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Composition: The Creative Side (Part 1)

When I picked up photography again about 3 years ago I thought I could just continue where I left off around the turn of the millennium. I had a record of taking casual photographs for around 20 years with all sorts of cameras and felt confident I knew it all or it would come back to me in a very short amount of time. In hindsight, I’m shocked at what little I knew about actual photography then, because photography isn’t about f-stops, shutter time and the like: Photography is an art and the camera is just a tool that I need to master in order to express my creative side.

In my experience taking pictures as I go doesn’t lead anywhere. A beautiful view in front of my eyes almost never translates to a beautiful picture, it only adds to the pile of so-so captures, never to be looked at again. When I realized this simple truth I decided to change my approach to photography radically: I put the creative side first and started to learn about image composition. For me, this was a major breakthrough.

So what is image composition anyway and how do you go about applying it to your photography? Image composition rules have been around for a long time, longer even than photography itself. Remember, the camera is just a tool and there were other tools to capture landscape images long before photography was invented: Paint and brush. So in theory you could learn good composition just by studying landscape paintings and apply your findings to your photography.

Or you could do a search on 500px, pick only those pictures that appeal to you and try to find out what makes these pictures work, i.e. what makes you like them (that’s what I did actually). There are also a number of YouTube channels shedding some light on image composition, such as Andy Mumford’s YouTube channel, for example, which I found to be very helpful.

But I’m digressing.

Image composition is about arranging the elements in your picture in a way that appeals to the eye.

That’s it in a nutshell, but wait –

  • How do you arrange elements in a landscape?
  • How do you know what appeals to the eye?

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