Basic Composition - Choosing the Best Angle

Learning basic composition will have a big impact on your pictures, more so than light, exposure, shutter speed, in fact anything else at all.

Picture composition in art in general needs if fully practised until it is automatic, helps the artist or photographer to really say what they want.


Once you have grasped the rules fully,  you will have a good grounding in the art of creating an interesting photography composition. So let's get started with the first photography tip, choosing the best angle.

Basic Composition: Choose the Best Angle

Choosing a different angle from just point-and-shoot can improve your photographic composition radically. Bending the knees and getting in closer gives a much more intimate feel, as if you were really there.

Don't be afraid of 'losing' parts of the picture when you move in more closely as this can make it look more interesting.

In the photo below, the man on the left is in shadow, and his opponent is only half way into the frame, which adds a slight edginess to the picture even though conventionally the contrast is unbalanced.

Above: The Chinese Game of Go (Wei Qi) by Anne Darling

But compare the above photo with the one below, taken from a higher angle. The game is more clearly seen but we have lost the second person. We've also lost the concentrated expression of the man on the left. Which do you prefer? I don't think one is necessarily better than the other, it just depends on what you want to say in your picture.

Above: The Chinese Game of Go (Wei Qi) by Anne Darling

Basic Composition: Create Foreground Interest

Another good photography tip is to include strong foreground interest which leads the eye into the picture and helps to create a strong photographic composition.

In the photograph below, the strong red colour of the chairs in the foreground of the image below captivate the viewers' attention. The upturned chairs are also arranged in such a way that they lead the eye into the centre of the photo. A strong diagonal line such as this is a good thing to look out for and will always look good in an image.

Above: Street Market in Shaoxing, China by Anne Darling

Although the objects are large and quite dominating, they have a strong abstract quality and lack detail so they do not overwhelm the central action completely. They are just large simple shapes. Simple is always good in compositions.

So try to get as close as possible to the objects in the foreground so that you create a greater sense of depth in the photo. For this purpose you might like to try using a fixed focal length lens. Or if you are using a point-and-shoot, choose a focal length of around 50mm and stick to it for that day. Move your body around rather than zooming in and out and you will find your shots are quite different. It's an almost magical process - give it a try, see what you find!

› Basic Composition


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