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Tips on Composition

Basic Photography


Text and photos by
Cecilia Angeles

Bracket your composition to have variations of shots

Bracketing is a safe way of avoiding regrets when a picture or the only shot does not come out well.

A digital camera captures more than 36 shots unlike the film camera. Therefore, the photographer is safe to produce more than a shot or two for a subject.

composition mb1

Wise bracketing is not clicking the shutter three times or four to produce four pictures. What good are the four pictures if they are all the same?Wise bracketing is capturing pictures differently. For example, I may shoot a subject at portrait or landscape format.

Bracketing through aperture or shutter speed setting consists of capturing the subject through varied shutter or aperture settings. For example, the first picture is captured at F5.6, the next at F8, and the third at F11. Shutter speed remains the same. There are noticeable differences among the three shots. The photographer decides which composition suits his taste. Or he may bracket using the shutter speed. He uses the same aperture opening but he changes his shutter speed at consecutive rates. He can bracket using perspectives, light positions, camera-subject distance, closeup, extreme closeup, fair distance, etc.

Get a new thrill in infrared photography composition mb2

There is magic in infrared photography.

I have no way of explaining how green elements in the picture turn white, all other colors turn gray tones or simply dark similar to black-and-white prints. What is confusing is the absence of tones on elements  expected to be dark.

composition mb3Make the viewer feel the texture of the elements

Visually, textures can be felt by a viewer.—whether the surface is smooth, rough, spiky, hairy, grainy or silky. The photographer knows which picture elements he will make sharp or blurred through shooting the subject at shallow or deep depth of field.

Sharpness of the picture shall make a big difference in portraying the texture of the subject of the photograph— whether rough, smooth, spiky, hairy, or whatever. A rough object like a piece of stone with a silky background displays stark contrast.

The same is true with a mature wrinkled hand holding a baby’s smooth hand. Definitely a slight camera shake can spoil the vividness of texture.

Draw compositioncomposition mb4

Unlike a painter, a photographer does not draw his composition with a pencil, charcoal, pen and ink, brush, oil, acrylic or water color. To draw in photography has another connotation.

The photographer draws his composition elements by fixing, arranging, changing position of what is included in the frame, like light sources and their angles.

The photographer sees to it that his arrangement has emphasis, balance, color harmony, grace, and rhythm.

He avoids clutter and disorder. Drawing composition has one major objective: beautiful picture that is pleasing to the eye.

Cecilia Angeles is a regular lecturer in the basic photography workshop at the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation (FPPF) in Intramuros, Manila. She is also a professor at the Philippine Women’s University (PWU) handling Fine Arts subjects.  She is the author of eleven modular books on various Fine Arts subjects adapted for teaching in the Fine Arts Department of PWU.

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