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Photography basics – Composition part 2

In the second of my posts looking at composition, I’ll be looking at the use of lead lines,What they are, and how to use them. The background of  your image, try to keep the main subject of your image clear, and the background uncluttered. I’ll also be looking at “framing” your image to add some impact. And looking at what makes a good photo even when you don’t follow the “rules” we’ve looked at. At the end of the day, photography is an art, even though we use technology to achieve the end result.

So what are lead lines? and what do they have to do with composition?

At it’s simplest, a lead line can be anything that draws your eye into a photograph, often it will draw your eye to the main subject in the image. It could be a path leading through the woods, a fence, a stone wall heading off to the horizon, a stream, anything at all.

Use the scenery to help your composition. Using a bridge to frame a view.
Water under the bridge.

The image above demonstrates lead lines, as the eye wants to naturally follow the course of the canal. The bridge also frames the view. Which again helps to lead the eye into the picture. So not only does this image use leadlines,  It also uses Framing of the image.

As with using leading lines, anything can act as a “frame” It may be overhanging branches, It can also be a doorway, a photo of someone looking out of a window, someone sitting on a window seat with the light coming in. The possibilities are endless. The object used to “frame” your image is there to draw attention to what is important in the image.

Keeping it simple.

This one speaks for itself really. The less elements there are in a photo, the easier it is for people to tell what the image is about. Easy when the subject is alone, or against a plain background, trickier when there are people or things in the background. That’s where your camera controls come into play. Use a shallow depth of field (wide aperture) to isolate the subject of your image from the background elements.

Keep your composition simple. Tree reflected in icy canal.
Tree reflected in icy canal.

In the image above, it uses a couple of composition “tricks”. I’ve kept the image simple, as the tree is obviously the subject of the photo. The image has been cropped slightly to make the tree the focus of the image. The reflection in the icy canal also leads to the tree.

Isolate the background using a shallow depth of field can separate the main subject from background clutter and make it stand out.

Reduce background clutter.
Shallow DOF to isolate flower from background

The image above was shot using a wide aperture, this blurs the background and makes the flowers stand out. With a little more editing, the background could have been darkened more to make the flowers really “pop”.

Anything goes. As mentioned photography is an art, using science to capture your images.

Just remember.

Composition “rules” are there as guidelines, not hard and fast rules.


I’m sure that we’ve all seen images which we thought were amazing, but didn’t readily fall into any one of the categories we’ve looked at.I’m sure that we’ve all seen images which we thought were amazing, but didn’t readily fall into any one of the categories we’ve looked at. If an image works, it works. Look at your own images, especially your favourites, see which of the rules they follow if any. It’s always good to know what works, because then we can capture more stunning images.




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