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Tips on Composition

Basic Photography

Updated

Text and photos by Cecilia Angeles

Accent composition

An accent is a small element found in a composition. For example, a small butterfly may become an accent to a flower, a small flower to a woman’s hair. A small figure accents a landscape. Once the butterfly or flower or the man occupies 75 percent or the major area of the picture, it becomes the subject, no longer accent.

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An accent breaks the monotony of a pattern, or can actually estimate the size of some elements in the picture. Have you seen five men holding hands together embracing a huge tree trunk? The two men at the extreme ends can’t even touch their fingers to show the size of the trunk. They are accents. The green siling labuyo on each cup cake is an accent. This is a delicacy from Indonesia.

Use slow shutter speedto blur motion

Enjoy the creative blur of slow shutter speed.  Slow shutter set at 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1 second or timer creates a “wow” among moving objects like falls, running water,  smoke, running vehicles, and whatever moving objects. The slower the shutter or the longer the time exposure, the more blurred is the motion.

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Water looks flowing cotton threads. Other movements blur portions of the subject. A ballet dancer at a pause, for example, but her hands are swaying pictures her sharply except the moving hands. They are blurred. A running car captured sharply produces blurred streaks in the background.

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This is known as panning shot which photographers especially the new ones find very challenging. The camera set at a slow shutter speed (1/30 sec. or slower) follows the direction of the subject. The photographer clicks his shutter at a prefocused point and follows through the movement. This follow through technique creates the streaks.

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Show contrast in tones,colors,sizes, shapes, and textures

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A light element with a dark background easily captures the eyes because of contrast in tones. This is true to all possible contrasting elements. Red and green, yellow and violet, orange and blue are contrasting colors in the color wheel. And how lovely is a red santan flower still on its stem with green leaves, or orange fruit still life set on blue background. Have you seen or captured a closeup of a father’s rough hand holding a baby’s smooth hand, or these two—baby and daddy—holding hands, walking together in the park? Contrasting shapes and sizes, colors, textures, and tones have the power to tickle one’s attention. Have you seen a 4’11” Filipina bride coming out of a church door with her six-foot groom? Yes, contrast is interesting wherever it is, much more in photography.

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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