Composing your images like a pro
Those who make no mistakes learn nothing! This saying, which definitely applies to all areas of life, is particularly pertinent when it comes to photography. Every photographer makes mistakes in some shape or form. And that’s good! Because every mistake is an opportunity to learn something, and keep improving.
Do you know the mistakes you tend to make? In a new series, we want to show you the main reasons for failed images. You’ll learn about the three most common mistakes in this first article.
Critically review your images yourself, or ask a friend or photographer for their opinion, e.g. what mistakes have I made here? What can I do better next time?
Mistake No. 1: The picture looks confused
When you took the photo, your attention was completely focused on the beautiful flowers at the side of the path. But in the photo, the small blooms are not shown to their full advantage. The solution: Get closer! Make the main subject large in the frame and cut out elements of little importance. Or: use a shallow depth of field (large aperture) to make the main subject stand out from the background. In our example, the photographer knelt down and put the emphasis on the flowers by means of a close-up.
Mistake No. 2: The picture has no focus
Here, by focus, we are not referring to sharpness, but rather to the most important "eye-catcher". These two pictures both show the dome of the Basilica of Santa Maria Della Salute in Venice. In portrait format the colourful elements in the foreground are too "loud", they distract your attention from the main subject. In landscape format, on the other hand, the viewer's gaze is clearly directed. The solution: A powerful image always needs a clear statement. You can achieve this, for example, by means of a central element. Compose the shot in such a way that the main subject clearly forms the visual focus of the photo.
Mistake No. 3: The empty sky robs the photo of its effect
Make sure how much of the sky you include in the picture. On a clear, sunny day the blue and white sky can be very appealing. However, a uniform blue or, even worse, grey sky can completely spoil the effect of a picture. The solution: If you frame the picture differently, you can easily avoid this mistake. Frame the picture more narrowly, if necessary tilt the camera slightly downwards to cut out some of the sky (see sample pictures 3-1 and 3-2). Or take a few steps back and see if you can fill in the sky using an overhanging branch (see sample pictures 3-3 and 3-4).
Armed with this knowledge you can now systematically look for mistakes. Check your photos to see where they have potential for improvement, and you will find that you return from the next trip with better shots.
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