this wiki.

Avoid the Bull's Eye Syndrome
Use the Tic-Tac-Toe Rule of Thirds
Eliminate Distracting Elements
The Subject Should Stand Out from the Background
Include a Frame Element
The Horizon Is NOT in the Middle
Vertical Can be Stronger
Where Is It Going?
Closer Is Sometimes Better
Know the Magic Hours (Lighting)
Look for Strong Lines/Shapes
Vertical Lines Lead the Eye
Horizontal Lines Evoke Feelings of Rest or Peace
Diagonal Lines Lead the Eye
Curved Lines Make the Ordinary Extraordinary
Subjects Can Be Complimented with a Secondary Element
Look for Repetitive Patterns
Color Isn't Always Best
Don't Be a Lazy Photographer
Look for the Unusual